House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was waste.

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The House resumed from December 13 consideration of the motion that Bill C-27, an act respecting the long term management of nuclear fuel wastebe read the third time and passed; and on the motion that this question be now put.

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10 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to start the debate this morning, December 14, which is probably our last day of debate here in the House before the holidays.

Before the numbers here thin out—since I assume some will go on to other activities—I will, if I may, wish everyone a happy holiday season, a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

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10 a.m.

An hon. member

Thank you, and the same to you.

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10 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Very kind of you, thank you for your greetings.

This morning we are discussing Bill C-27, an act respecting the long term management of nuclear fuel waste, at third reading stage. Yesterday's debate on the bill was characterized by great eloquence on the part of nearly all those who spoke. I did not have the opportunity of sitting on the parliamentary committee but yesterday we were given explanations and information on a bill that is of the greatest interest to me, given my longstanding personal interest in all things nuclear.

My colleagues, the hon. member for Jonquière among them, have shown just how important this bill is. One example is the eloquent speech by the member for Sherbrooke, in which he indicated how disappointed he was with the way the bill was turning out.

Then there is the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, whose knowledge and sense of honesty assure us that when he makes a speech he has done his research and is not just talking for the sake of talking. What he has to say will really inform his listeners. Then there was the member for Verchères—Les-Patriotes, who showed us just how interested he is in this bill and, I think, just how disappointed he is with the turn of events.

At the second reading stage, the Bloc Quebecois indicated its agreement in principle with this bill, along with the hope that the government would be changing certain things, that the amendments suggested by the Bloc Quebecois and other opposition parties would be examined and accepted, the bulk of them at least.

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10 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

We were dreaming in technicolor.

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10 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Unfortunately, as the member for Jonquière said, we were dreaming in technicolour.

So, with this bill as with any other bill passed by this government, we have to wonder why the opposition is there at all. It seems that the members opposite are the holders of the absolute truth. Parliamentary commissions are appointed, committees are struck and experts are invited to come to enlighten us and to answer questions. In this case, the Seaborn panel worked some 10 years on this issue. It travelled, conducted studies in Canada as well as in Europe and in the United States. It made recommendations and found, I am told, 95 problems of various kinds, thereby demonstrating the hazardous aspect of nuclear waste.

All these studies fell on deaf ears.

The government, being the only one to receive the tongues of fire the day the Holy Ghost descended and being in sole possession of the truth, decided to do as it pleases.

One recommendation, which was unanimously supported here in the House and which, I think, will be unanimously supported throughout the country, says that the management committee that will be responsible for nuclear waste should not be made up of people who have a stake in this industry. It was said that, if the management committee were made up of people from the nuclear industry itself or of people who have a stake in this industry, it would be like having the fox watch the hen house. This is a serious matter.

The member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie said that nuclear waste has an average life of 24,000 years. That is long. When people say that this bill is the way to the future, we can imagine how long the future would be should a mistake be made in this regard. As René Lévesque, my ex-boss in Quebec City, would have said, “eternity is very long, particularly the last little bit”. We are talking about 24,000 years. It means that, should a mistake be made in the management of nuclear waste, many generations to come will have to live with it.

If this government, which makes decisions on its own, did not make mistakes, or had not made any mistakes, then I would trust it. But I could mention to those listening a few mistakes, including in the field of nuclear energy, that we have to live with.

I live in Champlain, in the area known as the Mauricie, along the St. Lawrence. Over on the other side of the river is the only nuclear power plant in Quebec. It is there in the morning when I wake up and at night when I go to bed.

I had an opportunity to visit it and talk with specialists there. All of them take the dangers involved in nuclear waste management very seriously. While it is true that the benefits of nuclear energy are enormous, there are also major risks if the right precautions are not taken in managing both nuclear waste and the plant itself.

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10:10 a.m.

An hon. member

Just think of Chernobyl.

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10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Indeed. One only has to think of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Yesterday I was surprised to hear a member, who is supposedly an expert on this, say that there was really no danger whatsoever in managing a nuclear power plant. I wondered if maybe the victims of Chernobyl did not die by some simple mistake. Perhaps people were not being careful enough. Perhaps there was so little danger that the accident that occurred at Chernobyl was almost a minor one.

It is hard to imagine that there are people out there who think this way about products that will influence our lives and the lives of those who will come after us, that is, if we become aware of the planet enough so as not to bring about its destruction in the near future. One wonders sometimes how long the planet will exist, when one sees how little attention we pay to the environment.

I was saying earlier that the government had made mistakes in the past. Toward the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s I was a member of the Government of Quebec, Mr. Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada, with the same Liberal government, and the current Prime Minister was a key minister in the Trudeau cabinet.

In Quebec we did not want a nuclear plant. Finally an agreement was reached between the two governments, because Mr. Trudeau wanted to sell Candu reactors, to build a nuclear plant in Gentilly, just to “join the club”, as they said. This meant that 3% of our energy would come from that nuclear plant.

In order to convince us, Mr. Trudeau said “If you do it, I will build a heavy water plant in LaPrade”. Three-quarters of the plant was built. Three-quarters of a billion dollars were spent in 1980. An economist could tell us what it is worth today, but it is around two or three billion dollars.

I had the honour of having these candles just in front of me until last spring, when it was decided to tear down the plant and sell it for scrap. Three-quarters of a billion dollars for the LaPrade plant. And the government got as much mileage as it could in terms of patronage. Such was the result of the agreement on the LaPrade plant, on the heavy water plant that was going to supply nuclear plants in Quebec and in part of Ontario.

This decision was made by a government that claims to be in sole possession of the truth. We can trust governments like this one. Last year, when I saw a plant that cost three-quarters of a billion dollars to build in 1980 being demolished, I found it rather painful to watch. And this government boasts about being a good manager. This is rather extraordinary.

I was told that the government will follow the recommendations of the committees that review these issues and make recommendations to the minister. I no longer have much faith in this process, and this bill reinforces that impression, because I attended the sittings of other committees. I did not have the opportunity to attend sittings of this particular committee but I attended those of other committees, including agriculture and human resources development.

When we studied issues such as employment insurance in the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, the Liberals, the Canadian Alliance, the Bloc Quebecois, the New Democrats, and the Progressive Conservatives unanimously condemned the theft from the EI fund. The report was tabled in the House. The minister told us that she was going to study the issue, the recommendations and the report.

We can see that the EI money has disappeared and that the workers, who paid their premiums, are the ones who are now paying down Canada's debt in part, if not in whole.

What is rather surprising about all this, Mr. Speaker, is that neither you nor I, nor the Minister of Finance, nor the Prime Minister, nor any of the ministers, nor any member of this House are paying EI premiums. The EI fund belongs to workers and to industry, which contributes to it.

Those who are deciding to help themselves to this fund and to use it to pay down government debt are not paying into it. Who else is not paying into it, apart from us? Our staff here in Parliament pay into the fund. They and other workers in Quebec and in Canada are paying down Canada's debt to the tune of about $40 billion.

I saw the same thing on the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development, where we realized that approximately 20% of seniors eligible for the guaranteed income supplement are not receiving it because they cannot be found.

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10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

They have already been appointed.

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10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

They have indeed already been appointed. This is the main problem we have with the management of nuclear waste, the nuclear future, and my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes has made that clear. He said that nuclear fusion is simply like trying to stuff the sun in a bottle. It is extremely clean energy, energy of the future that should be useful if we continue research. I also recall this matter, because, when we debated nuclear fusion and the importance of researching nuclear fusion, I was assistant to the Quebec minister of the environment.

While it spends millions on the nuclear industry in general, the government in its great wisdom has decided, as far as cuts are concerned, to go after what is unimportant. It cut some $7.5 million a year in research on nuclear fusion. The wisdom of the government leaves something to be desired. What it does for me is leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

The $3 billion saved over the past eight years will also be used to pay down the debt.

The minister has said “We will look into the matter, and the committee will look into it too, and you will make recommendations”. The recommendations have still not been followed up on. We are not in possession of the truth here. And those who do not, like us, pay for it.

I now want to come back to Bill C-27. One of the committee's recommendations, as I mentioned earlier, was not to give the job of managing nuclear waste to the industry because of the risk involved. Waste management must be given to independent and competent bodies by municipalities and people who will live with waste management, and not to the industry. However, we discover that the bill provides that the industry will manage this waste.

It surprises me that the government did not establish another foundation for that. It would provide work for the friends of the government.

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10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

They will find work for some of them anyway.

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10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

I am told they will manage to find them something. I am sure they will.

