House of Commons Hansard #85 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when the member says that the minister has a say, in fact the minister has a say in appointing the president of the CBC and the Government of Canada appoints the board of directors of the CBC. Then we have confidence that the president and the board of directors of the CBC will manage the CBC to make sure that it is available in all regions of the country for everyone.

That is their mandate and we are very confident that the president and the board will carry out that mandate.

Presence In The Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, today we had a very impressive ceremony in the rotunda and I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of one of our distinguished guests for today, the Honourable Peter Irniq, Commissioner of Nunavut.

Presence In The Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

April 13th, 2000 / 3 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, this being the most favoured day, Thursday, where we get to ask another question after question period, I would like to ask a very important question of the government House leader.

Would he be able to tell the House what the business of the House will be for the remainder of this week and the week following the break?

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we are going to continue debate on Bill C-32, the Budget Implementation Act, 2000, followed, time permitting, by Bill C-25, the Income Tax Amendments Act, 1999, and then Bill C-19, the Crimes Against Humanity Act, and Bill C-11 on Devco, and if we have time, Bill C-24 on changes to the form of the GST, followed by Bill C-5, the Canadian Tourism Commission Act.

Tomorrow, it is my intention to call Bill C-19, the Crimes Against Humanity Act.

When we return on May 1, we are going to begin the second reading of Bill C-31, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Tuesday, May 2, will be designated an allotted day.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, following consultations between all of the parties, I think you would find unanimous consent for the adoption of the following order on the subject of travel for the public accounts committee. I move:

That the members of the Subcommittee on International Financial Guidelines and Standards for the Public Sector of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the necessary staff of the subcommittee be authorized to travel to Washington, D.C., from May 7 to 10, 2000, to meet with representatives of Congress, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the General Accounting Office and the Inter-American Bank to identify and discuss the work that has been done and that is currently being undertaken in the development of international financial reporting guidelines and standards for the public sector.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-32, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in parliament on February 28, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2000
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate what I said before question period. I was highlighting some of the program reviews that have taken place in the country which brought us to budget 2000.

When budget 2000 was released, there was no mention of national parks in it. National parks have been a great part of our summer activities. When students take their summer break, they and their families flock to our many national parks in the beautiful regions of our country. The huge demands on our parks by our growing population and by international visitors have put a great burden on the ecological integrity of these parks.

If the Minister of Finance has any obligations toward seeing environmental integrity take place, he must review his financial and fiscal responsibilities in budget 2000. There is nothing in the budget that mentions anything about improving the opportunities for the National Parks Agency to increase the resources for the management and wardens who care for these parks. They require the human resources, seasonal resources, technical and capital resources to make the parks a better place to be and to protect them for future generations.

A part of our national parks heritage is to increase the allocation of our parks in this country. We are going very slowly. There was an increase in designated parks in years past but nothing was mentioned in the budget for the year 2000. There was nothing planned for increased park allocations. There was nothing from the government. I would like to highlight this as a major oversight by the finance minister this year. We hope that he will announce as soon as possible some initiative toward our national parks and enhancing this issue in next year's budget.

We would like to highlight the fact that national parks in Canada have been overlooked in this year's budget. There has been zero increase in their budgets. A greater demand on more user fees has been coming from the parks. The revenue sources that are being created at our national parks are not necessarily a good thing for the ecological integrity of our parks. The balance of restricting use and advertising for more use for the sake of further revenue is not necessarily a good thing.

Another great oversight not only in this budget but in government policy is in respect of northern development. The issue of northern development in Canada is of great interest. Many people will look at the north and see its vast natural resources. The north has a sparse population. It is the final frontier, as one opposition member mentioned.

I just returned from Europe where I looked at how development has taken place there. Two concepts come to mind which I would like to share with the House. One of them deals with the issue of banking.

