House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-19.

Topics

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister most of all will understand if I divert from my remarks to respond to the glancing reference by the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast to my glancing period as prime minister. That's it, John. The deal is off.

You will know, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister and I have had our disagreements. You also will know that in our most recent skirmishes, I won some debating points and he won another general election.

The Prime Minister knows that I think power has changed him, and we would disagree about that too. However what is beyond question is that he has proven himself tough enough, shrewd enough and able to win and hold that power, in his party and in his country, in a way that has very few parallels in our history.

Something else that is beyond question is his patriotism. I think the Prime Minister has been wrong on some fundamental questions about our country, and we have fought in the House, historic fights, but never for a moment have I doubted his passionate commitment to Canada.

That commitment is not abstract or intellectual. It comes, as the book says, straight from the heart. It is palpable and powerful and part of what has made him seem so real and so genuine to ordinary people across the country, and, unfortunately, so popular.

One of the reasons I welcome his retirement, just one of the reasons, is that I know his successor, whatever his strengths might prove to be, will never strike that personal chord with the people of this country.

A little more than a decade ago, the Prime Minister came with me to Yellowhead, when I had the privilege of representing that constituency here. For 20 years I had done everything I could to ensure that his party was unpopular there, and it was, but sadly, he was not. I watched the people of Drayton Valley treat this guy as though he was their next door neighbour, and I got him out of town just as soon as I could.

What is remarkable about the Prime Minister, at least before power changed him, is that he could have been the next door neighbour, anywhere in Canada. It is not just that he felt at home. Canadians feel at home with him, and that is a real and personal tribute.

In particular, I want to emphasize his commitment to two major issues that politicians tend to avoid. The first is the status of aboriginals in Canada; the second is Africa and its challenges. First let me say that, in my opinion, the Prime Minister has not always been right with regard to these issues, but we disagree on policies, not intentions.

He could easily not have focused on either issue, like most people; however, he decided to take an interest in these areas. I am among those who hope that he will continue to show leadership in this regard once he retires.

However challenging his public life has been, the Prime Minister was never in it alone. He has been often lucky in life, and most of all, in being married to Aline Chrétien.

Maryon Pearson, who was also married to a prime minister, once said something like, behind every great man there is a truly astonished woman. Maureen quotes that observation to me regularly, although she doesn't say “behind”.

Anyone who knows the Chrétiens can see that they have a strong and very loving marriage. This is the kind of people they are.

Aline Chrétien also leads a public life, and she has always been gracious, strong and courteous. She has done us proud. She did not choose to be in the public eye, unlike the rest of us, but she has embodied the noblest of values. For this, Canada owes her a great debt of gratitude.

The member for Saint-Maurice first came to this Parliament 40 years ago. Virtually nobody knew his name. I have had the same problem. It lasted longer than 20 years.

Even then some of his colleagues sensed his talents: his intuition, his ability to connect with people, his passion about issues that interested him. They gave him opportunities. He seized them. He always did.

This Prime Minister earned his way to high office. Time and again, he did the heavy lifting. Time and again, he took hard decisions which Canadians in the end supported.

Sometimes his opponents made victory easier than we should have, but that takes nothing away from the skill and toughness and determination the Prime Minister has always shown.

The tributes here today are to a man. But in a larger sense this is a Canadian story, a Canadian success story, about a democracy where ambition and ability and accomplishment can prevail.

On behalf of my colleagues, my party, my family, my country, I thank the Prime Minister for his service and wish him great success in years to come.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as the Prime Minister prepares to take his leave as leader of the Liberal Party and soon thereafter as Prime Minister, although we still do not know exactly when, I am pleased to be able to, on behalf of the NDP, congratulate him on his obviously very successful 40 year political career and to wish him and Madam Chrétien well in their post-parliamentary life, whenever that begins.

As one who has been in the House for 24 of those 40 years, I cannot share the view of the hon. member for Davenport that the Prime Minister is infallible, but I can say that he has always been a worthy and challenging opponent.

This is not to say that sometimes, particularly of late, as I have had the opportunity to ask him many questions here in the House, his talent for ambiguous and even incomprehensible non-answers has left me breathless in frustration.

Sometimes it has been hard to know where the right hon. member was going on an issue, but I know I speak for many Canadians when I say that he found his way to the right position when he decided that Canada would not participate in the war on Iraq. We hope that this significant act of Canadian independence in an era otherwise marked by an increasing loss of sovereignty will be an inspiration to other Liberals, and I do not have anybody particular in mind, as they navigate the new world order.

Indeed, as the Prime Minister neared the end of his career, we felt that sometimes he was secretly listening to the far off, not far out, beat of an NDP drummer. Who knows what he could have done if he had started this sooner? If he had been freed from the conservative influence of the member for LaSalle—Émard even earlier, we might have been able to have sold him a membership, provided he changed his mind on free trade, national missile defence, and the list goes on.

