House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was new.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Saint John.

Canadian Cancer Society
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Hélène Scherrer Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, one year ago today, Marc Lanthier of south shore Montreal lost his long fight against cancer.

On behalf of his family, I would like to remind my colleagues and all Canadians that the month of April is when the Canadian Cancer Society's campaign for funds takes place.

During that period volunteers will be knocking at your doors collecting contributions for the fight against cancer. I encourage you all to be generous with your donations. Help us to win the battle against this killer disease, which last year alone took more than 65,000 members of our big Canadian family.

I would also invite all colleagues to place a donation in the boxes in the two lobbies. All the funds collected will be added up and sent directly to the Cancer Society at the end of the month.

I thank members in advance for their generosity.

Transportation
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, better highways rank fourth in my riding's federal concerns, right after the big three of health care, lower taxes and paying down the debt.

I recently drove the Trans-Canada Highway from my British Columbia home to Ottawa. I have seen better back roads in our major trading partner, the United States.

In the 1800s Ottawa had a vision to link our huge country by building a railroad. Today the government supports the information highway but virtually ignores highway infrastructure.

Essential goods and services do not move on the Internet. Students may visit virtual museums via the Internet but it is impossible for the tourism industry to provide hotel rooms or meals to electronic tourists. Accidents on unforgiving roads impose needless suffering and overload our health care system.

Why not connect Canadians with modern highways following the same federal-provincial model used for health care and education? During the present review of the Canada Transportation Act, I call on the government to fix our highways now.

Canadian Cancer Society
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, April is Cancer Awareness Month in Canada. Thousands of ordinary Canadians, volunteers for the Canadian Cancer Society, will be knocking on doors and holding special events to raise money for cancer research, public education activities and support services for people with cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization whose mission is to eradicate cancer and improve the quality of life of people experiencing cancer and their families. It is the largest funder of cancer research in Canada. Last year it contributed over $42 million to its research partners, the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

It is a cause worthy of everyone's support and we encourage all to be involved in the fundraising campaign.

American Bar Association
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Bryden Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Mr. Speaker, an editorial in yesterday's National Post applauds President Bush for ending the American Bar Association's role in vetting judicial appointments.

The National Post says that this is a good thing because the American Bar Association has become overly political. America's top lawyers, according to the National Post , have committed the deadly sins of endorsing employment initiatives for minorities, of endorsing a woman's right to choose an abortion, terrible, according to the National Post , of endorsing federal funding for the arts and of backing Clinton's failed attempt to bring in public health care; dreadful ideas, according to the National Post .

And if that is not enough, the American Bar Association is further to be condemned for failing to support minimum mandatory sentences and capital punishment.

Well I guess we know where the National Post sits politically. Firmly and absolutely to the right, the American right. National Post ? Yes.

American Bar Association
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Scarborough—Agincourt.

Ara Sarafian
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Karygiannis Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to call attention to Mr. Ara Sarafian, an established author and historian, specializing in the late Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.

His multiple contacts in both Europe and the Middle East help the Princeton based journal Armenian Forum bridge the gap between the Armenian scholars on both sides of the Atlantic.

He is here in Ottawa today to promote the launching of his latest book entitled Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916 . It is also known as the blue book which compiles dozens of verified eyewitness accounts from different parts of the Ottoman Empire and sheds light on the Armenian genocide.

Mr. Sarafian is one of the founding directors of the Gomidas Institute and has edited several of the institutes publications.

On behalf of the House of Commons, all Canadians and myself, I wish to congratulate Mr. Ara Sarafian on his success.

Agriculture
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Howard Hilstrom Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, last Tuesday all members from the Liberal Party turned their backs on Canadian farm families when they voted against increased emergency help.

In spite of the fact that the cabinet intends to ignore the farm income crisis, the disaster continues. Just yesterday there was a tragic story from Manitoba. The Farm Credit Corporation held a forced sale of a family farm. More than 1,000 acres of land, several farm buildings and a residence were put up for auction. Not one single bid was made for this farm. There is simply not enough money in farming.

This farmer was driven to bankruptcy by a government that ignored the natural disaster caused by excessive flooding in 1999 and turned a blind eye to disastrously low commodity prices. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Because of the Liberal indifference, we see many forced auctions this year and see that many farmers will lose their life's work.

The Liberal government has left many Canadian farmers with no hope this spring.

Canadian Ski Championships
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Claude Duplain Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to congratulate the participants in this week's Canadian ski championships.

Yesterday, Jean-Philippe Roy won the giant slalom event of the Canadian Championships at Mont Orford.

Last weekend, at Mont Sainte-Anne, Mélanie Turgeon won her eighth downhill national title, while Anne-Marie Lefrançois came first in Super G. Winner of both the men's downhill and the men's Super G was British Columbia's Kevin Wert.

This successful season puts the Canadian team in a good position to excel in the 2002 Winter Olympics. We are sure that these young athletes will continue to be a source of pride to Canada.

Social Housing
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, social housing is, first and foremost, housing belonging to the community as a whole and intended primarily to provide decent affordable accommodation. But Statistics Canada informs us that just over two of every five tenant households are spending more than 30% of their income on accommodation.

It has now been six years since the federal government invested in any new social housing. Groups throughout Canada are asking the federal government to double funding for housing assistance, not for so-called affordable housing, which will serve private interests, but for housing which will rent at below-market rates, and which will provide a better quality of life and access to various services and mutual assistance.

The Bloc Quebecois joins with these groups from Quebec and urges the federal government to reinvest in social housing. It is a question of justice.

Outaouais Tourist Industry
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday evening, representatives of the Outaouais tourist industry gathered at the Canadian Museum of Civilization for the Ouataouais' 16th Grands Prix du tourisme awards.

Congratulations to Robert Bourassa, the owner and chef of Café Henry Burger in Hull, who won Canada Economic Development's international marketing award. Presented to the SMB that made the biggest impact on the international market, the award is part of a series of promotional and communications activities initiated by the Outaouais Tourism Association, in which it has been joined by Canada Economic Development.

My warmest congratulations to all the winners in this great celebration of achievement in the Outaouais, and good luck at the Grands Prix du tourisme québécois awards.

Long live Mr. Bourassa and his team at the Café Henry Burger, and long live the Outaouais Tourism Association, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Taxation
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Pankiw Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year I received letters from grade 6 students in the classroom of Miss Bender at St. Volodymyr school in Saskatoon.

Interestingly, a significant number of them asked that parliament lower the price of gasoline by reducing the taxes on gas. Some students cited environmental concerns. Others asked that we do something to help farmers who these children see protesting in the news.

Even though they are just children, they understand that their parents would have more money to spend on their own families if the government would lower taxes.

I suggest to each and every member of parliament in the House of Commons that it is not just the children at St. Volodymyr school who are concerned about such issues, but indeed children across our entire country.

The past practice of exploiting society's wealth and leaving the next generation to pay is unfair. The result is a $565 billion national debt. This represents a mortgage on future generations of Canadians. Therefore, we have a duty to our children to pay the debt off. Doing so would make our country a stronger place in which to live and prosper.

Nunavut
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to inform the House that Patricia Angnakak has been appointed the first Deputy Commissioner of Nunavut.

During the years I have known Pat Angnakak, I have been impressed by her commitment to the development of Nunavut. To be appointed the very first deputy commissioner of the newest territory of Canada is a great honour and privilege.

Deputy Commissioner Angnakak will represent Nunavut at events Commissioner Irniq is unable to participate in. I know she will perform her duties with a great sense of history and pride for Nunavut.

I would ask my colleagues in the House to join with me in extending congratulations to Deputy Commissioner Angnakak and in wishing her every success.

Freshwater Exports
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have always been able to depend on our plentiful supply of freshwater but now this precious resource is being threatened by the inaction of the government.

In British Columbia, there is an outstanding chapter 11 action under NAFTA. There are ongoing attempts in the Great Lakes to export bulk water.

Yesterday, Roger Grimes, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, announced that his government will reopen the issue of the bulk export of water, a move that under NAFTA would eliminate the ability of other provinces to ban the exportation of bulk water.

In fact, the government has brought forward legislation, Bill C-6, which would facilitate the export of our most precious water supply.

It is time the government showed some leadership and accepted its responsibility to protect our supply of freshwater. It is time we have federal legislation that would ban absolutely the bulk export of our freshwater.

Organized Crime
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, 1,700 officers representing some fifty police forces in Quebec carried out a vast operation across 77 municipalities in order to strike a blow at criminal motorcycle gangs. No fewer than 150 warrants for arrest were issued on various charges from conspiracy to commit murder to gangsterism.

On behalf of the members of the Bloc Quebecois, I want to congratulate all the police forces on their professionalism, courage and determination. This operation shows just how serious Quebec police forces are in putting an end to the criminal activities of these gangs, which threaten public security not only in Quebec but across Canada.

With this fine demonstration by the police forces, I hope the Minister of Justice of Canada will understand and give the police and crown prosecutors real anti-gang legislation, as the Bloc Quebecois has been requesting for a long time.

Arts And Culture
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin, ON

Mr. Speaker, I invite all members to join me at the National Press Club after the votes tonight to help celebrate the unique partnership between the Serpent River First Nation and the City of Elliot Lake in my northern Ontario riding of Algoma—Manitoulin.

These partners have come together to create the White Mountain Academy of the Arts, a new fine arts institute dedicated to teaching both aboriginal and mainstream visual arts.

The academy is unique in North America and deserves our full support. It is one of the many creative ideas which have been implemented to diversify the area's economy from the loss of all the mines which happened a number of years ago.

I ask all members to come out tonight to see some of the art, meet the students, community leaders, staff and board members who are working together on an adventure in art which will benefit all of us for years to come.

I want to congratulate all those involved. I ask all members to come out and show their support for this very unique project.

Softwood Lumber
Statements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the softwood lumber issue is coming to a head as we speak and Canada has yet to establish a united position against the impending U.S. trade actions.

The risk to the industry and the country is substantial and the result of countervail and anti-dumping action will be devastating.

Leading members of the softwood lumber industry are today asking the Minister for International Trade to convene a meeting of the managers of the key softwood corporations to establish a unified stand against this threat.

Time is running out and I ask the minister to follow the advice of the industry and call a meeting of the industry leaders now.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Watergate tapes had 18 missing minutes. The Shawinigan papers have six missing years.

On Monday, the Prime Minister said that the ethics counsellor would release all documents. On Tuesday, the ethics counsellor admitted that he had not released all the documents. We want to see the documents that show who owned the shares between 1996 and 1999, the years the Prime Minister was shovelling all that government money into the hotel next door.

Will he release those documents that show who owned the shares between 1996 and 1999?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, anyone who can read, can read the documents. It is very clear that the shares were not mine since November 1, 1993.

I want to repeat that I have complied with the wishes of the opposition. On March 15, the member for Edmonton North said:

The Prime Minister could get over this in a heartbeat by just tabling his bill of sale for those shares in 1993.

It was done by the ethics counsellor yesterday morning.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, he keeps talking about one of the documents we wanted on the table. We also want the ones that are under the table.

Jonas Prince changed his story in 1999 under pressure from the Prime Minister's lawyers. The former owner said that he had made a payment of $40,000 and optioned to get himself out of the agreement. He said that he did not have any more ownership in the Grand-Mère. That was said by Mr. Prince. However, the ethics counsellor did not release those documents related to that transaction in November 1997.

Will the Prime Minister table the documents that reflect on that transaction in November 1997, the transaction that Mr. Prince said brought him out of the shares and left them with the Prime Minister?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor has said, at least 10 times in front of committee or in the press, that the shares had been transferred, that he was satisfied and that there was no conflict of interest.

I think the only thing under the table is the payback that the Reform Party got from the law firm. It changed the books of the law firm. The first cheque was signed by the firm and after that it was an individual who so generously paid $70,000 to the party after the firm gained $400,000 of legal fees.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla
B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like him to say that outside the House at five past three today.

Mr. Speaker, there are more holes in the Prime Minister's version than there are in the whole Grand-Mère golf course.

The Prime Minister has released a few selected documents. But there is a period of six years between 1993 and 1999.

Will the Prime Minister stop hiding the facts and set up an independent inquiry to settle this scandal once and for all?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said it before and will say it again, I tabled the documents they asked for. They said if I tabled the agreement of sale, they would ask no further questions.

I know a colleague who was in the House for two terms, Jim Hart, was promised $50,000 if he would resign his seat. He has told some of my colleagues that it was easy to talk to Liberal members but the Leader of the Opposition never returns his phone calls because he does not want to pay.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is hard for us to believe that the Prime Minister would sell one of his most treasured assets by writing out an agreement in longhand, without witnesses and without a deposit.

It is hard for us to believe that it took two years for the Prime Minister to realize that Jonas Prince had neglected to pay him $150,000. It appears to us that the Prime Minister never intended to get paid for the shares, that he intended to take them back after he retired from politics.

Was this originally meant to be a contract of convenience?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, all these matters have been dealt with properly by all the proper authorities.

As I was listening to the Leader of the Opposition, I was reminded that I am somewhat of an expert on endangered species, and there is no doubt that what this leader and a turbot have in common is that they are both hanging on by their fingernails.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, investors were not rushing out to buy the shares in this golf course. It took the Prime Minister six years to find somebody to pay him for his shares.

Had the Auberge Grand-Mère gone bankrupt nobody, not even his partners, would have been prepared to further invest in the golf course.

Was not the real reason why the Prime Minister took such a personal interest in the hotel to keep it afloat, that he was protecting his assets?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, Canadians would do well to remember that members opposite initially asked for an ethics counsellor investigation. They got it. The leader of the Conservative Party demanded that the RCMP investigate the matter. They did, and they closed the books.

The leader of the Conservative Party, an expert investigator, a private eye, then asked if the they had asked all the right questions.

They then asked for the bill of sale. They got the bill of sale. Yesterday they were complaining there were not 300 original bills of sale.

The Prime Minister has done everything but offer up his underwear and his socks in this investigation.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister admitted to the House that the purpose of the September 1999 agreement released yesterday was to end his involvement in the Grand-Mère golf club. The Prime Minister said that its purpose was to “wrap up matters as clearly as possible”. Those were his words.

If matters were still ongoing, this would mean that the Prime Minister still had financial interests in the Grand-Mère golf club when he tried to obtain financial assistance for the Auberge.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the agreement, like his own statements, shows that he was in complete conflict of interest when he intervened in the Auberge affair?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, while the country is wondering what the opposition is up to, while there are real problems, this is what they are focusing on. I have answered all the questions.

It was the member for Roberval who said:

Does he not understand that the only way to settle this matter—the only way, there are not 50 of them, only one—is to provide us with the record of sale—

This is exactly what was done. This morning, in caucus, we discussed softwood lumber, health, energy, the North, tobacco, all sorts of things—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a sure bet they did not talk about the Prime Minister's integrity.

When the Prime Minister tells us that releasing the record of sale should put an end to it, it is because they thought that that would clear his name but, in fact, everything that has been tabled has been blackening his name with each passing day; his integrity is being called into question. Will he admit—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when someone makes a lot of noise, it is because he is wrong. I have tabled the record of sale. And I see—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

There will be a ménage à trois. Now the Canadian Alliance has managed to join forces with the Bloc Quebecois. What a charming trio. Next thing, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives will be in bed with them.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would by far prefer to be an ally of my colleagues here than of the people he befriended in the Auberge affair.

We asked the Prime Minister to table the documents concerning the golf issue, so that he could restore his integrity. Not only do the documents tabled yesterday prove that he was in a conflict of interest, but the Prime Minister now has a financial interest in making sure there is no inquiry.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that, indeed, should an inquiry be held, he would be required under the terms of the contracts to pay for the lawyers' fees of others?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, what I see is that he is insulting everyone.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

First, I sold my shares in the Auberge in March 1993, six months before I became Prime Minister.

As for the mortgage on the Auberge, the Fonds de solidarité and the Grand-Mère Caisse populaire are involved. If these are undesirable partners, I wonder who would qualify as desirable partners.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not have to dodge the issue.

Is it true that the contract provides that he must, with his own money, pay the lawyers' fees of the other parties should he agree to a parliamentary committee, which would call them to testify? In that sense, is the Prime Minister not in a conflict of interest once again?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will say it again, because they have a hard time understanding.

On March 15, the member for Roberval said:

Does he not understand that the only way to settle this matter—there are not 50 of them, only one—is to provide us with the record of sale—

That was done.

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

The current trade regime uncritically embraced by this government treats trade as an end in itself. It is a recipe for the rich getting richer at the expense of the poor.

Under the in common banner, civil society groups want to see poverty on the trade agenda. They are urging this government not to sign any more such trade deals until we have a thorough, transparent evaluation of the contribution of current trade deals to the increase in global poverty.

Will the Prime Minister agree to do that?

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly what we are doing. We are trying to create growth in the Americas so that there will be more money for more people, there will be better education and there will be better social and medical services in all countries of the Americas.

We are working on a civil agenda to make sure that democracy will remain in this country. The goal of the meeting is not only trade. It is to improve the whole of society in all the countries, in particular the poorest nations of the Americas.

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the Prime Minister is just ignorant or whether he really does not understand the toll current trade deals are taking on the real lives of real people.

If we take Brazil today, its government is distributing low cost generic drugs to the poorest of the poor who are suffering from HIV. For this humanitarian act, Brazil is hauled before the WTO by multinational pharmaceutical companies.

What is the charge? It is that their right to make money should take precedence over saving human lives. Will the government drag us farther down the road to such an—

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Trade
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to inform the leader of the NDP that as recently as Monday afternoon I discussed with the prime minister of Italy putting the question of HIV-AIDS on the agenda of the summit in Genoa in July.

Our goal is to make sure where there are millions of people dying of AIDS that medication could be made available to them at the lowest price possible.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister claims there was a bona fide sale to a Jonas Prince company in 1993. If so, why was it necessary to sign a side agreement six years later which stipulates that neither J&AC Consultants Inc. nor any other third party will have any right of ownership or interest in the shares upon transfer of the shares from Akimbo to Michaud in 1999?

Why the side agreement? Was it because at least one party to this affair believed that J&AC Consultants Inc. had an interest in those shares between—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, lawyers who have passed their exams are very prudent when they draft documents. It is part of the normal preoccupation of a good lawyer to put in a document to definitively finalize any transaction.

It was done among lawyers. I read this document yesterday because everything was dealt with by my trustee and lawyer in collaboration with Mr. Wilson who is there to advise all the people in public administration in Ottawa about conflict of interest and the trust they have to establish to be protected.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, why was it not done in 1993? The Prime Minister told the House that the value of the shares—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. It is impossible for the Chair to hear the right hon. member who has the floor.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, they cannot shout the House of Commons down. The Prime Minister told the House that the value of the shares did not matter because it was just a debt that the Prime Minister wanted to collect.

The documents released yesterday show clearly that the Prime Minister lost money on the final sale of these shares, so he had a financial interest and he had that interest when he called the bank to arrange a share for the auberge. Was one reason that he interfered with the bank to protect his own interest from—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, if that leader of the opposition read the letter that I sent to him yesterday, he would have found out that tourism is very important in my riding. I listed at least eight or nine projects where there were government interventions in a riding with 20% unemployment to develop tourism. Eight hundred jobs have been created since this government has been in power to reduce the unemployment level from 20% to 10%.

With the permission of the Speaker, yesterday I did something very unusual because—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure the Prime Minister will get more questions.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's documents confirm the Prime Minister's personal interest in the Grand-Mère golf course in the form of a huge debt whose value was falling.

In spite of this personal stake, he personally intervened in at least three instances that we know of to prop up the value of adjoining real estate with public money. Each of these is covered by a cloud of questionable flip-flops in the Prime Minister's story and a very apparent conflict of interest.