Once again, I hope that the will will suddenly be there and that the government will decide before the vote at third reading, before this bill is passed—if it stays the way it is, the Bloc Quebecois will certainly be voting against it—to get serious and remember that the future we are talking about is not just the immediate future of the Liberal Party but the future of all Canadians and all the generations to come.

I am one of those who thinks that the management of nuclear waste should become more important for this government. There is still time. Someone said that this would perhaps be the nicest Christmas present the government could give Quebecers and Canadians, tell them that is withdrawing Bill C-27, rethinking it, taking another look at the consultations that were done, getting more information and examining its conscience, since everybody's future is at stake.

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10:20 a.m.

An hon. member

Maybe there is a Santa Claus.

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10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Someone says that maybe there is a Santa Claus. This is certainly the day for such a hope, with Christmas just around the corner.

In conclusion, that is pretty much all I had to say, not necessarily on the bill but on the approach in general, that is, the way in which the bill is being handled and the way in which the government operates, thinking it is in sole possession of the truth and ignoring everyone else, and making those who should not have to shoulder the burden alone foot the bill for things like paying down the debt.

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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I wish to congratulate my colleague from Champlain for his speech, which lasted 15 minutes. Above all, I wish to underline the issue of balance, because I am pleased to have heard his speech, one day after the one by our colleague from the Canadian Alliance, who, taking the opposite stand, sang the praises of the nuclear industry in Canada.

She even said she hoped to see the establishment of a nuclear economy in Canada. She was in favour of importing plutonium from Russia in order to create jobs. Yet we all know two or three things about nuclear energy, and plutonium in particular. The mean life of plutonium in terms of dangerousness and radioactivity is 24,000 years. It is wrong to believe that this substance can be neutralized in a few years. It has a mean life of 24,000 years.

There is one other important aspect, which we mentioned to the Alliance member. Plutonium is one of the most carcigonenic substances known to mankind. I believe it is totally ridiculous and unacceptable to favour the development and the establishment of what I call a nuclear economy.

The bottom line of the speech by my colleague from Champlain can be summarized as follows: this government, and this is what we should remember about this bill, under the provisions set out in the bill, is promoting a one track approach in terms of management of the nuclear industry through the establishment of nuclear management agencies.

Why does the bill favour a one track approach? Because those management agencies will have a single partner, the energy corporations, which have been, throughout Canadian history, the main source of nuclear waste. Therefore, how could an energy corporation, in New Brunswick, Ontario or elsewhere--and it should be remembered that Ontario produces 90% of the waste in Canada--be part of an organization responsible for the management of the waste? We should remember that the government had every opportunity to include municipalities in its agencies. Municipalities are the ones who have to live day to day with nuclear waste. Besides, the government had a unique opportunity to involve the public in management agencies.

When it comes to nuclear waste or nuclear waste imports in Canada, such as in the riding of my colleague, the public wants to be consulted. It would have been easy to include members of the public in these waste management organizations. This is the underlying message in the hon. member's speech on waste management.

Another issue relates to the Seaborn panel, which sat for 10 years in Canada.

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10:25 a.m.

An hon. member

An independent panel.

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10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Yes, of course, an independent panel in which taxpayers invested millions of dollars to consult the public on the processes that should be established. The panel's mandate was twofold.

First, it had to evaluate the technical processes to manage waste. The method most often proposed was to bury this waste more than 30,000 metres deep in the geological layers of the Canadian Shield.

However when we were advocating this solution, we found out that the public wanted to be consulted. However, the bill clearly shows that the government refused to include the recommendations of the Seaborn panel in it. This is even more obvious when we consider that the Bloc Quebecois and other parties in the House proposed amendments reflecting the recommendations of the Seaborn panel only to see the government reject them.

The hon. member knows better than anyone else what the government is doing in the area of waste management. I am of course referring to nuclear waste, but also to other waste, including residual and military waste. This brings me to the issue of shells. The way the federal government dealt with military shells shows how bad a manager it can be.

Could the hon. member tell us what is happening with Lake Saint-Pierre, which is directly connected to the St. Lawrence River and where thousands of shells litter the bottom, sometimes unexploded? Some shells are even found on the beaches by children. We are not making this up: this is the truth.

Could the hon. member tell us how this government manages waste, particularly military waste in Lake Saint-Pierre?

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10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to mention this earlier but the time allotted me had run out. I am very pleased to come back to it. I was saying earlier that I had no confidence in the government, which thinks it is in sole possession of the truth, because too many mistakes have been made.

My colleague from Rosemont—Petite-Patrie has just mentioned the shells in Lake Saint-Pierre and the way highly dangerous products are managed. Some 350,000 shells are lying at the bottom of the lake with some 8,000 to 10,000 still armed.

Every spring, because of the ice and depending on how cold it gets—this winter there has not been much of a problem because of the warm temperatures, but the ice will come back—the shells stick to the ice.

In the spring, when the river rises as the snow melts, the ice carries the shells here and there. The proof is that the army follows the shoreline of the St. Lawrence River by helicopter right up to Quebec City and even further in an effort to find the shells. Those the army does not find are sometimes found by children. I think I hear someone opposite saying that this is not so important.

It is very important because it has killed people up to now. It has broken up a Lake Saint-Pierre family that was preparing a sailboat for a trip around the world. They held a celebration around the boat after getting it ready and a shell burst in a bonfire. If this is not really important I do not know what is. Last spring children were discovered playing with shells that could have exploded.

As my time is running out, I would like to raise another point as well. We are the only ones who do not take the environment seriously. I just returned from a trip to Germany. Everyone should see what is being done there to protect the environment. Nuclear energy, among others, is being eliminated. They are turning to research on cleaner, safer energies.

Why in Canada and Quebec, does the government not clean up and take precautions for the future of our children?

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10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on Bill C-27, an act respecting the long term management of nuclearfuel waste.

One needs not be an expert to know that nuclear waste cannot be disposed of in just any regular dump. Today we have a better knowledge of nuclear waste than we did in the 1970s. It was already a concern and the subject of discussions at the time and it still is today.

A few weeks ago the hon. member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie reminded us of the Marrakesh summit. One key recommendation of this summit was that we should consider prohibiting the use of nuclear energy in the future. Since the 1970s, and even before that, a number of countries, including Canada, have been using nuclear power to generate electricity.

Today we can say with some pride that the Quebec government undertook a number of projects, of which Gentilly was one and LaPrade another, but it soon abandoned this approach because of deep concerns and because scientists and experts had many objections. Quebec decided to generate electricity from water power instead of nuclear power.

We can consider ourselves lucky since Quebec produces only 3% of Canadian nuclear waste. When we, as members of the Bloc, say that we want to defend Quebec's interests, I think that, in this particular case, we are pleased that it is just 3%. We have a better understanding of the attitude shown by the Liberal government, that has a great number of representatives from Ontario in the House, when we know that that province produces 90% of nuclear waste.

The member for Brome—Missisquoi cannot say it but I know he totally supports the position of the Bloc Quebecois. As a Quebecer, he is just as proud as we are that the Government of Quebec—be it under the Parti Quebecois or under the Quebec Liberal Party of which his brother is a member—made the choice not to proceed any further with nuclear energy in that province.

Now we have before us a bill on this issue. We supported the principle of the bill at second reading because we were sufficiently in favour of the bill to vote for it at that stage. Nuclear waste is a critical issue as it is hazardous in all respects, including health and safety. The Seaborn panel worked for 10 years on the subject and our critics on this issue raised some objections.

I know the member for Jonquière worked on this for a long time, even until the end, with the member for Sherbrooke. I know that the member for Rosemont—Petite-Patrie would have liked to have his say also as environment critic. Unfortunately, the government decided that this issue fell under the purview of the Department of Natural Resources exclusively and not under the purview of the Department of the Environment.

Therefore, the Standing Committee on the Environment could not be consulted on this. I would say that this is one of the main shortcomings of the bill. It would be the sole responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources, which would work with the waste management organizations from the various provinces, and those who have a stake in the industry would be asked to assess and criticize what is being done in this regard. Yesterday, the member for Sherbrooke said that it was like letting the fox watch the hen house, and I agree with him.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Generally, when we deal with a bill or a legislative measure, we should ensure that an audit or an evaluation is done by a third party, independent people or another department. We should ensure that people or officials do not evaluate themselves. This makes no sense.

When we talk about the nuclear issue we should avoid slipping into demagogy and frightening everyone. However, a number of incidents have occurred throughout the world. Some countries have even recognized that they are incapable of properly managing their nuclear waste. Russia, for example, and the countries of the former Soviet Union are desperately trying to get rid of their nuclear waste: first, because its disposal is very expensive; second, because it is technically difficult to manage; and third, because Russia has abundantly used this source of energy.