Everyone knows the banks of this country, CIBC, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, are all making great profits and doubling their profits every year. That is the investment banking side. But regional development banking is lacking in this country. I am not just talking about business development for businesses in downtown Toronto, for example, or Halifax, Montreal or Vancouver. We need regional development banking so we can look at the economically deprived regions of Canada.

We look at the north as a vast region where communities and populations have sustained a livelihood through many generations of sustainable development. Sustainable development is the key. But now because of a lack of financial resources, capital finances that can be invested strategically to create jobs, to create investments, to create resource management that reflects the needs of communities, that is not happening.

Let me speak about investment banking. If a forestry operation is to be developed in northern Canada, the investment banking would take place in Toronto or in some stock market in New York, Calgary or Vancouver. The company would usually be southern based and in this case they would be looking at getting resources from the north and bringing them south for development and profit.

That is what we call colonization. Colonization is what brought these vast institutions here. I am talking about the British, the French, the Spaniards and Portuguese who wanted more resources and further riches for their countries. They came to Canada looking for new found land. But now we are a country and as Canadians we have to protect our resources. Let us hold on tight to our resources. The resources in Canada and the world are dwindling. If we hold on to our resources, their market value will increase. We must treasure our resources not only for our immediate profit making, but to sustain them for future generations so they have a means of livelihood in the future.

The whole issue of northern development was very much overlooked in this budget, not only the developmental issue but also the infrastructure issue and the high cost of delivering services to the north. Most people take for granted having a litre of milk and, in most cases, two litres of milk. In southern Saskatchewan one can easily buy a two litre carton of milk for $2. In northern Canada, it costs $8 for a two-litre carton of milk, which is four times the price of milk in other parts of Canada.

We had a report about the sad situation of first nations education. We cannot compare the education system in northern Canada to that of southern Canada. There are school divisions within and around the city of Ottawa where schools have a population of between 500 and 1000 students.

Villages in northern Canada with a population of 500 may have 20 students in a high school. The student-teacher ratio might diminish to 10:1. There is a high cost to having one teacher teaching only 10 students but that is the reality of living in a small community. Not everyone can be moved to an urban centre.

We must continue to support rural and remote communities. This is the reality of being Canadian. We cannot pretend to be England or Germany, or small countries that are the size of the smallest provinces in this country. We are a huge country. We must think big but we must also think of what is fair for everyone.

Housing development is another issue I have mentioned. Our communities are in the middle of the boreal forest region and we lack housing. Why can we not build log or timber frame homes that are community based instead of real estate or development based? That is a challenge for the government. We should have research projects that will foster the development of community housing and create family initiatives to keep housing viable. We should not have a housing problem in the middle of a boreal forest.

We need research institutes to give us the best decisions on designing a house. We do not have research institutes in the north dedicated to the livelihood, resource management or the economic viability of the north. I challenge any of the research chairs that have been duly announced by this budget to consciously choose northern initiatives. I doubt if they will even look at the issues, aside from the genetically altered subject on which we have spoken.

Biotechnology is a major initiative that the Department of Industry has been working on. The moral and ethical issues dealing with biotechnology have to be addressed as well. There has to be a balance between what the consumers need to know about genetically modified foods and the need to protect the environment.

We mentioned the environmental aspects of the Kyoto protocol and keeping greenhouse gases in check with emission controls. I am aware of no initiative by this government that tells Canadians what decisions we should be making on our automobiles.

The latest initiative we saw was yesterday regarding VIA Rail. The government has finally woken up to the fact that trains are a viable option for this country. We can travel from Halifax to Vancouver on a train, and by making an investment, maybe that train will be on time. There are trains in Europe that go 300 kilometres an hour and trains in Japan that are being tested at 500 kilometres an hour. I would rather be travelling on a train, seeing the beautiful landscapes of this country than flying above the clouds.

We also have a diminished opportunity to fly above the clouds right now because Air Canada is the only airline. We have no alternatives. The schedules connecting western Canada with eastern Canada are being dismantled. The schedules that were there before are not there today. Flight schedules are being dismantled all for the sake and success of the lobbyists who have successfully told the government that one company cannot compete against another.