Why will he not just put these issues in the hands of an independent inquiry and clear them up for Canadians?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, all the information that has been asked for and each process that has been demanded by members opposite have been fulfilled. Each time information is provided or each process is fulfilled members opposite say “Let us go one step further”.

It is very clear to the people of Canada that there is no conflict here and furthermore no wrongdoing. It is quite the opposite: a prime minister who has gone through extreme scrutiny has taken the extraordinary step of giving up private information, a prime minister who has maintained his integrity after 38 years in public life.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Diane Ablonczy Calgary—Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know that is the government's official line but it is just nonsense. What the documents showed was that our concerns about the Prime Minister's conflict of interest were correct all along.

He did have a conflict of interest. He did have an interest in the value of the golf course at the time he was pouring public money into adjoining real estate. These questions have to be cleared up for the sake of the Prime Minister, the integrity of his office and for Canadians. Why will an independent inquiry not be called?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I find it absolutely incredible that the member opposite, who initially raised questions about hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars being given to a law firm and the chairman of the law firm subsequently writing a personal cheque for $70,000, said the question had to be answered but ever since has been silent.

Where there is a question to be asked she will not ask it. Where there are no questions to be answered she stands and raises all kinds of nonsense. It simply will not fly with the people of Canada.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, a Toronto alderman stated yesterday that “the Prime Minister is not allowed to be involved in any issue affecting interests adjoining his properties”.

Ethics expert Arthur Schafer said that the Prime Minister is in a conflict of interest situation according to every municipal bylaw in Canada. He went on to say that he has also probably breached most provincial codes and possibly even his own federal rules. I know of what I speak, having been president of the Union des municipalités du Québec.

Will the Prime Minister agree with me that, had he been a mayor instead of Prime Minister, he would have already been called upon to step down?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly no list of continued aspersions, no continued list of attacks will take away the fact that the RCMP, which is respected in the country by citizens from coast to coast, has at the request of members opposite opened the file, looked at the file, and said there was no basis for any further investigation.

The ethics counsellor, who was quoted whenever it was convenient and has come to the conclusion there was no conflict of interest, has spoken repeatedly. In conclusion, there simply is no conflict. There is no wrongdoing.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Commission des affaires municipales du Québec, any citizen may lay a complaint against an elected representative suspected of conflict of interest, and the person who has committed the act is not the one to judge it, but rather the courts, who can judge it independently. If the Prime Minister were an elected municipal official, he could not be the judge of his own actions.

Is the fact that the Prime Minister is both judge and party to this affair not another conflict of interest?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the opposition has asked the RCMP to look into the matter. They found nothing and so they closed the file.

The ethics counsellor, who was appointed by the Conservative Government as Deputy Registrar General, has analyzed the matter, appeared before the House committees, spoken on radio and television, and he has always made one thing very clear: the shares were sold in 1993 and there was no conflict of interest.

The time has come for people to start talking of real problems. I am very well aware that the opposition is not capable of attacking the government on its policy, so it amuses itself trying to—

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Peace River.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday we asked the Minister of Industry about a breach of the Canada Business Corporations Act. He refused to answer the question.

I remind the House that as Minister of Industry he has the statutory responsibility for this act so I want him to answer a straight question today. Will the minister tell us whether the share registry of the Grand-Mère Golf Club complied with all applicable laws?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, if the member has looked at the act he will know that the minister has a responsibility to respect the privacy rights of the individuals affected.

He will know further that it is the responsibility of the directorate to give direction to bring information to compliance. Once that information is brought into compliance, that information is made public. The member knows all of that.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Charlie Penson Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister might note that unless he stops his ministers from shouting, the minister over here will never have a chance to respond to anything.

Both the Prime Minister and Jonas Prince are corporate lawyers. They know they are supposed to comply and abide by the law and have the shareholder registry reflect the real situation. They know that. Could the Prime Minister provide any record, any proof at all, that he requested his name be removed from the registry?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, we have repeatedly received very conclusive evidence that the Prime Minister as of November 1993 no longer owned these shares. Therefore, effective November 1993, the Prime Minister did not have and should not have had any direction given by him with respect to how this company operated.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, among other statements to the Standing Committee on Industry, the ethics counsellor said that the value of the sale of shares in the Grand-Mère golf club could neither rise nor fall.

Yesterday's documents indicate clearly that the Prime Minister lost money in this venture. With this inaccuracy, the Prime Minister's ethics counsellor has lost whatever credibility he had left.

How can the Prime Minister not admit that we have before us one more reason to think that his counsellor tried to cover for him in all this?

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, first, I would have to go back because I know it would be prudent to find out exactly what it was the ethics counsellor said rather than take the assertion here in the House.

Second, the fact of the matter is that we know the Prime Minister actually lost money on the sale as it was disposed by his trustee. I think most Canadians know that if we had an unethical prime minister who did not care about the rule of law, he could have picked up the telephone, called a friend and said “Buy these shares; make sure I do not lose any money”.

The Prime Minister did not do that. He stayed out of it. He let his trustee handle it and, yes, he lost money. That shows how honest he is.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor knows perfectly well that the name of the Prime Minister remained on the shareholders' record, since he had examined all the books, so he said.

How does the Prime Minister explain the ethics counsellor's failing to reveal this fact during the election campaign, other than in order to keep the fact that he was in a conflict of interest from the public?

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, any lawyer knows that a contract is completed with the consent of the parties. This is something known to every lawyer. When there is mutual consent, the sale is complete.

In Quebec, this applies even to real estate transactions. In Ontario, this does not apply to property, but it does for other personal property.

Everyone knows that. You pick up the phone. You call your broker and tell him to buy or sell shares. There is no contract, but you have to pay if you have told him to buy or sell shares.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the junior minister of multiculturalism slandered the people of Prince George and then tried to cover it up. The Prime Minister said twice yesterday:

—there were no phone calls made by the minister or anybody in her office about that.

In fact, Sergeant Fiona Weller of the B.C. hate crimes unit, that one RCMP and one local police officer, said she was telephoned by one Steve Bourne of the minister's office to ask about cross burnings.

If the Prime Minister will not fire her for intolerance or slander, will he fire her for making him look like a fool yesterday?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the member referred to Fiona Weller. This lady is an officer of the Vancouver police department, not of the RCMP.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

For goodness' sake, Mr. Speaker. Sergeant Weller just did an interview moments ago on CFRA. When she was asked “Are there any cross burnings in Prince George”, she said “No”. “In Kamloops?” “No reports”.

She was then asked “Are people upset in B.C.?” She said “They are upset they are being tainted with the idea of cross burning. The whole province is getting concerned”.

Then the question was “Does she have to address this with some finality”, the minister, and Sergeant Weller just said moments ago “We will be watching”.

When will the Prime Minister fire this minister, or is it just acceptable government policy?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, she got up in the House and said that she made a mistake and she apologized. There was a member of parliament on the other side who did the same thing.

When this member of parliament campaigned for seven years against pensions and claimed that she would never take a cent, that was all right, but right after the election, after telling everybody in Edmonton that she would never accept a pension, right after the votes were counted, she turned around and took the money.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of any questions from the opposition that have any relevance whatsoever to the lives of Canadians, I would like to ask the Minister of Industry for his reaction to the recently announced and very significant job cuts at Nortel.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker—

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. There appears to be some disorder. Perhaps members would like to hear the hon. Minister of Industry who has the floor.

Employment
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Tobin Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, NL

Mr. Speaker, members opposite may not be interested in the fact that Canadians, those who work in the IT sector, may be affected by the layoffs announced by Nortel, but members on this side of the House are concerned about Canadians, their jobs and the Canadian economy.

I want to say to the member who asked the question that we do not know yet the impact of those job layoffs on workers here, in particular in the Ottawa area. We are monitoring the story closely. We are talking with Nortel and we are concerned that Rand D jobs be maintained in this country even as downsizing occurs.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Right Hon. Prime Minister. On Friday I asked that the Prime Minister table all the relevant documents.

The Prime Minister has gone some way toward meeting that request and has tabled some of the relevant documents, but there is still need for more light to be shed on the period between 1993 and 1999 where, by virtue of the very fact the Prime Minister lost money, we see the value of the shares was changing during that period of time.

In the interest of what the Prime Minister himself has said, that is to say letting parliament do its job, will he now initiate an inquiry?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have replied to that. The RCMP and the ethics counsellor looked into that and reported. I gave all the documents. I have tabled everything. I said and I repeat, I never had any conflict of interest. I have not been the owner of these shares since November 1, 1993. I have no connection at all with the auberge since February 1993.

The only thing I have done is to help a business in my riding to create 20 jobs. It is part of the program that is supported by the provincial government, by the local authorities, by les caisses populaires, and by le Fonds de solidarité.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker my supplementary question is for the Secretary of State for Latin America and Africa. Earlier today two Liberal MPs, including the vice-chair of the foreign affairs committee, called for the resignation of the minister because he courageously condemned the operations of Talisman in Sudan in fuelling that bloody civil war. The member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca was earlier singing the praises of Talisman.

Does the minister stand by his call to Canadians to sell their shares in Talisman? Does he stand by his call for a tougher sanctions law? How does he respond to this call by his own colleagues for his resignation?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Edmonton Southeast
Alberta

Liberal

David Kilgour Secretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does not call for the divestiture of shares in any company including Talisman.

The Government of Canada is very concerned about the incalculable suffering that is going on among the people of southern Sudan. We call on all companies involved in Sudan to make sure they do everything they can to bring that tragedy to an end.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, the November 1993 document is not the official and complete bill of sale. Where is the registration number? Where are the copies of the corporate resolutions authorizing the sale of shares? Where is the evidence confirming that the stock certificates were endorsed?

There are documents missing. Could the Prime Minister ask his friend, Mr. Prince, to release all the documents, or are we to think that when he took the oath of office, a few days after the November 1993 election, the Prime Minister was still an owner of the golf club?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not here to teach law. The hon. member is asking for ownership registration. It has nothing to do with a transaction involving shares. Such a transaction can be completed orally, provided there are witnesses. No documents are necessary. When I studied law, many years ago, I learned that no documents are necessary for such a transaction, provided there are witnesses.

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the mystery over the Auberge Grand-Mère continues to grow with more documents and more questions. It is beginning to resemble a cheap episode of the X Files , and the truth is still out there.

There is a six year gap between the original dodgy deal in 1993 and the final sale in 1999. This is an after the fact attempt to corroborate the Prime Minister's denial of conflict of interest. Will the Prime Minister voluntarily agree to table all the documents and account for the relevant six year gap?

Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote the member who just asked the question. Two days ago he said:

—the Prime Minister could have put this matter to rest a long time ago by providing definitively that he did not stand to gain himself by his actions by tabling a document that would lay out the details of a sales agreement he had with an individual named Jonas Prince.

That is exactly what the Prime Minister did yesterday.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, section 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada states that anyone who communicates statements in a public place inciting hatred against any identifiable group where it is likely to breach the peace is guilty, including cabinet ministers.

Since it appears that the junior multiculturalism minister has broken this law by inciting hatred against the people of Prince George and Kamloops, how can the Prime Minister continue to insist that she not step down?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, she got up in the House. She said “I made a mistake and I apologize”.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Add Christians to the list too.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

What would you know about Christians?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

The minister has devoted many years working very hard to build understanding among Canadians.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

Exactly. If you know anything about Christians, you should change your tone.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

Of course she said she made a mistake and she apologized. We have accepted the apology.

When a member of parliament on the other side made a much worse offence, he rose and said “I am sorry, I would like to make an apology”. We are people who respect the tradition of the House and we have accepted his apology, but I know that type of—

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Surrey Central.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is not holding his minister accountable under the hate laws. His government vows to combat exactly these kinds of slurs. That is what the hate laws are for.

The only apology acceptable is for the minister to resign. Will she resign today?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

No, Mr. Speaker.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor said that the documents for the period from 1993 to 1999 were not released because they were not relevant.

Yet, there must be documents from those years that would tell us why the Prime Minister got involved in the 1999 transaction, when he claims to have sold his shares in 1993.

I am asking the Prime Minister how the ethics counsellor can justify his decision not to release the documents for the 1993-1999 period, when it is precisely during that time that the Prime Minister put himself in a conflict of interest.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period a member opposite asked whether or not we in this party had discussed this matter today in caucus. I should not talk about caucus but I will tell the member that we did.

I will sat what members told the Prime Minister. They said to the Prime Minister “You have gone above and beyond the call of duty. You have answered all the questions. We on this side think you should now tell them enough is enough”.

I say to the Prime Minister that we on this side have it. We will stand with you right to the wall on this issue.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I hope it is not necessary to continually remind the House that members must always address the Chair and not one another.

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is right. The Prime Minister does have his back to the wall right now. He does indeed.

How could the ethics counsellor, who admitted that he is not an expert in corporate law, arrive at these conclusions? How can we be sure that his decision does not yet again serve the sole purpose of protecting the Prime Minister, his boss, his employer?

Ethics Counsellor
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the ethics counsellor has the advice of lawyers at his disposal and he acts upon that advice, which is more than is obviously the case on the opposite side of the House.

Members can ask these questions if they like. Let us serve notice that every day for the next four years we will be here. We will be doing our jobs. We will do our best to answer.

This Prime Minister and this government are not going away. We will stay on the job and stay on the real files important to the people of Canada.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, there has been no apology to Kamloops for the slur. The Prime Minister said yesterday that no one from the junior minister of multiculturalism's office phoned the RCMP.

Now we know that Steve Bourne on her staff phoned the B.C. hate crimes unit. Why will the Prime Minister not fire the junior minister immediately instead of letting her hide behind him?

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that an officer of the Vancouver office, Fiona Weller, called Mr. Bourne, not vice versa. This is the way that the discussion occurred.

He never called with the permission of the minister and the minister never called anybody. Nobody in his office—

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Saint-Maurice, QC

I said I was going to respond to the House of Commons. There was a phone call made by somebody in the department to the RCMP without any authorization.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, first she said there were cross burnings in Kamloops, but there were not. Then she said there were cross burnings in Prince George, but there were not. Then she said she had a letter from the mayor, but she did not. Then she said there were no contacts with the RCMP, but there were.

That is not three. That is four strikes. When will the Prime Minister finally tell her “You're out?”

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, again, we have a tradition in the House of Commons. When somebody gets up and has the courage to say “I made a mistake” and apologizes, there is a custom that we accept it.

I will have been in the House of Commons 38 years next week. I have never seen an opposition like that one which does not respect the tradition of civility that exists in the House of Commons. I regret that.

When the departing leader came in with his new party I remember him saying that he would bring a new mentality into the House of Commons. This is not what he had hoped to achieve. He wanted to have civility—

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Mississauga West.

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, while Canadians see the pictures on the evening news of huge piles of burning animal corpses in the United Kingdom and of thousands of British sheep being dumped in a huge pit for burial, the opposition in this place have asked one question on this issue since it arose, so I guess we have to do their job for them.

While other countries strive to control the spread of foot and mouth disease, can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food tell the House what we are doing to stop this scourge from entering Canada?

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington
Ontario

Liberal

Larry McCormick Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, Canada is doing everything it can to stop this disease from entering this country.

We are banning the import of susceptible animals and animal products from the European Union and from Argentina. We are increasing the inspection and surveillance of passengers, baggage and luggage from these countries. We are implementing disinfectant shoemats at all the international airports.

We are increasing our investigations on the handling and disposal of international garbage at airports and seaports. These precautions and many more will continue until we are—

Health
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism did not simply make a mistake. She deliberately fabricated a story about some phantom letter and about some phantom cross burning in some phantom city in British Columbia. She slandered the people of Prince George. She slandered the people of Kamloops.

How much more shame does the minister have to cause the government, the House of Commons and the country before the Prime Minister fires her? Why does he not do it now instead of—

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The right hon. the Prime Minister.

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, she said she made a mistake and she has apologized. We on this side of the House accept that people can sometimes make a mistake and it is acceptable to apologize, which is exactly what we have done with the minister. She regrets what she said and she has made her apologies.

The member for Edmonton—Strathcona has done worse. He fabricated something by having somebody speak on his behalf during an interview. However, he said he made a mistake. We said “Fine, sir, you made a mistake”, and we accepted that he made a mistake. We can—

Multiculturalism
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Jonquière.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the code of ethics provides that “On appointment to office, and thereafter, public office holders shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, potential or apparent conflicts of interest from arising but if such a conflict does arise between the private interests of a public office holder and the official duties and responsibilities of that public office holder, the conflict shall be resolved in favour of the public interest”.

Will the Prime Minister admit that for everyone—parliamentarians in the House, citizens, and all remotely objective observers—he has crossed that fine line between the defence of—

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

The Right Hon. Prime Minister.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I put these shares in trust. Everything was managed by my trustee, who is also my lawyer. On every discussion she had, and every decision she had to take, she consulted the ethics counsellor, who said publicly that he had had the greatest possible co-operation from the person responsible for taking decisions without any involvement on my part.

The decisions were taken. There was a debt to be collected. She collected the maximum she could in the circumstances. I think that that is very clear: there is no conflict of interest.

Code Of Ethics
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I have notice of a question of privilege from the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 48(2), I rise on a question of privilege arising from comments made yesterday by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

In response to a question he had asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the hon. member said the following:

While he is at it, the minister referred to a group of members of parliament who travelled to Sudan. How does the minister feel about the fact that the tickets for that trip were paid for by Talisman Energy?

Does the minister feel it is appropriate that two Liberal colleagues and one Alliance member, one of the Liberals being the vice-chair of the foreign affairs committee, should be travelling to Sudan, paid for by Talisman Energy? Is that acceptable to the minister?

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas has deliberately misled the House. I have a letter from the Canada Arab Council which I would like to table in the House today which states unequivocally that it was the Canada Arab Council that paid for those tickets.

If I could read from that letter, dated March 28, 2001, it responds to your request, Mr. Speaker. I made a request in response to the allegations by the hon. member just to reconfirm what I had known prior to this trip. The letter states:

In response to your request for confirmation of the funding arrangements covering airfare and accommodation of the recent Nile River Valley familiarization trip to Egypt and central Sudan, March 9-10 to 20, 2001 by three federal MPs and a Quebec MNA, I wish to confirm:

  1. The trip was organized and sponsored, including airfare, by the National Council on Canada Arab Relations in accordance with its public education mandate.

  2. More specifically The National Council on Canada Arab Relations purchased the air tickets with funds from its general account.

I will table the letter in the House today. I am demanding that the hon. member apologize to myself for impugning my reputation and not dealing with the larger issue of a country that is racked by civil war and for that member to put his skills toward advocating a peace plan that will hold the government of Sudan, the FPLA and Talisman Energy's feet to the fire to develop peace in that country.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the point was of the point of privilege. I am pleased to have the opportunity to be very clear on precisely what has taken place in this very sad affair.

The fact of the matter is—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Apologize.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I trust I will be given the same courtesy as the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas has the floor.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, earlier today, at a press conference held by the hon. member for Sarnia—Lambton and the hon. member from Mississauga, the vice-chair of the foreign affairs committee, those two members confirmed that the travel within Sudan by the delegation that included the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca was paid for by an oil consortium which included Talisman Energy. That was confirmed directly by those members.

Furthermore, with respect to the travel and the cost of travel of the three members from Canada to Sudan, the fact is that Talisman Energy contributed significant funds to the National Council on Canada Arab Relations, which in turn were used to fund the travel of the three members who went to Sudan.