I remember the objection of the member for Jonquière. We know all the energy she is capable of showing when she disagrees or agrees with something. To avoid this situation, she launched an initiative in her riding regarding new nuclear waste dumps in the world. She was right.

If the same thing had occurred in my riding of Lévis, members can be sure that I would have done the same thing. I believe that any member having to deal with this kind of situation in his or her own riding would have protested and I believe that everyone would have understood. However, the member for Jonquière reacted with fierceness and no later than yesterday she talked about this issue. I congratulate her for having done so. I also congratulate the member for Sherbrooke who, as usual, dealt with the issue in a very serious manner.

I have heard the member for Rosemont-Petite-Patrie say on occasion that he wanted to talk about this. He could only talk about it in the House since the issue was not dealt with by the Standing Committee on Environment. In his speech, which I listened to yesterday, as well as in the one he made earlier today, he pointed to this issue, which, I believe, reflects another important point. It is the place, in fact, the “lack of place” provided to the public on this issue.

We should not consider this issue simply in a technical or a scientific perspective especially since it seems that the more we move forward on this issue the more we give in to uncertainty. When a scientist trying to reassure us about this issue give us the impression that he is stressed, as though he had in his hands an issue—

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10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

A hot potato.

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10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

—a hot potato, as the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles just said, it means that the issue ought to be given serious consideration.

This is an issue that must be dealt with in a way that will reassure the public so that they have confidence. To get their confidence there should be an ongoing and real public consultation with the various stakeholders in the field, not only the scientists, not only the experts, but also the people in the field.

I realize that we must not always say “not in my backyard”, but the fact remains that this must be done somewhere and in appropriate areas. Why should an area accept nuclear waste coming from another area and another country?

I know there are not enough hon. members here this morning and they are not quite awake. Perhaps they are too tired to criticize me and tell me “Come on, why are you saying that? The bill does not say that we will agree to nuclear waste imports”.

Yes, but an issue such as this one is somewhat like the bills on public security that were passed or tabled here in the House, where the government was saying “Yes, but rest assured, this is not written in the bill”. The fact is we are not reassured. We would prefer it were written that there will be no such imports. Why not do so?

I did not take part in the committee's proceedings but I reviewed the amendments put forward by Bloc Quebecois members who wanted to make sure, among other things, that we had better definitions, and rightly so.

The suggestions to correct one of the flaws were aimed at making sure that the authority was not given to one minister or to the cabinet because, on such an important public issue, specific projects or the subject matter should to be reviewed by the House of Commons on a regular basis, and be audited, not just by anyone, but by someone under the Auditor General of Canada.

As the member for Jonquière mentioned earlier, every proposed amendment was turned down one after the other in committee and here at report stage. Members who used to be on the other side, but who have to tow the party line when a bill is put forward by a minister, voted down these amendments because the government bill was supposedly perfect.

I am making an aside here to remind the House that we have been here for eight years now. This is probably the last speech I will make before the end of the 2001. I said it on several occasions, but I believe it bears reminding.

We saw the way the government dealt with anti-terrorism and public security bills after September 11. We realize that the authority is concentrated in the hands of a single minister, or cabinet at times which is made up of members of parliament appointed by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister appoints the Governor General, the senators when the time comes to send members to the other House. He is responsible for appointing people to high offices. Some say that proportionally, Canada is not the United States, and the powers of the Prime Minister of Canada are actually greater than those of the President of the United States.

In the United States, through a veto, both Houses can prevent the president from exercising certain powers such as sending troops abroad or using supplementary funds. He needs to introduce a specific bill or program in both houses of congress. This is not the case here.

In Canada, when we want to buy time, we refer bills to the other place. However, seeing as Liberal Party members also sit in its caucus, they receive instructions from the Prime Minister—naturally, they also share with him what is going on in the other place—saying, “Take your time on that bill”, or the opposite, “Hurry up and adopt that bill”.

An example of this was the bill on organized crime, which has yet to be passed officially by the other place. But they rush through bills on public security, or Bill C-7 on young offenders. Now with Christmas around the corner, during the last sitting of the session before the holidays, we are studying Bill C-27. No doubt an important issue, but the bill is seriously flawed

The Prime Minister or the caucus will have the ability to appoint all of the members of the board for this new waste management organization that will oversee nuclear waste. Who will he appoint? People in whom he has complete trust, or to whom he feels indebted. I know that the word patronage is not necessarily parliamentary, but if the shoe fits, then I do not see how I could avoid the term. So I will use it. This opens the door to patronage.

Under these circumstances, with an issue as important as nuclear waste, how can we expect the public to believe that things will not be decided by the powers that be, the cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the minister responsible?

But it so happens that the minister could be appointed elsewhere, according to the rumour that a cabinet shuffle may take place before Christmas. Therefore, he must please the Prime Minister to make sure that he gets promoted.

The Minister of Finance used to have a degree of independence, but this year, contrary to what he did in the past, he came up with a budget to please the Prime Minister. So much so—it was funny, but it really was not—that a Canadian Alliance member said “Let the real author of that budget rise”, and both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance got up at the same time.

This shows beyond any doubt that, this time, this is not a Minister of Finance's budget, but mostly a Prime Minister's budget. After eight years in office, one would have thought that the Prime Minister would become reasonable, would be less power-hungry, but no. Now, he wants to assume powers which, under our parliamentary system, are normally held by the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, I realize that I am digressing a bit, but I have always recognized your spirit of tolerance and your flexibility. Knowing that this is my last speech in 2001, you are giving me a small Christmas present by allowing me to say what I think, even though this sometimes goes beyond the scope of the bill.

I know that the hon. member for Abitibi--Baie-James--Nunavik is very jealous of me. Indeed, because of the way the current Canadian parliamentary system works, he will not be able to say what he really thinks, since he has a small hope of being appointed parliamentary secretary, or perhaps minister some day. He hopes that the Prime Minister will forget that he once sat as a Conservative.

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10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am very happy to see that the Bloc Quebecois member has finally recognized my presence in the House just before Christmas.

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10:50 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry, but this is not a point of order; however, we are probably all very happy.

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10:50 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the member is there more than ever, probably because he has also heard about a possible cabinet shuffle. He wants to show that he is present and working hard.

Just kidding. Even if we do not always agree with the member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, even if we sometimes criticize his sense of humour or his attacks on members of the Bloc Quebecois, I will give him this little gift because the Liberal Party might not do so and I want him to know that, according to what I have heard, he works very hard for his constituents. That is what I am told.

Finally, I let my enthusiasm get the better of me but I would have liked a little Christmas gift for the Davie workers. The measures announced by the Minister of Industry come very late. Can you imagine a minister that establishes a program but forgets to announce it? There are two possible explanations: either the program is bad or the minister hopes that people will not take advantage of it. If the program goes unannounced, then there will be few applicants.

Unfortunately, given the long delay, I want to offer this last thought to the employees at Davie Industries who will spend the holidays under the threat of a possible shutdown, since the company is now under the protection of the Bankruptcy Act.

I know that demagogues in my region have said that this was to be expected. St. John's, which had the largest shipyard in Canada, and was a competitor of Davie, is also closed. Marystown Shipyard Limited, which is in the Minister of Industry's riding, is still closed. Workers in the other shipyard in his riding, in St. John's barely have enough work.

I will conclude by telling my constituents that I will continue to work very hard on the Davie project. Therefore, all topics are important for me. This one is particularly so because it involves the future of our young people and of many generations to come.

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10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been following with great interest the debate on Bill C-27, the nuclear fuel waste act. It is important legislation for the whole country, but I regret it has been drawn out to the point that we will not reach Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals legislation, before Christmas.

The hon. member and his colleagues are obviously interested in and well informed on this issue. They have been talking about nuclear power and nuclear fission. One of the solutions to the waste problem, and in the long run to the problems that face our nuclear power industry, is nuclear fusion, not fission.

Where do the hon. member and his colleagues and perhaps Quebec Hydro stand on the ITER project? It is a proposal that has been discussed for three years. It would bring scientists from Japan, the European Union, the United States and elsewhere to Canada to participate in a sophisticated international study of nuclear fusion for many years. What do the member and his colleagues think of that as a solution to the nuclear waste problem?

Nuclear Fuel Waste Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think it unfortunate that so little time remains, because I think that he is mixing up fission and fusion.

With respect to the issue he is talking about, a more indepth study needs to be done here in Canada. But I admit to being concerned, despite the fact that only 3% of nuclear waste is in Quebec and 90% is in Ontario. This is one more reason to take the time and look carefully into all the consequences.

