House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Municipal Grants Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There are 44 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-10.

The motions will be grouped for purposes of the debate as follows:

Group No. 1: Motions Nos. 1, 2, 4 to 19 inclusive, 41 to 44 inclusive.

Group No. 2: Motions Nos. 3, and 20 to 40.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 2, 4 to 19, and 41 to 44 to the House.

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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-10, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing line 8 on page 2 with the following:

““business or professional occupancy tax” means a tax levied”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-10, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing line 29 on page 2 with the following:

“constructing a new immovable or a new real property,”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-10, in Clause 5, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 7 the following:

“(1.01) If the Minister decides not to make a payment under subsection (1) to a taxing authority applying for it, the Minister shall, without delay, provide the authority with written reasons for that decision.”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if the House would agree that we deem the motions to be moved, seconded and read.

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10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The government House leader has requested that all of the motions be deemed moved, seconded and read. Is there unanimous consent?

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10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-10, in Clause 5, be amended

(a) by replacing line 26 on page 7 with the following:

“(1.1) If a”

(b) by replacing line 29 on page 7 with the following:

“may supplement the payment but where the Minister decides not to do so, the Minister shall, without delay, provide the taxing authority to which the payment is to be made, with written reasons for that decision.”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-10, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 26 on page 7 with the following:

“(1.1) If a”

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-10, in Clause 5, be amended by replacing line 35 on page 7 with the following:

“that the”

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-10, in Clause 9, be amended

(a) by replacing line 27 on page 10 with the following:

“(2) Subject to subsection (3), if a frontage or area tax is payable over”

(b) by adding after line 31 on page 10 the following:

“(3) The Minister shall notify a taxing authority to whom a payment in lieu of a frontage or area tax is payable over a period of more than one year, which method of payment referred to in subsection (2) will be used to make the payment, and shall, without delay, after that notification, provide the authority with written reasons explaining why that method was chosen by the Minister.”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-10, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 12 on page 12 with the following:

“made in lieu of a business or professional occupancy tax by”

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-10, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 13 on page 12 with the following:

“the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post Corporation and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and every corporation included in Schedule IV;”

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-10, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 12 with the following:

“a frontage or area tax and, in the case of the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post Corporation and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and a”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-10, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 23 on page 12 with the following:

“ments in lieu of a business or professional occupancy tax;”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-10, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 25 on page 12 with the following:

“the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post Corporation and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and corporations included in schedules III or IV,”

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 27 on page 12 the following new clause:

“10.1 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 9:

9.1 For greater certainty, the Governor in Council shall not make regulations adding the following corporations to Schedule IV: (a) the Royal Canadian Mint; (b) Canada Post Corporation; and (c) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.”

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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 27 on page 12 the following new clause:

“10.1 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 9:

9.1 (1) No regulation made by the Governor in Council under section 9 shall come into force unless it has been approved by a committee of the House of Commons that is designated or established by the House for that purpose.

(2) A regulation approved by a committee of the House of Commons under subsection (1) comes into force on the day following its approval.”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 16

That Bill C-10, in Clause 11, be amended by replacing line 39 on page 12 with the following:

“authority.

10.1 Notwithstanding anything in this Act, where a corporation included in Schedule III or IV is authorized to make a payment to a taxing authority in lieu of a real property tax, a frontage or area tax or a business occupancy tax, as the case may be, pursuant to regulations made under subsection 9(1), and decides not to make that payment, the corporation shall, without delay, provide the authority with written reasons for that decision.”

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-10, in Clause 11, be amended by replacing line 39 on page 12 with the following:

“authority.

10.1 Notwithstanding anything in this Act, where the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post Corporation or Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is authorized to make a payment to a taxing authority in lieu of a business occupancy tax and the corporation decides not to make that payment, the corporation shall, without delay, provide the authority with written reasons for that decision.”

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-10, in Clause 13, be amended by replacing line 10 on page 13 with the following:

“(b) the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post Corporation and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and every corporation included in Schedule”

Municipal Grants Act
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10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-10, in Clause 13, be amended by replacing line 12 on page 13 with the following:

“or professional occupancy tax, comply with any regula-”

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 40 on page 14 the following new clause:

“15.1 (1) The Minister shall, within twelve months after the end of each fiscal year, cause a report on the administration of this Act during the preceding fiscal year to be made.

(2) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report referred to in subsection (1) to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day on which the report is made.”

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 40 on page 14 the following new clause:

“15.1 (1) The Minister shall, within twelve months after March 31, 2004 and every four years after that, cause a comprehensive review and report of the provisions and operation of this Act during the preceding four years to be made.

(2) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report referred to in subsection (1) to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day on which the report is made.”

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 40 on page 14 the following new clause:

“15.1 (1) The Minister shall, within twelve months after March 31, 2005 and every five years after that, cause a comprehensive review and report of the provisions and operation of this Act during the preceding five years to be made.

(2) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report referred to in subsection (1) to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day on which the report is made.”

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-10 be amended by adding after line 40 on page 14 the following new clause:

“15.1 (1) The Minister shall, within twelve months after March 31, 2003 and every three years after that, cause a comprehensive review and report of the provisions and operation of this Act during the preceding three years to be made.

(2) The Minister shall cause a copy of the report referred to in subsection (1) to be laid before the House of Commons on any of the first fifteen days on which that House is sitting after the day on which the report is made.”

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, actually Bill C-10 is not that bad. It is a reasonable bill because it changes the title of the bill to refer to payments in lieu of taxes rather than grants in lieu of taxes. That is a pretty reasonable thing to do.

Another thing we need to recognize is that the bill provides a certain element of fairness and equity to municipalities so that they can actually predict what will be happening and they can make projections in terms of budgeting.

The bill is supported by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It is certainly consistent with Reform Party policy, which is that governments should be paying the same property taxes that other citizens of Canada pay. It is very important that we have fairness, equality and equity in the whole business of property taxes as far as the government is concerned.

However some very significant amendments need to take place at this time. In particular, we need to recognize the accountability factor in this bill.

The bill provides discretionary power to the minister. It gives the minister the discretionary power to do a number of things. He may pay the taxes; he may not pay the taxes. He may make those payments or he may not. He may pay those taxes late. If they are paid late, he may decide whether or not they are in fact late. He also may decide whether he should pay supplementary payments, such as interest payments, on those particular late payments of taxes. All of that is at the discretion of the minister. The same discretion also applies to the corporations. While the constitution provides that the Government of Canada cannot be forced to pay property taxes or make payments in lieu of taxes, the coercion element cannot be done unless there is a constitutional amendment.

Another factor could be introduced here. That factor is to ensure that the minister, when he decides to change the assessment, the time of payment or the supplementary payments in lieu of interest or a late payment, in all of those cases the minister should be required to provide a reason for his particular delay or his change or amendment of the amount that he should be paying to the respective municipalities. That should be a requirement of the minister. It does not ensure that the minister does not have discretion; he does have discretion, but he must account for that discretion.

I think that is a reasonable amendment. It is one which I think we should all expect. Why is that so important? In lieu of what has just happened to one of the minister's colleagues in Human Resources Development Canada, I would think that the minister would welcome that kind of accountability. Then the municipalities could not say, “He is just doing this for his friends. His friends, if he has some in municipal government, get paid right away and they get paid the exact amount. Others who are not his friends get paid later or they do not get paid interest or whatever”. There could be no accusation of favouritism. I think the minister would welcome that sort of thing. The same argument applies to the crown corporations.

I want to refer to how serious this can become. There are some things that happened in that audit which was done recently. I want to read a couple of those things into the record.

One of the findings of that audit was on 13 signatures that were selected during the file review. It was revealed that in three cases out of the 13, that is almost 25%, the delegation instrument, that is, giving somebody the delegated authority to sign something, in three instances out of 13 files, which is 25%, the signing officer, that authority, could not be produced. In 25% of the cases the guy had delegated power but he could not actually say who had delegated that power to him. This is serious.

In six cases, almost half, the delegation was only valid upon notification of acting and for a limited period of time. No such notification had been received for the period the document was signed. Even if the delegation had taken place, it was for a very specific time, a time in which the person with the delegated power exercised signature authority that was outside the parameters originally delegated to him. That is pretty serious.

There is another one case under contracting. In four contribution agreements out of every ten reviewed, irrelevant clauses in standard agreements were not crossed out or blanks were not filled in to specify conditions such as the periodicity of the submission of claims or the period of notification if it were necessary for HRDC to terminate the project before completion.

Listen to this one. In one-third of the projects reviewed, the original dollar value of the agreement was upward in most cases. In 36% of these cases the reason for the amendment was not documented. It requested one amount, the amount was reviewed and it increased in 36% of the cases. This is the kind of thing that should never happen. This has to be revealed through an audit as an indictment of the process.

What we are trying to introduce in this legislation is a clause that would protect and help the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. It would be amended in such a way that it would make it easier for him to have an administration that is sound, honest, trustworthy and transparent and where the processes will bear examination. It will make it clear to all and sundry that the minister is doing his job uprightly, honestly, fairly and in the best interests of all Canadians.

That is what the amendments in group one are all about. We specifically suggest Motion No. 4. The bill currently reads that “the minister may make payments”. It is not possible, as I indicated before, that he be forced to make those payments. We would suggest, however, that if he does not want to make those payments, then he must justify that particular situation.

Are there such cases? Yes, there are. There is a dispute right now involving the Halifax Citadel with regard to who should pay the taxes on the property. The Department of Public Works and Government Services has agreed to pay for the part that is a shelter but not for the entire structure. The argument is that this has to be interpreted. The department is suggesting that the interpretation be done by a court, which is not unreasonable.

On the other hand, should the assessment be left to professional assessment people? I think this is an argument that clearly shows that Public Works and Government Services has done something right. It is asking some good questions. However, the point remains that there has to be a reason given whenever these payments are stopped. In this case the payments were stopped. The minister should be required by law to give a reason for his particular noncompliance.

The other case has to do with the advisory panel that falls under Group No. 2, which I will not deal with here.

I will now deal with Motion No. 7. Motion No. 7 would amend the ministerial discretion which says “in the opinion of the minister” as pertaining to the period that the payment has been unreasonably delayed. The municipality sends out a notice of taxation indicating that the bill is due at a particular time. The dates are very clear and very specific. If the payment is not made at that time but made at a later date—let us say it is due on July 1 and the payment is not made until July 31—according to the act, if in the opinion of the minister that payment is late, he may recognize it. This is not a matter of opinion. It is very clear that if the taxes are due on July 1, they are due on that date, not on July 31. If the taxes have not been paid on July 1, then they are late.

This amendment makes it clear that the minister should have a clear explanation of what it is he is doing when he opines a shift in date like this.

What this really does is it puts the payment in lieu of taxes on a more solid footing and moves in the direction of making the minister accountable. It is in the interest of all Canadians, and I think in the interest of the minister, to have that kind of protection in law. The minister would now be able to withstand any audit that might cast aspersions that he has not administered his department well.

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10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-10. We have been following it closely for some time in the riding of Saint-Jean.

We will be debating something very important here. Historically, the Queen did not have to pay taxes to her subjects. This is an old issue. The Anglo-Saxon people were great colonizers and their practice was, as soon as they conquered part of a continent or a country, to establish a rule that the Queen, who had conquered the land, did not pay taxes to her subjects. Quite the reverse, her subjects were to pay taxes to her, often excessively.

Today we are in a longstanding debate, which the government is trying to update, because it has been going on for some time. There have been changes over the years. In the early days of Confederation, the federal government, following in the tradition of its predecessors, did not want to pay taxes to the people and to municipalities. They did not want to make transfer payments. The idea was to collect money to enrich the central government.

Over the years, the government was obliged to assume certain responsibilities, because the people in the municipalities knew very well that they had to pay their municipal taxes to the municipality. Not only did they pay taxes to the federal government, but they had to pay them to the provincial government, and they paid property taxes to the municipalities.

It was rather difficult for a subject to pay taxes on the full assessed value of his residence and see that the Queen or the central government did not pay taxes on federal buildings in municipalities. Still the principle that the Queen does not have to pay taxes was maintained in part.

To avoid saying that these were taxes the federal government had to pay, they were called payments in lieu of taxes. This is the point at which the arbitrariness starts, because I pay taxes on the full assessed value of my residence, but things are not at all the same for the federal government, which never pays on the full assessed value of buildings and land it owns in municipalities.

Over the years, some municipalities have come to realize that the situation was not only arbitrary, but that it was also extremely difficult to budget year after year, because they find themselves at the mercy of the minister who can say “Listen, I sent you X number of dollars last year or two years ago. Now I am considering reducing that amount”.

I will give the figures for Saint-Jean. The city of Saint-Jean has a budget of $50 million, out of which $4.2 million come from a federal transfer in lieu of taxes. This is easy to understand. There are many federal properties in the riding of Saint-Jean, including the military base, Agriculture Canada's research centre and the old military college. Incidentally, I hope the government will announce in its February 28 budget that it will correct the current situation and reopen the military college. However, this issue was already a concern when that institution closed.

When the military college closed, the city of Saint-Jean was getting $900,000 in taxes from that institution. Members can see why the city is anxious to find out what will happen regarding these taxes.

That amount was maintained in the money given to the military college, with the result that, today, the city of Saint-Jean receives $4.2 million from the federal government, out of a budget of $50 million.

But when we found out that a consultation would take place and that it would be important for the federal government to determine certain conditions and provide certain specifications on how it was going to hand out that money from now on, I immediately warned not only the city of Saint-Jean, but the various municipalities in which there are federal properties. I did that because the examples from recent years clearly show that when the government wants to reform soomething, it is never because it wants to give back more to the public. It is always to give less.

There are many typical examples, including the Canada social transfer. At one time, before the Canada social transfer, the federal government was giving money to the provinces for social assistance, health and post-secondary education. What has the Liberal government done since 1994? It has put all this into a single program, a single item called the Canada social transfer. And the amounts transferred are no longer the same. The provincial government is currently experiencing a $1.7 billion shortfall. No wonder things are bad in emergency wards, not only in Quebec, but in the other provinces also.

Another example is unemployment insurance, now dubbed employment insurance, where, in the name of reform, the government has managed to arrange for individuals to receive less. Right now, the government is pocketing between $6 and $7 billion, having reduced eligibility for these programs and worked it so that now people pay premiums from the first hour of work.

A lot more goes into the government coffers than comes out, with the result that the government is getting richer.

We wanted to be sure that when the government said that it was going to consult, to set up a panel with the municipalities to discuss the issue, that these municipalities would not be left worse off. We know what happens when the municipalities have less. The federal government hangs on to the money and the provinces, municipalities and citizens are left to make up the difference.

The public is sick and tired of taxes and tell us so repeatedly. I hope that the government is now going to introduce parameters that are just and fair for municipalities.

In this connection, we have suggested a number of changes that I hope will be implemented. An advisory panel has already been set up, that will advise the minister when there is a dispute with the municipalities. While we are on the topic, one thing we would really like to see is a lot of surveyors because they have the necessary specialization and will probably establish as fairly as possible what the federal government owes the municipalities.

This will also end arbitrary actions for once and for all. The city of Saint-Jean will be able to annually budget an amount that it can be sure to have, instead of the minister getting up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and closing a federal institution in a municipality and he no longer paying the taxes since it has been closed or he wants to sell it to someone else. Until it is sold, the municipality is in limbo, sort of, deprived of revenue from the federal government.

I think that if we want the minister to have a good advisory panel, this must include surveyors, and in order to keep this from ending up, as usual with the Liberals, as another patronage plum, or nepotism, it is also important for these people to be appointed by a public competition.

So, generally speaking, we are fairly satisfied to put an end to the arbitrariness. With the new measures, we feel the municipalities are going to be in a far better position to prepare their budgets efficiently, and I also hope the government will not take seize the opportunity to say “Now we have new parameters, we will reduce our transfers a little”.

We will keep an eye out for this. It is very important for those of us in the City of Saint-Jean and in the surrounding municipalities to be able to plan budgets properly year after year. There are many federal buildings and we want to ensure that the revenue from them will at least be the equivalent of what we were receiving before.

We hope these new parameters will mean more municipal revenue instead. It is important for me to speak on this matter today because of the importance of federal government buildings to the municipalities in the riding of Saint-Jean.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to participate briefly in today's debate on Bill C-10.

More than anything else, this bill reminds us of that horrible time in Canadian history when the Conservatives formed the government. It is one of those points that we cringe to recall, but it is real. Those early years in the 1990s were terrible years for Canada, terrible years for Canadians and, quite frankly, a disaster for the House, with continuous contempt of parliament and a disregard for the rules and traditions of the House of Commons.

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10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

Which the Liberals pretended they cared about then.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

At that time the Liberals indicated that they were concerned. Now they have demonstrated that they are probably worse.

I want to concentrate on the Conservative government under Brian Mulroney, and later Kim Campbell, because they started what this bill attempts to address. In 1992, one of the low points in the history of our country when the Conservatives were in office with a huge majority, they decided they were going to do something to punish municipalities from coast to coast. There were thousands of municipalities and the Conservatives said “We are going to freeze our grants in lieu of taxes to the municipalities”.

The municipalities had just gone through difficult, struggling times and were trying to predict their revenues for the next year. After all, they were, and are, the closest government to the people in terms of delivering programs. The municipalities make decisions on sewers, water treatment, road building, sidewalks, tot lots, parks and recreational facilities for the people of their cities. Given the fact that most Canadians are now living in cities, the municipal governments have become very close to them.

The municipalities depend on their ability to predict revenue sources to plan their budgets. There are somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 federal properties in cities, which are all supposed to make grants in lieu of taxes. This enables the municipalities to plan and budget for the future, to plan to introduce new programs to assist the needs of the people in the various municipalities across the country. Along came the Conservatives, who said “Forget all your work. Forget all your planning. Forget all your projections. Forget all the improvements you want to make to your city. We are going to freeze your grants. We do not care what you think. We do not care what you say”. There were no consultations, no discussions. They said “We are so smart because we have formed the Conservative government in Ottawa. We are going to freeze your grants in lieu of taxes, and to hell with you. We do not care what you think”.

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10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

They froze their grants off.