Talisman Energy funded the National Council on Canada Arab Relations with respect to this matter. Talisman Energy funded the travel within Sudan. Frankly, it is appalling that hon. members of this place would accept a trip funded by Talisman Energy, which has been complicit in some of the most egregious human rights violations in Sudan.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I think it is clear that there is a disagreement as to facts in this case. Unless the hon. member has something that is quite new to introduce into the matter, I would caution him. I do not want to protract the debate, because I think that is what we are into here.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas does not get it. He is impugning, as he said in the House of Commons yesterday, that we knowingly went on this trip paid for by Talisman oil.

I asked prior to the trip who was paying for it, and it was the Canada Arab Council. After the trip I asked whether Talisman had paid for it. I received a document, which I will table in the House, that clearly states it was the Canada Arab Council and not Talisman oil that paid for it.

I demand that the member for Burnaby—Douglas stop misleading the House and apologize to me and my colleagues.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

If the hon. member wants to seek leave of the House to table his letter, he may do so, but I think we ought to leave the matter there.

It appears there is a disagreement and I do not think it is one the Chair will be able to resolve. The members have different views of the facts of the case as is apparent from the submissions we have heard. If we go on further, we will hear a lot more.

Does the hon. member wish to seek consent of the House to table those documents?

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca have unanimous consent of the House to table this letter?

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Will the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas be adding anything new to this question of privilege? I do not really want to hear more on it.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fundamental question is: Talisman Energy paid the national council to—

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

That is a continuing dispute. The hon. member for Prince George—Bulkley Valley on a point of order.

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw my point of order. I think the member for Surrey Central has the same point of order.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, during question period when I was asking a question of the Prime Minister regarding the racial slurs uttered by the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, the Minister of Canadian Heritage very clearly and loudly said “What would you know about Christians?”

First we are dealing with racial slurs and now we are dealing with religious slurs. I believe all members in the House should treat all religions equally and respectfully. I am offended by the minister's comments, and I would ask her to withdraw her comments and apologize to the House.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. When my colleague was referring to the junior minister of multiculturalism he was talking about a pattern we have seen in her behaviour over the years about Kamloops cross burnings and about behaviour and cross burnings in Prince George.

I said across the aisle not to forget about their attacks on Christians during the campaign, a particularly ugly scene that I am sure she is ashamed of. That spurred the Minister of Canadian Heritage to hoot across the aisle: what do I know about Christians.

I guess I know something because I am a Christian. I am certainly not perfect. I would be the first to admit it. It is a pattern of this minister and it is shameful.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I can only say that I know it is very important for all hon. members to treat each other with respect in the Chamber, both during question period and at all other times. I urge such a course on all hon. members.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to two petitions.

Food And Drugs Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-310, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (mandatory labelling for genetically modified foods).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a bill to amend the Food and Drugs Act with the specific purpose of legislating mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods.

The bill flows from growing concerns about the rapid entry of genetically modified organisms into the marketplace without the benefit of long term safety studies and without public information.

The bill provides for the full public disclosure of all genetically engineered products and gives consumers the right to choose.

I would like to credit the work of a former Bloc member for Louis-Hébert, Madam Hélène Alarie, who worked diligently on this matter and had actually introduced a similar bill in the last parliament.

I also want to acknowledge the work of the member for Davenport who introduced Bill C-287 which also deals with the question of genetically modified organisms and which has been deemed votable.

I think all this shows the growing concern in parliament for this matter.

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

National Horse Of Canada Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-311, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased again to reintroduce the national horse of Canada act, an act to provide for the recognition of the Canadien horse as the national horse of Canada.

This sturdy little horse has played a role in Canadian history since its arrival in New France in 1665 from the stables of Louis XIV. It has acclimatized to our harsh conditions evolving into a breed that is strong for its size, intelligent, well-tempered, resilient and determined. These qualities make it a perfect symbol for Canada.

Though indispensable to the inhabitants of New France, and later to the maritimes, Ontario and the west, this horse faced extinction by the end of the 19th century. Breeders have restored and developed this breed so that today there are more than 1,000 Canadien horses in Canada.

The national recognition would increase the profile of this breed, enhance its marketability and assure its future as the great Canadian symbol it is.

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

Statistics Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-312, an act to amend the Statistics Act and the National Archives of Canada Act (census records).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reintroduce a bill to allow the public release of the post-1901 census records. The bill is intended to amend the Statistics Act and the National Archives of Canada Act to allow the transfer of census records from Statistics Canada to the National Archives of Canada where records could be released to the public subject to the Privacy Act.

The main element of the bill, that census records be keep secret for 92 years and released to researchers after that time, is the key recommendation of the expert panel on the access to historical census records. That panel was established by the Minister of Industry, and its recommendations were released in December 2000.

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

Treaties Act
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bills C-313, an act respecting the negotiation, approval, tabling and publication of treaties.

Mr. Speaker, the five bills I am introducing today are intended to remedy some serious shortcomings. Their intent is to force the government to table in the House all drafts of international treaties before they are ratified.

As well, their purpose is to force the government to give the public access to the texts of all international treaties to which it is a party.

At this time the government is making international commitments it cannot meet, because the provinces are the ones responsible for their implementation. My intention is to put in place a formal process for consulting the provinces.

I wish to attack the democratic deficit and require the government to hold public consultations before major treaties are signed, as we do before bills are passed, and to obtain the assent of the House of Commons.

I salute my former colleague, Daniel Turp, who was the one behind this bill.

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

Tabling Of Treaties Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-314, an act to provide for the tabling of treaties in the House of Commons.

Mr. Speaker, I presented all of the five bills during my first intervention.

I would say that Canadian practices in the negotiation, signing and ratification of treaties date from another time. In 1931, under the Statute of Westminster, Canada obtained the right and power to sign its own treaties. Unfortunately, parliament did not inherit this power.

It is my intent with this bill to change the situation so that parliament has the right it should have had since then.

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

Treaty Approval Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-315, an act to provide for the conduct of public hearings and approval by the House of Commons before the ratification of important treaties.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue we are debating at the moment. The provinces, as we know, are free to not ratify a treaty negotiated on their behalf by the government.

The bill I am tabling is intended to require consultation with the provinces, before a treaty is ratified, as they asked.

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

Treaty Publication Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-316, an act to provide for the publication of treaties.

Mr. Speaker, we had a debate that unfortunately ended with a vote, the result of which was a disappointment to us. I am daring to try again. I am convinced that many members on both sides of the House will agree that parliament must decide the content of a treaty before it is signed. Prior to that the public should be consulted through a committee to be determined by the House.

I am convinced that this would allow us to promote something extremely important, namely democracy and democratic transparency.

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

Conclusion Of Treaties Act
Routine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Mercier, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-317, an act to provide for consultation with provincial governments when treaties are negotiated and concluded.

Mr. Speaker, this bill seeks to ensure that the House of Commons is consulted. I have neither the order nor the number of the bills, but one of them seeks to require the House of Commons to vote on the content.

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

Fuel Price Posting Act
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-318, an act respecting the posting of fuel prices by retailers.

Mr. Speaker, this bill has to do with the posting of fuel prices by retailers. Under this enactment, when a fuel retailer causes a poster, label or sign to be posted indicating the selling price for a fuel, the price must be indicated without regard to any taxes imposed on the consumer under an act of parliament or an act of the legislature of a province.

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

Canada Elections Act
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-319, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (declined vote ballots).

Mr. Speaker, this bill aims at amending the Canada Elections Act. It would permit the introduction of a declined vote ballot. It would allow electors to cast a vote indicating dissatisfaction with the parties and the candidates listed on the ballot and yet register a valid vote rather than casting a spoiled vote. The affected elector would thus be able to indicate his or her wish to decline to vote for any candidate standing for election without having to spoil the ballot, as is the case now.

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

Income Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-320, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (expenses incurred by care-givers).

Mr. Speaker, this is again another fine piece of legislation coming from the riding of Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore that will sweep the nation.

With the pressure on families, with what we call the sandwich generation looking after their children and elderly parents, this bill would allow caregivers the opportunity to deduct the expenses that are incurred in the care of an elderly or infirm person.

As our population ages, more and more people will require the benefits of family caregivers. The cost of caring for an infirm family member can be enormous. Without financial assistance, many families will simply be unable to provide care.

The bill would help all Canadians to make home care financially viable. I thank the Canadian Palliative Care Association and the Canadian Association for the Fifty-Plus for their expression of support for the bill.

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

Farm Income Protection Act
Routine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Lakeland, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-321, an act to amend the Farm Income Protection Act (crop damage by gophers).

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being given a second chance today on this bill because it is an important bill to farmers, ranchers and others in western Canada.

The bill entitled “an act to amend the Farm Income Protection Act (crop damage by gophers), would hopefully lead to restoring the effective poison that really works to control gophers, but which costs farmers tens of millions of dollars a year. It is an important bill for farmers, ranchers and others. I am sure the House will fully support the bill.

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

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on February 14, McWatters Mining Inc. closed down operations at its Sigma-Lamaque complex for an undetermined period.

Workers, their wives and residents of the RCMs of Vallée de l'Or and Abitibi-Témiscamingue note that this petition contains 139 pages and a total of 2,895 signatures, and that it is an initiative of members of the McWatters employees survival committee. In it workers on the Sigma-Lamaque and Kiena projects are calling for an immediate written and signed agreement to move highway 117. Work should begin on May 1 of this year at the latest.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present another petition on behalf of citizens of the Peterborough area who are concerned about genetically modified organisms.

They point out that genetic engineering of food plants and animals is now expanding at an extraordinary rate. It now involves the genetic engineering of the most basic building blocks of life. The long term effects of genetic engineering on human health and the global ecosystem are completely unknown. Canadian consumers have a right to know whether foods and seeds are genetically engineered.

They therefore call upon parliament to persuade the federal government to introduce clear labelling of seeds and food products that are genetically engineered so that farmers and consumers have a clear choice.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition from the citizens of the Peterborough area who want a VIA Rail link re-established between Peterborough and Toronto.

They point to the environmental benefits of this, including a great reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases. They point to other environmental benefits. They also point to cost savings to society in general in terms of car usage, damage to highways and injuries on the highways. They point out that this new route would have great economic benefits to Peterborough as a tourist and educational destination.

They call upon parliament to authorize the re-establishment of a VIA service between Peterborough and Toronto. I would point out that the members for Haliburton—Victoria—Brock, Durham and Whitby—Ajax believe that this project is on the right track.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to present a petition on genetically engineered foods. It is a good day to do so because there has been so much activity in the House on this very important matter.

The individuals signing this petition make the astute observation and wise conclusion that the government has an obligation to ensure that the food that we eat is safe. They call upon the government to impose a moratorium on further releases of genetically engineered crops and foods. They call for an immediate establishment of long term safety testing of all genetically engineered crops. They call upon the government to impose a full and mandatory labelling of all genetically engineered food.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition signed by nearly 1,200 Canadians from nine provinces and one territory concerning the release of census records to genealogists and historians.

The petition points out that an estimated 7.5 million Canadians are engaged in the pursuit of their family history and that census records are a valuable tool for research. The records have been used in historical research and for the tracing of genetic diseases, settling of wills and estates.

The petitioners call upon parliament to take whatever steps necessary to retroactively amend the clauses of the Statistics Act since 1906 to allow the release to the public after a reasonable period of time of the post-1901 census records.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition on behalf of Katimavik, a non-governmental organization funded by Heritage Canada, which over the last 20 years has provided tremendously valuable services to our country while serving as a model to many other countries in the world.

Katimavik has provided opportunities for more than 24,000 young Canadians to grow and mature through service to over 2,000 communities across Canada while contributing many millions of hours of volunteer work valued at over $36.5 million.

For the second consecutive year, Katimavik will have to turn down nearly 5,000 registered applicants because its present budget limits the program to fewer than 1,000 participants.

The petitioners call upon parliament to urge the government to allow, within its means, all young Canadians between 17 and 21 years of age to participate in Katimavik should they so choose.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of my constituents who are concerned about a proposed development that is about to occur adjoining our wonderful High Park which is in the riding.

Many of the constituents live next to the area where the proposed development will be built. They are quite concerned that this proposed development is on lands which have been designated by the Ontario ministry of natural resources as an area of natural and scientific interest.

They call on the Parliament of Canada for an environmental assessment of the proposed development to ensure that it does not affect the water table nor the water flowing into the Humber River or Lake Ontario.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest will be pleased to know that written Questions Nos. 1 and 2 will be answered today. .[Text]

Question No. 1—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

With regard to the selling of 40 Bell 212 Huey helicopters by the Department of National Defence through the brokerage services of Lancaster Aviation Inc.: ( a ) what was the asking price for each helicopter; ( b ) what is the list price for a Bell 212 Huey helicopter; ( c ) how many of the helicopters were successfully sold by Lancaster Aviation Inc.; ( d ) how much was each helicopter sold for; ( e ) what was the value of the cheque paid to Lancaster Aviation Inc. by the federal government for the commission on the helicopters' sale; ( f ) what was the value of the cheque the Government of Canada paid to Lancaster Aviation Inc. to cover any expenses Lancaster may have incurred while trying to find buyers for the helicopters; ( g ) when this contract was advertised in the Government Business Opportunities magazine, how many companies bid on it; and ( h ) what criteria made the Lancaster Aviation Inc., bid the best overall proposal?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton Minister of National Defence

(a) No asking price was set for the helicopters. The price obtained was dictated by the prevailing market conditions at the time of sale. Interested parties were invited to submit offers for the helicopters, which is the standard practice employed by the department's marketing agent.

(b) According to the Canadian Government catalogue of Materiel, the list price at the time of acquisition, in 1971-72, for a twin Huey helicopter was $634,000 Canadian.

(c) 40

(d) The aircraft were sold in lots. Consequently no prices were assigned to individual aircraft. The helicopters and a large quantity of spare parts were sold for a total price of $19,752,352 U.S.

(e) Lancaster Aviation was paid a commission to cover its marketing services. The amount of the commission is not releasable under the Access to Information Act, section 20(1), as the disclosure of this information would compromise the competitive position of the company.

(f) Lancaster Aviation was compensated for sevices rendered through the payment of a commission. No expenses were separately chargeable under the terms of the contract.

(g) Bids were received from six of the thirty-eight companies who had responded to the Letter of Interest advertised on the Open Bidding Service and has been sent a Request for Proposal.

(h) Lancaster's proposal met the mandatory experience, resource and financial requirements and they submitted the lowest responsive bid.

Question No. 2—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

With regard to the selling of up to ten Challenger 600-1A11 aircraft by the Department of National Defence through the brokerage services of Lancaster Aviation Inc.: ( a ) what is current market value for a Challenger 600-1A11 airplane; ( b ) how many Challengers were sold by Lancaster Aviation Inc.; ( c ) what was the selling price of each Challenger; ( d ) what was the value of the cheque paid to Lancaster Aviation Inc. by the federal government for the commission on the Challenger sale; ( e ) what was the value of the cheque the Government of Canada paid to Lancaster Aviation Inc. to cover any expenses Lancaster may have incurred while trying to find buyers for the airplanes; ( f ) when was the Challenger contract advertised in Government Business Opportunities magazine; ( g ) how many companies bid on the Challenger contract when if was advertised in Government Business Opportunities magazine; ( h ) how many points did Lancaster Aviation Inc. receive in each section of the proposal evaluation and contractor selection criteria for the Challenger contract; and ( i ) what criteria made the Lancaster Aviation Inc. bid the best overall proposal?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

I am informed by the Departments of National Defence and Public Works and Government Services as follows:

(a) According to market surveys conducted prior to the sale of the DND Challengers, the value of aircraft of this type ranged between $3 million U.S. to $8 million U.S. depending upon aircraft condition and interior configuration.

(b) Eight.

(c) The aircraft were sold as a lot. Consequently no prices were assigned to individual aircraft. The total selling price for the lot was $30 million U.S.

(d) Lancaster Aviation Inc. was paid a commission to cover its marketing services. The amount of the commission is not releasable under the Access to Information Act, section 20(1), as the disclosure of this information would compromise the competitive position of the company.

(e) Lancaster Aviation Inc. was compensated for services rendered through the payment of a commission. No expenses were separately chargeable under the terms of the contract.

(f) There is no record of this requirement having been published in Government Business Opportunities , GBO, magazine. However, the requirement was widely advertised by means of a Notice of Proposed Procurement, NPP, for a Letter of Interest which was published on the Open Bidding Service on October 30, 1996, and closed on November 20, 1996. The NPP stated that only firms which responded to the Letter of Interest would be invited to submit a proposal.

On February 19, 1997, a Request for Proposal, RFP was sent to 38 firms which had expressed an interest in the requirement. The RFP closed on April 16, 1997, and six bids were received. On June 27, 1997, a contract was awarded to Lancaster Aviation Inc.

(g) Bids were received from six of the thirty-eight companies that had responded to the Letter of Interest advertised on the Open Bidding Service and had been sent a RFP.

(h) Five out of the six bids received, including the bid from Lancaster Aviation Inc., were found to be compliant with the requirements of the RFP and were awarded full points for the technical component. The selection of Lancaster Aviation Inc. as a contractor was made on the basis of it having offered the lowest price from among these five firms. One of the six bids did not meet the requirements of the RFP and was disqualified.

(i) Lancaster's proposal met the mandatory experience, resource and financial requirements and they submitted the lowest responsive bid.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the generosity of the parliamentary secretary but my belief is, based on a conversation we had, that the questions are complete insofar as a number of them have been answered. However not all the questions on the order paper that I submitted have been answered. Does that constitute a completion of this file? In other words, I am not sure that I will be completely happy once this is tabled. Do I have a point of order?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I suggest that the hon. member read the answers when they are printed in Hansard tomorrow and see how happy he is. If he has a point of order, we will hear about it, I am sure. If he does not, I hope that will be the end.

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Motions For Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from March 23 consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 1 stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 10. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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3:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 10 stands deferred.

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3:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-4, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing line 22 on page 6 with the following:

“viour for terms that do not exceed five years and that are staggered so that not more than four terms will expire in any year.”

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-4, in Clause 10, be amended by replacing lines 34 and 35 on page 6 with the following:

“for one term not exceeding five years.”

Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 3 is an amendment to clause 10 which amends the terms held by the directors of the foundation.

As the legislation exists now, directors are appointed to terms of five years. The motion would ensure that terms are staggered in such a way that there would be a turnover of directors to bring in new ideas and prevent stagnation at the director level. In short, directors would serve staggered terms so we could bring in new directors. The directors would appoint new directors. We would continually bring in new ideas from professionals, university professors and many different segments in Canadian society.

At the same time, we would state that no more than four terms would expire in any year. That would mean continuity and that directors would never be left completely in a void. They would have some institutional memory of the board and would understand and have some knowledge of the history of the board. If we did not do that there would be a risk that they would lose that institutional memory. That is the reason for this amendment.

I would hope that the House and the members of the Liberal caucus and the government would support that amendment.

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3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak once again to Bill C-4 and to speak to Motions Nos. 3 and 4. I will start by repeating my position that the bill has real merit. If the government sees fit to support my amendment in Group No. 3, we may yet have a chance as a party to support the bill at third reading.

Motions Nos. 3 and 4 are a credible effort by the member for South Shore to tighten up the bill, at least to some degree. Even if he were to achieve what he is suggesting in the motions, the bill would still leave a lot to be desired, but at least it would be a step in the right direction. We would be willing to support those two motions.

The whole bill has been created like a sieve, and I suspect that was deliberate on the part of the minister and the government. When the minister was before committee he suggested that some of the vagueness and loose wording in the bill was put there to allow maximum flexibility in the application of the principles of the bill.