I thank the member for his question and wish him and everyone else a merry Christmas.

Women's Rights
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today we are celebrating the achievements of MATCH International Centre, a Canadian women's organization that has been working in the field of women's rights for 25 years.

I wish to honour co-founders, Dr. Norma Walmsley, a former Manitoban and political science professor at the University of Brandon, and Suzanne Johnson-Harvor. At the international level MATCH continues to push for women's rights in various developing countries.

I am proud to share in the 25th anniversary of MATCH. One of the women who led this organization held elected office in British Columbia during the 1970s was Ms. Rosemary Brown, a fellow partner in politics. Given her early stellar career as a human rights activist and provincial politician, Ms. Brown brought a strong presence to MATCH as its executive director in the 1980s. During her tenure MATCH grew to incorporate elements of worker rights and the rights of the disenfranchised.

In the year 2001, MATCH continues to expand on those ideas that were first introduced by Dr. Walmsley, Suzanne Johnson-Harvor and Ms. Brown. Today it is more important than ever that we celebrate the efforts of MATCH and its achievements to lend its voice to millions of poor and disenfranchised women--

Women's Rights
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Elk Island.

Bank of Montreal
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, 'tis the season of gifts and goodwill. I would like to use this occasion to do something which is quite unusual. I would like to thank and congratulate one of Canada's major banks for an initiative, which belies the oft given criticism of their lack of concern for the well-being of the people they serve.

The small business banking division of the Bank of Montreal has announced a program of breaks for small business. Offering small business loans and lines of credit at the prime rate is a real interest break. In addition, it is giving a voluntary retroactive interest credit of one-quarter per cent to its small business customers. They do not even have to apply for it; it is automatic.

I congratulate the Bank of Montreal for this timely gesture. It demonstrates the bank's compassion for the thousands of small business operators in Canada, many of whom are facing genuine financial challenges. It also shows the bank's commitment to its customers and to our country.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to congratulate the recipients of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. This award was established to recognize the unsung heroes, those people whose day to day efforts to improve other people's lives often go unnoticed but have a profound impact on Canadian communities.

This is a medal not for one time acts of bravery and courage but for the ongoing compassion and caring that are representative of the Canadian character. Suitably these awards are presented not in one grand ceremony but throughout the year to extraordinary Canadians nominated by their fellow citizens.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating these and all other Canadians whose contributions to their communities make such a difference in all our lives.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, this being the International Year of Volunteers, I recently had the opportunity to greet and thank the volunteers from Brome—Missisquoi who were chosen by their peers and who received a medal from the Government of Canada.

They are: Claude Allard, from Cowansville; Jean-Marie Beaupré, from Magog; Micheline Bissonnette, from Farnham; Alfred Boulet, from Cowansville; Pierre Désautels, from Magog; Denis Deschamps, from Bromont; Rolande Dubord, from Bromont; Madeleine Fortin, from Bedford; Gil Gilbert, from Bolton Centre; Mariette Jetté, from Farnham; Heather Keith-Ryan, from Mansonville; Gaston Lafontaine, from Lac Brome; André Landry, from Bedford; Marion Phelps, from Lac Brome; Lucille Pouliot, from Magog; Gary Richards, from South Stukely and Jean-Paul Sirois, from Cowansville.

I want to thank all of them for giving our world a human face. Pass the torch on to young people and happy holidays to all of you.

Mining
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, the McWatters mining company of Val-d'Or filed its official plan of arrangement to restructure and reorganize its debt, liabilities and capital.

This plan will allow the company to attain long term financial stability. All involved stakeholders will benefit from the plan's implementation.

The company's president, Claire Derome, stated that “For the region of Val-d'Or, this is an exceptional opportunity both for employees and for the community to allow McWatters to gradually recover its role as a major contributor to the local economy. In the coming years, the number of people employed by McWatters will rise from the current level of 157, to more than 320 employees in 2004”.

After reading the plan, I am convinced that with its new partner Soquem, and financial assistance from the governments of Canada and Quebec, McWatters will receive a vote of confidence on January 23, 2002 to resume operations at the Sigma-Lamaque complex in 2002.

The Singing Christmas Tree
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Peter Goldring Edmonton Centre-East, AB

Mr. Speaker, this year is the 35th anniversary of an Edmonton event of such magnificence and spiritual delight that it truly is a spectacle to behold.

Forty-five feet tall with 6,000 lights on its evergreen boughs only begins to describe this wonderful extravaganza of sparkling colour and sound. One hundred and forty lend their costumed personages with voices raised in song, true human tree adornments in choral unison with the accompaniment of a full orchestra, a mesmerizing musical backdrop to an eclectic, ecclesiastical expression.

The Central Tabernacle and Pastor Bob Jones again this year present this delightful expression to the citizens of Edmonton. The Singing Christmas Tree has been an event, a spectacle and a spiritual message for 35 years. I congratulate all involved.

House of Commons
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand to pay tribute to the administration and staff of the House of Commons, clerks and researchers, Library of Parliament staff and their families, House security staff and their families, the RCMP officers who work tirelessly around the clock to keep this place safe along with House of Commons security and the translators in the booth who work tirelessly trying to keep up with us.

I also pay tribute to my colleagues in the House of Commons and their staff and families; to you, Mr. Speaker, as well as the table clerks who work tirelessly to make the House function very effectively. More than anything I pay tribute to the pages who put in a lot of hours to keep this place functioning and, above everything, all Canadians.

May 2002 be a year full of joy, peace and prosperity for all.

Bill C-7
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, in testifying last month before the justice committee of the other House, the Minister of Justice told the senators clearly that they should not waste their time proposing changes to Bill C-7. The minister considers the role of senators to be figurative.

However, to be on the safe side no doubt, some of the Liberal senators sided with the opposition in passing amendments, albeit minor, that would send the bill back to the House of Commons.

Why have a twisted law that no one wants, a law cobbled together from all over in the course of a long examination, when we already have a law to deal with young offenders, which has proven its mettle and which works well, as Quebec has shown repeatedly?

The Minister of Justice must listen to reason at least once in her life and seize the opportunity given her with the return of the bill to the House to arrange to have it put on hold and move on to other things for the greater good of young people in trouble with the law.

Soccer
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the signature of a declaration of intent by the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport and the President of FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

This is the first step toward a bilateral agreement on soccer. It will promote the development of elite soccer in Canada, the full participation of women in soccer, and the harmonization of antidoping policies between FIFA and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

More and more young Canadians are interested in soccer. For this reason, the Government of Canada has created the Canadian Soccer Foundation.

Our government is very much committed to promoting participation in soccer in this country. I sincerely hope that our efforts will culminate in a successful World Cup bid in the near future.

In closing, may I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and much happiness and health in 2002.

Bill C-15A
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, here is one more reason parliament must show some leadership on the issue of home invasions. A woman who took part in an extremely violent home invasion in 1998 was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day for her part. As everyone knows by now, this means serving a sentence at home.

Sandra Rickovic and two others tied up and pistol whipped jeweller Jitendra Goldsmith and his wife. Their two young children were locked in a basement room at gunpoint while the grandmother escaped out a back door with a seven month old baby. Goldsmith, who operated a home business in Vancouver, lost nearly $400,000 in the robbery and was not insured.

Another of the home invaders, David Anthony Labadie, was convicted of break and enter, robbery, wearing a mask, using an imitation handgun, unlawful confinement and assault causing bodily harm. For his efforts he received a paltry seven years while the crown wanted fourteen.

In Bill C-15A parliament made home invasion an aggravating factor for sentencing. I supported that. If this is any indication of what we can expect from the courts there will be no alternative but to legislate mandatory minimum sentences for these vicious crimes.

Impaired Driving
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the holiday season it is important to remind people of the danger of drinking and driving. I recognize the Bank of Montreal which again this year gave $10,000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving for its red ribbon campaign.

Each December over 1,000 branches of the Bank of Montreal display MADD's coin boxes, red ribbons and posters. Staff and customers are encouraged to pick up a red ribbon and make a donation to MADD Canada. Like the good work of the Bank of Montreal we must all do our part to discourage drinking and driving during the holiday season.

Holiday Greetings
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the fall sitting of parliament ending today has been extraordinary. From the first day our thoughts and legislative agenda have been dominated by the tragic events of September 11. We have sent our armed forces into combat, have been asked to grant our security forces unprecedented powers and have tried to reach out to our southern neighbours without sacrificing our national integrity and sovereignty. We have struggled not to destroy the very values we are trying to secure.