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10:30 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

They froze their grants right off. Imagine what that did to the leaders of the municipalities across the country. They were shocked. All of a sudden their plans went out the window. They had been dutifully planning, working hard on behalf of the residents of their cities, all for naught because the Conservative Government of Canada froze their grants overnight without telling them anything about it.

You know how wrong that was, Mr. Speaker. You know how wronged the people of Canada were at that point. You knew what a wrong and inappropriate decision that was to take, but the Conservatives took it nevertheless. It was a very dark day for our country and a very dark day for the House of Commons.

I know that my colleague from Winnipeg—Transcona remembers the day when that announcement was made. It was a very dark moment, but that is what we have to live with from time to time. My friend from Winnipeg—Transcona says that to this day he has not gotten over that shock. I know he means it because it was one of those dastardly deeds that takes place every now and again in the House of Commons.

Something had to be done. We could not allow the federal government to do whatever it wanted to anybody and at any time. Constitutionally it had the right, and it used it in a very brutal and inappropriate fashion.

I congratulate the people at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the excellent work they do on behalf of municipalities across the country. They have a thoughtful, very democratic, grassroots approach in terms of policy direction. They said “Something has to be done. We can't have this any longer”. Therefore, Bill C-10 started that long process and today it is at report stage and we are looking at some of the amendments put forward by my hon. colleagues.

It is a bill that we support as New Democrats. Anything that brings transparency, anything that brings a sense of reasonableness, of decency, of fairness, of equity has to be supported. This bill is a major step in accomplishing that.

Basically, the bill will change the term “grants”. Let us face it, today “grants” has become a four letter word. It has five letters, but basically it is a four letter word. It is a nasty word because of what the Minister of Human Resources Development has done. It is a very bad word because of the abuse, because of the political favouritism, because of the patronage, because of the pork-barrelling that the present government used when granting moneys to various organizations.

Government members said “We have to get away from the use of that term, so we will call it payments in lieu of taxes”, known as PILTs. That makes sense, payments in lieu of taxes.

I recognize the positive aspect of this legislation. If there is a federal piece of property in a municipality, the federal government is obligated to pay taxes to the municipality to reflect the property value. That is how municipalities raise their funds, through taxation, through property taxes. The government recognizes that federal properties must pay taxes; however, there is a wrinkle. There is always a little wrinkle. I applaud my friend from Kelowna for pointing this out.

There is a lot of discretion in the bill. This group of amendments speaks to how the minister can decide whether the government should make payments, whether it should pay penalties on late payments, whether it should hold off making payments and so on. There is a lot of discretion which is left to the minister.

If there is one thing we have learned in the last few days it is that when there is discretion left in the hands of ministers they sometimes seem to abuse it. I use the example of our friend, the Minister of Human Resources Development, whose constituency, by and large, does very well economically and gets tonnes of grants. As a matter of fact, I think we would look long and hard to find a single business or a single organization in her constituency that did not get a grant. She went up to people who were walking down the street and said “Excuse me, I am the Minister of Human Resources Development. Do you want a grant?” Why not? It is very serious. That was a clear abuse of that position.

We are trying to find a way to get around this in the legislation. I applaud my friend from Kelowna, who said that we must ensure there is a clause which requires the minister to explain why he or she is not doing what is asked by the legislation.

We support this group of amendments. They state that if the minister in his or her wisdom decides not to pay the taxes on federal property in a particular city, that minister has to explain why he or she is not doing that.

There are problems, and I will refer to two of them. My friend mentioned already the situation in Halifax with the Citadel and the discussion of who owns that piece of property, how much of it is federal and how much is municipal. There is also the issue of first nations properties within city limits. Is that federal property or is it first nations property? Where does that come in?

There are areas where it will take discussion and perhaps, in the end, even a court decision before the final outcome is determined.

This group of amendments would give the minister some flexibility. However, ministers who have flexibility cause Canadians to squirm. Therefore, we are saying “Yes, we will give the minister flexibility to deal with these special cases, but the minister must explain why he or she is not paying the taxes that the municipality is expecting”.

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10:40 a.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to the first group of proposed amendments to Bill C-10.

Although I believe that the bill still does not go far enough to ensure that municipalities get their fair share of property taxes from federally owned property, I believe that it is an improvement to the original Municipal Grants Act.

When the bill went to committee, my colleague, the member for Tobique—Mactaquac, was successful in having his amendments adopted by the Commons committee. One of the provisions of the bill would create a new advisory panel to resolve disputes between the government and municipalities over evaluation of federally owned property and payments owed to municipalities.

Originally Bill C-10 proposed that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services appoint all the panel members, pay them, choose the chairperson, and he would be able to fire them at any time if he disagreed with any of the panel's decisions. This was a problem because public works is involved in most of the disputes.

One of my colleague's amendments would give the panel members more independence by having them appointed and paid by the cabinet instead of the minister. This would ensure more balance and fairness within the panel, although I personally would have preferred a much more independent structure.

It is very clear that municipalities are not being treated fairly with the system that is now in place. I met with the people of the municipality of Alma last week and they have very good reason to be upset with the government. This is what the citizens of the municipality of Alma had to say about this matter:

We are very concerned with this government's cuts in federal payments in lieu of taxes that our municipality has been recently experiencing. We are the Service Centre to Fundy National Park, which is located in the Alma Parish. We have federal buildings inside the municipality as well, those being the Alma Post Office and housing owned by Fundy National Park.

Also they obtain money from the provincial government to help cover fire protection for the local service district, which includes the national park.

They go on to say that the assessments for the outlying areas were cut by $2.5 million, which was reflected in a decrease to the municipality over $3,000. They also lost $34,166 in federal assessments, which cost them a decrease of another $3,921 in revenue.

A small community with a population of approximately 312 residents cannot afford these cuts, as it cripples a community such as Alma.

I agree with the people of Alma and I must add that the citizens of the community of Dorchester in my riding are finding themselves in the same situation because they have in their community a federal correctional building.

I sometimes wonder if this is part of the government's long term plan in closing rural communities.

Let us face it, first we took away employment insurance benefits, which directly affected small rural communities. That forced people to leave their communities, which forced schools to close, meaning less families building in communities. If that is not enough to shut down the community, the government cut federal payments in lieu of taxes to make sure these municipalities could not survive. That is the Liberal way.

Unfortunately the amendments we are debating today will not fix all of the problems within the Municipal Grants Act and I will explain why. One of the amendments proposed today is that we change the language of the legislation so that the federal government is compelled to pay its tax bills just like every other municipal taxpayer. I certainly agree with the intent of this amendment, but unfortunately municipalities are not recognized as a level of government in the constitution or by the federal government. They are entirely a creation of the provincial government. It is understandable that my friend would come up with a simple solution, which, on the face of it, would appear to make sense. Why not treat the federal government like any other taxpayer?

The problem is that we have a constitution that we have to live with today. Although I am sure that we all have things we would like to see changed in the constitution, none of that will happen today. According to our constitution, as it is now, municipalities do not exist, they have no jurisdiction in law and they do not have any official relationship with the federal government or the crown. Therefore, the federal government cannot be bound by any decisions made by a municipality. It can only undertake to voluntarily follow a decision or a bylaw passed by a municipal government.

These amendments, although well meaning, would have the effect of changing the constitution without going through the constitutional amendment process. Nevertheless, I congratulate the member for having brought forward this point for debate. This is a subject which merits further discussion.

With respect to Motion Nos. 8, 9, 11 and 12, the member for Kelowna is attempting to address the outstanding issue concerning business occupancy taxes and certain crown corporations. Specifically these amendments would require Canada Post, the Royal Canadian Mint, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and similar crown corporations to pay business occupancy taxes.

Certainly the mandate of these crown corporations has changed over the years since the Municipal Grants Act was last updated. It used to be that these crown corporations served a purely public policy purpose and in the unlikely event they every made a profit it was more by accident than by design. Now these corporations serve two purposes. Not only do they continue to serve an important public policy role, but they also have the mandate to earn a profit in order to recover costs and to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

I agree with the hon. member for Kelowna that if these crown corporations are conducting business and earning a profit they should be paying business taxes. The question is how much. After the discussions our party had with representatives from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and after having questioned witnesses from the FCM at the public works committee, we are convinced that this is a problem that will soon be solved.

Municipalities and the federal government are continuing to negotiate over what portion of each crown corporation is devoted to purely profit making activities. That discussion is not yet finished. Municipalities have asked us not to hold up this bill while those negotiations are ongoing as there will be an opportunity to fix that issue in the very near future.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Mississauga Centre
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, as all other speakers in the House today have noted, this legislation ensures that the federal government pays its fair share of taxes to all municipalities in a timely fashion. The development of this legislation should be considered as a model in terms of co-operation and consultation with interested stakeholders.

When representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities testified before the committee examining Bill C-10, they indicated their strong support for the bill and praised the level of consultation between themselves and the Department of Public Works and Government Services. In light of the depth of consultation that has taken place, including amendments made by the Conservative Party that were accepted at report stage, the government will not be supporting any further amendments, specifically those listed in Group No. 1.

References have also been made to the dispute advisory panel that is enshrined in this legislation. It will serve as a forum for the presentation of respective positions of both municipalities and departments or crown corporations when differences of opinion respecting amount of payments in lieu of taxes arise between the two parties, which is to be expected at times. This was a key recommendation by the municipalities during the minister's consultations.

Members will also note that appointees will be required to possess a background of knowledge in the areas of real property evaluation, real property assessment, real property or assessment law, or other related disciplines. This is a relatively small area of expertise and typically the same people are recognized as impartial experts by municipalities, assessment authorities and federal officials.

The municipal payments programs has served both the government and municipalities well since 1950. Extensive consultations between the government and municipalities have led to the bill before the House today. It improves existing legislation and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities supports the bill in its current form. It applauds the relationship with the Department of Public Works and Government Services. I believe it is time to adopt the bill without any further amendment.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see progress being made in the relationship between municipalities and senior levels of both the provincial and federal governments. The debate today concerns Bill C-10 and the Group No. 1 motions.

Before I continue I would like to commend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and the individual municipalities in my riding that have contributed to and worked on the legislation to enable the rules to be more clearly defined and set out, in effect making the federal government responsible on paper and accountable for the grants it will be giving to the municipalities in lieu of taxes. Legislation is never perfect. As a result several motions and amendments are being submitted to try to improve the legislation. I will touch on those later in my speech.

I will now touch on the purposes of this act. Not everyone in my riding is fully clear on what Bill C-10 is doing. It essentially addresses the issue of compensation for untimely payments. It deals with the fair and equitable administration of payments in lieu of taxes, setting out clearly the responsibilities of the senior level of government. It also establishes an advisory panel to advise the minister on disputes concerning payment amounts.

The interaction between government levels is of utmost importance. We have another level of government in the area of the aboriginal reserves which is getting into the situation of acquiring additional lands by removing lands from the local municipalities in given areas. In the riding of Selkirk—Interlake the area of the Regional Municipality of Grahamdale is running across this problem. It does not seem the government has dealt fully with setting out the guidelines and the terms for grants in lieu of taxes on behalf of Indian reserves that should be made payable to local municipalities when they lose their taxes.

That is an issue for another day and another debate, but it is an issue that should be addressed. I am taking this opportunity in the debate on Bill C-10 to raise it so clarity can be brought to the relationship between Indian reserves and local municipalities in how they deal with taxes between each other and providing services to the citizens of those communities.

The history of concern over the levels of responsibility among the different governments goes back to 1950 when the government initially started making payments in lieu of taxes. It has taken some time, but we now see that it is being codified in legislation to remove a lot of the ambiguity.

The committee set up in 1995 was the joint technical committee on these payments. It was formed to examine issues associated with federal payments in lieu of taxes. Its findings addressed some of the issues through non-legislative means, which is fine and dandy when there is good co-operation between the federal and provincial levels of government. As we are seeing in agriculture today, that co-operation is not always there. The agriculture issues I talk about are the safety net ones where the provincial governments and the federal government are not working co-operatively. That relates directly to the necessity for bills like Bill C-10 to clearly establish this relationship.

One of the legislative changes that is primarily in place deals with interest on payments made after an agreed upon date when the taxes or grants in lieu of taxes should have been paid. The legislation states that it is in the opinion of the minister and at the minister's discretion.

With something as straightforward as the payment of taxes or the payment of a grant in lieu of taxes which has a set and agreed upon date, the minister does not need any leeway in compensating municipalities for money they lose because the federal government has failed to live up to its agreement to pay its taxes on time. The average Canadian property owner who must pay his taxes would quickly find out if he were late by one day that interest begins to be applied. I think that discretionary aspect of the legislation could certainly be removed.

With regard to third party leases there is some question in my mind as to whether or not the people who lease government property or a portion of a government property are paying their full share of business taxes.

The Canadian coast guard building in Selkirk—Interlake has been partially leased out to a private business entity. I have tried to find out some information on it, but the coast guard is kind of like HRDC. It does not want to give out any information. It really drives us nuts, but we will keep trying. Is this business entity paying its full and fair share of taxes, the same as any other business located in the city of Selkirk? I raise that question so that the government will hear it and address it if in fact there is a problem in that area.

The amendments put forward by the official opposition and the other parties should be seriously considered by the government. Where they are actually improvements to the bill, I would like to think that the government will support those amendments.

The Reform Party and I as the member of parliament for Selkirk—Interlake support the legislation. As I have said, we recognize that a lot of work by the municipalities and their associations has gone into this issue. The most redeeming feature of the whole legislation is the level of co-operation that has been shown and the recognition that the federal government should not be telling the provinces how they will negotiate and imposing rules on local municipalities.

As I said, I am in favour of the legislation. It will be an improvement to the relationship between the municipalities and the federal government.

The Late Delphine Patricia Collins
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in memory of the late Delphine Patricia Collins, my friend and the wife of our former colleague, Bernie Collins.

Del was born in September 1936 in Regina. She met Bernie in high school and on July 30, 1955, they were married. Bernie and Del raised eight children, all of whom became an important part of Estevan, Saskatchewan.

Del was heavily involved in her local church community. She was also a member and chairperson of the local public library board, the regional representative of the board and an active member of the Estevan branch of the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living. Aside from this, Delphine worked hard within the Liberal Party. She was, among other things, president of the Saskatchewan Women's Liberal Commission, co-chair for the Prime Minister's leadership campaign and a key figure in her husband's campaigns.

I would say that although Delphine was a very active individual her most significant contribution to the world was that despite all the difficulties her failing health caused, she managed to remain compassionate, caring and patient. She valued her friends and family, and they valued her with equal vigour.

I would ask hon. members to join with me in expressing our sincere condolences to the family and many friends of the late Delphine Collins.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, over 100 farmers showed up at a meeting in my riding this week to show protest, concern and disgust at the lack of concern by the government in dealing with the farm crisis.

The family farm is in jeopardy. That means that small towns across the prairies are in trouble and that businesses and farms which families built up over two and three generations are likely to disappear.

The Canadian Wheat Board came under universal condemnation. It is an organization which is completely failing farmers today. I heard how the wheat board prevented a 200,000 tonne export shipment of canola from being realized. I heard how the wheat board is more concerned about orderly marketing than maximizing revenue to the farmer.

There is no justice in a wheat board that is answerable to no one, has a monopoly on western wheat and barley, and fails miserably in its obligation to serve the farmer. While every farmer was concerned about whether he could survive, there was universal agreement that the Canadian Wheat Board should not survive.

Super Blue Box Recycling Corp.
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Roy Cullen Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House about a leading edge company whose head office is located in Etobicoke. Eastern Power Limited has developed a total solution waste management technology called Super Blue Box Recycling Corp., or SUBBOR for short.

The SUBBOR process addresses two major problems confronting not only Canada but indeed the entire world. First, it disposes of municipal solid waste in an environmentally responsible way and second, it meets our Kyoto commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Industry Canada has taken a key partnership role in this technology through its TPC program.

Unsorted solid waste deliveries will be required for these facilities. SUBBOR is working with municipalities around Toronto as well as elsewhere in Ontario.

SUBBOR looks forward to bringing this technology to Etobicoke, Toronto and the rest of Canada. Good luck SUBBOR.

Black History Month
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, Black History Month is dedicated to the recognition, learning and celebration of black history in North America.

It started in the United States in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. The celebration of Black History Month in Canada first gained acceptance in the 1960s as awareness among black Canadians of their contributions to Canadian society was heightened as a result of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Since then the celebration of Black History Month has become an annual event in major Canadian cities. In December 1995 parliament passed a motion officially designating February as Black History Month.

Activities that take place during Black History Month are varied in both scope and nature. This month is an important part of preserving our heritage.

The heritage of black Canadians is evident in my own riding of Essex by the North American Black Historical Museum, the Nazrey African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Walls Site to name a few.

Southwestern Ontario is an example of how slaves who sought haven contributed to the building of our great country.

This month is an opportunity to remember and celebrate the contribution of black Canadians to the building of Canada.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada's Kyoto commitment to reducing greenhouse gases has been described as the greatest challenge facing this country since World War II.

A reduction in emissions of 6% from 1990 levels means a 25% reduction from 1999 levels, or roughly 26 million tonnes of gases are to be offset.

Since Canada has rarely experienced a year when greenhouse gases have not increased, the challenge becomes enormous. Over the past year hundreds of Canadian experts have been working hard to submit recommendations to the Climate Change Secretariat which will provide the basis for action.

In spite of the naysayers who think we cannot achieve our targets, I believe that these recommendations will result not only in a cleaner, healthier environment, but in an economic upsurge through the utilization of our untapped renewable resources. I urge all Canadians to support this giant leap into the future.

Eric Newell
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, February 16, Mr. Eric Newell, chairman and CEO of Syncrude Canada Limited was awarded the Order of Canada.

Mr. Newell hails from Fort McMurray, Alberta. As his MP I am pleased to extend the congratulations of myself and all MPs for his achievement.

Mr. Newell is not only extremely active within the world of oil production, he is also very involved in his community particularly in education related activities. His accomplishments are far too numerous to mention them all, but I will name a few.