That was admirable, but I think it is incumbent upon us, as an opposition to the government and in representing the concerns of Canadians, to demand some checks and balances in the bill that would protect value for money when we are spending taxpayer dollars. The issue of this particular group around the membership of the foundation and the directors of the foundation is one of the areas of concern.

The government refers to reasonable expenses and reasonable costs. To some degree it addresses the issue of remuneration for directors. It specifically leaves out any mention of remuneration for the chairman who is appointed by the governor in council or by the Prime Minister. This is reason to be concerned.

When we last visited the bill some days ago some members presented a number of examples of extravagant or ridiculous use of taxpayer dollars in government operations, boards, foundations and departments. Some of those examples were a bit extreme but they did point out why we should be concerned.

The example I would use concerns Mr. Ted Weatherill who was a government bureaucrat. He was under the same guidelines of reasonable expenses and reasonable remuneration. He turned in a bill to taxpayers for $21,000 in three years for his travel expenses. These things actually happen. It is not a figment of anybody's imagination. The concern is legitimate when we are dealing with this matter.

We could fix the bill. We could make it a bill that we could support in the interests of cleaner air and a cleaner environment. However we cannot support it because it is custom made for the abuse of tax dollars. It would not take an awful lot to fix it.

When we were last debating the bill the minister said that the criteria and the funding agreement would be tabled in due course and that if we or other members of the House had a problem with it we would have an opportunity to bring it forward and discuss it.

That is quite true, but if there is one thing I have learned in the seven years I have been here, it is that a member can bring things to the House and discuss them until he suffers from premature failure of his vocal chords and nothing will happen. The fact that we can discuss issues in the House does not mean that the concerns are ever addressed.

It would be much more prudent to fix the bill before we passed it and to address our concerns so that we could then support the bill.

We support this group of motions. They are well intended and move in the right direction, although they fall far short of fixing the bill. At least it is an honest effort in the right direction. When it comes time to vote we will be supporting the motions.

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3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the motions in Group No. 2. I spoke last week to Group No. 1.

Group No. 2 includes Motions Nos. 3 and 4. I will say the Bloc Quebecois will support these two motions. Despite what they say, they concern a foundation that already exists in Quebec along the lines of what the federal government wants to duplicate.

We can see that with the attitude it displayed earlier this government is not in any way prepared to have an open mind with respect to constructive ideas put forward by the opposition, be it the Alliance, the Bloc, the Conservatives or the NDP.

I said it last week and I reiterate it today: this government is arrogant and self-important. It suffers from self-importance because it thinks it has a monopoly on the truth. When people think they have a monopoly on the truth, that is when they lose it.

In my opinion, instead of totally recreating what is already working in the provinces, this government ought to be taking steps to give back the money it has taken away. Do hon. members realize where the budget surplus came from? The government took it out of the pockets of ordinary people, people earning less than $50,000. As well, it has cut transfer payments to the provinces for health, education and social assistance.

Measures in these areas are provincial. This government should return the money to the provinces, which have good systems already, so that they may improve them. What does it do instead? It duplicates what is already in place.

When someone duplicates what others have already done it is called plagiarism. It is duplicating at the expense of others, in order to gain visibility by putting up a little flag. That is not the reason Canadians and Quebecers elected these people. They elected them to administer public funds that do not belong to them. This is money that belongs to all Canadians and all Quebecers.

Obviously, with the election the government wanted to pull one over on the Canadian Alliance, which was not caught unprepared last November. Let us face facts. This government no longer listens to anyone. It is deaf, dumb and blind. It will only go where it wants to go.

This is not what Canadians and Quebecers expect of the government. Until further notice, it is Canadians and Quebecers who provide the government with the money so that it may administer and pass legislation that will improve their situation.

Sustainable development is extremely important. We know how this government toots its horn when it provides any funding for the environment and sustainable development. I note that is not what it is attempting to do with this bill. It wants to ease its conscience and interfere in the jurisdiction of others.

I find the government's approach very offensive. Under the proposed amendments all appointees would not have to leave at the end of their terms. They would not all leave at once. These departures would be spread out over a period of four years to allow some people to remain on the board of directors so that the foundation can continue to function.

In addition, under Motion No. 4 members of the board of directors would be eligible to be reappointed only once.

Enough of appointing one's friends for life. That is not what Canadians want. They want more transparency, more availability. They want the people representing them to listen.

We on this side of the House represent many Quebecers and Canadians. The government thinks that it has a monopoly on the truth.

The day they begin to understand they should be listening to Canadians and Quebecers, we will no longer have to go through what we have been going through in the last little while in the House of Commons.

Let us just take the example of the young offenders bill. This is a matter of great interest to Quebecers. It is an area which works tremendously well in Quebec. All Quebecers are opposed to the Minister of Justice's bill. And, what does this government do? It turns a deaf ear and plows ahead. That is precisely what the Minister of Natural Resources is doing. He is looking out for no one and he is forging ahead. One fine day he will meet up with the train, and trains go fast and stop for no one.

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3:50 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the House is once again considering Bill C-4 at report stage. A number of amendments were suggested subsequent to the work on the bill in committee.

We are dealing with motions that the Chair has designated as Group No. 2, specifically Motions Nos. 3 and 4 moved by the member for South Shore, in an effort to provide more restrictions in the bill to the terms of office of the directors.

I will deal with those specific points in just a moment, but I wish to make a couple of observations in response to the hon. member from the Bloc who has just spoken. Her criticisms of Bill C-4 were not in terms of what the bill is trying to achieve with respect to sustainable development.

As I understood them, they were twofold: first, there had not been ample consultation with all other players and stakeholders, particularly the provinces and, second, the foundation being proposed in some way duplicates that which is already in place in some provinces, most especially the province of Quebec. With the greatest of respect, neither of those criticisms is valid.

I say this for these reasons. First, Bill C-4 and all other measures included in Government of Canada action plan 2000 and identified in the budget of February 2000 with respect to climate change flow from over two years of the most comprehensive, open, transparent and inclusive consultation there has ever been on an environmental and developmental topic.

Members will recall that the Kyoto conference occurred in December 1997. In a meeting with the Prime Minister not more than 48 hours after the conclusion of the Kyoto protocol, the provinces insisted that there be a very thorough process of consultation. It would specifically include the provinces, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, the scientific community, the municipalities, and virtually all Canadians to fully scope out what the climate change issue was and what the implications of the Kyoto accord would be.

The Government of Canada agreed with that initiative and in the spring 1998 the consultation process began. It involved at least 16 different issue tables. It involved over 400 Canadians from every province and territory. It involved all municipalities that wanted to be involved, as well as scientific and non-governmental organizations. It included every dimension of Canadian life from coast to coast to coast. It was open, transparent, inclusive and comprehensive.

The idea for the sustainable development technology fund flowed from that process, which went on for the better part of two years. It cannot be said that there was not ample consultation. There was fulsome and very strong consultation which most definitely included the Government of Quebec and a whole range of non-governmental interest in the province of Quebec.

The proposed sustainable development technology foundation does not duplicate work that is already being undertaken by somebody else in some other jurisdiction. We have been very careful in defining the role of the new foundation. It is filling a gap in the innovation chain. It is not duplicating or overlapping with something that is already there. It is filling a gap that is problematic at the present time. There is common agreement among our private sector stakeholders that the gap needs to be filled and the foundation is the preferred method of filling that gap.

We have continuity from the very early stages of abstract and pure science through all the intermediate stages where that science becomes more defined and more applied, to the final end of the process where it is commercialized and put to work in the economy. This new fund and the new foundation will not cause an overlap or a duplication with something that somebody else is already doing in some other jurisdiction.

What it does is that it adds new funding to help us all meet the challenge of sustainable development. All federal, provincial and territorial ministers of energy and the environment, all those in the private sector that we consulted, the environmental organizations and the scientific community, would all agree that if there is one thing we need from all sources, federal, provincial and territorial with the private sector, is more money into the equation to help us find those sustainable development solutions.

We are not overlapping. We are not duplicating. We are acting on the basis of ample consultation, bringing another $100 million to the equation to help solve the challenges of sustainable development for the future.

When we have an absolute shortage of funding, adding another $100 million to the overall pot does not constitute overlap or duplication. It represents a very solid investment toward a larger solution.

Specifically on the points raised by the member for South Shore in Motions Nos. 3 and 4, Motion No. 3 is essentially aimed at staggering terms of office and Motion No. 4 is aimed at limiting the time in office that any particular director can serve.

While I recognize what the hon. gentleman is trying to accomplish, I respectfully suggest that the language already in Bill C-4 provides flexibility for the ongoing board of directors to function in a most appropriate way and that the restrictions and the meaning proposed by the member for South Shore would really be counterproductive.

We cannot determine the value of directors in advance by arbitrarily saying that they will only have good ideas, that they will only serve in a proper fashion for one term and that then they will be burned out and we should cast them aside and get somebody else.

While it is desirable to have turnover, new blood and new ideas brought into the equation, it is better to leave Bill C-4 in the form as it presently stands, which provides flexibility in dealing with the terms of directors rather than trying to precisely describe when a particular director must leave office.

Directors who serve well, that bring energy, ideas, vitality and enthusiasm to their task, ought to continue, and perhaps indefinitely. They do not run out of ideas because they serve a certain number of terms or reach a certain age. These people may want to leave after one term. They may want to continue for three or four. We need to retain the flexibility to capture their maximum vitality rather than try to prescribe and limit in advance.

I simply do not accept the notion that we necessarily have to say in the legislation that they should be turfed out at a certain point. The legislation provides flexibility. It provides for appointment and then the possibility of reappointment.

Obviously at the time of reappointment an assessment would be made as to whether the person wants to continue and whether in the view of the responsible government of the day the person is making a valuable contribution that ought to be continued. It is proper to leave it flexible on that basis so that there can be rejuvenation from time to time and that those who are making valuable contributions can continue for the long term.

On the point about staggering, I certainly agree with the objective that we do not want all the directors coming and going at the same time. Obviously we would have to reinvent the wheel with each new board of directors every time.

That is a reasonable proposition. My only comment would be that the staggering of terms is already possible under Bill C-4 as it is currently drafted. Therefore specifically Motion No. 3 is unnecessary because the foundation already has the flexibility that is required to stagger the terms.

Points Of Order
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4:05 p.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising from question period. In the course of rather heated debate, the member for Edmonton North passed a comment on the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism in which she accused her of attacking Christians.

Whereupon I responded by saying what would she know about Christians, in reference specifically to the very important Christian value of forgiveness. I am sorry that members opposite have tried to construe these comments as being something that they utterly were not.

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate what the Minister of Canadian Heritage said but she also uttered the same comments when I was asking a question. It was after three other questions were asked in between.

I am offended too. I believe the Chamber should respect all religions equally. I am not a Christian. I am a non-Christian. I am a Sikh. I expect the hon. minister to address the issue with respect to when she spoke during my question.

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4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is precisely why I came forward and make no mistake about it. The comment was in direct response to the member for Edmonton North who stated that the secretary of state was attacking Christians. I passed the comment directly to the member for Edmonton North. She is obviously aware of the context, the context of which was that one of the basic tenets of Christianity is forgiveness. That was the context of the comment.

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4:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Obviously we have a disagreement and, as I said earlier, I urge all hon. members to be very respectful to each other at all times.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 2.

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4:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think it is the time to move on. The people of Surrey Central are pleased to have me participate in the report stage debate on Motions Nos. 3 and 4 in Group No. 2 concerning the establishment of a foundation to fund sustainable development technology.

The government has earmarked $100 million as the amount of initial funding to be doled out. The sustainable development technology foundation is to operate at arm's length from the government, or at least it is supposed to be.

We on this side of the House want to support Bill C-4. However we want to see some more amendments in the bill. We had suggestions for the Liberals concerning the bill. Our suggestions do not have anything to do with the sustainable development aspects of the bill. The amendments needed do not have anything to do with the projects related to greenhouse gas reductions and improving air quality.

Our amendments have to do with Liberal Party arrogance. The Liberals are proposing to turn the sustainable development foundation into a Liberal patronage pork barrel. That is what we are up against. The Liberals are trying to make it so that the chairperson along with a minority number of directors and members are appointed by governor in council, which then appoints the remaining members to complete the 15 person board of directors.

Let me read for the Liberals a simple paragraph from the Canadian Alliance policy which is dictated by grassroots members. It states:

We believe that a non-partisan civil service, and independent judiciary and competent leadership of government agencies, boards and commissions are vital in a democracy. We will therefore ensure appointments to these positions are made through an open and accountable process based on merit.

When will the government stop implementing its system of disenfranchisement? The patronage practices of the government are virtually fascist by strict political definition.

How could there be this foundation at arm's length from the government while the weak Liberal government appoints its board directly and indirectly? The Canadian Alliance will put a stop to this sort of thing when we form the government.

There are two motions in Group No. 2, Motions Nos. 3 and 4. I will not read the motions, but we would like to support them because both of them aim to limit the terms of appointment of the chairperson and the board of directors appointed by the governor in council and the staggering of appointments to ensure continuity on the board. The amendments may not accomplish exactly what the official opposition wants the government to do, but it is a step in the right direction.

The amendments moved by the hon. member for South Shore will tighten the bill and limit the number of terms of the board of directors. It is a step in the right direction. On behalf of my constituents and my colleagues I will be willing to support the two motions.

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4:10 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased once again to take part in the debate on Bill C-4, which was of course Bill C-46 in the previous parliament.

There is no doubt that the objectives of the bill, which establishes a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, are noble. They are very noble indeed. Sustainable development is very much a concern among the public. Today, at noon, I was watching a television program and the topic happened to be the environment. People are very concerned about the environment, sustainable development and the reduction of greenhouse gases. They are also concerned about air quality.

Today's program also dealt with other environmental issues, but we know them. We can identify them because they are a permanent concern among the public. The objectives of the foundation are noble.

Personally, and this should be kept under wrap, I have my pink side, with a dash of blue, which pleases my spouse and my children. I also have a considerable green side, though. The environment is one of my major concerns. In the case of the foundation for sustainable technology, however, one cannot help but draw a parallel with the millennium scholarship foundation.

There were already policies in place in Quebec and this was an area under Quebec jurisdiction. Still, they doggedly insisted on creating a federal level foundation. The same thing goes for this one, the foundation in Bill C-4.

There is considerable expertise in Quebec, yet in the same broadcast today at noon it was said that Quebec has half the greenhouse gas emissions most of the others have. There is therefore expertise in Quebec. There are technicians. Technology is being developed. As the minister has said, he considers this new foundation a kind of fund. He also said that everyone expressed a need for more money.

Thus, the foundation could to all intents and purposes exist with its most noble objectives. After the consultation, which dealt mainly with the technical aspects of sustainable development, everyone was in agreement. When the time came to talk money, however, Quebec wanted the funding to be transferred so that it could carry out implementation or expansion of the foundation already in place in Quebec, which moreover constitutes a fund of some $45 million.

If Quebec had its fair share, it could advance still further in the area of technological development and make of itself an international showcase of cutting edge technologies, therefore stepping up its promotion of technology for sustainable development.

In the group we are currently studying, Group No. 2, there are two motions the Bloc Quebecois will support. If we look at the bill, it provides at subclause 10(4):

(4) A director is eligible to be reappointed for one or more terms not exceeding five years each.

To all intents and purposes this could go past the time limit for senators. This is another place the Prime Minister and his group will appoint a chairperson and members, who will then appoint other members. It is also up to the Prime Minister to choose to revoke certain positions. There may be lifetime appointments.

They talk of new technologies for the environment. They are running the risk that some who are there just about forever will lose the spark of the imagination and that the spark of renewal may not exist as long as one might like in these technologies.

Obviously, in view of the Liberal majority, the government will proceed with this bill. I am convinced of that. We cannot say enough that there is overlap again. The bill still gives the appearance of giving people, friends, contributors, positions that may last their lifetime. We will therefore support the two motions in Group No. 2.

We must not let a motion provided for periodic change go unmentioned. The bill would have done well to provide for a change of members on a rotational basis in order to ensure continuous renewal. Thus, limiting a term to five years is a good thing. If at some point some do not suit the other levels, they may be removed. At that point they will be in the middle or at the end of a term, even at the start of it. Motions provided that, in addition, at the end of a term, a person could remain another five years.

In fact, because the foundation will be created and will duplicate what the provinces, including Quebec, are doing and because we will have to endure that, such an amendment is very relevant. The Bloc Quebecois will support them, but we will never lose sight of the fact that we will always oppose the bill so long as it cannot be improved throughout.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 3 stands deferred.

The next question is on Motion No. 4. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
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4:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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4:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 4 stands deferred.

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4:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved:

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-4, in Clause 26, be amended by replacing, in the English version, lines 10 and 11 on page 15 with the following:

“(3) If an auditor is not appointed at the annual general meeting in any fiscal year, the”

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4:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

moved:

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-4 be amended by adding after line 7 on page 16 the following new clause:

“28.1 (1) The accounts and financial transactions of the Foundation shall be audited by the Auditor General of Canada at such time as the Auditor General considers appropriate, and a report of the audit shall be laid before Parliament.

(2) The Auditor General of Canada has, in connection with any audit made under subsection (1), all the powers that the Auditor General has under the Auditor General Act in connection with the examination of the accounts of Canada.”

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4:20 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I would like to explain what Motion No. 8 standing in my name is all about with respect to Bill C-4.

It is a consequential and technical amendment. The clause was amended when the bill was before committee. The clause allows members of the foundation to select an auditor at the annual meeting of the members, thereby alleviating the need to hold a separate meeting to appoint the auditor.

The new language of clause 26(1), as amended in committee, is as follows:

At the first meeting of the members, and in any subsequent fiscal year at the annual meeting, the members shall appoint an auditor for.

Upon reviewing the bill and after the committee had finished its work, it became apparent that a consequential amendment was required in subclause 26(3) to make subclause 26(3) consistent with the change made in committee to subclause 26(1).

Accordingly Motion No. 8 now before the House dealing with subclause 26(3) is that consequential amendment to make sure subclause 26(3) at report stage is consistent with the change made during committee hearings to subclause 26(1). It is not a substantive amendment but obviously the two subclauses have to be consistent.

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4:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the minister's amendment. It is an amendment that we intend to support. However I would say that it is a bit more substantive and important than maybe the minister would like to think.

Part of the problem with the legislation is the fact that some very important issues and a number of smaller amendments like this one have been overlooked in the drafting of the bill. Somehow this was overlooked when we were dealing with it at clause by clause consideration in committee. It is a housekeeping article but it is a very important housekeeping article.

What the amendment to clause 26 would effect is the appointment of an auditor by the members of the foundation. Under the legislation as it currently reads, if an auditor is not appointed at the first meeting of the members in a fiscal year the previous auditor continues in that role. The amendment would change the clause so that the auditor would be appointed at an annual general meeting in the fiscal year.

This was an issue that was discussed in committee. It was suggested that having the auditor appointed at the first meeting in a fiscal year could delay the actual appointment of that auditor. With the amendment the auditor is appointed at the annual general meeting and would be in place to audit the books for the forthcoming year, which is very typical of most institutions.

It is an amendment that the PC Party supports since it improves the accountability of the foundation, something that we have tried to do with previous amendments to the bill. We will be supporting the amendment and I congratulate the minister in bringing it forward at report stage.

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4:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Group No. 3 at report stage. The Canadian Alliance supports the minister's amendment. I share the opinion of my colleague from South Shore who just spoke. It is reasonable that the minister would make the amendment.

It is the sixth amendment the minister has made to the bill and it has not even passed report stage yet. It is one more indication of how sloppily the bill was drafted. The wording should be right before it is brought before the House.

