House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

February 6th, 2001 / 10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-238, an act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentencing).

Mr. Speaker, conditional sentencing was introduced in the 35th parliament as Bill C-41. Since that time, tens of thousands of conditional sentences have been handed down. Most of these sentences are for petty crimes. However, many have been handed down for crimes as serious as sexual assault, manslaughter, drunk driving and drug trafficking.

In 1997 the British Columbia Court of Appeal stated in a decision regarding conditional sentencing that “if parliament had intended to exclude certain offences from consideration, it should have done so in clear language”.

My bill does precisely that. It lists the offences to be excluded from any possibility of receiving a conditional sentence.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-239, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Young Offenders Act (capital punishment).

Mr. Speaker, I believe Canada should hold a binding referendum on capital punishment so that all the Canadian people, and not political parties, can decide whether or not it should be reinstated. An Alliance government has pledged to do this, however the Liberals do not believe in allowing Canadians to exercise this power.

Today I am reintroducing the bill to reinstate the death penalty for adults convicted of first degree murder. In addition, the bill also imposes a range of stiffer penalties for youths convicted of murder.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal Code
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-240, an act to amend the Criminal Code (prohibiting certain offenders from changing their name).

Mr. Speaker, once again I am introducing legislation in the House of Commons which would, if adopted, prevent serious offenders from changing their names while incarcerated. It must be a right of Canadians to know who is residing in and around their homes if one of these persons is a convicted killer or serious sex offender.

Currently incarcerated inmates are able to apply for and receive changes of names, changes of drivers' licences and other documents. When on parole or released, they can slip into any neighbourhood while an innocent, unsuspecting public believes all is well. I am personally aware of serious sex offenders who have changed their names and even admitted they were a danger to the public when they were released.

We cannot wait for offenders who have hidden their identity to reoffend and then say we have made mistakes. We have an obligation to protect the public.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from February 2 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session and of the amendment.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my remarks, I would like to note that I am splitting my time with the member from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik.

I also wish to mark the passing of a colleague of ours, a former member of the House, Mr. David Iftody, who died suddenly last night. He will be missed.

As this is the first time I have had an opportunity to speak in the House since the election, I will begin by thanking my constituents who have demonstrated their faith in me for the third time. I am honoured by their support and I pledge, as I have always done, my efforts to serve them to the best of my ability.

I also want to thank my wife and family. I am blessed with three wonderful children and a wife who takes on a lot of extra responsibilities so that I may be here. She gives up a lot and I really appreciate her efforts.

I also want to thank my many friends and volunteers who worked so hard for my re-election and worked with me throughout the intervening years to serve the people of Winnipeg South.

Finally, I want to thank my staff who I believe are among the best in Canada and who work very hard for very poor pay, very limited remuneration and do an excellent job.

I want to welcome the new members. I also want to welcome you, Mr. Speaker, as Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees of the Whole. We have a new Clerk but I think we have the same table officers returning.

I also want to thank all of the people around the Hill who work unseen by us to make our lives so much easier, whether it is the drivers, the security guards who are always so friendly and helpful, the people who clean our offices, the Hansard staff and an enormous number of people who toil day in and day out so that we may do the work that we are here to do. They do not often get the recognition they deserve.

Since I have very limited time, I want to simply highlight a few things. I was very disappointed in the way this campaign evolved in the last election.

I hold the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party responsible for starting it. We all launched into what was a very bitter and personal campaign. As a result, I think the Canadian people lost an opportunity through that process to hear us debate some of the things we debate all the time around here. They lost an opportunity to hear some discussion of ideas to improve the country. We lost a lot in that.

There were a few things our party put forward that were exceptional. As a person who represents a suburban riding in the south end of Winnipeg and a university, there were a couple of things that went entirely unnoticed in the Speech from the Throne that are enormously exciting and important for our country.

We made a commitment, and it was repeated by the Prime Minister, to make Canada among the top five countries in the world in investments in R and D by the year 2010. That is a staggeringly important announcement, not just for the research community but for our entire quality of life. The government made that commitment and I am enormously proud of it.

We also made a commitment to bring broadband access to all homes by 2004. I am sure a lot of people do not know what that means. It is an enormously important commitment, one that says we will all have high speed broadband, wideband access to our homes.

