House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was poverty.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

Lithuanian Independence Day
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the people of Lithuania and Lithuanian Canadians are celebrating the occasion of the 82nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Canada has always had a very positive relationship with Lithuania. This is partly due to our steadfast refusal to recognize the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states and also our rapid recognition of re-independence in 1990.

Canada's active Lithuania Canadian community has also greatly contributed to fostering exchanges and maintaining the friendship between our countries. The cultural and diplomatic ties between our countries have been fostered and strengthened over time through the twinning of cities, military co-operation through NATO's partnership for peace, as well as trade investment initiatives such as the Baltic express mission in 1998. The government is currently planning a follow-up Baltic express mission which will take place in September of this year.

I would like to offer my congratulations to President Adamkus, the Lithuanian parliament and to the people of Lithuania on this momentous occasion.

Farmers
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, for months now I have had farmers from my riding of Athabasca coming to me to tell me how they are suffering. Alberta farmers are being crushed under a burden of debt and non-existent profits due to crop failures, high input costs and low commodity prices. Many of the municipalities in the province of Alberta have declared their regions disaster areas, and life is not getting any easier for our farmers since this government is unwilling to provide them with any substantive relief or assistance.

I have been trying my best to help our farmers, but now I realize that what I should have been telling them all these months was, instead of lobbying the agriculture minister for assistance, they should have sent in bogus applications to the Minister of Human Resources Development. No doubt they would have received more money than they could ever have hoped for.

When I go back to the farmers to give them an update I can tell them that the reason they have not received any real assistance is that this government was too busy losing over a billion dollars to worry about western farmers.

United Nations Security Council
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, as one of the 10 non-permanent member states currently elected to the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term, Canada has taken concrete steps to increase the transparency and openness of the council sessions and procedures by providing regular updates to non-members of the security council—170-plus states at any time—posting regular information about the security council and its activities on our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade website, and advocating the opening up of council meetings to non-member countries.

Through these initiatives we are working actively to ensure that the concerns of all countries are heard at the United Nations before one of its key parliamentary institutions.

The Late J. Angus Maclean
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joe McGuire Egmont, PE

Mr. Speaker, Prince Edward Island and Canada have lost one of their most distinguished citizens. J. Angus MacLean, a long-time member of the House and a former premier of P.E.I., died yesterday.

The man everyone knew as Angus served our province as opposition leader from 1976 to 1979. He was premier from 1979 to 1981. He retired from leadership but continued to serve his constituents as their MLA for another year.

Prior to his tour of provincial duty, Angus was one of the members of parliament for the dual riding of Queens in Prince Edward Island, which became the riding of Malpeque in 1966. He served in the House in a most distinguished fashion for 25 years. During that period Angus was Minister of Fisheries from 1957 to 1963.

Born on a small farm in 1914, Angus never lost his affinity for the rural way of life. He left the island to serve his country in World War II in 1939. His aircraft was shot down, he spent 10 weeks behind enemy lines and finally made his escape to safety. Decorated for his heroics with the RCAF during the war, Angus returned home to his beloved province and a life of public service.

A man of principle, Angus drew respect from people of every political stripe. His common sense approach and sense of fair play endeared him to all. His droll sense of humour also served him well.

Biosphere Reserves
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada now has eight biosphere reserves. Six are located in Quebec, Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba. There are two new reserves, which are Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia and Redberry Lake in Saskatchewan. They are now designated as international biosphere reserves under the UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Program.

This is a great victory for the communities involved, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee and the Friends of Clayoquot Sound, as well as the Nuu-chah-nulth Central Region First Nation. They all deserve special recognition for their dedication and work which led to the nomination of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of the Environment also should be recognized for their support for this fine initiative.

Farmers
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I spoke to Nick Parsons on his cellphone. Nick, a farmer in my riding, is into the second week of his combine odyssey from Farmington to Ottawa aboard “Prairie Belle”, his big red combine.

Nick hopes to open the eyes of the Prime Minister to the plight of Canada's farmers. According to Nick, “If the Prime Minister won't stand up for farmers, he should step aside for someone who will”.

When I spoke to Nick he was having coffee with farmers at a Massey dealership in Watrous before heading for Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He described his trip as tears and fears, a very emotional journey.

On Monday a priest stopped Nick's combine to talk about his fears regarding farmers in his parish on the verge of committing suicide. At the end of their conversation the priest reached into his wallet and donated $20 to Nick's survival of the family farm trust fund.

I commend Nick on his monumental journey and encourage Canadians to give him a supportive call at area code 250, 784-4677.

Keep her between the ditches, Nick.

National Unity
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to be Canadian. I believe that Canada is the best country in the world in which to live and I am determined to see it remain united.

My love for my country is why I am also very proud to support Bill C-20, the clarity act. On an issue as important as national unity we cannot let our judgment be clouded. The question must be clear and the majority must also be clear. Anything less would be unfair to all Canadians, past, present and future.