Mr. Newell received the 1997 Canadian Business Leader Award from the University of Alberta. He is the chairman of the 2000 Governor General's Canadian Study Conference. He is vice-chairman of the Conference Board of Canada. He is the director of the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation. He is on the board of directors for the Keyano College Foundation.

Accomplishments such as these deserve recognition. I am pleased that Mr. Newell has joined the prestigious group known as the Officers of the Order of Canada.

Public Service Of Canada
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, we need to reinforce our public service. We need to put an end to the employment freeze. We need to drastically reduce the practice of contracting out for temporary help. We need to considerably diminish the number of term and casual employees. Permanent employment is what we need to encourage young competent Canadians to choose the public service as a profession.

Hiring young professionals full time would provide the public service with highly qualified replacements, as well as safeguarding its professionalism and corporate memory.

It is vital for young Canadians to have the possibility of a career in the public service, if we are to maintain the quality of services to all Canadians in the years to come.

David Pelletier
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

René Canuel Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, on the weekend of January 30, David Pelletier, who is from the Quebec riding of Matapédia—Matane, and his partner Jamie Sale, from Alberta, won the Canadian figure skating championship for pair skating. They won with the highest marks ever in that annual event. They got five perfect marks of 6.0 and two 5.9s. This is extraordinary.

As David's father Jacques Pelletier said, “This achievement is evidence that work, patience, determination and courage allow us to meet challenges, reach beyond our limits and to accomplish goals deemed impossible by others”.

I wish the best of luck to Jamie and David in their next two competitions this season, and I congratulate them on their performance.

Invention Fair
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the first invention fair will be held in Montreal from July 7 to 9, at the Maurice Richard Arena. The fair is organized by the Association des inventeurs du Québec. It will bring together inventors, innovators, designers and engineers.

Participants will represent the world of creativity and the industry in general. The public will have an opportunity to discover Quebec's engineering and innovative feats.

This is an opportunity to promote those who like to dare and innovate. Often, a simple idea or a fortuitous discovery can lead to surprising products and revolutionize an economic, social or cultural sector.

We wish the best of luck to the organizers of that show and to each and every participant.

Human Resources Development
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the past the Minister of Human Resources Development has repeatedly said that the department funds were being managed appropriately even though at the time her own department knew things were in very bad shape. She made the damaging audit results public only because the Reform member for Calgary—Nose Hill was going to if the minister did not.

Now the minister tells us she is going to fix the problems. This is the same minister who said there were no problems. Her credibility is gone and she should go with it.

There are 180,000 Canadians on health care waiting lists but the minister gives $535,000 to a group which bought jewels and claimed them as office furniture. It takes three months to see a health specialist but a failed project at McGill did not have to wait to get $100,000 more than it asked for from the minister. The brain drain takes 1,400 doctors a year but HRDC paid students $14,000 each for three weeks of work.

There is more, but the bottom line is that the Liberals' priority is to buy votes, not the health care of Canadians.

Bombardier
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec giant, Bombardier, has just snagged another major railway contract in the Netherlands.

This contract worth $660 million provides for the delivery of 13 four-car double-deck EMUs and 12 six-car EMUs.

Bombardier is a one of our companies that has made an international name for itself. Its expertise in the area of transportation is its vocation, and is a source of pride for all of Canada.

Bombardier has long understood that the key to economic success is to occupy much of the market and be based in an economic and a political entity such as Canada.

We congratulate Bombardier on this latest success and encourage them to continue their growth worldwide. Indeed, Bombardier is a real jewel of our economy and we are all very proud of it.

Railways
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to raise again with the Minister of Transport and with others an issue which I think should be of concern to all members of parliament, or at least those members of parliament who have rail lines running through their constituencies.

The fact is that the railways, all of them, are running longer and longer trains. We are now seeing 10,000 foot trains as a rule. I am told sometimes there are 12,000 foot trains. They are tying up railway crossings for a much longer period of time than is allowed for in the rules. It is only supposed to be five minutes. However, there are crossings in my riding, and others may have the same, where trains are taking 45 minutes to clear the crossings.

This means that traffic is backed up. It means that public safety concerns are raised in terms of ambulances and emergency services that cannot get from one part of town to the other.

I have raised this with the Minister of Transport before. This is a real issue which needs to be dealt with. The railways are abusing the rules and some day someone is going to die because they are abusing these rules and because the government has refused to do anything about it.

Once again I urge the minister to act.

Renewal Of Infrastructures Program
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, really, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It would seem that the Liberal government wants to renege on another of its commitments.

In a recent article in La Presse , we learn that the Liberals would like to delay the renewal of the infrastructures program in order to use it for purely electoral ends. This federal, provincial and municipal program is vital to Quebec and Canada. This is true too for quality of life and especially public safety.

Quebec, the Canadian provinces and territories and the municipalities have long called for this program. It would be totally unacceptable and incredibly irresponsible if the government were to delay it and use it for such partisan purposes.

When will the Liberals finally honour their commitments? When will they stop pulling the wool over people's eyes and when will they stop making the provincial governments and the municipalities pay and then turn the situation to their advantage?

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of Justice will table in the House legislation to ensure that federal laws conform to our human rights obligations. This represents the culmination of the work of many groups and individuals around the country, too many to name, who have worked so hard over the past 15 years to achieve the goal of equality in our society. They deserve our thanks.

This historic legislation will enshrine in the statutes our obligations under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

This is the right thing to do. It is also supported by a vast majority of Canadians who believe that one of the most important characteristics of our society is its tolerance based on the elimination of discrimination.

Recent court decisions have indicated that our statutes must be updated and this will end the need for constant litigation such as that presently brought by the Foundation for Equal Families.

This is an important piece of legislation for all Canadians and of particular concern to my constituents. I commend the government for acting proactively in this place to ensure equality for all our citizens.

Fuel Costs
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of Nova Scotians who are being severely threatened in relation to rising fuel costs. The price of oil has jumped to more than 50 cents from 32 cents per litre in recent days. Diesel has gone up 70 cents a gallon in four months forcing truckers out of competition.

Nova Scotians are finding themselves financially burdened due to the increase in fuel costs throughout the province largely in part due to federal taxation. In April 1997 this Liberal government was supposed to rid Canadians of the GST but actually created the HST in three Atlantic provinces to a fixed rate of 15%. This tax is applied federally and cannot be changed at the point of sale. This has hurt many citizens, in particular seniors and low income earners. Essentials in life are becoming more and more unattainable for those on fixed incomes.

I urge the Minister of Finance along with the Minister of Industry to take immediate action to examine closely these huge increases in prices of crude oil. Nova Scotians and indeed all Canadians cannot continue to struggle under crippling high fuel costs compounded by massive tax grabs. There is a budget coming. Please give Canadians relief.

Rural Health
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health and the new federal rural health directorate have been working hard to tackle the special health problems of rural Canada and small towns like Ingersoll and Peterborough.

The Summit on Rural Health Research in Prince George brought together representatives of all stakeholders in rural health care. There are in effect two health care systems in Canada: one for the big cities and one for the rest of the country.

While it is clear that some major health facilities have to be in large cities, there is no good reason why basic, rapid response, modern care cannot be available to all Canadians. It is the task of the federal government to make sure that our health care system is available to all.

I urge that Health Canada be given the resources to translate its fine preliminary work into action. This will improve health care for all rural Canadians.

Employment Equity
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, state sanctioned discrimination is prominent in Canada under the code names of employment equity and affirmative action. Supporters of these programs hide behind subterfuge and politically correct rhetoric in order to mask their true intent. In fact, employment equity quotas are as insulting and offensive to those they purport to help as they are to those against whom they discriminate.

Hiring quotas based on race or gender imply that members of target groups are somehow inferior and therefore incapable of competing on a level playing field. Such programs foster suspicion and resentment, and rob us all of dignity and self-worth.

Affirmative action programs breed resentment and suspicion among co-workers, and these hiring quotas foment inequality and bitterness in society at large. That is because of an inescapable universal truth which is that it is not possible to discriminate in favour of someone because of their race or gender without discriminating against someone else because of theirs.

Affirmative action and employment equity programs are inherently unfair, they violate the principles of equality and merit based hiring, and they must therefore be stopped.

Aboriginal Referendum In Lac-Saint-Jean
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, a few days from now, the federal government will hold a referendum among the Montagnais of Lac-St-Jean. Let us take a look at the clarity of the question that will be asked:

“Do you accept and approve the settlement agreement dated, for reference purposes, the 14th day of December, 1999, between the Montagnais band of Lac-Saint-Jean and Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada?

Do you agree to sanction, pursuant to sections 38(1) and 39 of the Indian Act, the absolute transfer to her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada by the Montagnais band of Lac-Saint-Jean of all rights and those of its members pertaining to all parcels of reserve land on concession IX of the Ouiatchouan township?

By voting yes, you authorize the Chief of the Montagnais band of Lac-Saint-Jean or any other member of the band council duly authorized by resolution to sign on behalf of the band council and its members all documents and to take all measures required to put into effect the settlement agreement and the absolute transfer of all parcels of the reserve land on concession IX of the Ouiatchouan township. Yes or no?”

Is that clear, Mr. Speaker, as a question?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the human resources minister was asked to make public a copy of her master list of grants and contributions by riding. She continually denied that such a list existed.

However, the Toronto Star this morning tells a very different story.

Yesterday, Liberal MPs were given a copy of a riding by riding list.

Why did the minister tell one story to the public while giving Liberal insiders special information?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report to you and to all Canadians that according to a media report I saw this morning, my harshest critic, the member for Calgary—Nose Hill, agrees that our six point plan is actually going to work.

I note she recognized that it was long overdue, but from the points she made I have the distinct impression she agrees that what we are doing is exactly the right thing. I would say that it must be a terrific day when we can agree on something as important as that.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to live in dreamland. I certainly never said any such thing.

The human resources minister also stated publicly that opposition members could not have a copy of a master list because no such thing existed while Liberal MPs were being handed copies of that very list.

I will ask her again: Why did the minister tell Canadians there was no list when she knew full well that right then one was going out to Liberal MPs?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I repeat again, there is no master list of all the grants and contributions that exist riding by riding. However, I have a feeling that by the time this undertaking is over, my department will be the master of making lists.

I have asked the people in my department to respond in a timely fashion to all requests from members of parliament and the media. I have also asked them if they would to look at all our data bases to is if there is a way to bring this information together in an effective way for the use of the members of the House.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the only group that ever gets information in a timely fashion is binder boy and Liberal MPs.

The human resources minister has been caught in still another cover-up. I am wondering if she can tell us what other information she is hiding that the public has a right to know.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize that in my department we have taken particular pains to be open with the public. That is why we made the audit public and why we make our performance results available to the House.

We have one of the largest and most active web pages in the government. The 459 projects, which have been of such great interest to the House, are on that web site.

I would just like to point out that it is the Reform Party which has said that our department has has one of the best access to information offices in Ottawa.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that there is a pattern here. The minister claims that she was told about her billion dollar bungle on November 17. However, on December 16 she stood in the House and pretended that all was well in her department.

Yesterday she appeared before the committee and denied that there was any kind of master list on the grants. Today we find out from the Liberal newspaper in Toronto that her colleagues were given a copy of just such a list.

Why does the minister not throw away her script and tell the truth?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of points that I would again like to make. First and foremost, a billion dollars has not disappeared. We know where it is.

I was just speaking to a group in Niagara Falls this morning called the Business Education Council. It partners with the Department of Human Resources Development and takes $2.9 million of our Canadian tax dollars and invests the money in youth and in helping citizens in that part of the country, who do not have opportunities for employment, to find opportunities for employment.

We know where the money is, but we will be improving and fixing our system so that we can confirm to Canadians the wisdom of our investments.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday this minister told the House of Commons the proper process of obtaining a copy of a list of grants.

I would like to know from the minister why Liberal bagmen, binder boy and Liberal colleagues can get copies of the list but the rest of the members of parliament cannot? Why does this minister not provide a copy of the list to all members of parliament? What is she afraid of?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am afraid of nothing and we will continue to be open.

As I have said in earlier responses to questions, I have asked my department to look at the 40 different programs of grants and contributions that we participate in to see if there is a way of bringing that information together on a riding by riding basis, if possible, for the use of members of the House.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader objects to having the legislative committee studying Bill C-20 travel to Quebec to find out what people there have to say. Yet a number of committees travel. We in the Bloc Quebecois understand that this may be necessary and we have never objected to committees being able to travel.

Can the government House leader tell us the reason he objects? Why is he opposed to the committee coming to Quebec and meeting with groups in various regions to find out what they think? It seems reasonable to me and I do not see why he would object.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the member is perfectly aware that, in my letter to the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois and in what I have said to others, I did not mention prohibiting travel to Quebec.

We spoke about the fact that the committee had to hold its meetings in parliament. It is not prohibited in Quebec and allowed in another province. So, first of all, that is false.

Second, the member himself must remember the school board study. At that time, he did not even want to hear about a parliamentary committee on this issue, let alone have it travel.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, all the parties in Quebec City agreed that it would be debated in the National Assembly. There is a bad habit here of not recognizing what goes on in the National Assembly of Quebec.

The committee traveled, and if it is a question of travelling throughout Canada, not just in Quebec, I can tell him now that I have no problem with it. It was done for prisons, it is going to be done for the fishery, and it was done for free trade.

The government says that Bill C-20 is its priority. The government leader said so himself, I heard him on television. Why is there any objection, what are the reasons behind it? The government House leader's answers seem contrived.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing contrived about it, as the member well knows. I told him earlier. I even drew a comparison with another situation in the past where he himself did not want a committee for another initiative that was before the House.

Members, the House and Canadians should not think that committees automatically travel for all bills. That is not the case.

There are a number of bills where committees do not travel. Some bills are not even studied in committee. They are the exception, I agree, but nonetheless. Even that is not automatic.

We agree that the committee's proceedings should be televised and so forth. We have already said so.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the committees of the House travel a lot in fulfilling their responsibilities.

For example, when the foreign affairs committee was looking at circumpolar affairs, it went to such places as Russia, Finland, and Denmark.

Will the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons admit that travel to various communities enables committees to do a better job, that it is customary and normal, and that therefore the committee working on Bill C-20 on the future of Quebec and Canada should be able to travel to Quebec?

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have already explained all of this to the hon. member across the way. Not all committees travel. The hon. member is well aware of that. It is not automatic for travel to be connected with every bill. The hon. member is also aware of that.

The hon. member's party asked us “Can we have a somewhat broader definition in order to hear witnesses?” We said “Yes, provided, of course, that it does not hold up the bill in question”. “Can the committee be televised also, so as to make the information available to the greatest number of Canadians?” Again, we said yes.

In the opinion of the government, the best place to deal with this bill is here in parliament.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get back to the matter of committee travel.

Just a few days ago, the government majority on the foreign affairs committee pleaded the case for authorization of a trip to Asia, to the Caucasus, in order to establish a policy on that region.

Why would travel be necessary for that committee, yet superfluous for the one addressing the future of Quebec and of Canada? It seems to me the argument is not reasonable and does not hold water. The minister knows very well that it does not.

Bill C-20
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear the hon. member speak of this whole matter, of what is reasonable and what is not.

The government introduced the bill in the House in December. It has been before the House since then. Who was it who spent all their time tabling press clippings in the House instead of debating the bill? The Bloc Quebecois. Is this reasonable? Who is it who spent all their time tabling motions to hold up the debate? The members across the floor. Is this reasonable? No.

The government has been reasonable. The ones who have not been reasonable in this matter are the opposition.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development, and it has to do with the so-called master list.

It seems to me that either the master list exists and the minister is refusing to reveal it, or the master list does not exist and the leaflets that binder boy was passing to the Prime Minister originate more in his old rat pack imagination than anywhere else.

Why does the minister persist in refusing to reveal this master list? Why does she insist on questions on the order paper and access to information? Why does she not just come clean with all the information now as she apparently has done with the government House leader?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I assume from the hon. member's question that he would like a master list that would cover all the grants and contributions that are supported by my department. That is 40 different programs. Some of them can be managed and focused riding by riding but for others we just do not have data riding by riding.

As I indicated earlier, I have asked my department to look at these 40 different programs to see if there is a way of bringing the information together so that members of parliament can have it in a consolidated fashion for their ridings. I would be glad to continue to report to the House on this as we make progress.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, if that kind of information does not exist in that organized fashion then how did the government House leader have that kind of information about Winnipeg Centre? He had everything that ever went into that riding, including the salaries of HRDC employees who work in that riding.

Does the minister not realize that it is not a question of the credibility of the Liberal Party or the Liberal government, it is the credibility of government per se as a positive instrument for job creation that is at stake here? She should be concerned about that. Not everybody is. We are, she is. Why will she not act in a way to restore the credibility of government as a job creating agent and provide this information?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I could not agree more with the hon. member. Indeed that is why, when I received the results of this internal audit, I took it seriously and why I made it public so that Canadian people could understand that in the context of the operation of my department there is work that we can improve upon.

I could not agree more with the hon. member that grants and contributions from my department are a fundamental way that the government partners with individuals and communities in the country and engages in ensuring that we do not leave anyone behind so that we can all benefit from the greatness of this country. I am taking it seriously and indeed that is why—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to choose her words very carefully. Truth and accountability have been absent during this scandal.

Yesterday I asked the minister a question about when she was aware. She pretended to be even unaware that a problem existed. I ask her one more time when she was first aware of problems in the transitional jobs fund in her department.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member asked when I was made aware of problems in transitional jobs fund, as you know and as the House knows, I was answering questions about the transitional jobs fund almost on a daily basis from time to time. I was very aware of issues in the transitional jobs fund and I was forthcoming in my responses. If the member checks Hansard he will see that I identified circumstances, administrative challenges in particular projects.

When we talk about the transitional jobs fund, it was one of the first areas of interest to which I turned my attention upon becoming minister.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I guess she still was not aware. The minister seems to indicate that the TJF information is secret.

The Canadian public is kept in the dark about the biggest case of government mismanagement in history, and yet Liberal MPs were privy to all this dirty detail yesterday. Could this be because companies in the minister's riding that cannot be identified received $11 million in HRDC funding? How about some truth or consequences from the minister and the government?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what makes this issue so difficult for members of the opposition is that they will not take the time to understand the difference between the internal audit and what it represented and a particular program, the transitional jobs fund. They should spend some time on that.

