House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was citizenship.

Topics

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be able to take part in the debate surrounding Bill C-16.

Someone much wiser than I once said that there is no higher honour that one can have than that of being a citizen in a democracy. I firmly believe that and I believe that Canadians are doubly blessed and feel even more strongly than some in that regard.

Canadians, first and foremost, do value their Canadian citizenship and their right to belong to this great country. Coming with that privilege also comes obligations and responsibilities, both of which we also welcome and value as part of our Canadian citizenship.

Obviously most Canadians hold this issue very dear and very close to them by virtue of the fact that we had 37 groups and organizations make representations to the committee as it studied Bill C-63, which was the immediate predecessor of Bill C-16. Thirty-seven groups from all across the country felt strongly enough and genuinely motivated enough about this issue, which really only amends the Citizenship Act in quite minor ways, to give of their time to share their ideas with our committee. We took their representations very seriously and I believe crafted the better part of their recommendations into what we have before us today as Bill C-16.

I am proud to say that our caucus too is fiercely proud of its Canadian citizenship. We consider ourselves fiercely proud Canadian nationalists. We consider ourselves champions of this country. Our citizenship is the vehicle by which we are given the licence to advocate on behalf of our country and speak loudly and proudly about it wherever we can here and elsewhere.

I lament the fact that somehow being a fiercely proud Canadian citizen has somehow fallen out of fashion. It is not nearly as common or as typical in this place to hear even what was heard 20 or 30 years ago when members of the Liberal Party at that time occupied themselves to a great degree on the issue of Canadian nationalism, foreign ownership and concentration of foreign ownership. There were people such as Walter Gordon in the old days who would stand up in the House and speak passionately about keeping Canada Canadian, not losing our economic sovereignty and not selling out to foreign ownership. It is now creeping higher and higher to the point where Canadians really have to question who is running the show and if we really do have economic sovereignty.

When we talk about citizenship we cannot help but think of those things and that thrust we feel sometimes. It is time and maybe this bill gives us the opportunity to review the whole subject of taking back our country with our pride in our Canadian citizenship.

Citizenship is not only how we define ourselves as part of the nation-state, another threatened concept frankly in today's globalized economy. The whole idea of the nation-state in its very best light is at very grievous risk of surviving this new globalization in the economy. It is also how we view ourselves as a part of a community. As a citizen it makes us part of a community and it is by virtue of that fact that we can build community. We feel very strongly that this is also at risk in an age where there is a growing importance attached to the individual and not to the collective.

Being a citizen means that one is part of a broader community that is greater than the sum of its parts and that is a very healthy thing. It is one of the reasons why so many Canadians were motivated to come out to share their ideas with us. They feel passionately about this too and they also feel threatened by these very things that I have raised.

The whole globalization of capital and global trade agreements, such as the MAI, WTO or NAFTA, threaten three things which we hold as very dear and precious to us. First, they do threaten the whole concept of citizenship. Second, they threaten the concept of democracy. Third, they certainly threaten the concept of the nation-state as we know it today and as we view Canada in such a proud way as a strong, healthy national government. I put it to the House that all those things are at risk and that is why we saw such a high level of interest in this bill, a disproportionate level of interest given the fact that the bill really only amends the citizenship practices in a very modest way. It gives people a forum to raise this much larger picture.

We look at examples such as what happened in Seattle as growing evidence that young people are very seized of this issue. Young people are very concerned that globalization is in fact chipping away at the concepts of citizenship, democracy and the nation-state. People asked me how I could make this quantum leap from talking about citizenship to talking about the globalization of capital. Frankly, it is self-evident that as we confer more and more powers on unelected bodies, corporations, if you will, and grant them nation-state status, they then have primacy over the freely elected officials, such as the ones in this room, and our ability to govern our own economic sovereignty.

There are perfect examples, recent examples, that we could point to where our own country is feeling this pinch. The Ethyl Corporation lawsuit is a classic example where we, as democratically elected officials who have chosen that we do not want a certain product circulated in our system because we feel it is a hazard to the common good, get our wrists slapped by this senior power, this higher power, this corporate power that says we cannot do that because we are interfering with its opportunity to make a profit and it will sue us for lost opportunity. That is a classic example of the threat to democracy, the threat to the nation-state and the threat to citizenship as we know it.

When we take power away from the freely elected politicians and give it to this other third party, another power, we are gradually eroding our ability to conduct our own affairs and be masters of our own domestic economy.

Canadians I know across this country want the bill dealt with expeditiously. In fact most of us, certainly in our caucus, would like to see it dealt with today and finished with in the House so it can go back to committee, follow through the process and ultimately become law for the simple reason that Canadians want to talk about more important aspects of immigration and refugee issues.

The actual citizenship bill, as I pointed out, makes quite minor changes to the way that we deal with the citizenship issue. The larger issue, the issue that Canadians are really seized with I believe, is the bigger picture of immigration as a whole and what immigration means in terms of growing our economy.