Everyone talks about getting television on their computers. That is a very small part of what it means. It means having the power to drive the kind of interfaces needed in order to have user friendly access so we can take advantage of the services which can be made available with the new information and technologies. It means we can literally talk to our television sets and order whatever we want by voice. It means my mother and grandmother can interact with the technology. It is shatteringly important and I am surprised we made it. It will take a lot of effort to get there.

I represent the University of Manitoba, one of the best universities in the world and certainly an important resource in my community. There are commitments around research and development, broadband access and registered learning accounts.

We talked about this as being the knowledge economy and the need for lifelong learning. The government has now put its resources behind that. We are giving people an opportunity to retrain, build their skills and invest in their own futures. It is an incredibly important initiative and one that I am sorry was not debated more wholesomely during the election.

I will focus on one set of issues because I have such limited time. Each time I run for election I come back here and set my own agenda in addition to the ones that I have committed to with my constituents during the campaign. We have some local infrastructure, an underpass and urban transit that we are going to work on. I see that reflected in the Speech from the Throne.

My big passion is the whole business of what is euphemistically called e-government, the adaptation by government of the information and communications technologies that have become so pervasive in the private sector. Either Gates or Michael Dell said that the Internet changes everything. We are just beginning to realize how true that is and what a profound change is going on.

If we look back at what has happened in the private sector with large corporations and all the talk about downsizing, rightsizing, flattening, speeding up and the customer is king, all the stuff that has taken place in the last decade and a half, there have been enormous and profound changes in the way businesses do business. The world has speeded up. Bill Gates calls this decade the decade of velocity. The skill necessary now is how to deal in a world that is moving faster and faster. Government will have to get there and learn how to live in that world.

Whether we want to or not, we are going to evolve from a structure of government that is hierarchical and based on traditional methods of accountability and department structure into a more network form of government. We are interacting on a very immediate basis with the levels of government and citizens in ways that are just unprecedented. We have to get our heads around that and start thinking about what this means for our role.

If we change the structure and operations of government we cannot help but affect the accountability mechanisms, the governance. We cannot change the way in which information flows in a government and not affect the way that decisions are made.

I do not have a particular passion for parliamentary reform. It is not the thing that drives me. However I see some portions of parliamentary reform as being critically important to advance the rate at which we adapt new technologies and the way in which our government will change.

It is important that Canada lead that change. We go back and forth in that leadership position around the world, but other governments in the industrialized world such as Japan and Australia are making some important strides right now.

I want to sound a note of caution. There is a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to bring forward a review and a redrafting of the existing privacy legislation. This will be a critically important debate, one to which we need to pay a lot of attention and one that I am concerned about.

Privacy is a right. It is not just a right in the charter but it is a right that the supreme court has read into the charter. It is a right that we all exercise. I am a little tired of people talking about customers, that we will move to a customer style of government. This is nonsense.

It has been tried around the world. It has failed all over the place because it fails to recognize the fact that I may be a customer of government in a few transactions but I am a citizen of Canada all the time and as a citizen I have rights. The government is accountable to me as a citizen. One of the ways I exercise that right is in the way it respects me and the way it treats the information that it has about me.

At the same time there are huge values to be gained as a citizen by allowing the government to accumulate information to better serve me and to better understand how government functions and how society functions.

At the heart of that is privacy legislation. Currently it is being worked on by a committee of bureaucrats. I am sure they are bright and beautiful people. However this is a bill that must be crafted on the floor of the Chamber by all of us. This is a bill that concerns the rights of all of us. It is something that we must be very involved in. We cannot let it go through the House simply because it has received the stamp of approval of the executive.

In conclusion, I wish all members well. I think it will be an extremely interesting few years in which we can make some major improvements.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague's speech very carefully. I certainly agreed with him when he talked about how unfortunate it was that the election campaign was very vicious and dirty. Probably members from all parties would agree with that. I noted that he singled out one or two people as deserving some criticism in that regard.

I remind the hon. member with all due respect that his leader, the Prime Minister of Canada, who at the start of the election campaign referred to my party, the Canadian Alliance, as the forces of darkness. That kicked off the campaign and started us down the road of everybody tearing at each other.

All Canadians were absolutely embarrassed for the Prime Minister in the dying days of the campaign when he was in Atlantic Canada. He referred to the fact that he liked to do politics in the east because he did not understand westerners. I think he said they were different. Then he said that he was kidding and then that he was actually serious.