With regard to the hon. member's particular question about grants and contributions in my riding, I am glad to say that the numbers he is speaking about are numbers that were provided to individuals in my riding for training, for fee payers, but because they are individuals the Privacy Act stops us from listing them name by name by name.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister wants us to believe that only $251.50 was misspent. What a joke. Let us see here: a $100,000 overpayment to McGill University; $200,000 to a bankrupt water bottling company; and $1 million to a bankrupt Panda Aircraft. Let us not forget the $600,000 to Shawinigan crony Pierre Thibault who was a confessed embezzler.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. Is not the real reason he is trying to dodge this boondoggle that his fingerprints are all over it?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I see Rick Anderson's fingerprints all over the unwarranted question of the hon. member. No wonder that party is going down the tubes. He cannot even write his own questions any more.

The Prime Minister has acted perfectly properly in these matters. He has not personally involved himself in the decision making which, as far as we are aware, has been carried out according to the rules.

In any event, the audit in question does not show misappropriation. It does not show a basis for allegations of criminality and, furthermore, the audit methodology is being followed up by the auditor general in his own report. That is the answer for the hon. member.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, what a waste. The little guy from Shawinigan has turned into the little guy that shagged the taxpayer. It reminds me of a modern day story I saw in a film where a modern day Dr. Evil sent out his evil henchmen to take and then bungle $1 billion—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will want to put his question right away.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, is not the real reason he is protecting the human resources minister that he knows the footprints lead right to the Prime Minister's doorstep?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the other day one of his Reform colleagues talked about Bre-X. I was thinking about that. There is a link between Bre-X and the Reform Party. In both cases there is nothing there.

Human Resources Development
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 continues to deny responsibility in the administrative mess at Human Resources Development Canada. She said in this House on December 16 that no funding had been given out without prior authorization.

How in all respect for the House can she justify what she said here on December 16, since the firm of A. Trahan of Trois-Rivières received $76,000 from Human Resources Development Canada in 1997-98, authorization for which was not given until March 1999?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, in response to all the points the hon. member is making, I am taking my job seriously. I am dealing with this information. We are implementing a new plan that will fix the challenges we have had in the management of our grants and contributions.

If I am understanding the particular project the hon. member is referring to, and we can check it again, it is my understanding with absolute clarity that there was a contract in place in advance of the announcement. It was approved by the member of parliament for the region. It was approved and supported by the Government of Quebec. Yes, there were amendments to that contract, but everything was in order before the announcement was made.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, nevertheless, the minister cannot deny that she said on December 16 that grants had all been given with prior authorization by her department.

Why did she make such a statement when she knew then that the Ropak company in the riding of Anjou—Rivière-des-Prairies had received an unapproved grant of $181,174 in 1996-97, with approval being given only in January 1999?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may correct the comments that I made on December 16 to the House. Those comments were made directly in relationship to the particular projects that had been asked about by the Reform Party. If the hon. member would take the time to read Hansard he would understand that.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think I could have given a better answer than that one. The Prime Minister has been likened to the godfather of grants and contracts. Donate to his campaign and one has a 33% chance of getting a grant or a contract, so the bureaucrats and the managers of HRDC have to bend the rules.

How else can the minister explain that one-third of the projects got upward amendments to the original dollar amount requested?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what we know to be true is that this opposition party has no interest in having a Government of Canada that participates with its citizens and communities to improve the opportunities that could be made for those who need support.

What we know on this side of the House is that these people would shut down all grants and contributions. What they would have is for every man and woman to look out for themselves. On this side of the House, our Prime Minister understands that the Government of Canada can have a direct influence on the lives of Canadians, and we stand behind him.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, for more than a year now the official opposition has been raising concerns about the grant and contribution process at Human Resources Development Canada. Yesterday the minister said:

With reference to the transitional jobs fund, I have answered numerous questions in the House...If the hon. member checks Hansard he will see that I was also forthcoming about the administrative problems with that program.

I suggest that the minister has a strange definition of forthcoming. However, since she was told of these problems months ago, why did she do nothing to address them until we exposed her billion dollar bungle?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, just on that very point, yesterday at committee the officials in charge of access to information stated that there was no access request from that party on the internal audit until two days after we made it public.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development has just told this House that what she said here on December 16 pertained to the project referred to in the question of my Reform colleague, that is the projects in the Prime Minister's riding.

What can she say about the project of the Auberge Mastigouche in the riding of the Prime Minister, which received $300,000 in grants from the budget ending in March 1998, when approval followed only eight months later? What can she say about that?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what we know as far as transitional jobs fund programs go is that they have made a true difference in the ridings of members with high unemployment. That includes the hon. member for Saint-Maurice.

The transitional jobs fund has created 30,000 jobs for Canadians that did not exist before. I would note again that in every case the approval process had to include concurrence from the Government of Quebec.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, what has gone on here is very serious. The minister is denying one of the statements she made on December 16, or, rather, is justifying it by saying “I was not talking about all the projects. It was not about those you are referring to. It was about those I was being questioned on in the Prime Minister's riding”.

I have just shown that in the riding of the Prime Minister, in the case of this project, the situation is exactly the same. There are questions everyone is asking. What is she still doing here? Why is she not resigning? She misled the House.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am here as Minister of Human Resources Development Canada in this particular case to make sure that we fix the problem with administrative deficiencies in the management of grants and contributions. I am here to support our side of the House which believes that grants and contributions can make an extraordinary difference in the lives of Canadians.

My job is to fix the problem. We have a plan to implement it, and I am glad that my colleagues on this side of the House support me in doing that.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is holding a trust. Supposedly it collects public moneys to spend in the public interest. In order to ensure it occurs that way we have a Financial Administration Act that binds the minister and her department.

The minister has broken this law. In a democracy ministers resign—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I do not think the hon. member in preambles to questions should be suggesting that there has been any breaking of the laws of this country in the House. If he wishes to do that, there are proper ways of doing it and we will not have it in preambles to questions. He will proceed with his question directly.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, in a democracy ministers resign when they do not meet this standard. Why does the minister think she is above the law?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say again is that I am taking this undertaking very seriously. We have made it public. We have a plan of action that is going to fix the problem.

I would like to report to the House that today we have completed yet another file of the 37 with the John Howard Society. We have found that there is nothing untoward in that undertaking. We will continue to look at the remaining files and report to the House as the studies are completed.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan grandmother and farmer, Lillian Kurtz, has been driven to hunger strike because the Liberal government is ignoring her pleas to address the farm income crisis. At the same time the HRDC minister has broken her own grant rules, unlawfully diverting taxpayers' money that could have helped people like Lillian.

Why is the Prime Minister turning his back on farmers like Lillian Kurtz while still allowing the HRDC minister to mismanage billions of dollars?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as usual, the hon. member's premise is totally wrong. The government is providing over a billion and a half dollars of assistance to farmers in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. We are very concerned about their problems.

The allegation that the Minister of Human Resources Development is mismanaging government funds is totally wrong, totally unwarranted, not demonstrated by the audit, and the auditor general is carrying out his own audit. I am confident that this will confirm that the minister is carrying out the right approach in identifying and solving the problems through her six point program, which the auditor general has also approved.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister, whose statements in this House contradict her department's documents, as I just demonstrated, also told us to do our own research. She will not give us her lists, on the ground that we have access to them.

We checked. I phoned Mr. Gagné, the regional director for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, who referred me to the minister's office. My colleague, the Bloc Quebecois leader, phoned in his riding of Laurier—Sainte-Marie. He too was referred to the minister's office.

Not only does she contradict her own department's documents, but the minister is denying us access to them, contrary to what she told the House this week, and contrary to what the Prime Minister said.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to report to the House that the Deputy Minister of Human Resources Development spoke with all of the regional employment officials yesterday and advised them that they should tell all of their directors at the human resources development offices to be prepared—

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

That's not true. False.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. Members are entitled to give answers and ask questions without interruptions of this kind. I know that hon. members will want to be very careful in the choice of words they use.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

We learned today, in the midst of a desperate situation for farmers, that the Saskatchewan government terminated its 40% share of funding in the joint federal-provincial agricultural assistance program.

Will the 60% federal share continue to be given to our farmers? What is the minister doing to secure a new nation-wide program on farm income to help our farmers?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the Saskatchewan government, even though it signed an agreement to participate with a 40% portion to assist its farmers in a targeted method, has been asking to withdraw.

I have given it the opportunity, if it wishes to withdraw. I have guaranteed the farmers that the federal money will be targeted to those farmers with serious difficulty. If the Saskatchewan government wants to send money to farmers whether they need it or not, for whatever reason, to do that it will now have the opportunity to discuss that with the producers.

We will target our money and we will continue to improve the criteria for the 1999 program.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, when an automobile manufacturer finds a flaw in a sample of vehicles, then all of the vehicles are recalled and the fault is corrected.

A one-half per cent sample of the files in HRDC has shown an 80% rate of accountability failure. It is statistically valid to conclude that about 24,000 of the 30,000 files have faulty administration or documentation.

How can the Prime Minister reduce this to $251.50?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, as usual, is wrong in his assertions. The Prime Minister is saying that 37 projects are being audited. So far there is a question of $250. More projects are being audited.

The general point is that the sum of $1 billion of projects from which the sample was extracted was found by the audit report to be the subject in some cases of administrative problems. They did not find misappropriation. They did not find political interference. The six point program of the hon. minister of HRD to correct the problems has been heartily approved.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Prime Minister and the hon. House leader love to refer to all of the grants received by the opposition ridings, as if to imply that we are part of the problem over on that side.

I would ask the hon. Prime Minister if he would show me an opposition riding in which business cronies and criminals got millions of dollars, just as they did in the Prime Minister's riding when he interfered with the process.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's premise for his question is totally wrong.

The Prime Minister has not interfered with the process. The decisions were made by officials according to the rules. I hope that is the case in the hon. member's riding and others, where Reform and other opposition members pleaded in writing for support from these programs. They pleaded, they begged, and now they are saying they do not like the programs. What a double standard.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of HRD.

Can the minister explain why in May 1997 the Liberal member representing Vancouver East qualified for a TJF, and why two weeks later, after the federal election, there were no further funds to this riding, which is very poor compared to the minister's own riding which did get funds? Even the website that the minister is so proud of says that TJF is available in northern Ontario only.

How does the minister explain these glaring contradictions?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize that the hon. member represents one of the poorest and most challenged regions in this country, Vancouver East.

I would like to recognize that we invest significantly, and I think very wisely, in that area and we will continue to do so.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has not answered the question about the contradiction.

I know that my riding is not an exception. That is why we in the NDP have repeatedly demanded in question period, in committee and on the order paper a full disclosure from the government.

Yesterday the minister said to the leader of the NDP that she could make it easy for us all if she put a question on the order paper. Well, we did, before that.

But the real question is, why is this minister making it so hard to get public information and full disclosure?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, my intention is not to make it difficult, and as I have said on numerous occasions today, given the conversations that we had yesterday at committee, I have gone back to people in my department and asked them to look at the 40 different grants and contributions to see if they can pick the information out, put it together in some kind of reasonable fashion, which then could be provided to members of parliament for their use.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, can the minister of HRD tell the House how many TJF projects were publicly announced by regional ministers without the recommendation in support of the projects from the elected member of parliament from that riding?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, that too sounds like a question for the order paper.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I must say that I agree.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the only losers in this scandal are the people living in high unemployment regions.

I believe that this program can work if we take the political influence out of it. I myself learned through the media that the regional minister at the time had approved and announced $80,000 in TJ funds against my own recommendation. That company has since then closed and no jobs were created.

We need job creation programs, but we do not need the abuse of the government. What will the minister do to make sure the abuse stops?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again, when looking at the transitional jobs fund, the hon. member herself I think recognizes the importance to her region which that program has had.

We believe that there is a way in which to work in ridings with community members, with the support of members of parliament and others, to make sure our investments are wise and continue to provide opportunities for those who need opportunities.

Canadian Forces
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

In 1997 the minister appointed a panel of distinguished Canadians, led by former House Speaker John Fraser, to monitor a major program of change initiatives within the Canadian Forces. Recently that committee reported its findings.

What is the minister's reaction to this important report and, in particular, what is going to be done to continue the professional development of officers in the Canadian Forces?

Canadian Forces
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, the report from members of the monitoring committee, which I appointed a couple of years ago, is most welcome. It clearly indicates that reforms are taking place.

We asked them to monitor over 300 reforms that came from the Somalia commission and numerous other reports on change to the Canadian Forces. They said such things as: “We believe that the reform program is gaining momentum. The department and the Canadian Forces have substantially met the goals of the reform measures”. It is a very positive report.

Those recommendations which are still outstanding—

Canadian Forces
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of our access request for the infamous audit for which the minister tries to avoid taking responsibility. This request is dated January 17, 2000 and was delivered by courier to the department.

On the 18th the minister announced that she would be holding a news conference to discuss something, and on the 19th, in the interest of transparency, she made the audit public. I wonder if these dates are merely a coincidence. Is that what the minister is trying to tell us?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I understand the question.

Let me say that the whole undertaking was one which began with the receipt of the internal audit, which I took very seriously, and I directed the department to make it a priority, with an undertaking to make the report public so the Canadian people would know that we have opportunities to make significant improvements and to assure Canadians that we are going to fix the problems.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, in August, when she took over the department, the minister discovered she had inherited an administration that was coming out of the Middle Ages. This, at least, is the excuse she is giving to exonerate herself.

Who then must be held accountable for the administrative mess in her department: the current deputy minister or the minister's predecessor, who is now the Minister for International Trade?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, again, I am the minister who received the report of the internal audit. I am the minister who is going to fix the problem.

Public Works
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Last week the Barrett Commission in British Columbia urged the federal government to finally join in assisting the owners of leaky condominiums who face average repair costs of $25,000 per unit.

When will the minister finally join the Government of British Columbia in responding to this economic and social disaster with grants, with tax relief and with no interest loans to the province of British Columbia? When will he finally listen to the people of British Columbia?

Public Works
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, we have received the report of Mr. Barrett and we are studying it.

CMHC is working with all of the different local organizations to try to resolve the situation and will continue to do so.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development is unaccountable for a billion dollars of public money, yet the same minister is insisting that Atlantic Canadians be accountable for TAGS overpayments. Her department is clawing back TAGS overpayments as small as $6.

How can the minister justify this sudden interest in accountability for amounts as low as $6 when the same minister insists it is okay for $11 million in HRD grants in her riding to remain unaccountable and anonymous?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

Noon

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the premise of many of the questions that were just offered by the hon. member are wrong.

We are taking this seriously. We are developing a system so that Canadians can hold us accountable.

We will work with the auditor general and outside experts to ensure that we have a program that will fix the problem and make sure it does not happen again.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec claim that our refugee determination system is costing money.

Quebec and Ontario want the federal government to give more money to cover costs related to refugees.

What does the government have to say about this?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

Noon

Kitchener—Waterloo
Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the federal government transfers funds to the provinces under the health and social transfers. These funds cover related expenses to immigrants and refugees.

Let me further state that the three provinces are net beneficiaries of our immigration and refugee system. As a matter of fact our whole country is a beneficiary of immigration and refugees.

It is prebudget season. Last week the request was for health funding. This week it is for refugees. Next week it will be something else.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

Noon

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this is about the fact that we requested the audit on January 17, and yet I heard the minister say in the House today that our request was not sent until after she released the audit herself.

Why is the minister deliberately misrepresenting the facts today in the House?

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary—Nose Hill knows that it would not be proper to ask the minister a question of that kind. I would ask that we treat the question as having been rephrased. If the minister wishes to answer, I will hear an answer. Otherwise, the question is out of order.

Human Resources Development
Oral Question Period

Noon

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am only repeating what the officials in charge of access to information said yesterday at committee.

They checked with couriers to see if there were receipts for that delivery because they have no record of receiving the request until two days after they made it.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the past two days, a number of events have taken place in this House. Today, it is happening again.

Yesterday, referring to one of our questions to the Minister of Human Resources, the Speaker of the House commented that the question was too specific.

Earlier, the Minister of Human Resources Development and the Prime Minister had told us “Your questions are too vague. We would appreciate more specific questions. Give us examples of mistakes that were made, of instances where money was misappropriated”.

We did our best, even though we still do not have access to all the lists, to find the most specific examples possible, including one, which I raised myself, involving a $5 million subsidy.

With due respect to the minister, it seems to me that $5 million is important enough an expenditure for the minister to at least look at before authorizing it.

The Speaker of the House seemed to back down on this issue and, later, he let us ask our very specific questions. Then, the minister even told a Reform member that his question was too vague and she wanted a clearer one.

You have the responsibility to tell us how my colleagues and myself must act in this House. Even today, after the minister replied that the question was too precise, too in depth, you said you agreed with her. I have not heard such comments very often in my life.

How should opposition members act to please you, Mr. Speaker? Should we ask very broad questions, so as to allow the minister to say anything, or ask very precise questions and be told they are too precise and cannot be answered?

I would like to know the rules for asking a question in a parliament such as this one. In the other one that I have known, the more precise the question, the more accurate the numbers quoted, the happier the journalists, the happier the public, and the more the Speaker would let us carry on.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Roberval has raised a very specific point. I agree with him that, when questions are asked in the House, the answer is very often to the effect that the question is too vague, too precise or something of the sort. This is perfectly normal when questions are asked in an atmosphere of debate such as during question period in the House.

Today, the question addressed to the Minister of Human Resources Development concerned the percentage of applications or programs where something happened. It is a matter of statistics. A question that requires the production of statistics is a question for the Order Paper. That is what the minister said, and I indicated that I agreed with her to avoid having a supplementary question that would have been identical.

I really had to interrupt the member when she asked the question, and say that it was a question for the Order Paper. The minister said the same thing. I indicated that I agreed, that is all.