Yesterday was flag day. I was proud to see people in Guelph—Wellington and across Canada show their patriotism and commitment to making this country work. As the saying goes, something worth having is worth fighting for, and our country is definitely worth fighting for.

Labelling Of Transgenic Foods
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Hélène Alarie Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 29, a protocol on biosafety was adopted in Montreal.

Despite the efforts of Canada and its buddies in the Miami group to limit the scope of this protocol, it now allows a country to ban importation of a genetically modified product if it feels there is not sufficient scientific proof of its safety. It also sets rules for shipping, requiring cargoes containing GMOs to be identified. The protocol left the issue of labelling of transgenic foods unresolved, however.

The Canadian government cannot continue to do nothing on this issue until the protocol is ratified and implemented. It must respect the rights and wishes of consumers to know what they are eating and to choose accordingly, by moving quickly to require the labelling of all foods containing genetically modified organisms.

Automation Tooling Systems
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Automation Tooling Systems, a world-class high tech company in my riding of Cambridge, yesterday announced a multimillion dollar expansion and the creation of 300 to 400 new jobs.

ATS operates an automation systems plant, a metal components plant and recently made a breakthrough in the health care industry. This successful company employs close to 3,000 people worldwide. Half of its employees work in Cambridge and Kitchener.

I would like to congratulate the management and employees of ATS for their ongoing success in the new economy.

Taxation
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yes, Virginia, there is a brain drain and overtaxation is to blame. Hurrah, the industry minister has finally acknowledged the role that high corporate taxes play in driving our best and brightest out of Canada. But what is he going to do about it?

Witness after witness appearing before the industry committee's productivity study have called for lower corporate and personal income tax rates. Leading economists, such as Pierre Fortin, have said that the answer to Canada's declining standard of living is to cut taxes and pay down debt. It is very simple: cut taxes and pay down debt.

Clearly it is time for the minister to stand for Canada. It is time for him to put his money where his mouth is and deliver real tax cuts on budget day.

Health System
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are very much attached to their public and universal health system.

It is the responsibility of the Canadian government to ensure that the five principles for health care set out in the Canada Health Act are respected. These are: accessibility, portability, universality, public administration and public funding.

In the 1999 budget, the Government of Canada earmarked $11.5 billion over five years for strengthening and modernizing our health system.

In that context, the Liberal government calls for the collaborative efforts of all of the Canadian provinces in order to provide the best possible services throughout the country.

With a united effort we are going to improve health services, in the interests of enhancing the quality of life in all of the regions of Canada.

Academy Award Nominations
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is Academy Award nomination time again. There are some Oscar nominees who have been overlooked by the academy, so we offer them to you today.

Best actor: The Prime Minister. There is no doubt about it. For seven years he has been cutting health care and acting like he is not.

Best makeup: The Canadian alliance or the Reform Party, or whatever they are calling it. Every Canadian knows it is the same old Reform underneath, no matter how many times they change their name.

Best foreign language film: This would be the Reform Party too. Canadians consistently say their priority is health care, but Reform thinks it is tax cuts for the rich, which is foreign to anyone who is staying in a hospital.

Best performance in a musical: The health minister for his question period renditions of the same old tune “I'm saving medicare”.

Best supporting actor: The finance minister for his portrayal of Scrooge in the Liberal government's budget series.

Finally, best lead in a horror feature: Ralph Klein for “Destroying Medicare III—The Privatization Bill”.

Bill C-20
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, eight years ago, on February 8, the foreign affairs ministers of the 12 members of the EU signed a new monetary, economic and political partnership agreement. This was the Maastricht agreement, the new Europe.

Then the acceptance or rejection of this agreement was put to a vote in referendums in these countries. In all instances, the rule of absolute majority applied.

What a contrast to Bill C-20, which, in addition to failing to recognize the rule of absolute majority, denies Quebecers the right to ask their government to negotiate a new economic and political partnership agreement with Canada.

While Europe is built on openness, equality of peoples and respect for the rules of democracy, the federal government is trying to restrict democracy and to deny the equality of peoples in order to preserve the status quo.

Hats off to Europe of the people and democracy and shame on the federal government of Canada.

Canadian Economy
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Drouin Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, on scrutiny, the Liberal government's economic performance is impressive.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of Canadians, our economy is the best it has been in over ten years. The economic indicators bear witness to its good health.

In 1999, there were 427,000 new jobs in the country. That represents a 3% increase over 1998. The Liberals have created some 1.9 million jobs since they took office in 1993.

The unemployment rate was 11.4% in 1993. It is now at 6.8%, something not seen since April 1976, nearly a quarter of a century ago. The unemployment rate is therefore 4.6% lower than it was when we took office.

The figures, not to mention the elimination of the $42 billion deficit, amply prove the statement that the Liberal government works for Canadians.