Did the hon. member make a note of that fact? Has he had a chance to talk to his leader to find out whether the Prime Minister was kidding or was he serious in the way he feels about westerners?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I will resist the urge to play with this response. I have never been embarrassed by the Prime Minister, and I am a westerner. The things that I talked about in my speech, which I think are so important to the future of this country, are there because of the Prime Minister's willingness to listen and work on these issues.

I did single out one party. It is possible for us to constantly spend our time in this Chamber looking at that little phrase that each one of us will misspeak at some time or another and pounce on it saying that this is what we mean. The reason I singled out the leader of the Conservative Party was that was the first set of deliberate insults and deliberate fabrications that were put on public record in the first set of ads. I think that is different from debate where we get into pulling out those little twists.

I recently wrote a paper on communication. It is very difficult for us, as politicians, to communicate because we are so used to listening to a person on the other side just long enough to find that phrase that we can flip back at them in order to discredit what they are saying. We do not listen to what they are talking about and that soon becomes the way we function. We never really hear what we are saying.

I dismiss that part of the debate. However, I do think there were some deliberate acts that did not serve all of us very well. There has been a concern about the drop in voter turnout, but I think that has less to do with disinterest on the part of Canadians and more to do with disgust in this last process.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I have listened with interest to the speech by my colleague, particularly the matter of electronic government. We do have at our disposal an extraordinary new tool in the new technologies and the Internet, but this is a tool that can have both positive and negative effects.

We see what I would term the pre-generation of what the federal government is doing with these tools, for example the HRDC scandal and the cross-referencing with Revenue Canada of data on unemployed travellers, without any prior authorization.

I know the hon. member was on a fact-finding tour across Canada on this and there will be a Canada-wide conference. I would like to know from the hon. member if our duty as parliamentarians is to act as true watchdogs in order to ensure that these tools do not merely become tools of the high bureaucracy in order to control the system, and to ensure that democracy gains from them, rather than losing?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his interest and his assistance to us in meetings with the Quebec government on this very important issue.

Value will come from the ability to accumulate data. What HRD did is something that we would like to see happen again. We want to put proper safeguards and controls in place so that people understand what is happening and have the right to interact. However the member is absolutely right to identify it as an important issue. It is critical that all members of the House get involved in this debate in the next couple of years. If they want to learn about it, they can attend a conference at the end of March.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, first of all, allow me to congratulate you on your appointment. I would also like to congratulate you and your family, especially your son Chad Kilger, who plays for the Montreal Canadians and was yesterday selected his club's player of the month for the province of Quebec and Canada,

I would like to thank those who re-elected me this past November 27. We had a good campaign. The riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik is, I would remind hon. members, the biggest riding in all of Canada. It extends over more than 800,000 square kilometres and has a population of 100,000.

I dedicated this election to my wife, Diane St-Julien, who has been following me and helping me through the last three mandates and who will continue to do so in this one. I also thank my daughter, Sonya-Kim St-Julien, who, for the last four elections, has been giving me advice on communications.

I wish to thank the voters of the large riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik for giving me a fourth majority, in all of the riding's 68 polls. My hometown is the municipality of Val-d'Or, but I also represent a community located in Nunavik, 2,000 kilometres north of it, called Salluit.

I thank the Inuit from Nunavik, the Cree from James Bay, the Algonquin, the Algonquin communities and the other residents of my riding for this great victory, and particularly thanks to our leader, the Prime Minister of Canada and Liberal member for Saint-Maurice.

In the throne speech, we were told that a better future awaits us. We must put forward a project that will not leave anyone behind. Above all, we must set priorities and draft a specific plan. This is what was done in the red book during the last election campaign.

We realize that, during an election campaign, we must face a number of political parties. A 30 day election campaign is fair ball. There are pros and cons. Some people have claimed that my election on June 2, 1997, was a historical aberration. This is not so: it was my mother's birthday on that day.

The member who claimed that there was a historical aberration the day of my election has seen that we have fixed that aberration, as I was re-elected on November 27. All of that to say that the member who made the statement in my riding was wrong again.

In any case, what are we concerned about today? The specific plan of the Liberal government, with our Prime Minister at its head and the new options available to us, be they innovation, learning skills, connecting Canadians or trade and investment.