If the question is precise, it is acceptable. That is why I said I agreed with the minister's answer, to stop the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac from asking another question. I hope everyone agrees on that.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 12 petitions.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, may I ask a question to the government House leader concerning the business of the House? It is a very short question—

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Normally, the question concerning the business of the House is asked on Thursday. Perhaps the two members could—

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

I rise on a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to make life easier for everybody. I do not want to bother anyone and I will be very brief. To make life easier for everybody, I would like the government House leader to tell me officially what the order of business will be for today. Could any changes be made or is the order of business fixed? That is what I would like to know.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, we intend to complete, if possible, consideration of the bill introduced by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services pertaining to payments in lieu of taxes to municipalities and, after that, the government intends to submit Bill C-7 to the House.

If we do complete consideration of these two bills, I do not plan, I confirm that I do not intend to submit any other bill. In any case, we will not submit any other bill today except those two.

I wanted to confirm that for the members opposite because we discussed it informally earlier.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee met and listened to church, human rights and trade union organizations, as well as Canadian government officials on the subject of human rights in Columbia.

The committee denounces violence, kidnappings, massacres and repeated attacks against human rights in Columbia and asks the Government of Columbia to intensify its efforts in order to prevent such acts of violence and such abuses of human rights in that country and in order to put an stop to impunity, especially in the case of crimes against humanity.

Modernization Of Benefits And Obligations Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-23, an act to modernize the Statutes of Canada in relation to benefits and obligations.

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

Canada Elections Act
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-423, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act.

Mr. Speaker, you will appreciate that this bill is very timely in that we are now just beginning to look at serious revisions to the Canada Elections Act. This particular private member's bill proposes to lower the voting age from the present age of 18 to 16.

There are many reasons for this. At age 16 young people are able to obtain a driver's licence and drive vehicles. They are able to join the Armed Forces of Canada. They are able to get married and raise children. They can leave school on their own volition. A variety of things occur at age 16 but the one thing they are not permitted to do is to vote for the member of parliament of their choice.

I think the time has come to acknowledge that young people of 16 and 17 are much more informed these days than their counterparts many years ago. To be part of the modern age, let us acknowledge that the future belongs to our young people. This will be a chance to recognize that by lowering the voting age.

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

Canada Labour Code
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Manicouagan, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-424, an Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Public Service Staff Relations Act (scabs and essential services).

Mr. Speaker, seconded by my colleague, the member for Laurentides, Monique Guay, I am introducing a bill that would prohibit employers from hiring persons to replace employees on strike or locked out where such employers come under the Canada Labour Code or in the case of employees on strike in the federal public service.

The purpose of this bill is also to maintain essential services during a strike by federal public servants.

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

National Environmental Standards Act
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-425, an act to provide for the harmonization of environmental standards throughout Canada.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce this bill in the House along with my colleague from Winnipeg North.

The purpose of this enactment is to establish a process of consultation with the provinces to achieve uniformity in the environmental standard applied in Canada and in every province. The minister is required to convene a conference of ministers of the environment, propose the formation of an advisory committee on uniformity in environmental standards and report annually to parliament. Also the minister is to report to the House of Commons. As well, his or her report should be considered by the standing committee on environment.

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

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-426, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to introduce legislation to amend the Criminal Code specifically concerning the offence of theft of motor vehicles. This initiative is restricted to those offenders who are in the business, so to speak, of stealing motor vehicles. Organized crime and other gang related enterprises are becoming quite active in this type of criminal activity.

The purpose of this legislation is to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of four years of imprisonment for anyone who is convicted of more than one theft of a motor vehicle.

I ask all members of this place to support this legislation.

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

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-427, an act to amend the Criminal Code (abduction).

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce this legislation to amend the Criminal Code, specifically the section concerning the offence of abduction of children. Section 281 of the Criminal Code currently provides for the offence of abduction of persons under the age of 14 years by a person other than the person's parents or guardian. I propose to change this offence so that it applies to the abduction of all children under the age of 16 years.

I ask that all members support this initiative.

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to adopt the first report of the Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations presented on Friday, December 10, 1999.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to concur in the report?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I move that the first report of the Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations presented on Friday, December 10, 1999 be concurred in.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion proposed by the hon. member for Wetaskiwin is not receivable by the Chair because no notice has been given by him of this motion. Accordingly it cannot be put to the House at this time.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The chair of course is the authority on procedure in the House, but it is my understanding that I could move this motion in the name of the hon. member for Surrey Central. Am I mistaken in that?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Only if there is unanimous consent.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, therefore, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to move this motion in the name of the hon. member for Surrey Central.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to permit the hon. member for Wetaskiwin to move this motion for concurrence that stands on the order paper in the name of the hon. member for Surrey Central?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting two petitions pertaining to child poverty.

The petitioners point out that one in five Canadian children lives in poverty. They also point out that on November 24, 1989 the House of Commons unanimously resolved to end child poverty in Canada by the year 2000. Since that time the number of poor children in Canada has increased by 60%.

Therefore the petitioners call upon parliament to use the federal budget of 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have five petitions with almost 200 signatures from constituents in and around the riding of St. Albert, including the city of St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Morinville and Legal.

The petitioners call on parliament to call on the government to invoke the notwithstanding clause and override the recent decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeal on child pornography.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have one petition with over 30 signatures also from constituents in and around St. Albert. They call on parliament to recognize that children have a need and a moral right to be loved and nurtured by both parents and members of extended families, and that the legal obligation should be fundamentally the same for both parents before and after separation and divorce.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by over 300 constituents of my riding of Selkirk—Interlake. It states that one in five Canadian children live in poverty. The House of Commons in 1989 unanimously voted to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Since then child poverty has increased by 60%.

As a result they are petitioning the federal government to use the budget 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations and I think you would find consent to adopt the following two motions, which I would like to now put with unanimous consent. I move:

That the report stage amendments on the order paper for Bill C-2 in the name of the hon. member for Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre be transferred to the name of the hon. member for Kamloops.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent for the proposal by the government House leader in respect to the amendments on Bill C-2?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, now that the first motion has been accepted, I believe you would also find unanimous consent for the following. I move:

That for the remainder of this day's sitting, no quorum calls or dilatory motions may be received.

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed to proceed in the manner outlined by the government House leader?

Business Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to present a petition signed by over 100 of my constituents calling on parliament to use the federal budget for the year 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.

The first petition is from the people of Yukon who are incredibly concerned with the growing rate of child poverty. They are calling on the federal government to take positive action to remedy this in the upcoming budget.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Louise Hardy Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is about nuclear weapons and has been signed by people from B.C. and the Yukon. They want the government to take the lead in abolishing the use of nuclear weapons in any form as they have no place in our modern society.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I table a petition signed by 1,380 constituents of the riding of Drummond, in the heart of Quebec, that I represent.

The petitioners are calling on parliament to quickly pass legislation making it mandatory to label all fully or partially genetically modified foods.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I would like to present three petitions on behalf of the constituents of Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey.

The first petition is from the Orangeville area. It calls upon parliament to uphold the present wording of the constitution and preserve the truth that Canada was and is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from the Mount Forest area. It calls upon parliament to take all measures necessary to ensure that the possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence, and that federal police forces be directed to give priority to enforcing this law for the protection of children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition comes from the Caledon area and calls upon parliament to use the federal budget in the year 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I wish to present the third instalment of a petition from Mrs. Nancy Caldwell of Middleton, Nova Scotia.

Mrs. Caldwell has gathered a further 5,200 signatures calling on parliament to enact legislation providing for tougher penalties to be meted out against those who commit sexual assault against children. This brings the total number of signatures to approximately 18,000.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present a petition from the people of Haliburton, Minden and area.

They are calling upon parliament to take all measures necessary to ensure that possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence and that federal police forces be directed to give priority to enforcing this law for the protection of our children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to present.

The first petition I am pleased to present is one from a number of people in my constituency who signed a petition asking parliament to use budget 2000 to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

They also request that parliament fulfil the 1989 commitment to end child poverty by the year 2000. I have had this petition on my desk since before Christmas and it is now past the year 2000 mark.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of 467 people from my riding of Prince Albert who are calling on parliament to repeal the expensive and ineffective firearms legislation and to redirect the funds to more cost effective measures aimed at reducing violent crime and improving public safety.

In the petition they list a number of ways in which this could be accomplished.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the third petition concerns strengthening private property rights. The petitioners support the strengthening of property rights in Canada.

They call upon parliament to guarantee that all people will have the right to enjoy their property, the right not to be deprived of it without fair compensation, and the right to appeal when their rights have been infringed upon.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition concerns young offenders. It has been signed by a number of my constituents who wish to express their deep concern about crimes committed by youth.

They call upon parliament to bring in new laws to deal with the problem and request that existing laws be vigorously enforced.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from about 200 Canadians from all parts of the country on the issue of child poverty and the resolution of the House in November 1989.

They call upon parliament to use the federal budget this year, 2000, to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of Canada's children.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise pursuant to Standing Order 36 to present three petitions.

The first petition is on behalf of a number of residents throughout western Canada. They are saying that if we want to actually save some money to the tune of at least $15 million a year, a good thing to do would be to abolish the Senate which would take care of that and I suspect make people across the country an awful lot happier.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition goes on at some length about people concerned about violent criminals.

They are asking the Parliament of Canada to amend the criminal code to prevent people convicted of serious crimes from being released from custody pending the hearing of their appeals except in exceptional circumstances.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is about child pornography. Like some of my colleagues have already indicated, people are outraged about the recent developments concerning the child pornography situation in British Columbia.

They are asking parliament to do whatever we can possibly do to strengthen the laws relating to the possession of child pornography and to ensure that it is never legalized.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 59 and 63. .[Text]

Question No. 59—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

With respect to the federal government's sponsorship for La tournée des 20, a cultural event taking place in the riding of Brome—Missisquoi in 1999, can the government tell us: ( a ) which federal government bodies contributed to the sponsorship; ( b ) what amounts were awarded by these federal bodies to make up the sponsorship; ( c ) for how many years the federal government has been contributing financially to La tournée des 20; and ( d ) what amounts were contributed by Ottawa in each of these years?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

(a) Public Works and Government Services Canada; (b) $10,000; (c) one year; and (d) 1999, $10,000.

Question No. 63—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Regarding the Canadian Rock Festival listed on page 10.4, Volume II, Number II, of the Public Accounts of Canada 1997-98: ( a ) where and when was the festival held; ( b ) how much did the federal government spend or contribute to the event; ( c ) what was received in return for the federal government's contribution; ( d ) who appeared at the festival; ( e ) how much were the performance fees per act; ( f ) why are the six groups or individuals listed going to be compensated for potential legal liability, and ( g ) what was the federal government liable for?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

(a) The Canadian Rock Festival listed on page 10.4, Volume II, Number II, of the Public Accounts of Canada 1997-98 did not take place. It had been scheduled for Mexico City, December 7 to 14, 1997.

(b) $27,113.36.

(c) The festival was to promote Canadian rock music and products, CDs and videos, as part of the program marketing Canadian cultural products abroad. The groups which were scheduled to participate are business organizations with products for sale. In addition to live performances the groups were to meet Mexican distributors, Mexican wholesalers and retailers, carry out promotional activities and meet with the Mexican cultural media.

(d) As the event was cancelled, no groups appeared. The groups scheduled to appear were: BTK, Joe's Funeral, superGARAGE, Surrender Dorothy, RED and By Divine Right.

(e) No performance fees were paid by the Government of Canada.

(f) Since the event was cancelled on extremely short notice the groups were compensated for non-refundable airline tickets and other incurred travel costs.

(g) The groups were provided ex gratia payments to cover the cost of the non-refundable airline tickets they had purchased and not used as well as incurred travel costs.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, would you be so kind as to call Starred Questions Nos. 13, 14 and 58.

Due to the number of responses today, I ask that all three starred questions be printed in Hansard as read.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its consent to print the answers to the three Starred Question Nos. 13, 14 and 58 as read?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed. .[Text]

*Question No. 13—

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

With respect to the Sea King shipborne helicopter which entered into service with the Canadian Armed Forces in 1963: ( a ) what was their original estimated operational lifespan; ( b ) what is their current estimated operational lifespan; ( c ) what measures are being taken to extend the operational life of the Sea King fleet; and ( d ) what are the operational capabilities of the current fleet in the following areas; (i) radius of action, (ii) endurance, (iii) flight in icing, (iv) weapons stations, (v) MAD, (vi) data recording, (vii) EMP/TREE, (viii) aircraft self-protection suite, and (ix) sonobuoy relay?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

(a) The original estimated operational lifespan of the Sea King was 15,000 hrs or 25 years, 1988.

(b) The current lifespan of the Sea King has recently been extended to 2005. The aircraft with the most flying hours totals 12,011 hours. The average flying hours for the fleet is approximately 10,511.

(c) The following measures are being taken to extend the operational life of the Sea King:

i. Center Section Repair: This involves replacement of the Main lift frames of the helicopter required as a result of fatigue cracking. Repairs to 19 of the 30 aircraft have already been completed. The replacement of the main lift frames for the remainder of the fleet should be completed by may 2002. Each replacement is performed concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract.

ii. T-58-100 Engine Upgrade: This involves replacing components of the T-58-8F model engine that are no longer available with parts that are more readily available and in widespread commercial use. The upgrade, which also provides more engine power, is performed concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract. Five of 30 aircraft have been fitted with the upgraded engine; upgrades on the remaining aircraft in the fleet are to be completed by May 2002.

iii. T-58 Engine No. 4 Bearing Housing: This involves replacing the current bearing housing as the part is no longer available. This replacement started in 1997 concurrent with the ongoing third line repair and overhaul contract.

iv. Main Gearbox Upgrade: This involves upgrading the main gearbox with more durable internal components and an improved lubrication system, required as a result of flight safety concerns—such as incidents where the gearbox overheated—and the T-58-100 engine upgrade. One of 30 aircraft has been modified with the modification of the remaining aircraft in the fleet to commence in January 2000, to be completed by July 2002.

v. ASN-123 Tactical Navigation System Replacement: This involves replacing the obsolete ANS-501 TACNAV computer with the ASN-123 TACNAV, which is a more modern system. The replacement started in 1997, concurrent with the existing second line periodic inspection effort, at 12 Wing, CFB Shearwater.

vi. DC Power Upgrade: This involves either replacing the transformer rectifier units with solid state devices that are more compatible with some of the more modern avionics recently installed or using in-line-noise suppression filters to clean up the aircraft power. Both options are currently under review. Prototype design and installation should occur in fiscal year 1999-2000, with modifications on the remainder of the fleet to commence in fiscal year 2000-2001.

vii. Emergency Inverter Replacement: Repair parts for the inverter that is currently being used are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase. Prototype design and installation will occur in fiscal year 1999-2000, with replacement on the fleet to commence in fiscal year 2000-2001.

(d) i. & ii. Radius of Action and Endurance: In an anti-submarine warfare configuration, 2 hours 15 minutes, plus 30 minute reserve, and in a surveillance configuration, 2 hours 52 minutes, plus 30 minute reserve.

iii. Flight in Icing: No capability.

iv. Weapons Stations: Two external stations, each capable of one MARK 46 torpedo.

v. MAD—Magnetic Anomaly Detection: Seven of 30 aircraft fitted—CH124B model and operational test and evaluation aircraft.

vi. Data Recording: No mission data recording capability: Commercial video cassette recorder, VCR, available for recording forward looking infra red, FLIR, data.

vii. EMP/TREE—Electro-Magnetic Pulse/Transient Radiation Electrical Effects: No capability.

viii. Aircraft Self-protection Suite: Not fitted. Prototype system fitted and tested in one aircraft. Prototype requires additional engineering.

ix. Sonobuoy relay: One channel 5 minute transmit per 15 minute wait—limitation is high frequency, HF, radio duty cycle.

*Question No. 14—

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

What were the operational capabilities in the statement of requirements for the cancelled EH-101 helicopter in the following areas: (i) radius of action, (ii) endurance, (iii) flight in icing, (iv) weapons stations, (v) MAD, (vi) data recording, (vii) EMP/TREE, (viii) aircraft self-protection suite and (ix) sonobuoy relay?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

(i) Radius of Action:

—Sub-surface surveillance: 100 nautical mile transit, 1.5 hours on station, 30 minute attack, 100 nautical mile transit, 30 minute fuel reserve;

—Surface surveillance: 40 nautical mile transit, 4 hours on station, 40 nautical mile transit, 20 minute fuel reserve.

(ii) Endurance:

—Sub-surface surveillance: 4 hours 10 minutes—3 hours 40 minutes, plus 30 minute safety reserve;

—Surface surveillance: 5 hours 10 minutes—4 hours 40 minutes plus 30 minute safety reserve).

(iii) Flight in icing: Equipment required to permit continuous flight operations in icing conditions at pressure altitudes up to and including 10,000 ft.

(iv) Weapons Stations: Two external 1,500 lb. weapon stations, each capable of carrying one MARK 46 torpedo or next generation weapon.

(v) MAD—Magnectic Anomaly Detection: Essential.

(vi) Data recording: Aircraft must have equipment that is capable of recording passive and active acoustics, forward looking infra red, FLIR, electronic warfare, communications and mission data, and must be equipped with cockpit voice recorder/flight data recorder, CVR/FDR.

(vii) EMP/TREE—Electro-Magnetic Pulse/Transient Radiation Electrical Effects. Essential that aircraft have the capability to continue operations after being subjected to EMP and TREE.

(viii) Aircraft Self-protection Suite: Essential that an electronic warfare sub-system and self-protection countermeasures are provided.

(ix) Sonobuoy Relay: Essential that a single channel sono-relay capability be provided.

*Question No. 58—

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

With regard to the $1.5 billion in assistance that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food pledged to farmers under the agricultural income disaster assistance program, AIDA, what has the government determined to be the amount paid out to Saskatchewan farmers as of November 30, 1999?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

As of December 1, 1999, $100,717,300 had been paid out to Saskatchewan farmers.

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

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

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Starred Questions
Routine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-10, an act to amend the Municipal Grants Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee; and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Ottawa government has finally put before the House of Commons Bill C-10, respecting payments in lieu of taxes.

The need for such legislation has been obvious for years, and the issue has been studied several times over the last five years. However, the wheels of government, as we know, grind exceedingly slow when it is not seeking to encroach upon the rights of provinces, as in the case of the so-called clarity bill.

