House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

New Members
Routine Proceedings

2 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to inform the house that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer the certificates of the election and return of the following members:

The Right Hon. Joe Clark, for the electoral district of Kings—Hants.

Mr. Stockwell Day, for the electoral district of Okanagan—Coquihalla.

Joe Clark, member for the electoral district of Kings—Hants, introduced by Mrs. Elsie Wayne and Mr. Peter MacKay.

Stockwell Day, member for the electoral district of Okanagan—Coquihalla, introduced by Miss Deborah Grey and Mr. Chuck Strahl.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

September 19th, 2000 / 2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I guess as they say in the Olympics, let the games begin.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:10 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we can wait a few minutes so we can be serious before the fun of the coming weeks.

I want to give a very special welcome to the hon. Leader of the Opposition to this House, and to federal politics. He will soon discover we do things a little differently here on dry land. There are no life jackets in the House of Commons.

It gives me great pleasure again to see new leaders of the opposition. In fact the member for Okanagan—Coquihalla is the sixth leader of opposition to sit across from me. It is a very dangerous occupation.

I had discussions with my caucus and I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition that my caucus will work very hard to make sure that he has a long and fruitful career as the Leader of the Opposition.

Seriously, in the House of Commons politics is very important. We may speak in the House from different points of view and have different policies and approaches, but anyone who sits in the House of Commons is here because that person believes that we are working together to make Canada an even better country. That is why I welcome the opposition leader to this House.

I know that the new Leader of the Opposition is arriving here full of good intentions. He will work very hard and put a great deal of energy into promoting his ideas. We will have serious and sometimes heated debates. But in the end, we will both be working to ensure that Canada gets off to a good start in the 21st century.

I wish to welcome the opposition leader in the House of Commons and, as I said earlier, I know that the members on this side of the House wish him a very long career as Leader of the Opposition.

I welcome the new member for Kings—Hants, the leader of the Conservative Party. He has been a servant of this House for a long time. I was a minister in 1972 when this young member of parliament came from Alberta and immediately made his name in this House.

He had a terrific task. He became my critic when I was minister of Indian and northern affairs. I had two critics at that time, the hon. member and the then member from Kingston, Flora MacDonald. I used to call them the flora and the fauna.

However, more seriously he was an extremely good parliamentarian. He was very effective in the opposition, he was always well prepared and he would give it to you very straight. However, he was a soldier because he would take it too.

He became the Leader of Opposition when he was very young. He also became the prime minister when he was very young. After that he served the nation with great distinction as minister of foreign affairs. I am very happy that he is back with us because he is a parliamentarian from the school of Ged Baldwin, Stanley Knowles and Jack Pickersgill, people who made their names here in the House of Commons.

As for me, I am pleased to welcome a soldier with whom I had many battles in my life, but for whom I have the utmost respect. This is a man who is fully dedicated to public life and sincerely committed to making Canada an even better country.

I am sure that the House of Commons has much to gain from the return of the hon. member. I wish him good luck.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I join with the other members of this House in welcoming the two new members from the ridings of Kings—Hants and Okanagan—Coquihalla.

Although they are newly elected, these two new members are not new to politics. Mr. Clark's experience as party leader, minister and Prime Minister will stand him in good stead here.

Mr. Day will now be able to defend his ideas in the House, ideas I do not share for the most part, but which will lead to a democratic debate in the House and improve the quality of the debate, since it is through debate that we get a better grasp of ideas.

I have no doubt that we will engage, in the coming weeks and months, in vigorous debate reflecting the high level of the House, of parliamentary procedure and of our parliamentary democracy. The arrival of new members in parliament is always an important occasion in parliamentary life, because it is the tangible expression of the voters' choice. It reminds us pointedly that we are all representatives of the public whom we have a duty to defend and whose interests, values and hopes we must express.

I have no doubt that the arrival of the two party leaders will help to keep alive this parliamentary tradition so important to us and which they will contribute to through their energy, talent and determination.

I welcome these gentlemen to the House and wish them luck.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I too rise to participate in that time honoured parliamentary tradition of welcoming new members to the House. I would like to associate myself perhaps for the first, last and only time, with the Prime Minister of Canada during this session, with the comments that have been made to sincerely welcome the new members, the new leaders to the House, but at the same time not extend to them too much in the way of wishes for good electoral success. I think that is the more honest thing to do.

I think we are all aware that the two members who today take their positions as leaders of their respective parties are no newcomers to politics, no political rookies, and so I will not attempt to give them any advice today, or at least not too much advice. For one thing they would not take it anyway coming from this corner of the House.

I do want to say a special word to the leader of the Conservative Party, as I think Nova Scotians would want me to, to welcome him as an honorary Nova Scotian at least for the moment. I would only say that if he endeavours to reflect the true values and the true hopes and dreams of Nova Scotians in his work on behalf of the people of Kings—Hants, then he will have served Canadians very, very well indeed.

Let me say to the new member who has taken his position today as the Leader of the Official Opposition, as a member who faced the transition from provincial to federal politics as he does now, do not be too afraid of the scrums. Take it from one who knows. It can be tough sometimes but it can only get better.

We are living today in a world of the 500 channel universe. In the everyday lives of people there is no shortage of sports spectacles or circus entertainment. So I say with all due respect to the Speaker, because I do understand the context and the spirit with which the Speaker has said let the games begin, let us instead hope that this will be the dawning of a new day in the life of this session of parliament. Let us instead commit ourselves to ensure that the real debate begins.

People have asked whether I think the dynamics of this place will change as a result of the two leaders taking their seats. I can only say let us hope so. Let us hope we see some change for the better because in the end, there is only one challenge that we all face in common, and that is to try to make the Parliament of Canada work for the people of Canada and to ensure that the government of the country is accountable to the people.