Group No. 3 contains my amendment, the only amendment that the Canadian Alliance is suggesting for the bill. It is an amendment, if accepted by the government, that would allow us to support the bill because my amendment would allow access to the foundation by the Auditor General of Canada.

I raised the issue in committee where we had some discussion. The minister suggested that what I was asking was unnecessary because the foundation under the bill has a responsibility to appoint its own internal auditor to do the auditing of the foundation's business.

His suggestion that it was adequate to provide value for money by the foundation was ludicrous because the internal auditor has the responsibility spelled out in his job description. The auditor's responsibility is to audit the figures of the foundation, to see that the columns of figures add up properly and that the figures presented by the foundation reasonably reflect the business of the foundation.

The internal auditor in no way has any authority to look at the appointments of the foundation members, the board members or the chairman of the foundation, to see if those people chosen by the government have the qualifications to sit on the foundation or the board of directors. The internal auditor would have no way of passing judgment on whether or not groups of people or projects applying for funding under the foundation met the criteria for that funding.

There must be some check or balance. The auditor general could provide that because we do not want a repeat of what we saw in the billion dollar boondoggle of the human resources department where taxpayer money was shovelled out to ministers' ridings and to friends of the government who did not meet the criteria laid out in the bill. That could happen here again.

What happens if a business acquaintance of the minister or the Prime Minister, and we have just seen it with the Business Development Bank of Canada, applies under this foundation for funding for a project and does not meet the criteria laid out in the bill? The minister then suggests to the appointed chairman of the board that he would surely love to see this person's project qualified. Suddenly there is a change of heart and the project is qualified and away it goes.

It is fundamentally wrong. It is unethical and it has happened. I have used two example of how it has happened within the last couple of years with the government. There is no guard against that same thing happening with this foundation. That is unacceptable.

I would love to hear the minister defend how that would be prevented in the bill. It is a good initiative and we want to support it. I was sorry to listen to the Bloc Quebecois in debate going off on a tangent congratulating the new premier, most of his cabinet and all the rest of it, and talking about $100 million not being enough money to do what the foundation does.

The idea has merit. Even the flexibility built into the bill allows the government to take $100 million and leverage that many times over through the private sector to do some real good things.

If it is simply used to reward friends of the Liberal Party through misuse of the criteria and guidelines, and to shovel taxpayer money on to those who donate to or support the Liberal Party, that is unacceptable. We cannot accept that.

We in the Canadian Alliance are just as concerned about global warming and climate change. We want to do as much about it as we can. We support the idea of developing technologies that have the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions and make the world a better place for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

At the same time we have a responsibility to use taxpayer dollars in a proper, ethical and legal way. I cannot help but conclude that the bill is deliberately drafted as loosely as possible to allow the abuses to continue. It is such a mistake.

One of the members in committee suggested that somehow we were straying from our fundamental philosophy of smaller and less intrusive government. When I suggested I would rather see the initiative stay in the Department of Natural Resources than be hived off to a foundation at arm's length from the government and out of reach of the auditor general, the member suggested that was somehow a breach of our basic philosophy.

I cannot see how whether the foundation is within the department or at arm's length from it would affect the size of government in any way, except to make government bigger and make eight more patronage appointments available to the Prime Minister.

Much is wrong with the bill. The safeguards required against the squandering of taxpayer dollars could be put in the bill by giving the auditor general access. I have not yet heard, either in committee or from the minister in the number of times he has addressed it, why that cannot happen.

I heard him defend the bill loudly last Friday when someone referred to the foundation as a crown corporation. He was quite adamant that it was not. Why, then, does he not allow the auditor general access to it so he can judge whether taxpayers are getting value for their dollars and whether it is achieving the wonderful things the minister suggests it can achieve?

It would be in the government's own interest to allow that to happen. It could then hold it up as such a shining example of an initiative toward cleaner air and the Kyoto commitment. It appears it will be much like everything else the government has said about the climate change initiative in the Kyoto accord. The government is forever talking about it and essentially doing very little about it.

The minister referred just minutes ago to his implementation plan to meet the commitment under the Kyoto accord. That too is quite ridiculous. If every objective including this one under action plan 2000 was met, it would take us only one-third of the way to meeting the government's commitment under the Kyoto accord.

I am truly disappointed that the government has not been more responsive to my suggestion. If it would accept it and allow us to go forward we would love to support the bill.

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4:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I will give the floor briefly to the member for South Shore under the auspices of a point of order. I will let him make a request and then I will take the matter up with the House.

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4:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. When I replied to the minister's comments it had slipped my mind that we were in Group No. 3 and that the motion of the hon. member for Athabasca is included in that grouping as well. It was my intent to reply to both motions. I replied to the minister's motion. I should have waited until the minister and the member for Athabasca both had a chance to have their say and then I could have raised it and had my say. I would ask the House to allow me a few minutes to sum up the member's statement.

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4:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the House give its unanimous consent to the hon. member for South Shore?

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4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I certainly thank my colleagues in the House. I will try to be fairly brief.

Motion No. 9 by the member for Athabasca on the sustainable development technology act is extremely relevant, important and substantive to this piece of legislation. The amendment would allow the auditor general to review the accounts and financial transactions of the foundation.

Within the realm of the House, the bounds and confines of parliament and what we strive to do as parliamentarians, surely that would be second nature to all of us. We should expect the auditor general to be able to review the account of any organization, especially one set up with government funds. The amendment would improve the accountability of the foundation and it is certainly one the PC Party supports.

It should be noted that the foundation will be established with $100 million of taxpayer money and may at any time be allotted more money by the federal government. I support the amendment so that the auditor general may oversee the use of this public money and ensure it is used in a way that promotes air quality and sustainable development.

The amendment was very similar to an amendment I put forward. It was discussed at committee and had a lot of to and fro from the government side and the opposition side. Those types of amendments are necessary because they are an opportunity for the foundation not only to review how the funds are spent but to review the projects themselves.

When we are dealing with $100 million of public money and the possibility of hundreds of millions more being added to the account, it is only fair that the auditor general be involved.

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4:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise again on behalf of the people of Surrey Central to participate in the report stage debate on Group No. 3 concerning the establishment of a foundation to fund sustainable development technology.

Group No. 3 includes two motions, Motion No. 8 and Motion No. 9. Motion No. 8 is simply a housekeeping motion. The motion was moved by the Minister of Natural Resources to change his own bill. We have seen in the House that many bills tabled by the government are poorly worded, poorly drafted and very sloppy. Many times they are not clear, concise, comprehensive or transparent. Many times what we see is one or two ideas and then a huge paper load of regulations following the bill.

I am glad the hon. minister has recognized that his bill is sloppy. He had to amend it six times. This amendment just deals with translation and is of a housekeeping nature, so we will support it.

We would ask ministers when they table bills in the House to look at them carefully. Bills should be properly drafted with contents where there is some vision of the government's direction on the issues. We do not want the government to govern the country through the back door, through the regulations. Let it govern by the bills which are debated in the House. The regulations are not debated in the House, so I call them governance through the back door.

Motion No. 9 also deals with the auditor general's staff. This is a new clause moved by my hon. colleague from Athabasca, who is the Canadian Alliance chief critic for natural resources.

According to the hon. member's motion, we are adding two clauses. They are:

The accounts and financial transactions of the Foundation shall be audited by the Auditor General of Canada at such time as the Auditor General considers appropriate, and a report of the audit shall be laid before Parliament.

It is a beautiful addition. The second clause is:

The Auditor General of Canada has, in connection with any audit made under subsection (1), all the powers that the Auditor General has under the Auditor General Act in connection with the examination of the accounts of Canada.

They are very attractive amendments. I will give a little background on the necessity of these amendments moved by the hon. member for Athabasca.

While the foundation provides an annual report each year to parliament, the foundation appoints its own auditor and has final approval of its reports before they are made public. While the legislation sets out rules as to who is eligible to be auditor, the government refuses to allow the Auditor General of Canada access to the foundation's books. That is not acceptable.

It is no wonder the government does not want the Office of the Auditor General of Canada involved. We have seen many scathing reports, one after another, criticizing the government very badly. The Liberals have had a difficult ride from the outgoing auditor general. His recent report was probably his most scathing indictment yet of the government. Each auditor general's report on the mismanagement of the Liberal government is worse than the previous one.

The official opposition wants these issues, the questions of who will audit the foundation and how appointments will be made to it, to be dealt with.

We are talking about an initial contribution of $100 million. Let us look at the multiplier effect when the private sector is involved. We are talking about a significant contribution of taxpayer money. We will not allow those two concerns to be swept under the carpet by the Liberals. That is why we have moved the two amendments.

The bill, as I said, is well intended. We would support the bill if this amendment were accepted by the government. However the current bill seems deliberately vague, perhaps to allow patronage, nepotism and misspending of taxpayer dollars to creep into the cracks.

By bringing in the Auditor General of Canada to examine the foundation's books, taxpayers would have greater protection against unchecked Liberal spending. I would therefore be very pleased to support Motion No. 9 because it attempts to restore accountability and transparency to the whole fund. It would protect the interests of Canadians and not just friends of the Liberals.

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4:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before calling for a resumption of the debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's West, Fisheries; the hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Agriculture; the hon. member for Terrebonne—Blainville, Social Housing; the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst, Fisheries.

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4:40 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the third group, Motion No. 8 deals with a technicality. However, Motion No. 9, presented by the hon. member for Athabasca, is essential. It is truly essential and fundamental in the context of the creation of a foundation.

As we all know, this government has made a habit of creating organizations, foundations and agencies to ensure that the auditor general cannot, for all intents and purposes, take a close look at these institutions or organizations.

We are all familiar with the work of the auditor general, which involves evaluating the objectives, the actions, the money spent and even the administrators. In some cases he did evaluate the performance of administrators and the appointment process of these same administrators since that process often seems to have more to do with rewarding an individual than determining his or her qualifications.

The objective of the government is to ensure that the auditor general does not have the opportunity to take a close look at the foundations as such.

If the auditor general had the opportunity to take an indepth look at the results, as they relate to the budgets or the objectives—the objectives are always laudable, but sometimes the means used to achieve them are not the best ones—he could evaluate the means used by the foundation to achieve its objectives.

If the auditor general could audit the foundation, it would alleviate the main concerns of the Bloc Quebecois regarding the establishment of that foundation. There are six such concerns and I will mention them briefly. The division of jurisdictions is one concern of the Bloc Quebecois. The fact that Quebec already has a fund is another concern, as is the fact that there is a concentration of powers within the foundation. The fact that the bill's definitions are risky, and even imprecise, is another concern. The inequality between the recommendations of the issues table and the bill, or the foundation, also concerns the Bloc Quebecois. Another concern, obviously, is the amounts allotted.

Therefore, any future audit of this foundation would examine the various points I have just enumerated, almost certainly justifying Bloc Quebecois concerns.

I will come back briefly to the division of jurisdictions. It would seem obvious that this is just an underhanded way for the federal government to intrude once again in the jurisdictions of the provinces and of Quebec. Unfortunately, the bill has a very broad scope, leaving the door open to investing in an area of jurisdiction belonging to a province or to Quebec.

If an auditor general had an opportunity to audit the entire foundation, he could also comment on this aspect of jurisdiction, as it relates to objectives.

What is more, we know that problems often arise, that they are identified during audits, and that they justify the concerns of the opposition and of the Bloc Quebecois. Why not take pre-emptive action?

Furthermore, we asked that the auditor general be invited to appear before the committee, but this did not happen. Imagine how beneficial his presence would have been for the members of the committee who basically want the bill to be as effective as possible. The auditor general could have given his views before the fact because he would have been able to examine the bill and knowledgeably anticipate potential obvious problems. Unfortunately this did not happen.

Worse yet, the bill ensures that the auditor general will never be allowed to comment on the foundation.

The answer to that will be that there is an internal auditor. I have been involved in company auditing. My mandate was to balance the books, to see whether money had been spent in the right place, if everything balanced, if everything was okay. This is fundamental, because without the praiseworthy objectives relating to the environment this foundation would not exist. Are the financial actions that will be carried out by this foundation really in line with its objectives, or do they have some other aim in mind, one I shall leave to our imagination?

Another point on which the auditor general might voice an opinion when he audits the foundation is its very pertinence, compared to what is in place elsewhere.

As I have said, Quebec already has a fund. The creation of this foundation is surprising, given that Quebec already has its $45 million Fonds d'action pour le développement durable. This foundation divides its budgetary envelope four ways. I will spare you the list, but I will point out that the first one is again subdivided into three areas of concern. One of these is atmospheric issues in connection with sustainable development.

Instead of creating a foundation such as this, the federal government ought to simply transfer the funds to provincial bodies, including the Quebec foundation, that are already active in the area set out by the issue table and possess excellent expertise in this area. This would make it possible for use of the funding to be tailored to the financial means and priorities of the provinces and of Quebec.

For all intents and purposes, this would be one of the auditor's mandates if he were able to audit the foundation. He could say that the best way of attaining the foundation's objective would, in a number of cases, be to hand the money over to the provinces, Quebec included, given their existing expertise and the fact that they are in some cases far better equipped in terms of human resources and potential technological resources for sustainable development. In Quebec this technology has already been showcased internationally in connection with sustainable development.

The auditor general could also offer an opinion on the concentration of powers. The foundation members are nearly all appointed by the governor in council. The bill provides that the governor in council on the recommendation of the minister will appoint seven of the 15 directors of the foundation. However, the other eight directors will be appointed by the directors who were appointed by the governor in council.

Finally, the chairperson and all the directors may be removed for cause by the governor in council. This type of appointment seems to be a twisted way to allow the federal government to oversee matters in a field that is the jurisdiction of the provinces, or Quebec, and to keep control over a body that is not accountable to parliament.

We can see the relevance of the work of the auditor general in evaluating the reason for the appointments and the ability and relevance of some directors who, for all intents and purposes, are appointed for life, unless the Prime Minister decides to remove some of them whom he may find unsuitable in certain instances.

In short, it would have been very relevant to have the auditor general testify before the Standing Committee on Human Resources, so that before the fait accompli he could speak on the fact that he was not invited to audit the foundation and the fact that there are innumerable problems. In some instances we are totally in the dark.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 8. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion No. 8 agreed to)

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The next question is on Motion No. 9. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The recorded division on Motion No. 9 stands deferred.

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division at the report stage of the bill.

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The chief government whip has asked that the vote be deferred until later this day at the end of government orders.

The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, an act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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4:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, when I concluded on this very issue a week or so ago, I was talking about the equalization formula as it applied to Alberta a number of years ago and, specifically, the revenues that were generated by resources in the ground.

There is some concern in Atlantic Canada that these are being clawed back to the tune of about 80%, which prohibits the growth of regional economies when the government is basically taking money away from equalization simply because we are making more money on our minerals, oil resources and natural gas. I took exception to that.

I concluded my remarks, just to remind the House and the viewing public, by stating that from 1957 to 1965 Alberta received equalization from Ottawa. The energy industry there was in its early years, just as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces, including Newfoundland are today. The major difference was at that time Alberta received 100 cents of every royalty dollar. Ottawa did not clawback the money through other programs like equalization which the government is doing today, which is patently unfair.

It allowed the Government of Alberta to build on success. That is the only way we will move the poorer provinces along the road to economic prosperity.

I wish to outline what equalization is supposed to do. The Constitution Act, 1982, commits the Government of Canada and the governments of the provinces to promote equal opportunities and economic development and to provide reasonably comparable levels of public service across the country with comparable levels of taxation. That is the basic principle behind equalization.

In addition to the clawback issue, which is a serious issue in terms of restricting the growth of poorer provinces, the government has what it calls a capping provision. It caps the benefits to the provinces or caps the growth in equalization payments. The cap was a sore point back in 1982 when the government brought it in. The cap creates a ceiling so that equalization payments are restricted from growing faster than the national economy.

That has been a bone of contention going back to 1982. It restricts the growth or the development of provinces when things are going well. It is a reverse attitude in terms of what is being attempted with equalization. The idea is more or less that they are poor, that they will stay poor, and that we will not do anything about it.

From an Atlantic Canada perspective, and I can speak with some authority to the other provinces as well, it is not any different in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, two provinces that are concerned about the equalization formula. I will stick to my notes because they are fairly technical and I do not want to be misinterpreted in what I am saying.

Imposing a ceiling or a cap on equalization payments interferes with the ability of the formula to equalize fiscal capacity to the level of the program's standard and further hampers the ability of the program to meet its constitutional commitment.

The government told us that it would lift the ceiling. It was announced by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance put out a press release on this very subject matter in terms of lifting the ceiling on equalization on March 15, and we appreciate that.

The lifting of the ceiling for one year only, which the government has done, will provide only a temporary solution to the problem. In order to allow the formula to work effectively the ceiling must be eliminated, not just for one year but in perpetuity.

The strength of the Canadian economy combined with the design of the current ceiling provision has put the ceiling in danger of being breached in the year 2000-01 and in future years. This would result in the federal government withholding future equalization transfers to compensate provinces even though these revenues would be needed in future years when economic growth may not be as strong.

In summary, it is an ad hoc approach to a problem. It has to be long term thinking on the part of the federal government if equalization and the strengthening of the economic position of the provinces are to be improved. It cannot be done on an ad hoc basis year by year. We could legitimately accuse the federal government of doing it on an ad hoc basis. It makes it up as it goes along but has no long term plan. It has the same approach on so many other issues. It is a trademark of the government. It works through the problem but does not plan for the future.

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5:05 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was glad to hear the member make reference to the importance of equalization payments to provinces such as Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, where I come from. I was glad to hear the tone of his comments.

We share the same view in a way, that our equalization system is probably the single greatest achievement of Canadian federalism. It does more to inspire the idea of a strong central government that moves forward together, instead of leaving certain pockets or certain segments of the country lagging or languishing in a lack of economic development.

The member limited his remarks to the ceiling that is being lifted by mutual agreement. The removal of the cap is something we all welcome. I have heard from ministers of finance of certain provinces who feel they have being misled somewhat. They feel that the arrangement being announced now, the removal of the cap and the reinstatement of the cap in one year. will be at a level lower than they thought they had agreed to on September 11, 2000.

Would the hon. member comment on that? Has he heard, as I have, from provincial finance ministers that what they thought they had agreed to on September 11 and what is being announced today are two different things and that there is a dissatisfaction with the announced arrangement?

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5:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, that is truly what has happened. The formula itself is very complicated. If there were three economists in the same room they would come out with at least five or six different points of view because they would disagree with themselves after examining the documents. What they sometimes agree to in a meeting with first ministers or finance ministers is not always the fact after the case has been examined. That has been obvious in some of these negotiations.

Manitoba, New Brunswick and all others provinces are getting less than what they thought they would be getting. They are being penalized for some economic revival within their respective provinces and that is wrong. We have to build on success, not discourage success, which is exactly what the formula does.

In my opening remarks a couple of weeks ago I talked about the difference between Canada and other nations. Canada is a very generous country. It is recognized as the best country by the United Nations. We developed that strength or recognition because of the generosity we have exhibited or have created over the years, a recognition that when areas of the country need help we help them. We have always done that.

We do not discount the government in that regard. Over the years the record was not too bad on equalization, but the fact is that they were falling far short of the mark as of 1993. Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau would be ashamed of what the Liberals are doing to the poorer provinces in this fiscal arrangement they have designed themselves.

We do not want to go back to the old days prior to equalization because it has always been sensitive. This is what we do and it has been the right thing to do. An example of a country gone off the rails in terms of a person either doing it himself or it does not get done would be the United States. They have poor states by definition, such as Maine, Mississippi and New Hampshire. Mississippi has problems with its educational and hospital standards.