In this case, of course, the government moved quickly, even to the point of imposing closure, as it did yesterday. But better late than never. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services has finally recognized the need to legislate, and I quote from clause 2.1 “to provide for the fair and equitable administration of payments in lieu of taxes”.

For 50 years, the federal government, as everyone knows, has been making payments in lieu of property taxes to municipalities with regard to federal properties.

Except for some reservations, which are reflected in our amendments, we consider Bill C-10 to be an improvement over the existing Municipal Grants Act.

Under the new act and regulations, crown corporations will have to pay interest on arrears and supplementary payments just like departments. Crown corporations will also have to make payments when their tenants do not fulfil their obligations. This is obviously a step forward.

Currently, the municipalities' finances are in order. The same would be true of higher levels of government if the rule the municipalities must abide by had been followed, a rule that every head of household knows very well: Never borrow money to buy groceries.

However, the drastic cuts in transfers to the provinces by the federal government have had compelled Quebec to share the financial consequences with the municipalities, in addition to putting the health care and education systems in jeopardy.

Therefore, payments in lieu of taxes made by the federal government represent a greater share than ever of revenue in many municipalities, including the six cities in my riding.

Of course, Bill C-10 does not go as far as to force Ottawa to make payments in lieu of taxes to cities and villages on the basis of the municipal evaluation rolls, as is the case for all the taxpayers. That would be asking too much. Rather, the real progress achieved in this bill is the extension of the type of structures covered by these grants and the reduced arbitrariness in the determination of amounts to be paid.

Our amendments are designed to improve the law and, since they are based on common sense, I am confident all my colleagues will approve them. Some were mentioned this morning by my colleague, the member for Saint-Jean. Among the other amendments that were tabled, one aims at defining more accurately certain terms which, because of their ambiguity, might be open to dispute when the legislation is implemented.

We are also asking for a statutory review of the law on a regular basis. This review is important because it will allow us to follow up and make appropriate changes. With this review, the municipalities will also be able to express their views clearly and directly.

In conclusion, the bill before us is good, and it will be made even better by our amendments. We are living and will increasingly be living in a universe where the globalisation of the economy and the levelling of cultures will threaten the individual in his heartfelt sentiment of belonging to his community.

After his family, his municipality is the community with which he has the closest ties. I am thinking here mostly of the cities in my riding, which are large enough to provide their citizens with all the services they need and, at the same time, small enough to maintain warm human relations instead of seeing them lost and diluted because of high numbers.

But this community must have sufficient resources, and that the buildings owned by the two levels of government actually not pay the full cost of the utilities provided to them, the same services provided to the residents, that is security, water, roads, and so on.

With Bill C-10, the federal government is encouraged to take on a fair share of those expenses. Our party will vote in favour of this bill and do everything it can to see that it is implemented as soon as possible.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Reform

Derrek Konrad Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a couple of comments on the way the bill is being administered. Everyone in the House basically agrees that it should go ahead and that the bill has merit. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, even though it has some concerns, is in favour of seeing the bill go ahead, but the government has not invoked time allocation as it has done close to 60 times when anyone wanted to talk about something that it did not agree with.

I commend my colleague, the critic for this department, on his work on Bill C-10. The bill is highly technical. I congratulate him on his analysis and on the amendments he has proposed which have been designed primarily to increase ministerial accountability. Given what has gone on in the House in the last week, ministerial accountability is a virtue sadly lacking in some departments, in particular HRDC.

Grants seem to be a feature of life where the government is concerned. When granting procedures are as unstructured as they seem to be in HRDC—and they are certainly not mentioned in law—and a program is put together to please someone, there is political pressure, allegations of corruption, favouritism and those kinds of things. I feel the bill goes a long way toward addressing some of those concerns.

We would not want the industry minister, for instance, to make decisions without guidelines when he is handing over taxpayer money. He had in his mind that he would turn over about $20 million of Canadian taxpayer funds. However, people felt their wallets getting a little lighter. They felt the industry minister rifling through their wallets and they were an uproar. Without a structured plan in place these kinds of abuses can take place.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is to be commended for putting the pressure on the minister to come forward with guidelines.

The two certainties in life are death and taxes. In Saskatchewan we are seeing the death of many communities because of the state of our economy. The amount taxpayers have to pay is often not known because of uncertainties in income going to municipalities. This bill will address those uncertainties.

Municipal governments have been at the mercy of federal governments when making decisions on what buildings they will be given grants in lieu of taxes and on the amount of the grant. This will help a lot.

The bill attempts to address a problem that is in our constitution, which exempts the federal government and crown corporations from paying municipal taxes on their properties. It took from the date the constitution was written until 1950 to get something in law to establish a program of grants in lieu of taxes. Up until then everything was left up to ministerial accountability. As I said previously, that has created no end of difficulties for municipalities because they do things much the same way as HRDC does and the way the industry minister has attempted to do things. People need certainty in their lives beyond death and taxes. They need to know when the money is coming to them.

The Reform Party has proposed a number of amendments. Motion No. 4 reminds us that the bill currently reads that the minister may make payments. One of the things we do not agree with in the legislation is the minister having the ability to make the decision without being held accountable somewhere and in some way.

In order to hold the minister accountable for any changes in the payment or for the lack of payment, this motion would require the minister to sit down and write to the taxing authority, which would be the local government, the reasons for the changes or the withholding. Local governments need to be given a certain level of respect by this place. Currently, that does not often happen. We can see that in the way payments in lieu of taxes are handled.

Motion No. 5 reads that it is up to the opinion of the minister to decide whether or not a payment has been unreasonably delayed. We want to lessen the minister's discretion in that area so it is not based just on his opinion. The requirement in Motion No. 5 is that the minister provide written reasons to the taxing authority if he decides not to make a supplementary payment. This provision would hold a minister of the crown accountable for decisions that he or his department has made. He would not be able to just simply say “Well, it is my opinion. You have to live with it. That is as good as it is going to get”. It can get a lot better if the minister has to sit down and explain his reasons.

Throughout the bill we see “in the opinion” or “may” or something like that. My colleague's amendments are based on holding a minister to a standard that requires him to make a rational decision and to put it in writing so that the taxing authority can make the decision known to the people they represent. They are after all going to the same well as the federal government. When they have to increase taxes, the people should know why.

Motion No. 8 deals with discretion as to the method of payment. This would again require the minister to provide written reasons to the taxing authority. It also provides for ministerial accountability. Why was the method of payment chosen by the minister? Can it be made in annual instalments? Yes, it can. Can it be made with interest if it is on an annual instalment? Yes, it can. Can it be made in a lump sum payment without interest? Again, the answer is yes. Does the minister have to say why he chose to do it that way? No, the minister does not. This amendment should make it possible for the local authority to find out why the minister made the decision that he made.

There are three government agencies, the Royal Canadian Mint, Canada Post and CMHC, that hold property in local communities. We would like to see these agencies make payments in lieu of taxes as well. In order to do that at the present time, it would require an order in council, which would give the minister far too much discretion because of the way these types of things are done.

Motion No. 16 provides for crown corporation accountability with regard to non-payment in lieu of taxes. Like the minister, crown corporations may make payments in lieu of taxes. And again, without constitutional amendment, the bill cannot read that they must make payments. However, there are ways to get around that. In order to provide for some level of accountability, crown corporations should be required to provide, in writing to the taxing authority, their reasons for non-payment.

We have a number of concerns over inconsistencies that the government is able to introduce into its method of making payments to taxes. In one instance it can get out from under a requirement one way or it can basically lead a municipality around without letting it know why it is doing what it is doing.

The last motion deals with how the advisory panel provides advice to the ministry. The minister may accept or reject the advisory committee's advice, and that is acceptable. After all, that is what advisory committees do, is advise based on the best information they can get. However, the minister does not have to provide a rationale for why she or he accepts that information.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on Motion No. 1. All those in favour of Motion No. 1 will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 1 lost.

(Motion No. 1 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I therefore declare Motions Nos. 9, 12 and 19 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 2. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 2 lost.

(Motion No. 2 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 4. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sorry. Let us go right back to the beginning, if we may. It was a close vote.

In my wisdom, or lack thereof, I determined that the yeas had it, which then created a problem on the division. We have a choice and I need to get the mood of the House. We can go back to the beginning.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am going to have to catch the mood of the House. I will ask for the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the vote on Motion No. 4. Do I have the unanimous consent of the House?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I do not. On a voice vote I had determined that the yeas had it. I need to make sure I do this absolutely correctly.

I will have to pay particular attention to make sure that my right ear is more attuned. We are in a situation now where the recorded division on the motion will stand deferred. Depending on the circumstances that come later in the day, we will deal with it with a recorded division on the motion.

A recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 5. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question in on Motion No. 7. All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 8. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The recorded division stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 10. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The recorded division stands deferred. The recorded division will also apply to Motions Nos. 11, 13, 14, 17 and 18.

The next question is on Motion No. 15. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion lost.

Motion No. 15 negatived

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 41. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion lost.

Motion No. 41 negatived

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 42. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 42 lost.

Motion No. 42 negatived

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 43. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 43 lost.

Motion No. 43 negatived

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 44. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion lost.

Motion No. 44 negatived

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to order made earlier this day, the motions in Group No. 2 are deemed moved and seconded. This group contains Motions Nos. 3 and 20 to 40 inclusive.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-10, in Clause 3, be amended by replacing line 36 on page 6 with the following:

“opinion of the Minister following public advice from an advisory panel established under section 11.1, does not provide, as”

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of one land surveyor and at least two”

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of two land surveyors and at least two”

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of three land surveyors and at least two”

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of one land surveyor who is a member of an accredited professional corporation and at least two”

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of two land surveyors who are members of an accredited professional corporation and at least two”

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of three land surveyors who are members of an accredited professional corporation and at least two”

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of a land surveyor, in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act following an open competition, and at least two”

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of two land surveyors in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act following an open competition and at least two”

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 19 on page 13 with the following:

“appoint an advisory panel of three land surveyors in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act following an open competition and at least two”

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 24 on page 13 with the following:

“office during good behaviour for a term of three years, which term may be renewed for one further term. The”

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing lines 22 to 24 on page 13 with the following:

“office during good behaviour for a term of three years, which term may be renewed for two further terms. The”

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 24 on page 13 with the following:

“renewed for one further term. The”

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing line 24 on page 13 with the following:

“renewed for two further terms. The”

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

moved:

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) Where the advisory panel gives advice to the Minister under subsection (2) and the Minister decides not to accept that advice in exercising any power under this Act in respect of the subject-matter of that advice, the Minister shall, without delay, provide the advisory panel and the taxing authority in respect of whom the advice was given, with written reasons for that decision.”

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

moved:

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) The Minister shall, within thirty days after advice is received, cause a copy of the advice to be published in the Canada Gazette.”

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) The advisory panel shall make available to the public any advice it gives under subsection (2).”

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) The Minister shall make available to the public any advice received from the advisory panel.”

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) For greater certainty, the advisory panel shall give advice on the basis of any relevant evidence and after consulting with all interested parties.”

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by adding after line 36 on page 13 the following:

“(2.1) The advisory panel shall also give the Minister advice concerning any real property or immovables developed or used as a public highway that, in the opinion of the Minister, does not provide, as its primary function, immediate access to real property or immovables owned by Her Majesty in right of Canada, and this advice shall be made public as soon as possible.”

Motion No. 39

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing, in the French version, lines 39 and 40 on page 13 with the following:

“(3) Le président assure la supervision du comité et dirige les activités et le fonctionnement de celui-ci.”

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-10, in Clause 14, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 40 on page 13 with the following:

“comité consultatif.”

Municipal Grants Act
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1:05 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated during debate on the first group of amendments, this bill has a lot of merit and a lot of support from the municipalities in Canada, and we want to register that support. However, there are improvements that can be made to the bill.

We are now addressing the motions in Group No. 2 and I wish to address my remarks specifically to Motion No. 33, which is the motion dealing with the advisory panel. I would like the folks watching the debate this afternoon to be aware of exactly what this section provides. I will read clause 11.1(2) of the proposed bill. Clause 11.1(1) establishes an advisory panel and 11.1(2) deals with the mandate of the advisory panel. It reads:

The advisory panel shall give advice to the Minister in the event that a taxing authority disagrees with a property value, property dimension or effective rate applicable to any federal property, or claims that a payment should be supplemented under subsection 3(1.1).

The creation of an advisory panel of this type is a commendable move. It brings into existence a mechanism which would allow the minister to test his particular orientation and also that of his officials so they could look at the assessment being proposed and the amount of taxation being levelled against particular properties and make sure that the advice has the benefit of consultation and expertise. There are some very good reasons for that.

I will give an example. I referred earlier to the case dealing with the Halifax Citadel. In this case Public Works and Government Services Canada agreed to pay for part of the building, that part which was designated as shelter, but it was not prepared to pay the other part. I commend the department for recognizing that there is a difference, but we get into some difficulty in interpreting exactly how we go about making the determination as to where the shelter begins and ends.

The suggestion was made by departmental officials that this interpretation, which is essentially a civil one, should be done through the civil courts. That is not a bad suggestion, as I said earlier this morning. However, there is a better and a much less costly suggestion, which is the advisory panel. It could come to grips with this very nicely. Its members would be business people. There are some suggestions that there would be professional assessors on the panel and some legal people, so this could all be done with competence, by people who are well versed in this area. Let them do the work rather than going through the legal channels of the court system.

The Citadel is an immediate case that could come to the attention of this panel.

The other example is Sable Island. In this controversy the department has stopped payment altogether. It has simply said that it is not paying any taxes until it knows to whom it is supposed to pay the taxes. Who has jurisdiction in this area? Is it the province? Is it the federal government? To what degree are the respective groups responsible?

That of course would not be a problem for HRDC. It would simply pay, but that is not the case here.

I commend the minister for taking responsible action, but what I would like to do, and what the Reform Party wants to do, is to make sure that there are precautionary measures which would allow the minister to be sure that he is accountable and that these kinds of things do not disappear.

I want to refer to the amendment because I think it is important. What we would really like to do is add a section which would follow immediately after the provision for the establishment of the panel to ensure that the panel provides advice to the minister. The way the act reads now, the minister may accept that advice, he may reject it, he may simply ignore it, or he may amend it. What we are suggesting in the amendment is that where the advisory panel gives advice to the minister under subsection (2) and the minister decides not to accept that advice in exercising any power under this act in respect of the subject matter of that advice, the minister shall without delay provide the advisory panel and the taxing authority in respect of whom the advice was given with written reasons for that decision.

Why do we believe that written reasons are so important? I think there is a very good example that came out of the audit of HRDC.

I will refer to two lines of that report, which say that the original dollar value of the agreement was amended in one-third of the projects. That is one in three. These are agreements that came out of HRDC and money was given to these projects. The amount of money was reviewed, and in most cases it was revised upward. In 36% of these cases there were no reasons given for the change in dollars awarded. The people asked for an amount of money, they got more, and there is no documentation as to why those amendments were made.

There is another example. I will read directly from the auditor's report. When it comes to the monitoring or the overseeing of projects, “some program officers expressed the opinion that financial monitoring was not required if the results were achieved within the agreed budget”.

What that really means, or could mean, is that there is absolutely no accounting. As long as they did not spend any more money than they were given on a particular project everything would be okay. Whether the results actually were achieved is another issue. Whether they actually did not have to spend all the money on that project was not important either. If they provided an inflated budget and the HRDC people, or whoever was doing this, granted the full amount, and they actually achieved the results and only needed half of the money, or a portion of that money, then that was perfectly all right. That is irresponsible.

When people in a business have a budget for certain expenditures for equipment, installation or services that are provided for that business, and it will cost roughly $10,000 to do it, and then they discover as they go along that it really will cost only $8,000, what do they do with the $2,000? Do they automatically take that $2,000 and let it disappear, or do they apply it in another way and let it come back to be disposed of in a way that is most beneficial to the business?

There is no doubt in my mind that a private entrepreneur would take that money and reapply it and not automatically inflate the expenditures in that area to meet the allocated budgetary provision.

That is precisely what we are looking at here. That is one area.

The other thing we are looking at is to make sure that the minister, while having tremendous discretionary power given to him by the constitution, the law of this land, which is to protect the interests of the people of Canada, is accountable and transparent, and that the processes are such that they are fair and equitable to all concerned.

That would be good for the municipalities. That would be good for the provinces. That would be good for the minister. That would be good for the government. It is time we brought about some fairness and equity in all of these cases. Where a minister is not required to take a particular and specific requirement that he must pay, he at least must provide reasons for what he did or did not do.

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1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to what my colleague from the Reform Party has had to say. His remarks were totally relevant.

The Bloc Quebecois will be supporting Bill C-10, although we might have liked to have seen a little less discretionary power left with the minister, a little more of a framework for the minister, just for the sake of transparency. I believe the municipalities would have been pleased to see that.

Unfortunately, apparently out of concern for efficiency, the minister's discretion will be exercised a bit more in the shadows. That is the major reason why the Reform Party and our own party felt some reluctance to pass the bill. That is why I had proposed so many amendments, in order for the committees set up by the minister under the act to include people with expertise in assessing and surveying property in the various ridings. That was the primary purpose of the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois.

Unfortunately, they were not accepted, apparently out of concern for reaching a decision as efficiently and rapidly as possible.

We bow to that argument in the end, because we are aware that the municipalities are anxious to see the bill adopted at all stages. We will not delay its passing, but I would nevertheless make a recommendation to my colleague over there, the government House leader. Next time, in order to avoid a debate like the one we have been having today, he might suggest to his ministers that the bill include provisions to make it transparent, unlike the goings on at the present time in Human Resources Development.

I think everyone would stand to gain from this. The municipalities, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities also, would agree with such a proposal, as would all of the stakeholders.

I am the last Bloc Quebecois member to speak. We can move on to passing this bill, with the hope that the municipalities will find what they want in it, after such a long wait.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:15 p.m.

Mississauga Centre
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a couple of issues raised in this last portion of the debate.

