House of Commons Hansard #43 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was referendum.

Topics

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, an agreement was reached with all of the provinces except Quebec. I am going to say something now which could come back to haunt me but I am going to say it anyway because I believe in brutal honesty.

I believe that Quebec is the only province standing up for the constitution of Canada. Quebecers are the ones who are saying that this is a provincial jurisdiction and the federal government has been encroaching on provincial jurisdiction steadily over the last 30 years by an increasing use of the spending power. The government has gone into areas where it ought not to be. As a result people in Quebec are saying “We want out of here because you are not even obeying your own constitution”.

I am not at all happy that I said that. I am not happy because it is the truth and because it points out a fundamental problem in this country which has not been dealt with by past Conservative and Liberal governments. I am talking about a respect for the law and order of our constitution.

I must add that we want to live together as a federation. I want Quebec to stay in Canada. I want Canada to stay together. We must learn to work together. This means that Ottawa, this parliament, the government, must respect what Canadians are expecting from their constitution and from their individual provincial rights. Too often the government steps on the toes of those people in the provinces who simply want to do things that are good for their country.

I say it is time to fix that part of it. Then we would not have Bill C-20 and all the other stuff that goes with it.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for raising this matter, because the entire question of Canada's social programs is extremely important.

This is one of the sectors in which it is clear that the Canadian federal system is working the least well. In 1989, a motion was passed unanimously to eradicate child poverty. Today we have more poor children than we did in 1989. This is a matter that brings great dishonour to the Canadian government.

In my opinion, on the point raised referring to the auditor general's report, the proposal made by the Bloc Quebecois, by the hon. member for Québec, is an excellent one. She has proposed that a commissioner for poverty be created. This commissioner would carry out the duties of the auditor general where poverty issues were concerned, but would go far beyond that, by not only finding if the legislation had or had not been complied with, but also making recommendations on where there ought to be amendments to the legislation, on how the government ought to be judged.

This position would have the same credibility as the auditor general. We know that when the auditor general criticizes something the government has done, the public listens to him. I believe the poverty commissioner could have the same type of responsibility. I find the proposal by the hon. member for Québec to be an interesting one, an interesting strategy within the overall strategy against poverty.

In our system, it is fairly complicated for a citizen to understand what the responsibility of each government is in the social area. The federal government ought to give money back in the form of transfer payments to the provinces, whose responsibility it is to administer programs.

It would have been a good thing if today's report had gone into this a bit further, and this is what I would like to ask the hon. member. Ought we not to have gone as far as to pass concrete judgment on the federal government's interventions? Is it appropriate for the federal government to interfere in things that are none of its business?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, again I appreciate the question. Here is a person who says that we should deal honestly with the question of child poverty. Child poverty results from families who do not make enough money relative to the expenses they need to provide for the needs of their families.

What does the government do? It taxes them. People making $20,000 a year or less for their families put $6 billion a year into the federal coffers. The Liberals ought to be ashamed of themselves for doing that.

I believe what we need to do to fight poverty is first of all to allow Canadians to keep some of their earnings. Poor people are taxed at the highest marginal rate of anyone in the country because of this Conservative-Liberal regime we have been under for the last 30 years. That has got to be fixed.

There are also certain people who have very specific definite needs. They need the help of the community, and I would say they absolutely have it. However, for those who are able to work, the best help we can give them and the best way to fight their poverty is to set up an economic climate where there are so many jobs that they all have a job and can provide for their own families.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The House has heard the terms of the motion moved by the parliamentary secretary. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

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

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 662
Routine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-20, an act to give effect to the requirement for clarity as set out in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Quebec secession reference, be read the second time and referred to a a committee, and of the amendment.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

When debate was interrupted the hon. member for Markham had one minute in questions and comments. Does the hon. member wish to use his last minute?