The Liberal government is providing prospects for children, families, health and quality care, a healthy environment, strong and safe communities, a dynamic Canadian culture and most importantly new windows of opportunity for us internationally.

In a large riding such as Abitibi, we are concerned with the price of metals in the mining sector. We have gold, copper, palladium and vanadium. There has been a price war for the past three years. The price of gold was always pegged at under $300 and rose above it only once. Cambior, a company recognized worldwide, got it because gold was sold on option.

The throne speech calls for building our health care system. Last September, in an effort to modernize our system, the Liberal government gave the provinces an extra $21.2 billion over five years. At issue is better meeting the needs of Canadians. This is a priority, which received much attention during the election, and today we hear mention of it again.

What is important? Not treating people in hospital as clients. Those sick in hospital must be treated as human beings. Together with the provinces, we must find solutions. That is what is important.

In addition, we must give thought to creating a registered individual learning account for employees, help Canadians establish a training plan and find the necessary funding. For those aged 45 to 50 who have lost their job, new ways must be found to enable them to return to the labour market.

What is important in recent years is that our government, with its expertise, has run this country with all members of the House and has paid down the debt, given fair tax breaks, and invested in health, in research and innovation, in families and children and in the protection of the environment.

On the topic of research and innovation, we know that in a remote area such as Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, considerable money is needed to help universities and cegeps. The rector of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, in Rouyn-Noranda, has submitted projects involving primarily forestry in the Amos region. For Val-d'Or, the focus was on underground communications and multimedia, and for Rouyn-Noranda, on various other areas.

The important thing is that we need this money to boost research, particularly in a riding where natural resources are so important, whether in mining or forestry. We have trouble getting secondary and tertiary manufacturing going.

Be that as it may, in the coming months and years we will improve prospects for people in our region. The government will work closely with the private sector to offer broadband high speed access to citizens, businesses, educational institutions and all communities, particularly in a region such as ours, which takes in northern Quebec, Nunavik and James Bay.

The government plans to introduce communications. Recently, we have seen Bell Canada double its telecommunication rates in Nunavik. Why? The company told the Inuit and those working in this sector that, now that too many people were using the Internet, it would double their rates in order to lower rates for Internet users.

That is a good one on Bell Canada. It is doing a great deal of harm in Nunavik, and the people do not find it amusing, since they are the ones having to pay.

It is also important for new approaches to be found. I strongly believe that the government, via the minister responsible for the economic development of Quebec or via Industry Canada, is going to put new methods into place to help northern Quebec, James Bay and Nunavik.

What is important in our area is health, quality health care in particular. We know that we need to work hard in conjunction with the governments, the government of Quebec in particular, to find physicians. We also need to improve the situation of hospitals and to add to the numbers of nurses in a region as large as ours.

We must speak of Nunavik, because it must be kept in mind that the Inuit pay taxes just like southerners do. Recently I spoke with the President of Makivik corporation, Mr. Pita Aatami. He said that new ways must be found to help the hospitals administered by Kativik corporation, by the Nunavik health board, and improvements must be made in order to attract nurses.

What is important is to work very hard in this House in order to be accountable to the taxpayers, to the people in that great riding, to Quebec and to Canada. We must plan in order to reduce taxes, move toward a new economy and strengthen our communities.

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is interested in the country's current equalization formula because he is from Quebec and Quebec is a recipient of equalization payments. The current equalization formula keeps a province from drowning but falls far short in that it never gives a province the wherewithal to swim on its own.

As a member from Quebec, a province that receives equalization payments, how would he feel about a change in the current equalization formula to recognize that some provinces need a leg up to develop their natural resources?

Speech From The Throne
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is an excellent question. In Quebec, we have equalization payments and tax points. Also, we must file two tax returns, a provincial one and a federal one. Transfers will always be an issue. Let us not forget that under the equalization program there are rich provinces and poor provinces.

For a number of years, even Quebec had a deficit in the employment insurance sector of some three of four billion dollars. Who helped us? It was the other provinces. There is always room for improvement of the equalization program, but always in co-operation with the current government of Quebec.

We know the Quebec Liberal Party, through the Hon. Jean Charest, made proposals regarding equalization and the handing over of tax points to the province. We are waiting to see what will come out of these proposals.