At the same time we have tried to maintain the regular business of this place so as not to concede to the disorder that is the very goal of the perpetrators of terrorism. We have called for a budget that would stand shoulder to shoulder with Canadians and invest in our future by strengthening the bedrock of civil society: the health, social and environmental needs of this great nation. In the coming year, together with our leader, the NDP caucus will continue to challenge the government's agenda.

But for now, Mr. Speaker, we pause to wish you and all of our colleagues the best of the season. We wish for you what we wish for ourselves: a holiday of thoughtfulness and rest, of assessment and compassion, a time to look back on the unbelievable year just passed and a time to plan for a new year of work informed by respect for each person's worth and by love for one another.

Parliamentary Poet Laureate
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Lévis-Et-Chutes-De-La-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the session now drawing to a close has demonstrated the insensitivity and inconsistency of this government as far as the real needs of the population are concerned.

Last Tuesday, after more than five hours of debate, the Liberal government finally passed a bill creating the position of parliamentary poet laureate, whereas a week before that, this same government did not have more than five minutes to spend in the House on the anti-terrorism bill.

Instead of allowing members to debate matters as vital as rights and freedoms, the government imposed a gag order totally out of keeping with the fundamental values so dear to Quebecers.

While the Minister of Finance's budget totally ignores the demands of workers, youth, seniors and businesses, the government can find the necessary funds to sustain this new position. Let us hope there will not be any “Heritage poetry minutes”.

Sima Samar
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour for me to rise today to congratulate Dr. Sima Samar, this year's recipient of the John Humphrey Freedom Award.

On December 10, International Human Rights Day, Dr. Samar was honoured for her efforts to end the oppression of Afghan women and children. Putting herself at risk to fight for the rights of women to education, employment, mobility and medical care, for over a decade Dr. Samar has operated schools for girls and health clinics in Afghanistan and the refugee camps of northern Pakistan.

Dr. Samar has long advocated for women's involvement in public life. Now, as deputy prime minister in the Afghan transitional government, she will have a strong voice in the decision making of her country.

As Dr. Samar said “I will continue my work so that women's rights in Afghanistan will be counted as human rights and that girls will no longer be punished for having a notebook and pen in hand”.

Colleagues in the House warmly welcomed Dr. Samar earlier this week and I am confident that she understood in the thunderous and prolonged applause she received that she has our hopes and prayers, that we have her in our minds and that we wish her and the Afghan people the best of luck.

Fisheries
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the groundfish stocks, especially various varieties of flounder, show signs of rebuilding on the Newfoundland Grand Banks. However, constant overfishing by foreigners on the nose and tail is playing havoc with those stocks.

Allowing foreigners to fish shrimp on the Flemish Cap gives them the opportunity to flood the European markets with cooked and peeled shrimp while our producers face a 20% tariff on product going into the same market.

The nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap are extensions of Canada's continental shelf. It is time for Canada to extend management control over the nose and tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap to protect our resources, our jobs and our people's interests. Let us show some leadership for a change.

Mr. Speaker, may I wish you and my colleagues a very happy Christmas and a happy and productive New Year.

Homelessness
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour is in Quebec today announcing the funding of several projects for the homeless.

As part of the community action partnerships initiative, $56.7 million are allocated to Quebec. Last February, the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the government of Quebec for the purpose of providing communities with access to programs, services and measures to support their endeavours.

Homelessness is a problem that is cause for concern and must be dealt with urgently. I therefore salute the Government of Canada's commitment to supporting organizations that are involved in the daily struggle to help the homeless. Their contribution is indispensable to our society.

This initiative is one more example of the Government of Canada's desire to fight poverty in this country.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish all Canadians health, happiness and, most importantly, peace, in the coming year.

Government of Canada
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the travel wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when we discover we are riding a dead horse the best strategy is to dismount.

However, with this Liberal government a whole range of far more advanced strategies is often employed, such as: appointing a committee to study the dead horse; arranging a visit to other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses; lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included; reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired, which is politically correct; harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed; providing additional funding aimed at increasing the dead horse's performance; doing a productivity study to see if a lighter rider would improve the dead horse's performance; declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy; lowering the expected performance requirements for all horses so that dead horses are included; and finally and most important, promoting the dead horse to a Liberal cabinet position.

Regulatory Standards
Statements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, in February the then auditor general, Denis Desautels, noted that there are major regulatory shortcomings in risk identification and management. He pointed to several problems: increased government reliance on industries to regulate themselves, adoption of safety standards set by other governments, increased public skepticism caused by the slashing of in house government scientific labs and reliance on researchers with links to industry.

In addition, the fact that regulators consider economic consequences to business when they enforce safety regulations does create a potential conflict of interest. A typical case study of the shortcomings of risk assessment is the regulatory process for approving genetically modified foods. This was exposed in a report by the Royal Society. I urge the government to implement the society's recommendations to fix the regulatory system.

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government undermined the role of the Governor General of Canada, one of Canada's institutions. The viceregal household must be above politics and John Ralston Saul broke that rule.

In light of her consort's controversial comments and continued insistence on participating in political debate, will the government advise the Governor General that His Excellency should withdraw completely from his public role?

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister addressed this question yesterday, as did the Prime Minister outside the House. Mr. Saul is a private citizen and is entitled to his own views. His views in no way constitute official government policy or statements of government policy. For that reason we will certainly not accede to or address the hon. member's question.

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government forced Jean-Louis Roux to resign as lieutenant governor of Quebec because of controversial activities in his student days, 50 years in the past.

Why is this same government defending His Excellency, when it forced Mr. Roux to resign?

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I already said, Mr. Saul has the right to express his own views, and I think that the situation was clarified by the government.

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the Prime Minister announced the Governor General's appointment he said that the Governor General and her consort would be partners. That is not exactly what we just heard. We heard that this individual is a private citizen.

Which is it? Are they acting as partners, as the Prime Minister said, or is this individual in fact a private citizen?

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that Mr. Saul throughout years of being an author has expressed a number of views, not all of which the hon. member may be comfortable with. The fact is that he has the right to express those views. He is an author. Simply because he now is with the Governor General at Rideau Hall is no reason to tell people that he can no longer pursue his chosen career as an author.

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, on a day when bin Laden's guilt is an accepted fact around the world, His Excellency Mr. Saul contends that western democracies are to blame for the September 11 disaster.

If the government will not demand that the viceregal household desist from making comments like this, will it at least disassociate itself from such insidious remarks?

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said outside the House and the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday said that Mr. Saul's thoughts on various subjects in no way represent an official statement of government policy.

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism. I am wondering if the minister who imagined burning crosses on lawns in my riding knows real bigotry when she sees or hears it.

His Excellency Mr. Saul blames Canada and the west for the events of September 11 and he even blames Christian civilization for the Holocaust. Does the minister condone these bigoted, anti-western and anti-Christian statements?

Literary Works
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I do not think it serves debate well to enter into this kind of discussion. The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and I, today, have stated the government's policy on this matter and I think that should be the end of it.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this session ends today. Unfortunately, we learned in recent days that thousands of seniors who were entitled to the guaranteed income supplement never received it.

My question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. As the holiday season is fast approaching, would it not be nice to show to seniors that the government changed its mind and has decided to apply full retroactivity to those who did not get what they were entitled to?

The government once accepted a $1 billion tax free transfer for a family trust on December 23. This time, why not do something nice for the elderly?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, one of the most remarkable achievements in Canadian social policy in recent decades has been the substantial reduction in poverty among seniors.

According to Statistics Canada, the incidence of low income among persons aged 65 and over declined from 20.8% in 1980 to 8.2% in 1999.

Without question, that has a lot to do with programs like the guaranteed income support system. From my point of view I think the best thing we can do together is ensure that all citizens know about the guaranteed income supplement, have access to the information and, if they are eligible, receive those benefits.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's figures are small consolation for the 300,000 seniors who are living below the poverty line and who are listening to us. These figures will not put food on their table.

I am asking the government, and more specifically the minister, to show some compassion. I am asking her to follow up on this request and to treat seniors fairly. This is what they expect from their government and this is what the opposition is demanding from the government.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, indeed Canadian seniors expect justice and Canadian seniors appreciate the program of pension structures in place to support them.

The job here is to make sure those benefits that are so important are known to seniors.

I would point out that as a result of the programs we, myself along with my colleague, the minister of revenue, are putting in place, the Ontario Coalition of Senior Citizens' Organization and St. Christopher House are all agreeing that our strategies are the correct ones and they will help us get the news out to Canadian seniors. I would ask the hon. member to join us in that undertaking.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, many seniors listen to our debates in the House. They do not understand why the Liberal government is refusing, despite what everyone would expect, to apologize to those who were deprived of their due and, worse, why it is refusing to pay them the full retroactive amount they are owed.