Any country could benefit from a system like ours. We have to build on the strengths of that system. We cannot be meanspirited, as the federal government presently is, in terms of equalization. We have to build on our strengths and the generosity we have exhibited in Canada for generations. We can only build on that. We do not want to see it destroyed.

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5:10 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say a few words on the equalization bill before the House at report stage. It is actually a very brief bill. It removes the $10 billion cap for one year on equalization to the poorer provinces and allows the cap to go up by several hundred million dollars. However, after that one year, it restores the original cap of $10 billion and allows equalization to increase by the rate of the GDP.

There is some controversy in this regard. The understanding of some provincial governments was that the cap would be higher than it would be in future years but that it would go back to what the original cap was. That is not good enough because of all the government cutbacks to transfers to the provinces in 1995.

Equalization is perhaps one of the shining symbols of success of our federation. In 1980-81 I remember Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau deciding to patriate the constitution. One of the things that our party pushed for was to enshrine equalization into the constitution of the country.

It is very interesting that we are probably the only country in the world that has equalization payments as part of its constitution. Other countries have ways of trying to equalize the wealth and potential in their countries through various government programs. Canada is probably the only country that has it as a constitutional right for provinces having difficulty or that fall on very difficult economic times.

I was very proud when that happened. I was on the special joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons in 1980-81 as the NDP constitutional spokesperson. We talked a lot about the question of equalization and the need to have it enshrined in the constitution: to share the wealth, to be part of the vision that being Canadian meant those provinces that were better off and those people who were better off would share some of that wealth with the poorer provinces.

I come from Saskatchewan which usually is a recipient province in terms of equalization. There have been times when we have not been a recipient province of equalization. We will be once again in the position of not receiving equalization payments in terms of the economic potential of our province.

The formula is a very complex formula based on the taxing potential of each of the provinces. The reason my province is getting closer to not qualifying for equalization is the increasing revenues from oil and gas, potash and uranium that are coming in to the province.

As a person from Saskatchewan, if what happened a number of years ago happens again, I am proud of the fact that we would no longer receive equalization. I am equally proud of the fact that we would be participants in terms of the government as a whole in providing equalization to other provinces in an attempt to make sure that their services are equal to the services in Saskatchewan and other provinces.

One way the equalization formula is calculated is by looking at taxation potential. It is done by eliminating in the formula the four Atlantic provinces of Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and Alberta, which is the province that has the most potential to raise revenues because of the gas and oil industry. The other five provinces are used to average out the potential and the revenues they can collect in trying to bring the provinces that are not part of that five, excluding Alberta, up to a national standard.

National standards are also extremely important in terms of equalizing opportunities for education, health and social services. It is the Canadian way and the Canadian spirit that if we live in Newfoundland our opportunities should be as great as if we live in Alberta.

There is now a new trend in the country which disturbs me a bit. We have heard about it from Alliance members who have asked in debate why we should be paying all this equalization. We have heard complaints from the Alliance that it is a socialistic program. We have also seen as part of that tendency a move in the country in the last few years to greater decentralization, a lessening of the role of the federal government.

We see this in Alberta with Ralph Klein. We see it now in Ontario with Mike Harris. Of course we see it in spades in Quebec with the new premier, Bernard Landry. The provincial Liberal Party in British Columbia is talking about a looser federation. If that were to happen, we would have four large provinces talking about more provincial rights and we would have a looser federation and a weaker federal government.

I am a great believer in a diverse country with a lot of diversity and flexibility, but I am also a great believer in a strong federal government that has the resources and the taxation base to make sure we have national standards in education, in health and in social programs for each and every single Canadian. That is part of the Canadian way of life. We will be involved in a real debate in the next few years about the vision of federalism or fiscal federalism as we look at this new movement in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and the province of Quebec.

I am disappointed in Ontario in particular. Over the sweep of our history as a country Ontario has really led the way in terms of being a very staunch supporter of a strong central government in Ottawa. I think of the great contributions of Premier Robarts and Bill Davis and other Conservative premiers in that province. There has been a shift in Ontario in the last three or four years with Mike Harris and that shift coincides with what is happening in the province of Alberta.

This will be a great debate in the country. It will unfortunately pit the larger, more populous provinces against the smaller, weaker provinces in terms of population and economics. That is a debate we will all have to engage in. I think the Alliance Party, along with the Bloc Quebecois, will espouse that vision of a looser, more decentralized Canada.

I think there are still majorities in the House on the Liberal side, the New Democrat side and in the Conservative Party that want to make sure we maintain a very strong federal government to work on behalf of each and every Canadian. That is part of our way of life. That is part of this federation.

I can remember the great debates over the patriation of the constitution and the tremendous fights at that time about making sure that equalization was part of our constitution. We must have that balance in our federation. Too, I remember at the same time when the original package came down that there was nothing in it reinforcing resource revenues and resource rights for the provinces. The government House leader was in the Ontario legislature at the time, I think, but he of course remembers the stories, the struggles and the great divisions in the House among all political parties about the patriation of the constitution.

In our party we used what leverage we had to make sure the provinces did have rights guarantees in terms of resource revenue and natural resources, because we also believe that in a federation provinces must have strong and protected rights and a very strong role to play. At the same time we need to have a strong federal government which also has an extremely important role to play in the governing of Canada. That is part of the debate today and it will probably be part of the confederation debate for many years.

It reminds me of 1968 and 1978 and the election of Pierre Trudeau. Ed Broadbent said at the time that probably the most fundamental thing Trudeau did in his first term was to initiate a department of regional economic expansion, the old DREE department, in terms of more aid, assistance and development to many of the provinces like Quebec and Atlantic Canada, northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba. That is part of fiscal federalism.

We have seen some of those programs diminish over the last few years, so it is important that we talk about equalization, that we talk not about rolling back the cap to where it was a year or two ago but about increasing the cap.

The other point I will make is that in 1995 when the federal government decided on a lot of cutbacks because of the large problem in the debt and deficit area, it cut back radically on the transfers to the provinces. There were radical cuts. I know there are a lot of Liberals across the way that are embarrassed by that slash and burn policy of the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. I suppose some even hang their heads in shame. The government House leader is signalling that his head is in a noose on this one and he is probably right.

Never in our history have we have seen larger cutbacks by a federal government. In the fiscal sense the government across the way—and you, Mr. Speaker, were elected as a Liberal in northern Ontario—is the most conservative government in Canada's history. I am speaking here of conservative politics in terms of the massive cutbacks in government transfers to the provinces in education, health and social services.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Crippling cutbacks.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

They were crippling cutbacks, as my friend from Winnipeg says. They were major cutbacks. They hurt most not in Ontario and Alberta but in New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Manitoba, the poorer provinces of the country. The larger provinces with stronger economies could afford to put more of their own money into social services, education and health.

I will give the House the example of my own province of Saskatchewan, where there are slightly over one million people. In the early nineties it was staggering with tremendous debt and deficit. Saskatchewan had a deficit that was the largest in the country next to that of the province of Newfoundland. The deficit was run up by a premier named Grant Devine who was probably more right wing than many of the reformers who are in the House today.

Despite the huge debt and deficit, the Romanow government decided to backfill every single dollar into the health care budget that the federal government had cut out. That was extremely difficult for a province with a huge debt. Fortunately, Saskatchewan's economy was not doing too badly. The farm economy was relatively okay compared to now. However, the government had to introduce taxes right across the board. Income tax went up and the sales tax went up by 2%. A deficit repayment tax was implemented in the province.

Provincial officials did that to maintain services. Despite that, right across the board many rural hospitals had to be closed because of those tremendous cutbacks that hit Saskatchewan. I am sure the same was true in the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia where hospitals were also closed largely because of federal cutbacks to the EPF.

These items are all part of the debate. The government has done a tremendous amount of cutting which has really hurt the cause of co-operative federalism in Canada. It has really hurt the cause of having a strong central federal government whose purpose is to create equality of conditions. It has hurt the cause of the vision I believed in so strongly when I was in university. It is the vision of a Lester Pearson or a Tommy Douglas or a Bob Stanfield, the vision of a co-operative federalism.

Members may remember the vision of co-operative federalism of Douglas, Pearson and Stanfield back in the sixties and seventies. That vision was to make sure everybody was brought up rather than brought down. That was the vision of co-operative federalism, with sharing, flexibility, strong provinces and a lot of diversity. It was a vision with the uniqueness of Quebec, two languages and many cultures, but a strong central government.

We have been sliding away from that vision over the last number of years. The bill is another small example of that. Sure the cap goes up this year, but the cap will suddenly be gone and will go back to what it was for the years that lie ahead.

The economy is not as strong as it was a few months ago, but it will likely rebound starting in the last part of this year. With the fiscal surplus we have today, I appeal to the government to spend more of that money on programs like equalization and transfers to the provinces for education, health and social services so we invest in the human infrastructure of Canada and create a country with genuine equality of conditions regardless of whether one lives in Fogo Island, Newfoundland, downtown Edmonton or Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. That has to be the vision of our country.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, coming from Saint John, New Brunswick, I have watched what the government has done to the largest city in the province of New Brunswick and it tugs at my heart.

We had to close St. Joseph's Hospital in Saint John. It was our first hospital, the religious hospital. We had to close it because of the government. On top of that, schools have had to close. This is a city that is the second largest city in square mileage in Canada, 126 square miles.

We in Saint John were leaders of the way. We built the frigates for the military. Look at us today. We do not have a shipyard open. The shipyard has a lock and bolt on it. Look at our VIA Rail. We had rail passenger service until this Liberal government came to power. We no longer have rail passenger service, and a brand new train station had been built.

All of this comes from the economy. It comes down to transfer payments for education and social programs. The hon. member did not mention the homeless. However, I want to tell him that I had the homeless and their representatives in to see me just last week. Because of the cutbacks, we have people living on the streets. Never before did we have that, not until this Liberal government came into power.

I say we have to increase the equalization payments. We have to make everyone equal across this country. I ask the hon. member if he agrees with that.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do. The fundamental thing about being a social democrat is that one believes in the equality condition, in sharing, in co-operation, in fairness and in justice. One role for the government of the country is to be the instrument of public policy that tries to equalize conditions.

Of course the homeless situation is one of the consequences of the cutbacks in terms of transfers to the provinces in social programs, in housing and in education. I also think of social housing, which has had massive cutbacks in the last number of years.

There has been a real shift in the way the government has gone. If I can risk being political for a moment, I think the member for Saint John might agree with me that the Reform Party has had a tremendous impact on the government's agenda, driving it and dragging it by the nose, as my friend from Winnipeg said, into a very conservative position of slash, burn and cut back and damn the consequences.

Where is the old Liberal Party of Lester Pearson, Allan MacEachen, Walter Gordon, Pierre Trudeau, Jean Marchand and Gérard Pelletier? Where is that old Liberal Party that was progressive and innovative and tried to equalize conditions in this country? Now it is terrified of the Reform Party and the shadows of the Leader of the Opposition and his predecessor.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member. We talk about equalization and CHST payments, particularly in relation to health care and post-secondary education. One of the main resources we have in the country is our young people. As we see declining payments to the provinces, we see the costs of education becoming a greater burden to students and their families. In the areas where we have failures in the fishery and failures in relation to shipyards et cetera, the people cannot afford to pay for the education of the students.

What does the hon. member think about this lack of investment in our young people and where is this country going if we do not invest in our most precious resource?

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, one of the tragedies of the cutbacks in transfers to the provinces for health and education is that they have made education less accessible for our young people. The future is our young people. Power and prosperity in the future is based around knowledge and the knowledge economy and good education and training. We are really falling back.

Just today I was talking to somebody in the lobby of the House of Commons who said that tuition fees in American universities were $40,000 U.S. If we keep going down this road we will be heading in that direction. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, sitting in the chair, would not want to see that happen to our young people.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if the House would agree to take the recorded division on this particular item so that it could be referred to committee in an effort to advance the legislation.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there consent?

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

The House resumed from March 27 consideration of Bill C-8, an act to establish the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Financial Consumer Agency Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It being 5.30 p.m., pursuant to order made on Tuesday, March 27, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the report stage of Bill C-8.

Call in the members.

Before the taking of the vote:

Financial Consumer Agency Act
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The question is on Motion No. 1.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 1 lost.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make sure that my vote is recorded as having voted with my caucus. Perhaps just one other vote might defeat these Liberals, so I would appreciate that.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

I do not think the hon. member was in his place when the vote went along so his vote was not counted. Is there unanimous consent to include his vote?

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

The next time around we will accommodate the hon. member.

The next question is on Motion No. 8.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to apply the vote just taken on report stage Motion No. 1 to report stage Motion No. 14 before we proceed to Motion No. 8.

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Division No. 39
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on Motion No. 14, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 14 defeated.

The next question is on Motion No. 8. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think again you would find consent that the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as voting on this motion, with the Liberal members voting no.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance members present will vote no and I will add the member for Langley—Abbotsford to our list.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Quebecois will be voting no to this motion.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP who are present will be voting yes to this motion.

Division No. 47
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PC Party votes no to the motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 8, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 8 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 12.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent that the members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as voting on Motion No. 12, with the Liberal members voting no.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance members present will be voting no.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the members of the Bloc Quebecois will vote yes to this motion.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP will be voting yes to the motion.

Division No. 40
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PC Party votes no to the motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 12, which was negatived on the following division: )

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 12 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 13.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, you will find unanimous consent that those recorded as voting on the previous motion be recorded as voting on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this fashion?

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Alliance members present will be voting yes to the motion.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of the motion.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the members of the NDP present will be voting no to the motion.

Division No. 41
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the members of the PC Party vote yes to the motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 13, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 13 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 2.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent that those recorded as having voting on the previous motion be recorded as having voting on the motion now before the House, with Liberal members voting no, and the same vote applying to Motions Nos. 10, 11 and 3 to 7.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Alliance members present will be voting no.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members support this motion.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats present will be voting yes to this motion.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PC Party votes no.

Division No. 42
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I request that for Motion No. 2 only my vote be recorded as being in favour.

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 43
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 2 lost.

(The House divided on Motion No. 10, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motions Nos. 10, 3, 11 and 4 to 7 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 9.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you seek unanimous consent of the House that those who voted on the previous motions be recorded as voting on this motion with Liberal members voting no.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Alliance members present will be voting yes.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members will be voting yes to this motion.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats will be voting yes to this motion.

Division No. 52
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party votes no to the motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 9, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 9 lost.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find consent that those who voted on the previous motion be recorded as voting on the motion now before the House with Liberal members voting yes.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in this way?

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Alliance members present will be voting yes.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of this motion.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats will be voting no to this motion.

Division No. 44
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party votes yes to the motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 53
Government Orders

6:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-4, an act to establish a foundation to fund sustainable development technology, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the report stage of Bill C-4.

The question is on Motion No. 1. A vote on this motion also applies to Motion No. 6.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent in the House that members who voted on the previous motion be recorded as voting on the motion now under consideration, with Liberal members voting nay.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in such a fashion?

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Alliance members present will be voting no.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of the motion.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, members of the NDP vote no to this motion.

Canada Foundation For Sustainable Development Technology Act
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PC Party votes no to this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 1, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motion No. 1 lost. I therefore declare Motion No. 6 lost.

The next question is on Motion No. 10.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find unanimous consent that those who voted on the previous motion, with the exception of the member for Winnipeg South, be recorded as voting on this motion now before the House, and, in the same way, on Motions Nos. 3, 4 and 9, with Liberal members voting no.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian Alliance members present vote yes to this motion.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC

Mr. Speaker, Bloc Quebecois members are in favour of the motion.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats will be voting yes to the motion.

Division No. 54
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the PC Party votes yes to this motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 10, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare Motions Nos. 10, 3, 4 and 9 lost.

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in with a further amendment.

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent in the House that the vote on the previous motion be applied in reverse on the concurrence motion at report stage.

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to proceed in such a fashion?

Division No. 58
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 59
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

It being 6.20 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Education
Private Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should ask the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada to perform a feasibility study on the negotiation of a national standardization of education in Canada that may also be applied to recognize foreign academic credentials, degrees, diplomas and professional standing of new immigrants and Canadians in order to enhance the mobility of individuals between provinces and territories and contribute to economic, social and professional progress in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity for the House to debate my private member's Motion No. 232. My motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should ask the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada to perform a feasibility study on the negotiation of a national standardization of education in Canada that may also be applied to recognize foreign academic credentials, degrees, diplomas and professional standing of new immigrants and Canadians in order to enhance the mobility of individuals between provinces and territories and contribute to economic, social and professional progress in Canada.

Education is one of the most important issues on the minds of Canadians, yet is it not covered under the federal jurisdiction in Canada. Due to $22.5 million cuts in social transfer payments to the provinces by the Liberal government since 1993, health and education have been most critically hurt. The effect in quality of health care services is quite evident, but the effect in education services is serious yet latent.

While we suffer from the effect of brain drain, it is essential that we make the best use of brain gain. Enhancing the mobility of people by eliminating educational barriers and recognizing credentials of foreign expatriates could do it.

The motion would not lower Canadian standards in assessing foreign credentials, nor does it challenge provincial licensing bodies. Rather it would provide fair and transparent access to the professional job market and assessment process.

Imagine difficulties faced by new immigrants in settling. They have to deal with new housing, family care, schooling, the household, employment, and they have to adjust to a new environment. The problems are further complicated with inaccurate expectations by new immigrants, illegal work or practices in unregulated professions that cause risks to Canadians. It is also complicated by increased pressure to licence or certify people in human resource shortages.

I have been talking about this since I came to Canada and, like everyone else, experienced firsthand the red tape and bureaucratic nonsense in having my MBA recognized. There was no reason for that hassle.

I have talked the ears off of every possible person, including the cabinet ministers. Finally I saw the single sentence in the throne speech which addressed only part of the concern. I have raised this issue time and again at public gatherings.

I tabled a similar private member's motion, Motion No. 618 in the 36th parliament.

There is a need to make the system accessible and streamlined. There is a need for co-ordination of different levels of government, regulatory bodies, employers and community organizations. There is a need to reduce or eliminate those barriers.

If the House passes this motion, it would help in many ways. Canada would realize the best use of its labour force, professional skills, knowledge and ability to support its growing economy. Canadians would be treated more equally and some disparities between new and old Canadians would be bridged. The country's shortage of doctors, nurses and software engineers, for example, could be alleviated with increased global competition.

It would provide fair and transparent access to the professional job market and assessment process. Rather than allowing new immigrants and those migrating from province to province to be underemployed for too much of their lives, these people would be able to make immediate contributions to the community. This would give Canada a competitive advantage in the global market for meeting manpower needs and enhance the quality of human resources. It would help in the settlement and integration of new immigrants in our society. It would help to remove a burden from our social services.

I had six people in my constituency office who had Ph.D.s. They were underemployed and doing menial jobs. I remember one person in particular who had two doctorate degrees in environmental sciences, one from Germany and the other from India. He had over 20 years experience as a professor and a scientist. He had written 43 research papers in reputable international journals.

He attended promotional seminars by CIC/HRDC in India to lure professionals would like to come to Canada. He applied under the independent category. His degrees fetched him the required points and he was granted immigration very quickly. He resigned from his prestigious job as a professor and scientist. However, once he arrived in Canada he felt like he had been duped of his degrees which had been recognized by Immigration Canada but were not recognized by Canadian departments like HRDC, Agriculture Canada, Health Canada or Environment Canada.

He was almost going crazy while he pumped gas at a gas station to support his family. Imagine a person with double Ph.D.s working in a gas station.

Other frustrated professionals have also told me similar stories. Some were driving cabs, others were working clerical jobs or even janitorial jobs.