Canadians want basic questions dealt with. The first question they want to deal with when it comes to immigration is how big should Canada be. Has anybody ever really had that debate in the House? How big should Canada be as a country? Until we have that debate, how can we possibly make good rules regarding how much immigration we should have and how many people we should let in every year? We need to know what our goals are and then make meaningful rules to help us achieve those goals.

We have the cart well before the horse in this case because here we are dealing with issues regarding immigration without ever having had that basic, fundamental debate. We can take guidance as we enter that debate about how big Canada should be from our predecessors in the House. Wilfrid Laurier stood up in this place and said “By the year 2000 Canada should be a country of 100 million people”. That was the goal. Pierre Trudeau said and the Economic Council of Canada in the late 1960s said “By the year 2000 Canada should be a country of 50 million”. We are still way off. We have failed to achieve those goals, even although they are modified somewhat.

At the current rate of immigration and growth we are just about right to remain stagnant, which means in 50 years we will still be a country of whatever we are today, 30 million people.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Actually you are not out of time. You have well over 11 minutes left, but it is almost 2 p.m. I think this is a good point as you are coming into a new idea, so we will go to Statements by Members.

Homelessness
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak about the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System known as HIFIS.

This new information system is created under the research and information transfer mandate of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. It is designed to assemble information which is both reliable and comprehensive on homelessness in communities across Canada.

For the first time shelters and cities will have an accurate count of the number of homeless individuals and families using shelters and to monitor the services used.

Developing a better understanding of homelessness through initiatives such as HIFIS is only part of the solution to this problem. On December 17, 1999 the Government of Canada committed $753 million for initiatives designed to help reduce and prevent homelessness in Canada.

The Government of Canada currently provides $1.9 billion annually to support approximately 644,000 community based housing units for seniors, people with disabilities and low income families.

Racism
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, March 21 marked the international day for the elimination of racism, but social engineers in Canada continue with their agenda of discriminatory affirmative action programs.

By refusing to eliminate race based employment equity quotas the Liberal government is contributing to the problem of racism. State sanctioned discrimination condoned by the Liberal government and promoted by the NDP is offensive to all Canadians who value the principles of equality and merit.

To people in the target groups it conveys the message that they are inferior and incapable of competing on a level playing field. To those not in the target group it conveys the message that they cannot apply because their skin colour disqualifies them from being considered fairly, regardless of their ability.

My Reform colleagues and I call upon the government to eliminate racial discrimination by scrapping state sanctioned, race based employment equity quotas. If the evils of racism have taught us anything, it is that we cannot discriminate in favour of someone because of their race without unfairly discriminating against someone else because of theirs.

Fisheries
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lou Sekora Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that Canada's exports of food and seafood products reached a record high of $3.7 billion in 1999.

I want to congratulate the hardworking men and women in our fishery industry.

Elian Gonzalez
Statements By Members

March 23rd, 2000 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, since November of last year a six year old Cuban boy, Elian Gonzalez, has been held in the United States in gross violation of humanitarian principles and international law. After witnessing the tragic drowning of his mother, Elian has been denied the right to return to the family he loves in Cuba, forced to stay with a great uncle who has a history of child abuse and drunk driving.

On Tuesday of this week a U.S. district court judge ruled that Elian could no longer be kept in the United States against the will of his father and grandparents. As Judge Moore said, “Each passing day is another day lost between Juan Gonzalez and his son”.

Elian Gonzalez has become the victim of what can only be called appalling abuse at the hands of powerful Miami lobby groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation.

The U.S. immigration authorities and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno have both called for the return of Elian to his father. My New Democrat colleagues and I urge the foreign affairs minister to end his silence on this outrage and to intervene in the case, calling on the U.S. president to put an end to this tragic and pathetic farce and allow Elian Gonzalez to immediately return home to his family.

Family Services Of Peel
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, “Working to Your Full Potential” is a new and unique program sponsored by Family Services of Peel and funded by HRDC. The mandate of this project is to provide one-on-one counselling, support, referral and case management for persons who, in addition to job loss or joblessness, deal with obstacles interfering with job finding and job maintenance. This program is offered free of charge to unemployed individuals in my riding and throughout Peel Region.

Since its inception just six months ago the program has assisted over 125 people and is continuing its work to address the health and well-being issues of individuals and families in the neighbourhoods of Peel.

“Working To Your Full Potential” is committed to helping people recognize and strive toward their potential.

I congratulate and thank Family Services of Peel and HRDC for offering this initiative and I encourage them to keep up the good work.

Visual And Media Arts
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour today to rise and congratulate the recipients of the first ever Governor General's awards in visual and media arts.

While the Governor General has long awarded excellence in the performing arts and literature, this is the first time that achievements in the visual and media arts have been recognized.