Again I say congratulations to the two leaders who now have joined us in this place. Let us let the real debate begin.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for your warm welcome to the House.

I recognize that this is indeed an historic Chamber. Much history has been written here and much will be written.

I would like to first acknowledge those who have made it possible for me to be here, and possibly for each of us to be here in our own way. It was in this Chamber that a constitution was recognized which was prefaced with a clause that said “recognizing the supremacy of God” and by the grace of God we are all here.

I am also here by the grace of my wife and my family. They have continued to put up with me through the years, to encourage me, to let me know when I am getting too serious, and to let me know when it is time to lighten up. “Take off the pinstripe suit and put on a wetsuit” they tell me. I acknowledge them for being such a significant reason for my being here.

I wish to acknowledge the constituents in Okanagan—Coquihalla who gave to me such a wonderful mandate and such support from the farms, the ranches, the towns, the cities and the vineyards of that fabulous constituency. I owe thanks.

Yes, this is an historic Chamber. I experienced history just outside the Chamber. As a young teenager I stood outside of these doors when a flag was lowered and the new maple leaf was raised. At that moment as a young person excited about that event, I felt pride and expectation for the future. I witnessed a former prime minister, Mr. Diefenbaker, who stood there with tears coming down his cheeks at that moment. Beside him was the prime minister of the day, Mr. Pearson. I respected Mr. Pearson's respect at that moment in time for a great change that was taking place. I learned the power of change but also the importance of respect at moments like that.

I also learned outside of the Chamber, down the cement corridor that leads to the sidewalk. I participated in my first protest. I was about 15 years old. I was with a friend. We circled with other protesters. I cannot remember what the protest was about. We joined them because it looked like fun. As the cameras approached I had a horrifying thought: What if my parents saw me on the news? So I ran and I have been trying to overcome my fear of cameras ever since.

Mr. Speaker, I say through you to our Prime Minister that we will have debates in the Chamber. We will have greater debates in the great crucible of the next general election. Yes, my party and I will question his policies and I will question his plans. Sir, I have watched you over the years and I want to assure all members that I will never question your love and your dedication for this country and for the high office which you hold.

This is the start of a new era, one in which the public wants governments that respect democracy, the House of Commons, the legislature and taxpayers, governments that hold freedom in respect.

With that respect, we will bring forth the plans and the priorities that we think will lead to a better, a stronger and a healthier country with more hope and more opportunity. Under that umbrella of respect and optimism, we will conduct ourselves.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, it will be an unusual thing for me to have the last word in the House, at least until the next election.

I want to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the people of Hants county and Kings county in Nova Scotia. May I say to the leader of the New Democratic Party that while I am an honorary citizen of that province, my great-great-great-great-grandfather was not from away. I take very seriously the trust that they have vested in me as their member of parliament. I look forward to working with you and others in the House to advance the interests of those Canadian citizens and the others represented by others here.

I think members of the House would allow me a brief departure from parliamentary practice to recognize and thank someone who is in the gallery, Scott Brison, the former member of parliament for Kings—Hants. There may be less applause for what I intend to say next, which is that I fully expect Mr. Brison to be back in this place after the next election.

As the House is aware, the highest tides in the world are found in the riding of Kings—Hants, and those tides swept away the Liberal Party from Nova Scotia in the last federal election. I can assure you that the tide is stronger than ever now.

I want also to congratulate the new Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition both on his victory in Okanagan—Coquihalla and in the leadership process of his own party. I wish him good luck in the give and take of democratic debate.

I notice he made reference to his family and I can be forgiven for making reference to mine. My wife and daughter are in the gallery as they have been with me through 20 some years of active public life. I do not want to intrude on the Leader of the Opposition's family life, but I noted he said that from time to time his family told him when he should lighten up a little bit. I can tell him that this House will take care of that.

I deeply appreciate the words of welcome from the other party leaders in the House. The Prime Minister noted that I was his critic when I first entered the House years ago. Do not take this unkindly, Mr. Prime Minister, but it is easy to be your critic.

We in the House have a parliamentary duty to hold the government accountable, and I look forward to that responsibility, but we also have a Canadian duty to draw together the diverse interests of this truly extraordinary country. In all of Canada the House of Commons is the place that can best claim to represent all the communities of Canada. The nation is here. I hope to play some role in drawing out the better instincts of this nation, of having parliament reflect less of our divisions and more of what we can aspire to together.

I am honoured to be back among you and back to this House of Commons of Canada.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

New Members Introduced
Routine Proceedings

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

This is such a good day I am almost tempted to cancel question period.

Fuel Taxes
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, only yesterday the Minister of Finance said that he could not take leadership in seeing taxes lowered on fuels because there was no provincial interest. I am aware of two ministers of finance, myself formerly being one of those, who wrote letters to the Minister of Finance expressing interest in this.

Even if that could have been an excuse, which it now is not, why will the Minister of Finance not commit to seeing these fuel taxes reduced?

Fuel Taxes
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since the Minister Finance often takes questions for me, I will take a question for him today.

We have a serious problem and we are looking into it. The Minister of Finance has asked the provincial governments to collaborate with him. However, as he has said, we have to make sure, as any move has an impact on consumers.

Perhaps I could quote an expert on that who said at one time “If we look at lowering the gas tax what kind of guarantees do we have that the gas retailers will also drop the price, or are they just going to fill in the ditch?”

Fuel Taxes
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

An hon. member

Who said that?

Fuel Taxes
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

It was the Leader of the Opposition when he was the treasurer in Alberta.

Fuel Taxes
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is quite right.

First, I am surprised that the Prime Minister did not let one of his most loyal supporters answer the question that was put to him. However, I will go on.