I am not talking about lowering standards. I am talking about common sense. Why would a degree in science not be recognized all over the world, for example an M.Sc. in computer science or math? Two plus two always remains four.

Wherever possible, arrangements should be made for upgrading degrees or letting the prospective immigrants know in advance of immigration to Canada of deficiencies in their degrees or courses required before their credentials would be accepted. My motion is aimed at pursuing the government on this matter.

Co-ordination with the provinces and territories and interprovincial co-ordination and standardization of education is also very important. The development of national standards in education is desperately needed, not only to allow easy mobility of people but also to co-op up with globalization and competitive international job market needs.

The chief commissioner of the B.C. human rights commission in a letter written to me said:

I agree that the whole process of recognizing the skills and qualifications of new immigrants needs to be reviewed from a nation-wide rather than piece-meal perspective and the resultant standards have to be consistently applied for the result to make a sensible difference.

The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, CCPE, recommended that the selection criteria for immigration of skilled workers be linked to an assessment of the Canadian equivalency of the applicant's education and a requirement to seek an assessment from an appropriate Canadian regulatory body rather than from one of the network of provincial credential agencies.

The provincial multicultural immigration minister cited the Association of Professional Engineers and Geo Scientists of B.C. for progressiveness and innovation and said its recognition of foreign credentials was another key reason for the profession's involvement in a pilot project to help foreign trained engineers.

At the same time the minister knows the pilot project does not lower Canada's standards in assessing foreign credentials to challenge provincial licensing bodies.

The membership of the Coalition of Regulatory-Related Agencies, CORRA, has said it has no role in managing Canada's supply of professionals. Indeed, CORRA is unanimous in its condemnation of measures that exclude individuals on the basis of measures other than qualification and ability. It says ignoring occupation as a factor in selecting immigrants may unintentionally shut off the flow of information to prospective immigrants regarding Canada's standards for professional certification, licensing and practice.

CORRA recommends that the government recognize the established expertise, experience and statutory authority of existing regulatory and licensing bodies to evaluate the professional qualifications and credentials of all who seek to be admitted into Canada's professions.

CORRA maintains that it wants immigrants with professional qualifications to settle successfully in Canada. As Canada's regulatory body, it looks forward to playing an important role.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada maintains that Canada has not yet developed a government-wide approach to international education. It says no clear government champion has yet emerged to move the issue forward. That is a very important point.

In the United States the Clinton administration issued a memorandum in support of an international educational strategy to attract more international students by addressing barriers to entry such as visa policies, procedures and regulations. Clearly our government should ensure that Canada is not left behind and does not suffer from advances made by the U.S. in this regard.

The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, commonly called CCPE, is looking for ways to streamline existing provincial and national credential assessment processes for foreign applicants.

In conclusion, the increasing mobility of the labour force and the need to make educational qualifications portable across provincial and international borders are factors contributing to a widespread concern about the procedures for assessing educational and occupational credentials.

We agree that provincial governments have jurisdiction over education. Post-secondary institutions are autonomous with respect to admissions criteria. Provinces also establish the regulations of some professional trades. Provincial institutions have the power to determine licensing and certification requirements, grant recognition of credentials, and set standards and qualifications.

Certain national associations have certification requirements as well. However the point is that these bodies follow separate procedures for assessing credentials in separate provinces. In Canada there is no central or national agency responsible for credential assessment. The portability and recognition of skills and credentials are issues being addressed on a global basis. The governments of European states are already introducing mechanisms to make it easier for professionals to move from one country to another.

The Canadian government should take this work seriously and assume leadership in this important area. It should keep up with the rest of the world so that we are not left behind.

This starting point includes the input of all concerned. It asks the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada, as my motion states, to perform a feasibility study on the negotiation of a national standardization of education in Canada that may also be applied to foreign academic credentials.

I urge all hon. members of the House to kindly look at the importance of the issue and to support the motion for the sake of this great country and its people. This is not a partisan issue.

Education
Private Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Laval West
Québec

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate.

The hon. member across the way is raising real concerns relating to the recognition of new immigrants credentials and feels their mobility within the Canadian labour market needs to be enhanced.

Our government shares those concerns and I must assure the hon. member that we are taking the matter very seriously. I am pleased, therefore, to have this opportunity to bring the hon. member up to speed on what we have done so far to remedy this sort of problem.

Let me begin by saying that the government clearly accepts the importance of facilitating the labour mobility of all Canadians in general and of easing the integration of new immigrants into Canada's labour market in particular. I remind the House of the words of the throne speech:

The government—will work in co-operation with the provinces and territories to secure better recognition of the foreign credentials of new Canadians and their more rapid integration into society.

I also note the words of the Prime Minister in his response to the Speech from the Throne. He urged provincial governments to work on their policies with respect to the recognition of foreign credentials of new Canadians.

I would like to add that in my home province of Quebec there is a component of the immigration department with the sole responsibility of assessing the credentials of new immigrants to Quebec and to Canada in order to determine Canadian equivalencies. This service is well known and sets an example for other similar departments across Canada.

Our government has been involved for some time in improving labour mobility in Canada. The goal of these efforts has been to ensure that any professional qualifications accepted in one province or territory will be accepted everywhere else. We want a labour market in which all Canadians, including new Canadians, can work and contribute to the development of Canadian society in the province or territory where they have chosen to live and work.

I assure the hon. member opposite that the government fully agrees that we must create new opportunities and increase the mobility of Canadians who have professional qualifications and diplomas, including credentials, so that they can travel and work freely anywhere in Canada. The fact is that we are already working hard to achieve these important objectives.

The Minister of Human Resources Development and her officials, as well as those of other relevant federal ministries, have been working for some time with their provincial and territorial counterparts and with professional regulatory bodies. Their goal is to ensure that any Canadian qualified to work in an occupation in one province or territory will have access to employment opportunities in any other Canadian province or territory.

Our goal is to allow any Canadian, including new Canadians who have skills and certification, to move and have their qualifications accepted throughout the country. I say to the House that the government has already gone beyond studying the matter as the motion proposes. We are already hard at work on moving ahead.

A major part of that work is done under the internal trade agreement among federal, provincial and territorial governments to remove barriers to interprovincial trade and ensure the free movement of goods, services, manpower and capital in Canada.

Chapter 7 of that agreement concerns manpower mobility. It deals with the fact that the professional credentials of many Canadians, particularly those whose profession or trade is regulated, are not recognized in the other provinces or territories because professional regulations vary from one province or territory to the next, and because it is sometimes difficult for an individual to have his or her qualifications recognized and to move from one province to another.

Under chapter 7 all parties to the agreement on internal trade, that is all provincial and territorial governments along with the federal government, are committed to working with regulatory bodies to eliminate these kinds of barriers to interprovincial mobility.

Now that we have the agreement in place we are making progress in using it to eliminate jurisdictional barriers to labour mobility within Canada. In fact, Canada's social union framework agreement set a deadline of July 1, 2001, for parties to be in compliance with the labour provisions of the agreement on internal trade.

We are co-operating with the provinces and territories through the forum of labour market ministers to ensure that the provisions included in Chapter 7 are implemented quickly.

I can assure the hon. member opposite that the government understands the legitimate concerns that he has raised. In fact the government is already working hard to appease these concerns.

The motion also provides that the government should ask the Council of Ministers of Education to perform a feasibility study on the negotiation of a national standardization of education in Canada.

On this part of the motion I simply remind the House that under our constitution education is a provincial responsibility. In my opinion it is unlikely that a federally initiated study on national standards of education, as the motion proposes, would be welcomed by the provinces or territories.

Moreover, while it is true that the Council of Ministers of Education has been formed to bring a co-ordinated national perspective to educational issues, it is equally true that the federal government holds no sway over that body. The council is made up of provincial and territorial representatives and has a secretariat in Toronto.

The Government of Canada is not officially part of that organization and cannot run its activities.

In summary, the government is already doing everything it can to deal with the concerns raised by the hon. member, and since I do not see the need for such a motion I cannot support it.

Education
Private Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is often said that what is clearly thought out is clearly expressed. I will say clearly that the Bloc Quebecois opposes the motion by the member for Surrey—Centre.

The motion concerns jurisdiction that, as the member for Laval West mentioned, is strictly provincial. It is of no concern to the federal government.

The simple fact of discussing in this House an area that is not a matter of federal jurisdiction would usually lead to the dismissal of this motion.

It is rather odd to see a party such as the Canadian Alliance, which claims to advocate decentralization, especially when it is in Quebec and is campaigning there or presenting its politics, come here and present such a motion before the House. This goes to show that unfortunately what is said is not always honoured.

I understand very well that the motion is not intended to give power as such to the government, but at the same time the wording of it implies an intent to give the federal government a role in an area that is absolutely not in its jurisdiction, which all governments of Quebec, regardless of their colour, political opinion or tendency, sovereignist or federalist, have defended tooth and nail.

It is important to note that the government of Quebec has always objected to the Council of Ministers of Education contributing in any way at all to unifying or standardizing education in Canada. This has been a constant for years, indeed decades.

This position is part of the Quebec government's perception of the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada, as simply a consultative body and nothing more.

By way of example, the government of Quebec did not take part in the consortium project of the Council of Ministers of Education intended to establish a common framework for the development of school curriculum in science. Likewise, it does not take part in the council's consortium on expectations of post-secondary education.

The motion of the member for Surrey—Centre has a number of aspects to it. It deals with the mobility of students linked to recognition of professional titles, the qualifications of new immigrants and Canadian citizens and of the worth of diplomas, if we can put it that way.

First, it is necessary to point out that the recognition of academic credentials and of the requirements for obtaining them comes under the authority not of Quebec's department of education but of the Office des professions et des ordres professionnels. Members will therefore agree that this makes the issue rather difficult to examine.

As for student mobility, the government of Quebec is more than favourable to this principle. Indeed it has made a substantial effort to improve it.

Furthermore, in 1995 Quebec's department of education reached an agreement with its Canadian colleagues with respect to a pan-Canadian protocol on the transferability of university credits. As members know, the purpose of this initiative was to encourage the recognition by post-secondary educational institutions of first and second year university courses taken in other institutions in Canada. This also includes the second year of pre-university college studies in Quebec, also known as CEGEP.

The Bloc Quebecois therefore finds it impossible to support the motion moved by the member for Surrey Central, essentially for the reasons having to do with federal interference in one of the key areas of provincial jurisdiction.

Similarly, in my view and that of the Bloc Quebecois, it is exceedingly regrettable that the member for Surrey Central is giving such strong thought to introducing pan-Canadian standards in this area of jurisdiction which in our opinion should reflect the reality of the various provinces, including the distinctive nature of the Quebec people.

Education
Private Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on such a very important subject. I commend the member for Surrey Central for bringing the matter to the attention of parliament and for proposing a constructive solution to a longstanding problem that has been festering in communities right across the country for many years.

This is an issue about fundamental rights and liberties and about how we view our immigration and refugee policies. I think the motion has been put forward in that context. It is not about jurisdiction or accumulating more power in terms of the federal government. It is a positive solution for co-ordinating efforts around this matter and ensuring a measure of co-operation.

We have a problem that all of us have had to deal with time and again in our respective constituencies.

Who among us has not experienced having to come face to face with an individual who is trained in a particular profession such as the medical profession, has a commitment to serve people in a particular area and has been denied totally the opportunity to practise, to give of one's talents in that area?

The member for Surrey Central is not exaggerating when he talks about individuals who are trained as doctors, nurses or engineers ending up having to eke out a living by driving a taxi or delivering pizza. That problem has been identified by all of us through our personal experiences. It is a problem that has been identified by reputable organizations that work in the field of immigration and refugee policy.

I would like to quote from the Caledon Institute May 2000 newsletter entitled “The new immigration act: more questions than answers”. The institute makes some very important observations. The first one states:

There are many examples of problems arising from short-sighted immigration policies. One of the most frustrating for many skilled immigrants now living in this country is the disconnect between the Canada presented to them while still overseas and the reality they face upon arrival. In trying to attract immigrants, Canada actively seeks people with higher education and who are qualified to practise particular trades and professions. Once these immigrants arrive, however, many discover that the very degrees and training that helped them qualify for immigration to Canada are nearly worthless in the labour market here. Doctors end up driving taxis, engineers delivering pizzas.

That is a very real problem that we deal with on a regular basis, and it is at the heart of the motion. It is about how we, as a country that has a tradition of welcoming people from around the world and encouraging people to settle here justify policies and practices that exclude people from practising their chosen career and engaging in a profession for which they have deep commitment and actual training and education.

The motion before us offers a way to co-ordinate efforts nationally to ensure that we address that problem. It is not about denying or not recognizing the fact that provinces have jurisdiction in terms of setting credentials and governing professions. It is about trying to pool our resources, our knowledge and expertise, and coming to grips with a very significant problem.

The federal government has time and time again said it has done all it can do. It has said it is primarily a provincial responsibility. It is not that simple.

The call today is for the federal government to take up the challenge and to offer some leadership on this front. A crying need has been identified by provincial governments to participate in such a process. Coming from the province of Manitoba where the problem is very much recognized, attempts have been made to review the whole system of recognition of foreign credentials. We would very much appreciate participating on a more collaborative basis with other provincial governments.

If we leave it as the government would have it with the provincial governments and offering very little federal leadership, we would not only do a great disservice to our proud tradition in terms of immigration and refugee policies, but we as a country would fail to address some critical shortages in many professions.

One cannot leave the debate without referencing the very significant shortages that exist now and are being projected for the future in terms of doctors and nurses. It would be remiss of us if we did not recognize the need to pool together our resources and our efforts to deal with that shortage.

It does not make any sense for us to operate as 13 separate entities raiding one another to acquire the necessary professions. It does not do anyone a service. It would make more sense if we collaborated and found one way to deal with the shortage that would include recognition of credentials acquired in other countries around which there seem to be many barriers.

If we do not do that we will not only continue a shortage in the health care field, which will have dire consequences for Canadians, but we will also fail to be competitive internationally in terms of immigration. As it is, we are already losing out in terms of a very competitive situation around the world for immigrants. We are not able to compete because we have policies like the one we are dealing with today which sends a signal to some countries that their citizens are not welcome and that their dreams and aspirations will not be attainable in Canada.

If we want to be competitive in terms of seeking and encouraging immigrants and refugees to come to the country, we have to do our part. One of the ways we can do that is by reviewing how we handle recognition of foreign credentials. Is there a bias in our system? Do we apply a double standard? Is there a failure to recognize that sometimes through additional training and education we can actually find a way for people to practise in their chosen profession?

We have not done a complete job. The suggestion today is a good one. Other countries have taken action and the member for Surrey Central has referenced activities in Europe. For the record, we met recently with a delegation from Denmark. That country has put in place a new institution for evaluation of foreign educational qualifications. That is a positive step because it recognized a problem and did something about it.

We have to do the same in our country. It is not good enough to say that we cannot because it is provincial jurisdiction. We have to avoid getting into the sort of jurisdictional dispute over something as fundamental as ensuring that the country continues to be a welcoming place for people from all over the world. That means we have to work very hard at improving recognition of foreign credentials. There is no other alternative.

However we also have to do other things. We are addressing some of these issues in the debate on Bill C-11 pertaining to immigration and refugee policies. We have to look at the whole issue of family reunification because we can be sure that if individuals come to our country and cannot work in their chosen profession immediately, it does not help the matter if they cannot even have family around them or participate fully in our society.

There are many other solutions to the problem. The contribution today is an important one and we should take it seriously. I offer my support in that regard.

Education
Private Members' Business

6:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, we too support the motion put forth by the member for Surrey Central. The Bloc spokesperson expressed the concern that we were intruding into provincial jurisdiction. We all know that education is a provincial responsibility. That does not mean the federal government should not have a major concern about what is happening in the country. The provinces know that very well because, after all, the federal government funds a tremendous amount of educational costs.

That is not to say we should intrude and interfere. The resolution is not saying that we should intrude and interfere. The resolution is asking the House to suggest to the Council of Canadian Ministers of Education that it initiate the feasibility study into standardization.

I stress standardization for the right reasons, so that within the country we have free movement and recognition of the certificates or degrees individuals hold. Years ago when we graduated from university we could pick any job at all within our own province. Then it got to the point where we moved to a neighbouring province. Now not only are we moving throughout the country, we are moving around the world.

What really inhibits this movement of educated people is the fact that many of these certificates or degrees we hold are questioned as we move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is bad enough when we move to another continent or another country, but when we move to a neighbouring province and our credentials are questioned, then there are some real concerns.

Canada's Council of Ministers of Education would be an excellent agency to have studying the feasibility of standardization, not only within the country but also as it relates to the standards of other educational institutions, universities, et cetera, around the world.

I was a member of that association for a four year period when I was Minister of Education in Newfoundland. I had the opportunity not only to attend all their meetings but to represent the association and the country at two world conferences, one in Geneva, the UNESCO conference, where we discussed Canada's educational programs in front of nations from all over the world.

I also represented the agency and the country at the meeting of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, of which Canada is an honorary member. This association has tentacles all over the world. The secretariat of that association is top-notch. The association is well aware of the standards of universities throughout the world. If, and I said if, there are universities turning out people who are not up to acceptable Canadian standards it is known beforehand. We should not have to wait months, or years in some cases, for clarification as to whether an MBA or Ph.D. or BA is acceptable and equivalent to what we would get in any of our Canadian universities.

The association has the power and the professionalism to be able to recommend a general standardization policy, which would certainly expedite, if not solve, some of the problems we face right now.

There is absolutely no need for a student coming out of Memorial University in Newfoundland to be questioned in British Columbia or vice versa. There is absolutely no need for a student coming out of McGill to be questioned by some other university. We should be well aware of the standards. In most cases that is not a problem. There is a fair amount of recognition of credits. However, we still have problems within the country. Some years ago it was a major problem. In my own case, I attended a couple of universities and had some trouble getting credits recognized from one to the other. It takes some time.

People who come into the country are facing a severe disadvantage. Professional people come to Canada, many of whom we seek out, many of whom we beg to come in, especially when we have shortages. I am thinking in particular of the medical field, of doctors, nurses and other professional people, where there is a major shortage. We beg them to come here and when they do we complicate their lives by saying we first have to check their credentials. It takes weeks and months and sometimes even longer to get clarification and acceptance.

I have been personally involved in a few cases where the professionals involved were completely and utterly frustrated. These people come to this new country which is supposed to be one that opens its arms and welcomes people from all over the world and treats them royally. In most cases we do and we are proud of that, but we also have a habit of over-complicating things, and this is certainly one area where we do that. Doctors have come to Canada, and to our province in particular, and have waited for months to get acceptance of their credentials.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

An hon. member

Sometimes years.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

The hon. member across the way says sometimes years and maybe he is correct. However, this is very unfortunate, in two ways. It is unfortunate for the professionals coming here and unfortunate for the people in the areas who are waiting for these professionals, especially medical professionals.

It is also unfortunate because, as I think the member from the NDP said, it gives the country a bad name in the sense of not being accommodating to professionals coming here.

I have absolutely no problem in supporting the suggestion, which is all it is, that the House ask the Council of Ministers of Education to look at doing a feasibility study into the standardization of education, not only as it applies to the movement from province to province but as it applies to professional people who come into the country. That is all the motion does. It is an extremely good motion. It is a timely motion. Our party certainly supports it.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rahim Jaffer Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will leave some time for my colleague from Surrey Central.

I will start by commending my colleague because, as other members have mentioned, this is a very important issue. Those who come to this country, whether they have been here for some time or are new to this country, are burdened with pressures in regard to what they thought they could do here and the reality of what they are faced with when it comes to dealing with this issue of credentials.

Unfortunately there are real consequences for people's lives. They have hopes and dreams that are dashed because of the result of false promises in regard to facing the immigration system prior to making plans to come here.