This year's winners—John Scott, Ghitta Caiserman-Roth, Doris Shadbolt, John Chalke, Jacques Giraldeau, and from my own riding of St. Paul's, Michael Snow—have earned distinction for their contributions to the world of painting, filmmaking, ceramics and activism in the arts.

I commend them on their achievements and applaud the Governor General for completing her trilogy of awards honouring the best in Canadian arts and culture.

Patrick Kelly
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, Patrick Kelly has been in prison for 18 years for a crime he says he did not commit. Kelly's conviction for the murder of his wife was based on testimony by a key witness who now admits that she lied.

The Ontario Court of Appeal examined this case and handed down a divided decision, with one judge calling for a new trial. The justice minister then had the opportunity to clear any question of guilt or innocence by granting Patrick either a new trial or a supreme court reference.

The minister had nothing to lose by reopening the courts. Yet last Friday the justice minister denied Patrick Kelly his right to justice.

This issue is not about guilt or innocence; it is about a flawed justice system that has denied Patrick Kelly a fair hearing before the courts. Given the circumstances of this case, the minister's decision is a grave miscarriage of justice.

Semaine D'Action Contre Le Racisme
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 20 to 26, 2000 will be la Semaine d'action contre le racisme.

The originality of this first Quebec week of action against racism, lies in the fact that it brings together in concerted action a number of different Quebec organizations, particularly those dealing with racial discrimination, and some others, in order to propose various activities around reflection, consciousness raising, and creation as well, aimed at the general public, youth in particular. Their underlying purpose is not so much to make demands as to get people involved and to bring people together.

The week of action against racism focuses on two components, one of reflection and the other of cultural activities, coupled with a wide range of activities and initiatives relating to tolerance, equality and intercultural discovery.

I wish all Quebecers success as this week of action against racism draws to a close.

Kashmir
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to add my voice to the worldwide cries of outrage and heartbreak over Monday night's cold-blooded killing of 36 Sikhs in Chitt isinghpura, Kashmir.

The time has come for the global village to demand an end to the violence against all minorities, wherever they may live, all around the world. We strongly condemn attacks of violence against minorities and civilians.

Finally, I would ask all members of the House to join me in offering our deepest sympathies to the community, especially to the families of the victims.

Revenue Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, in 1988 Corporal Knibbs of the RCMP used his job transfer allowance. Ordinarily, under the rules of the day, this was considered an RCMP expense, not income to Corporal Knibbs.

Revenue Canada arbitrarily changed the rules and charged tax on the allowance to Corporal Knibbs, who then promptly filed an objection. Revenue Canada replied by saying that its final decision would be based on an upcoming ruling, but in the meantime his tax would be held in abeyance. Incredibly, 10 years went by before Revenue Canada ruled against the corporal, who promptly paid his tax bill.

The final insult was a further bill, 30 days later, for penalty and interest for the 10 years of Revenue Canada foot dragging. That is absolutely outrageous. When is the Liberal government going to rein in its tax hungry, hard-hearted tax department and stop victimizing hardworking Canadians like Corporal Knibbs?

Canadian Economy
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Verdun—Saint-Henri, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt about the economic vigour of Canada. Once again yesterday, Statistics Canada announced that international trade in Canadian products had reached an unprecedented high. Its January level was $4.53 billion, compared to $2.74 billion in December 1999. Statistics Canada pointed out that the last record high was $4.47 billion in May 1996.

Since we have been in power, we have played a lead role, implementing policies favourable to job creation and attracting investments.

The people of Canada have worked in partnership with the Liberal government. Today we are reaping the benefits of a good government that has made the right decisions.

Liberal Party Of Canada
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker:

So how are things, Jane? Fill me in. way I see it, all is well Although one item I should tell.

So how are things, Paul? Fill me in. The party is in crisis deep. What say you, trait'rous minister? Give me your version of events. The way I see it, all is well Although one item I should tell. So small, so lacking in import And hardly worthy of report, The party lustre fades and dulls, The Leader, clinging, carries on Regardless, but apart from that, Just fine, just great, so worry not.

So how are things, Jean? Fill me in. One minister my job would have. How so, oh very shaky one? What is your version of events?

Granby Zoo
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Diane St-Jacques Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to congratulate the whole staff at the Granby Zoo for the prestigious award it just won, namely the provincial component of the Attractions Canada 2000 contest.

The Granby Zoo will represent Quebec in Vancouver, on April 28, at Attractions Canada's national gala. Thanks to the addition of the Amazoo aquatic park, the Granby Zoo keeps winning awards.

The Granby Zoo is a profitable business that has been in existence for over 40 years. It employs about 250 people during peak periods and provides economic spinoffs of about $10 million annually.

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the founder of the Granby Zoo, Pierre-Horace Boivin, a man who, inspired by his love for animals and people, believed in his dream and fulfilled it by giving the town of Granby a true zoological garden.

The zoo is a major tourist attraction in our riding and I am pleased to invite you to come for a visit as early as May.