It is true that the panel's recommendations would not be binding but we must understand that the property of Canada was exempt from taxation under the Constitution Act, 1867 and federal payments in lieu of taxes remain at the discretion of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services. The discretionary powers of the minister under the act may not be delegated to another body. There is no doubt however the Minister of Public Works and Government Services would place a high value on the advice of the panel which will be structured to be as independent as possible from the Department of Public Works and Government Services.

In respect to making the recommendations of the panel public, I would like to remind members of the House that the panel's recommendations will be provided simultaneously to the minister and the taxing authority which requested the review.

In summary, this bill ensures the prompt payment of taxes. It provides certainty. It gives structures for dispute mechanisms and an ongoing joint technical advisory committee. It has the full support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The government has accepted amendments at committee. All parties except the Reform Party are satisfied with the bill in its present form. The government respectfully suggests that the bill be adopted in its present form without amendment.

I would like to give my personal compliments to the minister who travelled around the country to get input from all municipalities, the departmental staff who have done an amazingly good job of putting everybody's requests into the bill and particularly the Federation of Canadian Municipalities which co-operated so effectively.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on Motion No. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 3 lost. I therefore declare motion No. 38 lost.

(Motion No. 3 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 20. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 20 lost.

(Motion No. 20 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 21. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 21 lost.

(Motion No. 21 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 22. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 22 lost.

(Motion No. 22 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 23. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 23 lost.

(Motion No. 23 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 24. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
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1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 24 lost.

(Motion No. 24 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 25. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 25 lost.

(Motion No. 25 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 26. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 26 lost.

(Motion No. 26 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 27. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion No. 27 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 28. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 28 lost.

(Motion No. 28 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 29. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 29 lost.

(Motion No. 29 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 30. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 30 lost.

(Motion No. 30 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 31. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 31 lost.

(Motion No. 31 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 32. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 32 lost.

(Motion No. 32 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion 33. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The recorded division on the motion stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 39. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 39 lost.

(Motion No. 39 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 40. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 40 lost.

(Motion No. 40 negatived)

Municipal Grants Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Normally at this time the House would proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions at the report stage of the bill. However the recorded divisions stand deferred until February 14 at the end of government orders.

The House resumed from February 9, consideration of the motion relating to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.

Criminal Records Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have come to the end of a week of parliamentary work marked by interesting and less interesting moments, including the adoption of a closure motion to shorten debate on Bill C-20 and second reading of this bill, which the Bloc Quebecois considers anti-democratic.

The Bloc Quebecois would nevertheless, as is its practice, want to show the people of Quebec and Canada that it knows how to act constructively before this parliament and give its support when it is appropriate to do so to bills introduced here.

This is why the Bloc Quebecois is saying once again in this House that it supports Bill C-7, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act.

There can be no doubt—

Criminal Records Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I am sorry to interrupt, but this is probably the appropriate time to end debate for today.

It being 1.30 p.m, the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should adopt a national housing strategy and housing supply program, in co-operation with the provinces, that recognizes housing as a human right and meets the goal of providing an additional one percent of federal budgetary spending to meet basic housing needs in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago a homeless man died. He died alone underneath a park bench huddling to protect himself from the blistering cold winds of winter. He died a few hundred yards from where we stand today. He died behind the Chateau Laurier in the shadow of Parliament Hill.

Unfortunately, this story is not unusual. Homeless men and women are dying in cities and towns right across Canada: Robert Cote; Eugene Upper; Irwin Anderson; Gino Laplante; Mirsalah-Aldin Kompani; Lynn Maureen Bluecloud; Al; Vernon Crow; Jens Drape. These are just a few of the names of those we have lost to the homelessness crisis.

I read their names into the record of this House because it is this House and the Liberal majority in it that failed them.

It is this government that must bear the responsibility for this terrible loss. It is their retreat from social housing construction and their steadfast refusal to initiate a national housing strategy and supply program that has contributed to a housing crisis that has ballooned out of control.

Canada is the only developed country in the world without a national housing strategy. What a disgrace. As parliamentarians we come to Ottawa to enact laws and to push forward policy that will better the lives of all the people of Canada, the rich and the poor. But I say today, the rich can care for themselves. It is on behalf of the poor that we must work the hardest, because in a country as wealthy as ours nobody should be forced to live out of doors, to beg for food, or to die on the streets.

That is why I introduced this motion, which reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should adopt a national housing strategy and housing supply program, in co-operation with the provinces, that recognizes housing as a human right and meets the goal of providing an additional one percent of federal budgetary spending to meet basic housing needs in Canada.

The root cause of homelessness is lack of housing. It is as simple as that. Housing activists have said it, reports have confirmed it, homeless families know it and yet the government refuses to act on it.

Canadians know what needs to be done. We need the government to commit to a national housing strategy, a strategy that calls for the following: a federal investment of an additional 1% of overall spending on housing, or $2 billion annually; a national approach that is national in scope and in vision. That means no more patchwork solutions.

We need a return to the supply of social, not for profit and co-op housing. The federal government has not built any new or co-op housing units since 1993.

Ottawa must heed the call of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and take the lead by funding a new housing program that would create 70,000 units each year for 10 years.

I know the Liberal members will stand up in the House today and point to the announcement made by the minister responsible for homelessness in December and argue that it is sufficient to deal with this crisis. I am sad to report that this is absolutely untrue.

On December 17 the minister responsible for homelessness went to Toronto to announce a three year $753 million homelessness strategy. The problem was that she left out the homes. It is like agreeing to build the house but cutting off the money before the roof is on.

After months of travelling and consulting and with a projected $100 billion budgetary surplus at their disposal, the Liberals only announced one new program: the supporting communities partnership initiative. It is a $305 million investment but it is over three years. Beyond that, the details remain very hazy. Most people have interpreted it to be a source of matching federal funds for a patchwork of one time local projects. The rest of this so-called new money targeted to existing emergency and RRAP programs will go toward shelters and temporary beds.

Will the Liberal plan announced so far solved the homelessness and housing crisis in Canada? It will not. The reason it will not is because it fails to reverse the government's fateful 1993 decision to withdraw from social housing construction.

The Liberal solution it appears is to institutionalize shelters, and that is no solution at all. By offering their support to this motion, members of the House of Commons can rectify that mistake. We can send a message to the finance minister that we want to see a real commitment to end the housing crisis on February 28 when the minister rises to outline his government's budget priorities.

Instead of handing out tax breaks for their wealthy friends, the Liberals should direct some of the projected $100 billion surplus to social housing construction. If they forgo on just one of their proposed tax breaks, the elimination of the 5% surtax on people who earn over $65,000 a year, the diverted dollars could build 10,000 desperately needed social and co-op housing units.

Furthermore, based on research by the House of Commons research branch, if the government met the goal of the 1% solution advocated by this motion and by others the initiative would employ 44,550 Canadians each year for 10 years.

The upcoming federal budget is an opportunity for the finance minister to recall his own words of 1990, a decade ago. Then in official opposition and as chair of the Liberal Party's task force on housing, he condemned the government of the day, the Mulroney government, for doing nothing while the housing crisis continued to grow out of control. This is what he said:

...the government sits there and does nothing; it refuses to apply the urgent measures that are required to reverse this deteriorating situation. The lack of affordable housing contributes to and accelerates the cycle of poverty, which is reprehensible in a society as rich as ours.

That is what the now finance minister had to say a decade ago.

Three years later, the now finance minister steamrolled his own report and in its place introduced a budget that slashed all federal funding for the creation of new social housing units. This single act meant that 75,000 new social housing units that had been targeted for construction were never built, a decision that has denied tens of thousands of families the right to decent and affordable housing. What an absolute shameful act.

It is time to right that wrong. It is time to admit that this decision was not only short-sighted, it was shameful. If the government refuses to admit that, if it continues to keep its head in the sand, believing that band-aid solutions are the only solutions worth funding, then the sad reality is that more people will die.

I call on all members of the House to support this motion as a way of sending a message. In doing so, they will be joining a massive wave of support which has come in from across the country. In truth, I have been overwhelmed by the public outpouring of support for this motion and the 1% for housing campaign.

Thousands of people lent their names to our petition and postcard campaign in support of Motion No. 123. These are piled up on my desk just as a sample of what has come in from across the country. The petitions continue to flood into my office, and that is not all. I have received hundreds of phone calls in my Ottawa and Vancouver offices. Many people have called in simply to express relief that housing is finally on the agenda. Hundreds of other Canadians have contacted me by e-mail to lend support or, in some cases, to share a story of how the housing crisis has impacted on their life or on the life of a friend or loved one.

I know too that hundreds of letters and e-mails have gone to the minister responsible for homelessness because people sent me the copies of the letters they sent to her: people like Randall Ducharme, who works in a shelter in Vancouver and met with the minister responsible for homelessness when she travelled to Vancouver in the summer.

Randall wrote this message to the minister the day after he had received news of yet another death, this time a teenager, “a bright light” he says, who “succumbed to the perils of an increasingly selfish Canada”. He letter reads:

Claudette, when you visited me at Dusk to Dawn—a Vancouver shelter—in the summer of 99—you promised me something would be done. Thus far your government has only applied more band-aid solutions. Libby Davies has a motion that will enable the government to set into motion a long-term solution that is in line with the spirit of a Canada I can be proud of. I urge you to support M 123.

Al Mitchell, who runs a shelter in Vancouver, says:

Has it occurred to anyone that that if existing programs were adequate, we wouldn't be trying to get your attention to a crisis!

I also received hundreds of letters, many from individuals and many others from organizations, shelters, frontline housing advocates, politicians and unions. The list is too long to go through, but I would like to give an indication of some of the kinds of support that came in.

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, which was the initial champion of the 1% solution, has done an absolutely amazing job in bringing the national disaster of homelessness to the forefront of the public agenda.

We have support from the New National Housing Network and the Tenants Rights Action Coalition in Vancouver.

I would particularly like to thank the Canadian Auto Workers Union for its leadership. It launched its own national campaign and actually put up $1 million to support housing. It showed that it was very committed.

We also have the support of the National Anti-Poverty Organization, the city of Nepean, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Working Group on Poverty in Vancouver, the Street Nurses Network in Toronto, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Calgary and District Labour Council, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, the Alliance to End Homelessness in Ottawa, the B.C. Government Employees Union, the Brunswick Street United Church in Halifax, Hope Cottage in Halifax, the United Steelworkers of America, the Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice, the city of St. John's in Newfoundland, Lu'ma Native Housing Society, the United Native Nations, the Kettle Friendship Society, the Hospital Employees Union, the John Howard Society, the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto, the Carleton Graduate Students Association, the Franciscan Sisters of Atonement in Vancouver, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

We have support from End Legislated Poverty, an organization made up of groups in my home province of British Columbia working to end poverty. They have sent a statement that I think is representative of the overwhelming call to action expressed by most of these groups. They said:

Emergency shelters provide immediate crisis services, but the existing shelters are severely overburdened. Shelters are not enough: we need real, long-term housing solutions.

Those are just a sampling and a fraction of the organizations that have supported this motion.

The time has come to turn the disgrace of being the only industrialized country without a housing strategy into a rallying point for those of us who care about social justice and want to live in a country governed by compassion, not contempt for those struggling to make ends meet.

It is time to stop the desolation. It is time to curtail the housing crisis in this country.

I call on all members of the House to support the community's call for help. Homelessness is an unnatural disaster. It can be solved if the political will exists.

I will end by asking if I have the consent of the House to make this a votable motion.

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Vancouver East has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to make this motion a votable motion. Does the hon. member have the consent of the House to move the motion?

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member who is presenting this motion to the House and, in particular, her appeal for the compassion in the hearts of Canadians for the plight that exists on some of our streets with the homeless people. I really think that is noble.

To ask for a strategy is also a good idea, but it assumes that there is a policy which determines the overall focus and direction of the government. Unfortunately, a strategy without a policy to determine the focus really ends up being nothing more than a program to throw money at a problem. Unfortunately, that is precisely what the Liberal government is doing all the time. It does not have a a focused program to deal with problems. Whenever something happens that is a bit of a problem, the government just throws money at it and thinks it will go away.

We have to look a bit deeper. What should a national housing strategy really be achieving? I want to commend the hon. member for bringing this forward. She has indicated very clearly that Canada does not have a national housing policy. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation does not have a national housing policy. The government does not have a housing policy.

There are all kinds of patchwork programs. Probably the most blatant of these was the one announced on December 17. It was a joint announcement made by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and the Minister of Labour, who is responsible for homelessness.

The motion suggests a national housing strategy. It suggests a housing supply program. It suggests that housing is a human right—and I agree that everybody has the right to shelter—and it suggests that an additional 1% be added to the federal budget to meet basic housing needs.

There is nothing wrong with looking at these things and saying “This is what we should have”. The difficulty is that we do not have anything that pulls all of this together. I would like to suggest that the hon. member do that. Had she done that, we might have come to a conclusion that would mean more than simply throwing money at the problem. We might have actually come to grips with what is at the heart of the issue and what needs to be done.

We have a majority government. It can run anything it wants. It has a surplus and it has the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, with all of its talents, abilities and research. Why does the government not have a policy? It seems so obvious that there should be a policy.

With the difficulty that the HRD minister finds herself in today, I now know for sure what the problem is. The problem is that if the government has a policy, a direction, an objective and a focus, then it also can be held to account for achieving that focus and that objective.

If it does not want to be held accountable, if it does not want to be held responsible, if it does not want people to say “See, you did not do it”, all it has to do is say that it does not have a policy and throw a few dollars at the problem so the people will be quiet and go home.

I think that is what is happening. We really have to be careful.

Let me give a few examples. Look at the leaky condo situation in the lower mainland of British Columbia. It is absolutely unbelievable what is happening. We have had many conversations about this. The buildings are rotting from the inside out because there is a failure in the exterior envelope. It is pretty obvious from all the discussions that have taken place that errors were made by the builders, the inspectors and the architects. Errors have been made virtually all along. The one thing that is being avoided is placing the blame on the building code.

Probably there is fault in all four areas. The building code is at fault, the inspectors are at fault, the builder is at fault and the architects are at fault. One of the insurance companies that insures architects for errors and omissions has declined any further renewal of policies for architects because it feels there will be so many claims on the leaky condo issue.

Canada Mortgage and Housing, which has guaranteed these mortgages through financial institutions, says it is not responsible for anything that happens in these leaky condos, that all it is insuring is the mortgage. In other words, it is saying that its only legal obligation to the financial institution is the repayment of the mortgage.

I know that there are a lot of people who believe, perhaps incorrectly, that when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation grants them the assurance that it will repay the loan, there is an understanding that the building which is being mortgaged is sound and that they can depend on this. Obviously the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation does not think that is right. Therefore, it feels it has no obligation. We will find out if in fact there is no obligation.

There is another issue. The only person who is not protected is the poor consumer.

We have to look at a lot of other areas to see why it is that people are found on the streets. Why are there so many who are homeless? There are many reasons for this. We could argue that some of the social policies, both at the provincial and federal levels, have failed and have thrown people on to the streets who are unable to look after themselves. They have been told “Mind your own business. Find your own food. Find your own shelter. Find your own clothing”, when it was known fully well that they could not do that.

We have to look at this very carefully. It is not a simple matter of throwing money at the problem. We have to look at what is the policy we should have.

What is the government policy that we should have? This is the way the minister approached it. On December 17 he said:

I am pleased to provide you with the details of the contributions of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation...to the Government of Canada's strategy to address homelessness which was announced by the Honourable Claudette Bradshaw and myself on December 17, 1999. Funding for existing housing renovation programs for low-income households will be increased substantially and there will also be several policy enhancements aimed at focusing some of the additional spending more directly on homelessness.

In total, a further $311 million will be spent over four years on these initiatives. This is in addition to the $300 million over five years that I announced in 1998 for the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program...the Emergency Repair Program...and Home Adaptations for Seniors' Independence....The $311 million in total funding is broken down as follows:

$200 million to double the current annual budget for RRAP...

$40 million over four years for a new component of RRAP to facilitate the conversion of non-residential buildings to residential use...

$28 million to double the current budget for On-Reserve RRAP over four years...

$43 million in additional funding for the Shelter Enhancement Initiative over four years (...$12 million per year for the following three years) and an expansion of the program to include shelters and second stage housing for youth.

By April 1st of next year, nearly $138 million per year will be spent on CMHC housing renovation programs, compared to approximately $60 million annually prior to this announcement. This represents more than twice the amount that CMHC invested in these programs in previous years.

Note the $138 million on CMHC housing renovation programs. It was $60 million prior to this and now it is $138 million. How many different ways does the government count the same dollars?

The hon. Minister of Labour, the federal co-ordinator for homelessness, on December 17 announced $753 million to alleviate and prevent homelessness. A cornerstone of that program is the new supporting communities partnership initiative which will amount to $305 million over three years. The total is $753 million. Of that total $305 million is new money. That is all. The minister is saying she is doing all of these things, but in reality about $400 million is simply being moved around. She is doing something all right. She is moving money from one hand to the other. That solves nothing. This is an insult to Canadians.

The national housing policy is a major issue for Canadians. The government should be held to account and asked when it is going to come up with a national housing policy that will work and solve the problems. It should not just throw money at it. It has done that for years and it has not solved anything.

Housing
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate. I congratulate my NDP colleague for introducing this motion in the House.

The subject at issue is no longer a secret to anyone. Recent years spent fighting the government's budget deficit have hit society's disadvantaged the hardest. It is therefore appropriate, when the first fruits of this new budgetary era are gathered, to think right off of those who have suffered most at the hands of this government's policies.

The problem of social housing is one specific and eloquent example of this government's approach in recent years.

Barely a few months after it took office, during its first mandate, the Liberal Party decided unilaterally to get out of social housing as of January 1, 1994.

This is when the government began negotiating with each of the provinces and territories to move away from this responsibility, knowing full well that these agreements did not meet the provinces' real needs.

For Quebec, this arrangement comprises essentially a transfer of management to the Société d'habitation du Québec for all social housing funded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. To fulfil that mandate, it gets nothing more than the funds required to meet the CMHC's existing commitments regarding existing housing units, which in no way meets the current needs of the poorest households.