Like the PM, I will soon be working on my seventh prime minister, or being stonewalled by my seventh prime minister; it depends on how one looks at it. I will remember this Prime Minister, not so much as the street fighting Prime Minister but as the street fighting Minister of Justice who aggressively put forward the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and defended it against all comers, not always gently, not even always elegantly, but persuasively, with passion and with conviction.

I will also remember his insistence and determination about the need for the clarity act, a view not shared by all in my party, but it remains a fact that Canada is much less likely to be broken up as a result of an unclear question and an unclear majority.

In 1986 I had the opportunity of spending some time with the then future prime minister as part of a Canadian delegation to Greece and Cyprus.

We registered those trips, Mr. Speaker, with the clerk. At least I did. I had to, as I was a member. He had already resigned. It was shortly after the right hon. member left the House for a time.

I knew then, after that trip, that we had not seen the last of him. Just making money and playing golf was not going to cut it. Indeed, Don Johnston was also on that trip, another leadership contender of 1984. When we talked into the night about Liberal leadership politics, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the Liberal Party. It continues to be a subject that should not be visited without parental guidance or some other warning as to its content.

The Prime Minister's imminent departure marks the end of an era for the little guy from Shawinigan, a man proud of his roots and proud of his hometown of Shawinigan. He did a lot for his riding. There was an inn and a golf course.

He is also proud to be a Quebecer. However, knowing the Prime Minister as long as I have, he feels at home anywhere in Canada.

He is a true blue Canadian, who loves the Rockies, the beaches of New Brunswick, the wheat fields of the Prairies, the big cities of Toronto and Montreal, and the aboriginals of Canada's north.

The Prime Minister is entitled to a significant place in Canadian history, and that same history will ultimately be his judge, as is the case for all of us.

We wish him well and we issue a warning to all Canadian golfers: keep your eyes peeled for someone who says he once was the Prime Minister and do not get in his way if you value your neck.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of an important and distinguished Canadian, Mrs. Aline Chrétien.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

The Speaker

The order adopted by the House earlier today does not provide for a response from the Prime Minister, but I suspect the House will give unanimous consent.

The right hon. Prime Minister.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, after the tributes I have received from the member for Davenport, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, the member for Calgary Centre, and the member from the New Democratic Party, I am at a loss for words.

What I found most touching is that everyone mentioned my wife Aline. She has been by my side since 1963, through very difficult political battles and tense moments in this life, which we love so much but which is so fraught with pitfalls. I benefited from her incredibly good advice and very sound judgment on political situations and on people. I thank her for everything she has done for me, the party and the country.

Mr. Speaker, when I arrived here in 1963, as the leader of the Bloc Quebecois said, indeed I had some different views. However, when I came to the House of Commons and I met the representatives of all parts of Canada, some of my views changed.

As I said in a speech one day, I was, like many young Quebecers, a very proud Quebecer, a very proud French Canadian. When there was some crisis, for example the case of Marcel Chaput, I had a hell of an argument with some of my colleagues in Trois-Rivières after court. I socked it to you anglophones on that lunch; my friends, you do not know how much.

There was one friend of mine who had been studying previously in Ottawa and in New Brunswick. He said to me bluntly, “Jean, you are talking through your hat. You've never been out of la Mauricie. You've never been outside of Quebec, in the rest of Canada”, and he was right.

When I left that lunch, I was not happy. I was inclined to want to extend to him the Shawinigan handshake. After 5 miles, 10 miles, 15 miles on the way to Shawinigan, I began to say to myself that he might be right. A few months later I was a candidate for my party. I came here and learned what it was all about to be a Canadian.

Some of my views changed for the better. After 40 and a half years, I am still here. It is a great institution. We have very different points of view, but I know everybody is working on behalf of his or her constituents to make this country better, to make everybody's life better.

It is a coincidence that the member for Edmonton North, who just left the House, is quitting at the same time as I am. I remember when she arrived as the first member of the Reform Party. She was a very aggressive person who was really tough on me. I was sometimes a bit tough on her too, but I have great respect for her and I would like to wish her good luck.

I went to raise money for the member from West Vancouver, but I thought he would keep his money in B.C. and not come to Ottawa.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

An hon. member

That was the deal.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:45 p.m.

The Right Hon. Jean Chrétien

Yes, that was the deal. He is trying to make another deal, but the member for Calgary Centre is not in agreement with the deal. The member for Davenport said that one of the very important tasks of the leader of the government was to ensure that the opposition was extremely well divided. I think, collectively, we have been quite successful.