I want to touch on the issue very quickly. Like the Bloc mentioned earlier, I too am very committed to the issue of respecting provincial jurisdiction. I have been speaking about it in the House since I came here, but I also believe there are times when we have to bind together to some extent to deal with very real problems that the provinces in their jurisdictional roles cannot deal with on a larger scale. This is definitely one of them.

That is why I think it is so important to do what the member for Surrey Central has suggested, to go ahead with a feasibility study. It does not necessarily encroach on any provincial jurisdiction. It puts all the facts on the table about how we could solve the problems and give people the credentials they deserve when they come to the country so they could become productive in society, which I think is in the best interests of all Canadians.

I want to share with members just a couple of key examples of people in my riding who we dealt with over the course of the last number of years. One example in particular that comes to mind is the Aziz couple from Egypt. He is a civil engineer and she is a medical doctor. They had no problem obtaining the right to immigrate to Canada but when they arrived they found out the hard way that they could not get jobs. He was working as a security guard and she was working in a day care. They were very discouraged. They had been informed before they received their permanent visas that they would be able to find work here in Canada. It was such a waste of talent. These were two people who could have lived up to their potential in what they were trained to do but unfortunately had to take substandard jobs. Some of my colleagues have identified similar situations. We need to do something about it.

There are a few key things we need to focus on in engaging in this debate: improved response times for licence or certification applications from individuals educated abroad; better pre-immigration information systems; more transparent and accessible admissions information and processes; and methods of evaluation for individuals educated abroad that are fair, appropriate and equivalent to those required of applicants educated in Canada.

There is another case we need to talk about with respect to the issue of credentials. It is simply the way we can streamline the immigration system. This is definitely something that we can raise in this debate

There is no doubt that it gives us a chance not only to talk about standardizing the education and credential system in a way that is positive for all Canadians, but also how we can streamline the immigration process so that people coming to the country can get the visas they are hoping to get in a shorter period of time, that they can be processed in a way that is efficient, and that they are not left waiting for years upon years with nothing to do because they are not getting the proper documentation.

I was helping two other people in my riding, a couple from South Africa. Their names were Charl and Johanna du Toit. Charl was a computer expert who got a work permit to work for Saddle Systems, a computer company in my riding. They applied for landed status through the Canadian visa station in Buffalo.

They initiated the application in the spring of 1997. By April 1998 they still did not have their papers. The big problem was that Johanna was not allowed to work. It was driving her spouse crazy and they almost feared that she would have to go back to South Africa.

The problem of evaluating the credentials of foreign people coming to Canada with whatever degrees they may have not only causes stress when they have to deal with the waiting process, but in my experience I have seen that at times it also causes disunity in families.

There have also been cases of brothers, sisters and other family members waiting for their relatives who have already been accredited and come here to find meaningful work. Because of the problems they have once they come here, their family members are left lingering in their own countries wondering when they will get permission. They are left on waiting lists here for long periods before they can become meaningful parts of society.

I will leave one key point in the minds of all my colleagues. I know members from other parties have commended the member for Surrey Central on his initiative. It is important that we do something in this place to initiate a process so we can evaluate the credentials, foreign degrees, or whatever they might be, so that people can become productive parts of society.

If we do a study to enhance that idea and push it forward, I think all Canadians would be better for it. New Canadians coming to the country would feel especially welcome. This is something that all members of the House would like to see happen.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank all the members who participated in the debate, particularly the hon. member for Laval East; the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, my friend; the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre; the hon. member for St. John's West, the former education minister of Newfoundland; and my hon. colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona.

I also thank all other members who gave me moral support on the issue. I thank those numerous organizations and individuals that have contacted my office, written letters and extended their support for this motion.

Education is an important issue. It has been one of the top issues in national polls for quite some time. It is a non-partisan issue.

Unfortunately in Canada we allow brain drain, but when it comes to brain gain we are weak. We do not take advantage of talent and human resources. We do not let our human resources be productive the way they can be.

In fact I will go a step further. When new immigrants arrive here, their education and credentials are not recognized. It becomes torture for most immigrants to be underproductive or underemployed in their lives. It is a punishment for them to come to this country and remain underemployed.

When we look at the whole situation, it is a 911 call to address the issue. The House has the responsibility to address this issue even though some members mentioned that it is a provincial issue. We are not stepping on any provincial toes on the issue. I would not mind if, in due course, we made some constitutional changes to address this serious issue so that we could make better use of our human resources and develop our human capital. We may have to make some constitutional changes because of a changing world, changes in globalization and in the international development of standards, particularly in education.

We may have to do that one day, but today I am not stepping on any toes. I am simply asking the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to conduct a feasibility study for negotiating a national standardization of education and to recognize foreign degrees. We are not talking about lowering standards or about giving up anything. We are talking raising the standards.

The developed countries of the world are talking about international standards, whereas we do not even have national standards in education. The government has a confrontational strategy with the provinces, which is why we have the interprovincial trade barriers. This is the time to move forward. It is the time to have national standards. It is the time to eliminate those barriers which restrict our progress.

I have talked to many people on this issue. The intelligentsia, the think tanks, the regulatory bodies, the professional non-government organizations and academia all support the motion. The human rights commissioners even say that we should have national standards.

I will quote one of my friends who said “I am a proud Canadian, but it hurts me the most when my qualifications have different values or recognition in different provinces or different parts of the country.”

In sharing the responsibility dispute, we are losing the opportunity to make the best use of our human resources. I would urge all members of the House to help streamline and co-ordinate education and recognize degrees and credentials. In that spirit, I will ask the hon. members to give unanimous consent to make this motion votable.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to make the motion votable?

Education
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yes.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Education
Private Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. Since the motion has not been made a votable item, it is dropped from the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:15 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have to say how much I appreciate being allowed to speak in the House today, because the problem of social housing is especially important to me.

As we know, in the red book written for last November's election campaign the Liberal Party promised Canadian taxpayers the following:

A new Liberal government will work with our provincial partners to create the Affordable Rental Program (ARP), a cost-shared capital grants program to help stimulate the creation of more affordable rental housing, both private and non-profit. Under this initiative, we expect to see the construction of 60,000 to 120,000 new rental units over four years.

The government provided for an investment of $680 million in this program.

By including the notion of affordable housing rather than social housing the government is hinting at the worst case scenarios. We suspect the government of wanting primarily to finance private companies so they would build new housing not reserved for people in need.

We believe that the government's intentions are laudable, but its actions dubious. Social housing has been completely ignored since 1994. This is one of the main reasons for the disastrous state of social housing right now. Because it is not interested in the representations made by citizens, organizations and associations helping those who need adequate housing, the Liberal government is contributing to the rising poverty rate and to the helplessness of couples and single people for whom adequate housing is a real financial burden.

I wonder if the minister realizes that the proportion of tenant households that spend at least half their income on rent has increased by 43% in Canada. There are currently 833,000 people in that group. In Quebec the number has increased by 41% to reach 274,000.

A study was done by FRAPRU in preparation for the World March of Women. That study showed that poverty is a tragic social problem that is increasingly affecting women. In Quebec over one-quarter of tenant households in which a woman is the main wage earner spend more than half of their income on rent. It is extremely difficult for them to balance their budget, particularly if these women have young children.

On February 27, I asked the minister if he was going to change the commitments made during the election campaign to ensure that the federal government really does its share in the area of social housing, as it is being asked by women's groups.

First, the minister did not answer my question. Second, his reply was ambiguous. The minister talks about affordable housing, rental housing and housing for the needy, but I wonder if he knows what social housing is all about. I would appreciate an answer.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

Mississauga South
Ontario

Liberal

Paul Szabo Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, helps address the housing needs of all Canadians, including women. Let me highlight some of those initiatives.

In total, the Government of Canada currently spends approximately $1.9 billion annually to address the housing needs of low income Canadians. This includes ongoing support for some 640,000 lower income households that receive assistance to reduce their housing costs or improve their housing conditions. Many of the residents of this housing are women led in lone parent families and older women. As well, this funding is used to provide housing on reserves.

In December 1999, the Government of Canada announced $753 million for its strategy to address homelessness. As part of the strategy, CMHC will spend an additional $268 million on programs designed to repair, improve and expand the supply of housing for low income people, including those at risk of homelessness.

As well, an additional $43 million was allocated to the shelter enhancement program which provides emergency shelter for women and children and youth who are victims of violence.

In the last federal budget, a number of new housing measures were announced by the government. Affordable housing is an eligible investment under the $2.05 billion municipal infrastructure program, and the GST rebate was introduced for newly constructed programs.

There are a number of issues. I thank the member for her question and would like to reaffirm to her that the Government of Canada continues to work in the best interests of all Canadians to ensure affordable housing.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, on March 2 I questioned the government's ability to provide agriculture solutions for Canadian farmers, and that question remains unanswered.

Last week we learned that the government had no solution for short term farm aid when it refused to vote for additional funding. Over the years we have seen a lack of coherent agriculture policy, which has culminated in the AIDA program, a program that is complicated. It has taken accountants and AIDA employees many hours to put the program together and we still have a lack of ability to deal with the program and to understand it.

AIDA is a program that has been slow. People have waited up to 18 months for their payment. It is a program that has been inefficient. I had an accountant tell me that he thought the government was probably throwing the applications down a set of stairs and picking one or two out of the pile. That was as much sense as he could make out of the government's response to the applications.

AIDA has also been bureaucratic to the nth degree: new employees, revisiting files, combining files without consultation with producers, and demanding clawbacks from farmers up to 18 months later. AIDA has not been a long term solution for farm families.

I am also concerned that the government is not ready to deal with or provide a solution to another problem, and that is the threat of foot and mouth disease.

The Canadian Alliance has grave concerns about the government's ability to react. This is a viral disease that spreads rapidly and is highly contagious. It is a viral disease. We know it can survive and can be transported on clothing. It is deadly to the cattle industry wherever it has shown up. We must prevent the disease from coming to Canada. I would like to suggest some ways of doing that and suggest some things on which the government could improve.

We would like to see the government immediately initiate an education program. Travellers who are coming to and from Canada must have information about the disease. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and its employees need to have information on the disease. People who are working at airports need to understand the importance of dealing with it. The general public are calling us constantly and they also need to be educated.

Farmers and ranchers also need to be educated. They need to understand that they can be part of the solution by being careful as to who has access to their places and to their herds.

The former Texas agriculture commissioner, Jim Hightower, said at one time that “there ain't nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”. The government needs to get going. It cannot sit in the middle of the road on this issue.

There is also the inspection issue. Does the government have enough staff and field personnel in both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the customs agency to deal with the problem? The government must increase the number of personnel if they are needed. Do we have enough sniffer dogs? When we talk to field people, they say no. We saw a news report this afternoon with some vets who have been in Britain and they also say no.

The cost of ensuring that the disease is stamped out is far less than dealing with it once it gets here. Is the government ready to act effectively? It is important that it begin to move on this. It cannot blame the opposition. It needs to make the right responses. If it makes inadequate or wrong decisions on this matter, it will cost billions.

I am asking the government if it has a solution for young people trying to do the right thing. A number of school groups are cancelling their trips and are facing a loss of their deposits. I call on the government to treat these young people properly. What will it do to provide these young people with a solution to this problem?

Is the government prepared to provide a solution for families and for young people with regard to the foot and mouth disease crisis?

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington
Ontario

Liberal

Larry McCormick Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide some more information on the main estimates to my colleague from the great riding of Cypress Hills—Grasslands and a colleague who is a very valuable member of our all party Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.

I am new at being a parliamentary secretary, but it is very human that we would make some changes on the road. However, my colleague tabled his question and then things changed. However, I know my colleague is very interested in the main estimates because that is what he questioned the minister on.

As the minister has said on several occasions since the main estimates were tabled, the budget allocated to farm income has not been reduced for 2001-02. On the contrary, we have increased our funding commitments to farmers. Over the next three years we committed to inject up to $3.3 billion into farm safety net systems. As well, on March 1 the minister announced additional funding of $500 million, a half a billion dollars more, which brings the total federal commitment to $3.8 billion.

The year 2000 was a transition year. The 2000-01 main estimates of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada had to account for both AIDA and our new program CFIP. This was done in accordance with the Government of Canada's accounting practices which required departments to recognize liabilities in the year the decision was made to incur them. Since CFIP started in the 2000 tax year, the budget allocated to that year of the program was recorded in the 2000-2001 main estimates.

As I stated before, the Government of Canada is committed and remains committed to the farmers of this great country.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, my question earlier was for the minister in relation to a request from Quebec for an allocation of 6,000 metric tonnes of shrimp. I asked the minister at the time to reject the request in light of the implications. The answer I was given by the parliamentary secretary, who will undoubtedly re-answer my question this evening, was that they would look at it in light of their usual policies.

That scares me because when I asked the same minister a question last spring about whether or not he planned to give an allocation of shrimp to P.E.I., he gave me the same type of answer. The next day he gave an allocation of 1,500 metric tonnes to Prince Edward Island.

I have absolutely no problem with giving shrimp to Quebec if there were extra shrimp to give away. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us some of their power. I would not mind giving it shrimp if it gave us back some of our power.

In this case the beneficiaries of any resource, especially the fishery, should be those closest to it and that is the people adjacent to it. That is why we talk about the principle of adjacency.

In this case there are the fish plants. Let us forget about the buildings. There are workers in the riding that the parliamentary secretary represents who, since the collapse of the ground fishery in our province, have been existing on meagre resources. Shrimp could enhance their employment opportunities.

There are participants in the fishery already. The larger boats that involved and that started the shrimp fishery in our province, perhaps the most viable and profitable way of harvesting shrimp in certain areas, could certainly use more of the resource to make their efforts viable.

The 65 and under fleet will tell us it is not getting enough quotas to make it worthwhile gearing up to prosecute the fishery. We have a number of small plants throughout the province that, through the moratorium crisis, kept their doors open without one cent from government. They were the only ones who received no benefit from NCARP and TAGS. These private operators stayed, along with small co-operatives, and kept their operations going on their own backs. These people have been looking for quotas and have been rejected.

There are many needs around the province adjacent to the resource and if there are extra resources that is where they should go.

We know the shrimp stocks are supposedly in good shape. We know that next year or the year after there will be undoubtedly an increased quotas. If that is the case it should go to those who are already involved to make their operations viable, and then to the others who are adjacent to the resource and who will benefit more from it. If there is more above and beyond that then we have no problems with sharing. However we have to look after ourselves first, especially in light of what we have gone through in my province over the last few years.

I hope the member when he stands to answer the question will recognize that the minister has already made a commitment. The minister had made a commitment to the union, to the minister of fisheries in Newfoundland and to the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador that we will not see any new entrants into the industry until his present policy review has taken place.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Labrador
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has raised a question about requests from the province of Quebec for additional access to northern shrimp, particularly an allocation of 6,000 tonnes in this year's fishery. He raised his question against the backdrop of last year's debate over the decision to provide access to northern shrimp to fisheries interests from P.E.I.

The allocation of a valuable, abundant common property resource is always controversial. The issue is likely to be controversial again in 2001. However in making a decision for 2001 the minister will be guided, as he was last year, first by science and second by input from stakeholders.

The scientific advice last year for northern shrimp stock off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador was very clear. It indicated that the stock was in good shape with a very high and stable abundance of shrimp. This advice was considered by fisheries managers, industry stakeholders and provincial representatives at the annual northern shrimp advisory committee.

After careful consideration of all views and consistent with the scientific advice, the minister concluded that a quota of 3,000 tonnes was warranted. This enabled harvesters to take advantage of the high abundance while it was available. He also concluded that assignment of some of the increase to non-adjacent fisheries was warranted.

In conclusion, I say to the hon. member that the minister will await the recommendations of the report of an independent panel examining access criteria. That report is expected in June. As always, consideration for the well-being of the fishery resource, the need for a sustainable fishery and the principle of fairness and adjacency will be considered.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, at the end of February I asked a question in the House of Commons about the 1999 Marshall decision.

In the last week of February the federal government bought approximately four crab fishing boats in the area of the Acadian peninsula, which resulted in the layoff of dockhands working on these boats and threatened approximately some 35 jobs in fish processing plants for each boat sold.

On the day in question the Minister of the Environment replied:

Mr. Speaker, I am troubled by the hon. member's misunderstanding of the situation. The situation is very clearly a voluntary program where people have the right to sell something that they own to the government for the purposes that he described.

I think it would be most unfortunate if he wishes to give the impression that his party would prevent a voluntary sale by a willing seller to a willing buyer.

Such a response from a minister is incredible. If anyone has misunderstood, it is the Liberals across the way.

It is unacceptable to come to the Acadian peninsula to sort out a problem with the aboriginal peoples, because of the Marshall decision; to want to buy boats at prices of upward of $2 million; to lay off dockhands, with the result that plant employees are in danger of losing their jobs; and not to take that into consideration.

I spoke with a man who telephoned me one evening. He had already been holed up in his house for two days. He was crying like a baby because he had lost his job after 28 years of service for an employer, a fisher, a boat captain. The fellow did not know how to read or write. He told me that he was going to lose his house and his car, everything. That is the problem. The government did not take this into account when buying up crab fishing licences. It is unacceptable and inhuman.

The problems of one people cannot be settled by creating a problem for another people. That is not the way to do things. The result will be divisions between peoples, quarrels and battles. It will bring people into the streets. This is unacceptable.

I do not know whether the parliamentary secretary will give me a ready-made answer. I do not know what his response will be.

I am calling upon the government to shoulder its responsibilities for the good of the people in the region I represent, for the fishers and the plant workers.

Buying a boat or something else on a voluntary basis is acceptable, but when the government uses the taxpayers' money to make purchases like this one, putting people out, then I say the way it was done is unacceptable. No program was put in place to look after these families who are now suffering because of the federal government. This is unacceptable.

Once again, therefore, I call upon the government to assume its responsibilities. I wrote the minister of fisheries on February 28, and here we are at March 28 and still no answer.

In our area the people live in fear of what is going to happen, fear for their future. The newspapers reflect that fear every day. People are meeting but no solutions are being found.

I will close on this point. I am anxious to hear the parliamentary secretary's response. I am anxious to see what the Liberal government will have to say about the mess it has created in our area and the other mess it is in the process of stirring up between peoples, between the aboriginal people and the people of the Acadian peninsula.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

Labrador
Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Lawrence O'Brien Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the member has raised a question concerning licence requirements under the Marshall process.

As part of the response to the Marshall decision in the Supreme Court of Canada, the government entered into a fisheries access program on the recommendations of the standing committee and at the request of the fishing industry.

The program involves the voluntary retirement of existing commercial fishing licences and/or vessels and gear. The program facilitates the voluntary retirement of commercial licences and the issuance of licences to eligible aboriginal groups in a manner that does not add to the existing fishing effort on the resource.

The recently announced longer term Marshall process has as one of its components a continuation of the licence retirement program. The member has expressed concern over lost jobs for deckhands and fish plant workers who were displaced when licence holders retired their licences under the Marshall program.

The government is fully aware of these concerns. Unemployment is not just an economic issue. It also has very real emotional impacts for individual people and the communities they live in. The federal and provincial governments of Canada understand the implications of losing jobs.

I wish to say before my time expires that the important point is that in addition to working with other departments, particularly HRDC, the minister spoke to his counterpart in the New Brunswick government, the Hon. Paul Robichaud, on the issue of crab and lobster crew members displaced as a result of licence retirement under the Marshall program.

As a result, the federal-provincial committee on snow crab crew members has been established. The committee will meet for the first time on March 20.

Education
Adjournment Proceedings

7:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7.43 p.m.)