The provinces that have already signed on are getting a share of CMHC's budget that is equal to or in excess of their demographic weight or needs. As for Quebec, based on CMHC's budget expenditures for 1995-96, it only receives an 18% share, while its demographic weight is 24.5% and its needs amount to 27.4%.

Why is it so important to invest in social housing?

Between 1990 and 1995, the number of Canadian households spending more than 50% of their income on housing went from 583,710 to 833,555, a 43% increase. We know that single-parent families, persons living alone, young people under 25 and older couples are very affected by the lack of affordable housing.

It is urgent that the federal government realize the scope of the needs and give new moneys to the provinces, so that they can set up an investment plan for social housing that will reflect the realities of the neighbourhoods, cities and regions.

The federal government's withdrawal has had a negative impact, particularly on women. Indeed, in the area of health, employment insurance and other areas, women were hit particularly hard by the cuts made by this Liberal government. Social housing is no exception.

Being a woman and a tenant often means being unable to find good quality housing at an affordable price. A recent document prepared by FRAPRU shows the housing situation as lived by women. The Liberals would do well to read that document.

Let me give two examples. I was stunned to learn that in Drummondville, which is in the centre of Quebec and which is the largest municipality in my riding, there are 2,370 households with an average income of $20,640—with women being the primary source of income in 44.7% of the cases, that are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Moreover, 1,105 households, or 20.9%, are spending more than half of their income on housing.

Let us not forget that, according to the government's criteria, a household spending more than 30% of its income on housing is paying too much for housing. Imagine when this figure climbs to 50% and higher.

Yet the economy of the city I represent is in good shape, proof that housing is not just a problem in certain less fortunate regions. It is a problem throughout Quebec, throughout Canada. But there is worse—and I will give two examples—because, in the Prime Minister's own riding, the situation is catastrophic.

Instead of favouring certain rich promoters in his region in order to buy votes, the Prime Minister should look after the poor, the least fortunate in his riding.

In Shawinigan, the main city in the Prime Minister's riding, the average income of households where women are the primary earners is $16,072. The figures show that 1,635 of them, or 55.5%, spend over 30% of their income on housing and that 870 households, or 29.5%, spend over half.

I think that the Prime Minister cannot honestly be proud of the situation of poor women who rent housing in the municipality of Shawinigan, which he represents in the House. Their average income of $16,072 is the lowest of the 59 cities studied by the Front populaire pour le réaménagement urbain, or FRAPRU.

On October 27, 1999, the Bloc Quebecois asked the minister responsible for the homeless the following question:

—the Minister of Labour, who is responsible for the homeless, is the first to admit that the federal government has made cuts that hurt the most disadvantaged.

Could the Minister tell us, of the cuts the government has made, which ones most hurt those most disadvantaged in our society: cuts to employment insurance, cuts to social housing or cuts to the Canada social transfer, which forced the provinces to cut services?

And here is her answer:

—in travelling across Canada, what we notice most with respect to the homeless is that the provinces have closed psychiatric hospitals. Former residents of psychiatric hospitals are turning up at food banks.

This is unbelievable. It is really hard to understand that, in her visits to food banks and self help groups, the minister did not realize that a large majority of people who go there do not necessarily have psychiatric problems, but are simply poor. It is unfortunate that the minister should make political hay on the backs of those most in need and the homeless instead of giving them back immediately the money her government has taken away from them.

As if this contempt for the homeless were not enough, the government has more than once used the Prime Minister's ways to repel protesters who want to show how desperate they are and to ask for assistance. On the hill, the RCMP pepper sprayed protesters, and, a couple weeks ago, force was used against several people who were trying to deliver their message directly to the Prime Minister's office. Some compassion.

Action is urgently required. Ten years ago, the federal government promised to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. The year 2000 is here.

To make up for its broken promise, the government has to understand that child poverty means there are also women and men living in poverty. Some families have to cut back on basic necessities and food to pay the rent.

Social housing is a crucial weapon in the fight against poverty.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand before the House today on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party and as the member of parliament for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac to debate Motion No. 123.

I believe that the lack of safe, secure, affordable housing is one of the most important factors contributing to poverty for many Canadians. I thank my colleague the member for Vancouver East for presenting this very important motion to the House and for giving us the opportunity to debate this growing problem.

Although we support this motion, I must add that we have some concern regarding the requirement to spend exactly 1% of the federal budget on housing needs. We believe that allocating an exact amount without knowing what is needed is a problem when indeed that amount may not even be sufficient to solve this growing problem.

It is unfortunate this is not a votable motion.

To address this growing problem we need first and foremost a national strategy to deal with homelessness. That strategy must provide affordable housing and address the problem of growing poverty. We need a plan to reduce homelessness with targets for reducing poverty and an increase in the amount of affordable housing available to Canadians.

Will that plan include the commitment of new finances? Of course. We may need more than 1% of the federal budget or we may need less. New money has to be part of an overall strategy to wrestle this problem to the ground but it is not the answer in itself.

Recognizing that there is a key link between economic policy and social policy and that good social policy is good economic policy, the PC Party of Canada has a long history of concern with poverty and its consequences. For that reason on March 3, 1999 the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada announced the creation of the PC national caucus task force on poverty.

Many members of our party caucus from both houses of parliament held meetings across the country during the spring and summer of last year to listen and learn from a wide variety of witnesses. We were shocked by the conditions under which so many Canadians are forced to live. However, we were inspired by their courage and by their refusal to relinquish hope. We were awed by the hard work and dedication of the many groups and individuals who are striving for positive change.

The task force acknowledged that no single strategy, no matter how well designed, could be expected to address all aspects of what is an extremely complex, multifaceted and challenging problem. It is also recognized that such an objective cannot be accomplished overnight. Therefore the recommended initiatives target the near, medium and longer term.

Flexibility is also required as is a mechanism by which to judge the success of the strategy in reducing and eliminating poverty in order that various components can be modified as necessary and new ones added.

The key to the success of any attempt to address the causes and consequences of poverty and homelessness in Canada is by developing partnerships among the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, people living in poverty, organizations representing them, and the business community.

While the task force's recommendations made it clear that it does not have any desire to intrude on areas of provincial responsibility, the federal government must play a facilitating and leadership role with the support and co-operation of other governments in Canada as well as the non-profit and business sectors.

During these meetings witnesses made it abundantly clear that a lack of safe, secure, affordable housing is one of the most important factors contributing to and compounding the poverty of many Canadians, and that action is desperately needed to ensure that such housing is available to the thousands of Canadians who are inadequately housed and homeless.

An income deficiency rather than a housing deficiency is at the heart of inadequate housing and homelessness. People in poverty have a housing problem not because there are not enough homes but because there are not enough safe, secure affordable homes relative to their level of income.

In our report several recommendations were made in regard to support for children living in poor families, employment, income support and taxation, housing and homelessness, special assistance for vulnerable populations, support for the voluntary non-profit sector, and accountability for results.

Among the recommendations dealing with affordable housing, our party's task force recommended that the federal government in partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments develop a national housing policy which acknowledges the need for the federal government to be an active partner in the provision of funding and leadership in the area of social housing and commits Ottawa to provide the provinces and territories with significantly increased funding to implement programs designed to meet specific objectives in support of this national housing policy.

A portion of this federal funding should be directed to new co-operative housing supply programs and housing trusts. The money that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is now required as a result of the passage of Bill C-66 to pay the government as compensation for the crown guarantee of its mortgage insurance program should be reinvested instead in affordable housing.

Such recommendations would ensure that a long term solution be found for the growing shortage of affordable housing. By undertaking a well managed affordable housing program, valuable government moneys could well be spent to stem the chronic shortage.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I notice that there is not a quorum in the House.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member has requested a quorum call. We are under a special order in which there will be no quorum calls or dilatory motions, so it is to no avail.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Angela Vautour Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate there are not enough members interested in the serious problem of homelessness in the country. In those of us who are here we certainly have quality, but it would be nice to have numbers. Usually numbers are what really count here.

The PC task force on poverty also studied direct ways of eliminating the causes of homelessness and made recommendations.

First, the federal government should work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and the non-profit sector to develop and implement a national homelessness strategy. It would include a comprehensive range of measures aimed at preventing and alleviating homelessness in Canada.

Second, the federal government should present an annual report card on homelessness to Canadians to be tabled in parliament detailing federal measures undertaken to address homelessness and setting specific objectives for the following year. I am sure if we had had a report card under HRDC we might be able to find out where that money went.

Third, the federal government should work with the provincial and territorial governments to help them fund a series of measures to be delivered by organizations active in the mental health field and those working with homeless people, including the provision of mental health services, community support, addiction treatment, employment assistance and housing, to help homeless Canadians develop greater personal autonomy and facilitate their reintegration into society.

Finally, the federal government should make available at no charge the use of federally owned facilities which are not being used for other purposes to temporarily shelter homeless people in response to requests from local governments.

Such recommendations would help to eliminate in the short and long term the causes of homelessness and would get the homeless off Canada's streets, especially at this time of year.

All Canadians agree that the federal government needs to do more. The announcement made by the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Public Works and Government Services in December to build more homeless shelters was a start. However with the use of over $300 million to conduct new studies on ways to administer such programs, all agree that the money could be better spent helping the homeless. We also need a national housing strategy that includes affordable housing.

The PC party supports the motion presented by my colleague the member for Vancouver East but we would argue that adequate financial resources need to be allocated in order to solve this growing problem.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Mississauga Centre
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise to address Motion No. M-123 presented by the member for Vancouver East.

Time and again the member has spoken out on this issue calling attention to the importance of housing. I do not think anyone in the House can doubt she is a passionate advocate. I am pleased to say that our government already shares her concern on this question and has taken a number of steps to help low income Canadians generally and to ensure Canadians have access to quality housing.

The motion recognizes that the issue of housing need is directly related to the root issue which is that of poverty. A housing affordability problem occurs when a large portion of a family's income is consumed by housing costs to the extent that money for other necessities is lacking.

The Government of Canada has recognized the needs of low income Canadians and is currently taking action. Last year 438,000 new full time jobs were created. Over 1.8 million jobs have been created since the government took office in 1993.

The Speech from the Throne set out ambitious new goals and objectives to create new prosperity and enhance our quality of life. This is supported through prudent economic and fiscal management and additional support for the less fortunate in our society.

We have and will continue to strengthen support for low income families. Significant investments in the welfare of children have been made, including the introduction and enrichment of the child tax benefit. The child tax benefit will reach an annual level of close to $7 billion by the middle of this year.

We are working with the provinces and territories on the national children's agenda to improve supports for families and for their children. We have sought to reduce the burden of taxation on low income families. Targeted tax cuts in the 1998 and 1999 federal budgets have taken 600,000 lower income taxpayers completely off the tax rolls. The significance of this initiative cannot be overstated. Some 600,000 lower income Canadians no longer pay a penny of federal tax.

Income support is not the only approach. My hon. colleague will recall that last year the government made the commitment to invest $11.5 billion in our health system. This represents the largest single investment we have ever made. Because administration of the health system falls under the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces and territories, the federal government made this offer on the condition that each provincial and territorial government must commit to use these funds exclusively for health care.

This additional funding was designed to help the provinces and territories to deal with immediate concerns in the health system, including diagnostic and treatment services for those with mental health issues or drug addictions, those most likely to be found on the streets in need of adequate housing.

Members know that decent housing at a reasonable cost is essential. There are current housing problems in the country which need to be addressed such as the pressing housing needs that exist in a number of aboriginal communities. We must address the changing needs of an aging population. There is the problem of homelessness particularly in larger cities across the country.

Our government is committed to action across the broad spectrum of housing issues. We are taking a comprehensive approach. We are seeing concrete results. The primary instrument for the Government of Canada's action in the area of housing is the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC is responsible for the government's housing policy. The corporation's goal is to promote affordability, accessibility and choice in housing for Canadians. Each of CMHC's core activities supports this goal.

The corporation's work on behalf of Canadians rests on four solid pillars: housing finance, assisted housing, research and information transfer, and export promotion. Let us take the example of housing finance. CMHC mortgage insurance, which guarantees mortgage loans issued by financial institutions, plays a crucial role in helping Canadians gain access to home ownership or rental accommodation with the lowest possible down payment and interest rates no matter where they live in Canada.

For generations of Canadians saving for the down payment on a first home has been a challenge. Thanks to CMHC-protected reduced down payments, home ownership has become a reality for more than 610,000 first time home buyers since the program's inception in 1992.

The second important pillar that supports the valuable work of CMHC is research and information transfer. CMHC's research helps Canadians to understand and meet the housing challenges of tomorrow. Working in partnership with the housing industry, research into housing issues results in developing solutions to improving the quality and technical performance as well as the affordability of housing.

As well there is the commitment to assisted housing. The Government of Canada currently contributes $1.9 billion annually to meet the housing needs of low income Canadians, supporting 644,000 units across the country. For years Canada's social housing services have been provided in partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and with housing agencies and sponsor groups.

Another successful program which the Government of Canada supports through CMHC is the residential rehabilitation assistance program. The minister responsible for CMHC announced last December a further $200 million over four years, effectively doubling the budget for RRAP. This is part of the Government of Canada's overall $753 million strategy to address homelessness. As well the minister announced the creation of a new component of the program to convert non-residential buildings to residential use for a total contribution of another $40 million.

The current budget for RRAP on Indian reserves was doubled, which will result in an additional $28 million over four years. These funding increases are in addition to the $300 million over five years announced in 1998 for this program.

RRAP is a very successful program. It provides funds to low income home owners and owners of properties where low income Canadians live. The owners use the funds to bring their properties up to minimum health and safety standards. They have been referred to by other speakers as safe, clean and affordable buildings.

Over the years we have seen firsthand that RRAP makes a tangible difference in the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people across Canada. The examples of RRAP's success stories are too numerous to list, but the program is having a positive impact in communities across Canada.

I will give the House a brief glimpse of what the government is achieving through two examples. In Winnipeg there is a 40 bed rooming house in the inner city called Nakiska II. This facility is primarily used by natives from communities in northern Manitoba who come Winnipeg for medical care. Nakiska II received a RRAP commitment of over $380,000.

In Vancouver there is the Metropole Hotel, a 60 unit building that received CMHC loan insurance to purchase the building and $1.1 million in RRAP funds for much needed repairs. The Metropole provides affordable housing for low income inner city residents.

These are just two examples of what RRAP is achieving throughout Canada. What these projects all share is that they are based on partnerships and involve the local community. They prove the worth of our emphasis on community solutions.

In closing, I stress again that CMHC is committed to ensuring that Canadians remain among the best housed people in the world. However, our government is aware that there are too many of our citizens who do not have adequate housing. Rest assured that the government through CMHC will continue to improve Canadians access to quality, affordable housing. By working together with our partners at other levels of government, with community groups and with the housing industry, we will continue to help Canadians buy, build and rent homes. In so doing we will improve the quality of life for all Canadians.

Housing is a joint responsibility of all levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal. For this reason the government cannot support this specific motion.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There are eight minutes remaining in the debate. The last five minutes of the debate go to the sponsor of the motion, so there are three minutes remaining for any member who wishes to rise. Seeing no members on their feet, I invite the hon. member for Vancouver East to sum up in the last five minutes of debate.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the debate of the various party representatives. I thank the members present who participated in the debate on this important motion which certainly has a lot of support. It was interesting to hear the perspective of the different parties.

From what I heard, the Reform Party member basically said there was not too much wrong with the motion. He talked about the problem with leaky condos, with which I would concur. It is interesting that the Reform Party, which I do not think historically has been an advocate of social housing, seems to think that housing is a human right.

The member said that there is a need to have a national housing policy. I do not care whether we call it a policy or a strategy as long as we get the housing built. The member believed that was important. When this matter comes up in future debates I urge the Reform Party to be true to its word, to show its commitment and support, particularly when it comes time for the budget, and to be committed to an allocation that will result in housing being built.

I say to the member from the Bloc Quebecois that only two provinces are still constructing social housing in Canada. Those are British Columbia and Quebec. Both provinces are doing a good job of trying to keep up with the demand, but as the member outlined so well it is often the poor or single women or lone female heads of households who suffer the most. I know from my own experience in Vancouver East that unless those federal dollars are present the provinces simply cannot do it alone. That is the reason we need a national housing strategy.

I also appreciate the comments of the member from the Tory party, the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac.

Concern was expressed about the 1% for housing. I would like to explain that the 1% for housing emanates from the fact that right now governments spend about 1% on housing. The member from the government side told us that CMHC spends about $1.9 billion currently on housing. This motion calls for an expenditure of about $2 billion. That is what is committed now. We are saying that an additional 1% is required in order to meet this very basic need in Canada.

The Tory member also talked about her party's task force on poverty. For the record it was the Tory government that began the demise of Canada's social housing programs. It was continued by the Liberal government and we are at this crisis today. Nevertheless I was happy to see support for the motion.

In terms of the government position, after hearing the long list of all it is doing, it begs the question, why do we have a crisis in this country? Why do we have a crisis in homelessness and housing despite the RRAP programs which the member spoke about, despite the research, despite the mortgages that exist? It is because we are not constructing new units.

I am very glad that those 660,000 units exist. I know families who live in that housing and their lives have changed as a result. However unless we can build new social housing with a federal commitment for dollars, then we will still see people on the streets.

It is unfortunate that the government rests on what has been done in the past and does not recognize the reality before us today. I think we would all agree that homelessness is caused in part by poverty. It is a lack of housing and it is also growing poverty.

We have to look at the social policies that have been decided on by the Liberal government. The cuts to EI have forced many women into poverty. Child poverty has increased 50% since the resolution was first brought forward in 1989. These realities are a result of social policy that has come from the Liberal government.

I did hear that there is support for this motion. If there is a commitment, if there is a will, then we can address this issue and we can decide that we want a real national housing program with the federal government present in co-operation with the provinces.

I call on members of this House and seek unanimous consent to have this motion made votable.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Vancouver East has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to have her motion made votable. Does the hon. member for Vancouver East have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Agreed.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Housing
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

It being 2.28 p.m. this House stands adjourned until Monday, February 14 at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.28 p.m.)