The federal government is cross referencing information in order to track down unemployed workers who leave the country or anyone who owes it taxes.

How is it that the government is refusing to do the same in order to track down those seniors—

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, there are two important things. The guaranteed income supplement has been a part of the pension structure for the last 30 years and since the very beginning there has been a retroactivity provision. This provision is the same provision, or in some cases better, as the provisions that are provided in the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan.

We do want to support and serve Canadian seniors well and I believe with the structures we have in place we are doing just that.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, we do not understand the federal government's attitude.

Seniors do not understand the government's stubborn insistence on denying them their rights either.

Does the government not think this is a good time to do the right thing by seniors and drop its present petty-minded attitude?

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member would be interested to know that in Quebec alone my department's outreach workers have directly contacted 600,000 clients to explain old age security and guaranteed income supplement.

He would be interested to know that in Quebec alone 2,000 service providers and seniors' groups are working with us to get the news out about these important pension programs. I would expect that the hon. member's constituents would ask him and want him to join us in that constructive endeavour.

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, as parliament recesses for the holiday season I would like to ask the Revenue Canada minister to imagine for a moment that he has Down's syndrome, or that he is blind, to imagine that he is among the 106,000 Canadians who received a letter from their government demanding proof that they are still mentally challenged or still blind and that if they cannot pay to get that proof from a doctor they will not receive a penny of their disability tax credit this year.

Will the Revenue Canada minister now connect his head with his heart and announce the cancellation of this cruel harassment of Canadians living with disabilities?

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the tax system is based on the self-assessment system. As I have said many times, we do proceed with audits of our major accounts in order to verify the integrity of the self-assessment system.

We do know that it is something very sensitive. That is why we have been in touch with all the associations across Canada in order to fulfil that duty in a very professional manner.

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is not season's greetings or goodwill messages that the minister has sent out to the 106,000 Canadians living with disabilities. It is not just a sensitive matter, it is a lethal threat to the thin thread of economic security that supports those Canadians in coping with the demands of daily living.

I will try this again. In the spirit of the holiday season, does the minister have it in his heart to put an end to this cruel harassment and announce the termination, the cancellation, of this unreasonable demand, and reinstate this lifeline to Canadians living with disabilities?

Persons with Disabilities
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Outremont
Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon Minister of National Revenue and Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, that tax credit could be a lifelong tax credit. The agency is receiving more than 160,000 demands for the tax credit on a yearly basis. We are doing the work we used to do. We are just reviewing the files through an audit.

I would like to tell the member one more time that we do understand it is a very sensitive issue. We are in touch with all the associations across Canada to ensure that we are working in co-operation with them, and we will fulfill our duties in a very professional way.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at 7 a.m., the RCMP raided the home of François Beaudoin and seized his laptop computer.

Oddly, this computer was not on the list of documents, material and equipment which the BDC seized unlawfully last spring. This illegal seizure was overturned by Judge Silcoff.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether there is any new information which would justify this new seizure and whether any new charges have been laid against Mr. Beaudoin?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP does not seek the permission nor does it give any notice to members of the cabinet or any member of the House prior to conducting its work. In this case no notice was given and no consent was sought.

The RCMP is doing its job. I would suggest to the former right hon. gentleman that we let it do its job.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, could the solicitor general advise the House if there is any intent to seize computers or records of any parliamentarian, any journalist, any media outlet or any other persons who have been investigating any aspect of the François Beaudoin or the Auberge Grand-Mère issues?

This allows for a yes or no answer. Will the records of parliamentarians or journalists be seized?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague is trying to destroy the integrity of probably one of the best police forces in the world. As a former prime minister of Canada that is totally unacceptable.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the RCMP conducted its second raid on François Beaudoin's home in its investigation of whether a BBC document connecting the Prime Minister to the Auberge Grand-Mère is forged or authentic. Apparently a Southam news journalist was informed of the raid before Mr. Beaudoin or his lawyer.

What is the solicitor general doing about this breach of confidentiality of an RCMP investigation?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is well aware that, if he has some concerns about the RCMP, there is a proper process to take. My hon. colleague should also be aware that he is trying to discredit one of the best police forces in the world. If he has a complaint there is a proper way to make it.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister discredits justice because he does not give a damn about justice in this country. This investigation involves the integrity of the Prime Minister and the independence of the RCMP. This apparent leak to a journalist may bring the administration into disrepute.

Will the solicitor general assure the House that there is an independent investigation into the leak of this at arm's length of both the RCMP and the PMO?

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am kind of surprised that my hon. colleague would be discussing misrepresentation. The fact of the matter is, as I have said many times, there is a proper process to take if he has a complaint against the RCMP. He knows that is the process to take.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, a coalition of people who support the introduction of a new parental leave system is meeting today with the government of Quebec. They want the two governments to agree to the introduction of a new program, but right now Ottawa is refusing to co-operate.

Since the Employment Insurance Act allows the federal government to transfer money to provinces which set up an equivalent or superior program, how can the Minister of Human Resources Development explain her refusal to co-operate in the introduction of a new program for Quebec?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House, we are very proud of the fact that we have been able to double parental benefits to ensure that all Canadians, including those living in the province of Quebec, now have the choice to stay at home with their newborns or their newly adopted children for up to a year.

As I have always said, if the government of Quebec, wishes to add to that important addition in the employment insurance system, it is welcome to do so.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government's program is limited to those receiving employment insurance benefits, which excludes many families.

Quebec wants to introduce a program that would cover all families, including self-employed workers. Furthermore, the EI fund is full to overflowing.

If the government truly has the interests of families at heart, why will it not support the new parental leave program the government of Quebec wants to set up?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, another important aspect of the expansion of the benefits the government has provided is the fact that we have done it without increasing costs. As the Minister of Finance has said, in every year for the last eight years we have been able to reduce employment insurance premiums.

Again, if the government of Quebec chooses to add to that very strong base, it is welcome to do so.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, just last week, the European Union formally called upon Yasser Arafat for “the dismantling of Hamas' and Islamic Jihad's terrorist networks, including the arrest and prosecution of all suspects” , and asked him to give a public appeal in Arabic for an end to the armed intifada. Arafat has not done this but the Prime Minister is calling on Israel to negotiate with him.

Does the Minister of Foreign Affairs agree that before Yasser Arafat can be a credible spokesperson, he must eliminate Hamas and Jihad and unequivocally call for an end to--

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, not only our government but the United States has indicated that Mr. Arafat is the spokesperson for the Palestinian people and the head of the Palestinian authority.

That is in no way inconsistent with our agreeing with the call that was referenced by the European Union, which has been very consistent with the insistence that we have had with Mr. Arafat; that he must arrest those people who are responsible for the terrorist attacks. He must use the authority he has to rein in the terrorists. He cannot expect a better result in the Middle East until he does so.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. position is clear but Canada's is inconsistent, and it cannot afford to be on an issue as sensitive as this.

Just yesterday the Prime Minister urged Israel to re-establish ties with Yasser Arafat, even though he has refused to take the steps the European Union has asked. The foreign affairs minister said that he understood very well Israel's decision to try to protect itself.

Who is speaking for the government on this? These are two very different opinions.

Middle East
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Ottawa South
Ontario

Liberal

John Manley Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that this is a difficult area for people who perhaps are not that familiar with it but they are not contradictory points of view. There is no other person who can be an interlocutor on behalf of the Palestinian people other than Mr. Arafat and the Palestinian authority.

If co-operation is to be resumed, not just at the negotiating table but in the whole range of activities, including enforcing security arrangements, it has to be between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority. There is no other way. In that respect, not only does our Prime Minister say so, but so do the Europeans and the Americans.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, to our great astonishment, the Minister of Finance stated that the health transfers to the provinces had been increased. The minister's statement is surprising because we know that all of the figures indicate the opposite.

How can the minister be so cynical and make such comments, when we know that the current levels of health transfers are below what they were in 1994-95?

Given the circumstances, how can the minister say that there has been an increase?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I can quote the figures: there was a $2.8 billion increase this year; it will be greater than $3 billion next year and greater than $4 billion the following year.

These are increases, following the historic agreement between the Prime Minister of Canada and the provincial premiers, of $23 billion.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance has added to this cynicism by asserting that employment insurance benefits were increased when in fact the benefits are lower and the criteria more restrictive.

How can he make such an offensive statement when we know that it is harder than ever for young people and women to qualify for employment insurance and that benefit periods have never been so short and so meagre?

Given the context, how can he claim that they have increased?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, all the member needs to do is look at last year's results.

Not only were there improvements in benefits for the unemployed, but there is also parental leave.