A train is probably the cheapest form of transporting freight in this country. In the land-locked provinces, where there are no shores touching the Atlantic or the Pacific, we rely on trains to take our agricultural products to market.

As a young person I travelled on the highways of northern Canada and a train on a railroad track would have been a better alternative. Rather than exercising the option of increasing our rail access to other places in Canada, we have been dismantling our railroad tracks, especially in western Canada. Railroad tracks that existed fifty years ago have now disappeared.

We must reinvest in and reconnect our communities with a railroad system and a transportation system that is reliable, not just an Internet and information highway system. We need a real highway system to connect real people with real places and real people with other real people, not just virtual connections or a connection on a TV screen. We must connect the French people with the English people, the Dene people with the Inuit and the Inuit with the Mi'kmaq. All these people have get to know each other because we are all Canadians.

As parliamentarians, it is time we looked at restructuring our system of governance. It is time to reinvest in education and in opportunities for our young people.

The budget is certainly a spark in the right direction to no more program reviews and no more cutbacks. It is time to reinvest. However, let us invest in the right way and let us invest with our hearts in the right place where it will be fair and equal for all Canadians.

Budget Implementation Act, 2000
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, hundreds of millions of dollars will be poured into VIA Rail and a lot of that passenger service is in eastern Canada. It was only a few years ago that the government withdrew all support for the grain transportation network on the prairies, known as the Crow rate. Does the member feel that there is some political interference here in the rail transportation system in the country?

What is economically more important to the country, grain transportation on the prairies or serving the passengers who travel between Quebec City and Windsor? I realize VIA crosses the country but that service is primarily in eastern Canada. Is this fair? Does this seem like a good economic decision, or were politics involved in this decision to spend hundreds of millions on VIA Rail and leave the farmers on the prairies to basically fend for themselves?

Budget Implementation Act, 2000
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Rick Laliberte Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, having great faith in our political system, of course it was politics. This whole place is built on politics. A majority of the members are from the Ontario region. We have a party reflective of the west. Then we have a whole governance structure and bureaucratic structure that seems to want to dismantle the whole issue of a connectedness with the country.

The farmers have had opportunities to reflect on the political wills. Governments have changed time and time again and the whole issue of the farm family has been diminished. The complex area of grain transportation, the technical changes, the international trade in farming and the whole issue of the future of farms should be documented once and for all.

My solution would be to set up a royal commission on the family farm, which would take the politics right out of it. The commission would look at the family farm and document it once and for all so that the next generation who will be able to make wise investment decisions for the future.

Politics is politics. Maybe the VIA Rail decision is right. It may be one example of a good investment the government is making with its newfound surpluses. Maybe something will come for grain transportation in the future but that is a big hope. Hopefully we can work together to make that possible.

Farmers need help in grain transportation but young farmers need direction. They need to know what kinds of decisions they will have to make. Maybe a royal commission could wrap it all up in one big package for them to really look at and study.

Budget Implementation Act, 2000
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member talked quite a bit about national parks and the national parks scheme.

It was very clear in the past that our national parks were designed for people and families to have general access. However, the mandate for the parks has changed and many of the practices have changed so that now our national parks system is much less available to the general public and families. At times some of the existing available parks have implemented a user fee schedule, to which the member made reference.

My analysis of those parks, which have put in a user fee schedule, is that the national budget is still the same as what it was before the implementation of user fees. There is a lot more spending going on but no more facilities really present. The user fee schedule has not really given the general taxpayer relief.

I wonder if the hon. member could comment on those two things.

The member also talked about rural infrastructure. We are very concerned about what is happening in our rural communities. On things like the universality and availability of health care, if individuals cannot get to where health care is available it is hardly universal. If the member would like to comment on that as well it would be most welcome.