The problem is that there was a marked increase in benefits but the Bloc Quebecois voted against it.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance hides behind a bogus claim that he consulted Canadians when preparing his budget through the finance committee. It turns out that he ignored or contradicted virtually every major recommendation of the finance committee like its sensible proposals to: reallocate spending from low to high priority areas; hold program spending growth to 3% as opposed to his 10%; eliminate the capital tax; and use the contingency reserve to pay down the debt.

Why did the finance minister trash the advice of the finance committee and of Canadians along with his reputation for fiscal responsibility in this budget?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, once again, not only was the finance committee's report very influential in the preparation of the budget, as it has been in the past, but it also signalled the directions it thought we should take in the future, which it has done before and which we have ultimately followed.

I would like once again to take the opportunity, following upon the hon. member's question, to thank members of the finance committee, especially members on the Liberal side, for the extensive consultations and very hard work they have put into this.

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the finance minister could have shown his gratitude by actually accepting a couple of the committee's major recommendations. Instead he contradicted it when it said to reallocate; when it said not to raise taxes, as he did in this budget; when it said use a five year planning horizon, which he did not in this budget; when it said sell Petro-Canada, which he did not; and when it said have an audit of regulations, which he did not.

Why did the finance minister send the finance committee out on a dog and pony show when he did not recommend a single one of its major recommendations? How can he claim that this budget was based on public consultation, when he ignored the committee's major report?

The Budget
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is factually incorrect. Anybody who reads the finance committee's report, this one and the previous finance committee report, can see the degree to which the government has been influenced. That is because of the very hard work which has been done, not only by the finance committee but by the caucus committees on the government side, which began work immediately.

I look forward one month after the budget, when the House comes back, to beginning that period of extensive consultation. I would like to thank all government members for all the hard work they put into our budget.

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, allegations have been made that Citizenship and Immigration Canada has been singling out foreign students from middle eastern countries already in Canada for questioning related to security concerns.

Could the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration please confirm whether this is true or not?

National Security
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for this very important question. I would like to remind her and others that they should not believe everything they read in the newspaper. In fact, the article that she refers to had one quote that was correct and that was from immigration spokesman René Mercier when he said “There is no such operation going on”.

I can confirm that CIC is not targeting any one group.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government is being sued by a U.S. chemical maker for $160 million for banning the pesticide Lindane used for treating canola. This company, formerly Uniroyal, claims the ban is tantamount to expropriation.

The government, which never acts independently but only submits to American dictates, had banned the use of this pesticide after Washington warned it would block all imports containing residue from Lindane, a product prohibited in the United States.

My question for the Minister for International Trade. Is this not a case of banned if we do and banned if we do not?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, that product was voluntarily withdrawn from the Canadian market by the manufacturer.

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary question for the Minister for International Trade.

Ethyl Corporation, UPS and now Crompton Corporation, how many more times must Canada be sued by American companies for defending our sovereignty, for defending the health and the environment of Canadians before the government will finally stand up and either get rid of chapter 11 of NAFTA or abrogate the deal?

Will the minister assure the House that his government will not sign any new trade deal, such as the FTAA, that would include the investor state provision that puts corporate power ahead of the environment and the health of Canadians?

International Trade
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I totally disagree with the member. I do think NAFTA has served Canada very well.

I am not surprised that the NDP would like us to throw away NAFTA and the free trade agreement with the United States. However that is not the policy of this government.

As far as chapter 11 is concerned, I want the member and all Canadians to know that we have added some clarifications to chapter 11, which was the very policy this government was promoting. We will continue to work on improving what we already have, not throwing away everything that has served Canadian interests so very well.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, like ghosts of Christmas past, the Auberge Grand-Mère scandal continues to haunt the Prime Minister.

François Beaudoin has a lawsuit pending that could expose many sordid details of political interference and conflict of interest on the part of the Prime Minister. Attempts to sanitize files, unlawful seizure of documents, emissaries from the PMO, like Jean Carle, and now the seizure of a personal computer by the RCMP.

Is there a link or an element of intimidation behind this second raid of François Beaudoin's home and the lawsuit against the government?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the only thing sordid and pathetic in all of this is that while most members of parliament are concerned about the real issues that affect Canadians where they live, that party and that party only asks questions that can go nowhere, that are designed to attack the integrity of the Prime Minister, that are not based on fact and that attack the credibility and the integrity of the RCMP.

That is sordid, pathetic and out of line.

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, integrity and parliamentary accountability are pretty important but maybe not to the minister.

The RCMP and investigations are supposed to be confidential, he tells us. In the raid of François Beaudoin's home yesterday morning it appears that reporters learned about the seizure before Mr. Beaudoin and his attorney.

I suggest this is entirely within the responsibility of the solicitor general to know and explain this highly suspect occurrence where reporters get the head's up about an RCMP raid.

Will the solicitor general tell us, did he know?

Auberge Grand-Mère
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, again my hon. colleague and his party continually want to destroy the credibility of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The fact is that there is a process to take if they have a problem with the actions of the RCMP. It is certainly obvious that they have a big problem with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. If they do, there is a public complaints commission that they can bring their complaint to.

Research and Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the House leader said that the new legislation on cloning and stem cell research would not be introduced until May. Summer will come and still no laws against cloning will be on the books.

The health committee worked very hard to table the report before Christmas because this is an urgent matter.

Will the health minister promise that legislation will be introduced before the end of March at the latest?

Research and Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, this subject is a priority for me and for the government. We will introduce legislation as early as possible in the new year.

Research and Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, human life should not be created in order to be destroyed.

The health minister himself said that just because we can do something, does not mean that we should. Yesterday we heard him say that we should have embryonic stem cell research because it was allowed in other countries. That is very shaky ethics.

Will the minister ensure that embryos are protected through legislation?

Research and Development
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, we undertook the most democratic, indeed unprecedented procedure known to parliament in putting before the health committee, on which all parties were represented, draft legislation that included embryonic research.

The committee spent eight months listening to many witnesses. It came back with a report recommending that embryonic stem cell research be permitted under certain circumstances.

We intend to pay close attention to the recommendations of the report. We are now preparing legislation. We will introduce it at the earliest possible date.

Infrastructure Program
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the existing infrastructure program, there are hundreds of projects in Quebec all ready to start. The only thing missing is the funding to carry them out.

Does the Minister of Finance realize that the only thing he did in announcing his foundation was reveal to us his latest discovery for holding up investments in infrastructure until 2003?

Infrastructure Program
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, there is no agreement on the infrastructure program with Quebec at the moment. We are prepared to work with the province, especially in the field of transportation.

Infrastructure Program
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the third time since 1993 that the government has announced an infrastructure program.

The first two times, the programs were managed by the governments. Now the minister is establishing a foundation.

Since the process worked well for the first two programs, why, all of a sudden, with the third program, is the Minister of Finance creating a foundation? What has changed to cause them to function differently now?

Infrastructure Program
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, a look at the demand for infrastructure throughout Canada indicates an enormous demand.

What is needed is a vehicle for private sector and governments to plan. This continuity is very important. This is why we established the foundation.

Now, in response to the member's first question, perhaps she could suggest to her friends in the PQ government that they stop delaying and sign the agreement so things can get under way?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the last five months the minister created an agenda whereby softwood exporting provinces have made proposals to the U.S. with no actual return proposal from the U.S. until last Friday.

From a negotiating standpoint, this poorly represents provincial interests, tips the scales in favour of the U.S. and has allowed his department to follow the 1996 softwood lumber bad bargaining handbook.

When will the minister accept that a deal at any cost is not a good deal?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member has been for the last few months but that is exactly what we have been trying to avoid, the 1995-96 scenario.

We will negotiate a very good trade deal with the United States for our Canadian producers. That is the objective of our government.

We have been able to work with all the provincial governments and with industry. Indeed, for the first time the Americans have even tabled a written document, which they had not done in the earlier difficulties we have had with them. That is progress.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, after five months of one-sided negotiations where the Canadian provinces have done all the talking, we now find out that the first U.S. proposal contains no guarantee of market access or protection from harassment.

If the long running script orchestrated by the minister requires all provinces to buy in, good luck. When will the minister stop being a cheerleader and start being a real negotiator?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we are having a federal-provincial conference on Monday morning. I have been very impressed by all the provinces' expression of appreciation for the leadership provided by the Government of Canada in the discussions with the United States.

For once the United States has not been able to divide and conquer us. This is the kind of leadership we have been providing. We are going places because we will have free trade in softwood lumber in the United States.

Government Services
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada's toll free 1-800-O-Canada number has been featured in government publicity for several years now.

Could the minister responsible for communications on behalf of Canada give this House a progress report on this initiative to meet Canadians' information requirements?

Government Services
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that this evening 1-800-O-Canada will be receiving the 2001 award of excellence, Service Quality Measurement, for customer services.

Close to 40,000 Canadians dial 1-800-0-Canada weekly to get quick and accurate information on the Government of Canada's programs, policies and services.

My congratulations to all of the employees in the 1-800-0-Canada call centre for their excellent work.

Minister for International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday a representative of the city of Toronto said “After the city receives a voters' list there is a revision period during which an elector may delete his or her name or otherwise correct information on the list pertaining to an elector”.

Clearly the fault lies with the CIDA minister. Will she take responsibility for her own actions and resign?

Minister for International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have addressed this question a number of times in the past week. I think the hon. member should allow the ethics counsellor to do his work which is to see what, if any, problems there were with the alleged conduct of my colleague, the Minister for International Cooperation, rather than dredge up individual details here in the House of Commons.

Minister for International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, we do not have any confidence in the ethics counsellor at this time.

Let us look at the facts. The CIDA minister attended a terrorist fundraising dinner against the advice of officials. She handed out $75,000 in bogus contracts to campaign cronies. Now we know she voted illegally to assist a friend in Toronto.

The record of bad judgment may be acceptable to the Prime Minister but Canadians demand a higher standard.

Again, will she resign or not?

Minister for International Cooperation
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Don Valley East
Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this is what we get every day from the Alliance members. They make allegations but do not give the minister a chance to explain her actions.

Furthermore, what has the member done this morning? He has attacked the integrity of a public servant, the ethics counsellor, and he should be ashamed of himself.

Ethical Investing
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I suppose that the Minister of Finance knows that $1 out of every $2 dollars traded on financial markets comes from pension funds.

It seems clear that billions of dollars belonging to workers are one of the major forces driving globalization but workers are largely unaware of the social and environmental impacts that their savings are having.

Since countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Australia and France have already introduced legislation to encourage socially responsible investing, does the Minister of Finance agree with the principle that the managers of pension funds should operate more transparently and publish the human, social and environmental criteria taken into account in their choice of investments?

Ethical Investing
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the criteria for federally regulated pension funds are very transparent.

I agree entirely with the basic principle put forward by the hon. member. At the same time, however, it should be pointed out that the majority of pension funds are provincially regulated.

House of Commons
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, as this is the last sitting day before we adjourn for the holiday season, could the Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons please review for us what we have accomplished in this place?

House of Commons
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased that we are ending the year with the best question of the year, if I can say so.

Thanks to the co-operation of all hon. members, not the least of which of course is the excellent work of the Liberal members of the House of Commons, the House has passed 49 bills in 2001, including 21 since September. These were bills involving public safety, aboriginal rights, the security of Canadians and an excellent budget by the Minister of Finance. We just could not get it any better.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is the last day of business for the House before we all head home for the holidays, but there is no sign that it will be a merry Christmas for the thousands of British Columbians who have lost their jobs as a result of the government's failure to resolve the softwood lumber dispute.

For months the Minister for International Trade has held out faint hope that there would be a new deal on softwood lumber by Christmas. We are now 11 days from Christmas and still there is nothing. Canadian forestry workers want to know, will there be a new deal under the tree, or will they get scrooged again?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I can say one thing and that is the opposition is very isolated in not acknowledging the progress that all provinces, co-ordinated by the Government of Canada, have been making in the last few months.

For the first time this country has not blinked. We are in a position now to have the Americans at the table putting into a written document options for guaranteeing our security of access.

We will have our federal-provincial conference on Monday morning. I am confident that we will move as a united country despite the opposition.

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

Noon

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister has a different tune every day. On October 31 he talked about a Canadian approach and not letting any individual province cut a deal. Yesterday he completely flip-flopped on that. He went soft on it by letting Gordon Campbell cut a deal with the U.S. that will be disastrous for workers and the industry in B.C.

Despite what the minister has said today, I would ask him to be very clear. What is his position? Is it defending a Canadian unified position, or is it letting Gordon Campbell sell out the forestry industry and the thousands of jobs that are at stake?

Softwood Lumber
Oral Question Period

Noon

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not share the NDP's complete contempt for the premier of British Columbia.

That man has received a mandate from British Columbians. In his mandate he has the objective to actually change some forestry management practices in that province. It is his jurisdiction.

I have the great privilege of working with that very solid man. He is working as part of the Canadian team. We also have the Quebec government and the Alberta government there. We are working as a team.

Justice
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, after years of study and hundreds of amendments, the senators, or rather the other place, have made amendments of their own along the lines of the present youth justice legislation.

Instead of amending complex and inappropriate legislation, which nobody in Quebec wants, ought the minister not to take advantage of this renewed opportunity to withdraw her youth justice legislation, in keeping with the wishes of the majority of Quebecers?

Justice
Oral Question Period

Noon

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we believe our new youth justice legislation is balanced, is effective, is fair and permits the province of Quebec to continue the very good programs and activities that it has under way.

Coinage
Oral Question Period

Noon

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, all Canadian coins have on them “D.G. Regina”, which is Latin for “by the grace of God Queen”, all coins, that is, except the 2001 dime known as the volunteer dime. Ironically, this coin was unveiled by His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

Will the minister responsible for the Royal Canadian Mint assure Canadians that he will restore the recognition of God and the Queen on all future coinage, or is it now Liberal policy to obliterate these time honoured references?

Coinage
Oral Question Period

Noon

Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel
Québec

Liberal

Alfonso Gagliano Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. It gives me the opportunity to say that next year is the jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen and we will have a 50 cent coin dedicated to the Queen.

Coinage
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

As we prepare to return to our ridings and families and friends, I just want to take this opportunity to wish all hon. members, our staffs and the staff of the House the very best for the Christmas season.

I invite all hon. members to a reception in room 216 immediately following the adjournment of House.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 42nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the selection of votable items in accordance with Standing Order 92. This report is deemed adopted on presentation.

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 43rd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the matter of improving procedures for the consideration of private members' business, and, if the House gives its consent, I should like to move concurrence at this time.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Some hon. members

No.

Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 44th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the associate membership of some committees, and I should like to move concurrence at this time.

(Motion agreed to)

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions to present to the House. The first deals with the concern of Canadians about the sexual exploitation of children.

It calls on parliament to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to set the age of consent at 18 years, except in a husband and wife relationship, to provide protection from exploitation and abuse.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls on parliament to put forward a motion to cancel the backlog of unpayable debt of the most impoverished nations. It asks our leaders to call on leaders of the world to write off these debts.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition deals with concern over Revenue Canada having reduced the amount deductible on social security for residents who worked in the United States. It is causing a hardship for senior citizens.

They are calling on parliament to return to the former deductions as established prior to the change of December 1997.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, the final two petitions deal with the same subject matter. They call on parliament to revoke Bill C-23 from the previous parliament which affirms the opposite sex definition of marriage in legislation and ensures marriage is recognized as a unique institution.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from the citizens of the Peterborough area who support Bill C-15B, the cruelty to animals legislation.

The petitioners have been stimulated by several highly publicized examples of animal abuse. They point out that workers such as veterinarians, humane societies and others are becoming frustrated in the daily duties they are required to perform. The petitioners believe Bill C-15B would allow much more significant consequences to apply to those who abuse or neglect animals.

These citizens call on parliament to expedite Bill C-15B. Like me, they regret that the opposition has delayed proceedings today so we will not receive it before Christmas.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from a number of people in Saskatchewan who are concerned that the current tax system is unfair to workers because it does not allow them to deduct for income tax purposes the cost of acquiring tools. I am referring specifically to automotive mechanics and skilled construction workers.

The petitioners are calling on parliament to address the unfairness and injustice inflicted by the current tax system and enact legislation to allow tradespeople and not just apprentice mechanics to deduct the cost of providing tools for their employment if they are required to do so by their employer.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present a petition to the House in which the petitioners say that the residents of Canada draw the attention of the House to the need for a modernized unemployment insurance package which meets the needs of today's working families, that over $35 billion in unpaid insurance benefits has been taken out of the EI program by the federal government since it started the program and that in 1999 the EI program paid more money to the Department of Finance than it did to people who were unemployed.

Therefore the petitioners call on parliament to enact legislation.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think the hon. member knows he cannot read from a petition. He must give a brief summary.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra
B.C.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Pursuant to your most generous invitation of some minutes ago, I think if you would seek unanimous consent we could call it 2.30 p.m.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, January, 28, 2002, at 11 a.m. Merry Christmas to all.

(The House adjourned at 12.11 p.m.)