I disagreed with the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. This is indeed a fundamental question. There must be mutual respect. I have of course changed some of my views, but who has not over a lifetime? I have, however, always held the conviction that my pride in the French language and in my ancestry is the best way to preserve what is precious to me, to my family and to my neighbours. All of my ancestors were French speaking. I am a true blue, one hundred percent Quebecer, pure laine, au coton as we say. I have always held the fundamental belief that if the French fact has survived in America, it is because there was a Canada.

It is my own family history. My father spent his early years in the United States. He was involved in the battle to preserve the French language in his part of the country, where there were a great many francophones.

He was involved for 50 years in trips to Manchester as a member of the board of the Association canado-américaine, a fundamentally francophone association for the people of New England and of Canada. He saw that it was impossible in the other country to retain the French language, but that it was possible in Canada. That is why, when he came back to Canada with his family, he was such a proud Canadian. He showed us that the best solution for survival as a francophone was the Canadian solution.

In a democracy we respect everyone's opinion. I respect the opinions of those who do not share my beliefs. That is politics, after all.

I come now to my good friend from Calgary Centre. We have had a lot of nice little exchanges over the years between us. I remember one day when there was a convention for his party. I was chatting with him and I said, “You should run”. He said, “Why?” I said, “For a few reasons. One, you are from Alberta and you are a junior. If you do really well, you will become senior in Alberta. Second, you are a red Tory, so you speak like a Tory from Ontario but you are from Alberta. Third, you speak some French. And fourth, I am sure that if you do not run, you will not win”. I studied philosophy and I have found that.

So he ran, and we kept having a good time. He was the critic for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, along with the member at the time for Kingston. Imagine, he and the member for Kingston, Flora MacDonald, were the critics when I was the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. I used to call them the flora and the fauna, because he is a tiger, that guy. He served his country very well. We have disagreed on a lot of problems, but his commitment to Canada is great.

I am very pleased he mentioned some of the things that we shared, even if we are not from the same party and the same philosophy, such as the problems of the natives of Canada and the problems of the people in Africa. These are two problems that in many ways are not very good to win votes, but these are the types of preoccupations that members of Parliament need to have to make sure that the world will be better in the future than it was in the past. It is what this institution is all about, the exchange of ideas.

When I arrived here, there was another member of the NDP who welcomed me, Doug Fisher. He was almost as big as the member. He is the one who got me to move around the House. My seat was in the corner, quite far. In the discussion I said, “I do not like it here. I would like to be in the front eventually”. He said, “Young man, you have to work for that”. He said, “Get up in the morning, go to the committees, work hard and if you work hard, they will notice you”.

This is a great institution. This institution has changed somewhat because television is here, and we talk too much to the crowd that is listening rather than to each other. It used to be a great debating club here, where we talked to each other, not to the gallery. In that time members of the press were always there. They were not somewhere else. They do not even have notepads anymore. They had to watch us work, and it was the real place where there were great exchanges, where we debated more ideas than we do today because we talk too much outside rather than talk to each other to advance ideas.

In those days we did not have the right to have speaking notes. We had to speak our minds, in both official languages which was always a problem for me. I am the only one, besides Maurice Chevalier, who ever had to practise to keep the French accent in English.

I hope we will keep that in mind.

We have to respect each other. We try too much to attack the personalities and the so-called conflicts of interest and so on about everything and small things. I urge all members of Parliament not to fall into the trap that sells newspapers but destroys the institution.

We are elected from all parts of Canada, and we come and share. So many of you coming from the east, the west or the north, when you have spent a couple of years in the House, meeting other members, going to committees, discussing, having lunch with others, very often you make friends easier with the people on the other side because you see them. That is dangerous.

We learn a lot about the country. We learn because now members are travelling. They go outside the country and when they come back they all know that we are very, very, very privileged to be Canadians.

I will be forever grateful to the people of Saint-Maurice who voted for me when I was 29 and sent me here. I will be forever grateful to the people from Beauséjour too, who cut me a seat when I was out of the House.

I spent three great years with francophones outside Quebec and learned that the French fact does not exist only in Quebec. It is everywhere in Canada. I learned so much from those people.

Now it is time for me to move on. When I started out in politics, I told my wife that I would stay in politics for 10 years. Now it has been forty and one-half years, and her comment is, “You never put it in writing”. Under the French legal system, things have to be in writing.

I will sorely miss this House, these companions, these comrades, who are here to serve their constituents and to make this a better country.

I will have time to read more. Somebody gave me a book today about Gladstone. Gladstone came back when he was 86. So I say to all of you, watch me.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Peterson Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point order. I think you will find that there is unanimous consent for the following: That, notwithstanding any standing order, Bill S-21, an act to amalgamate the Canadian Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and The Canadian Association of Financial Planners under the name The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, be now called for second reading, and that the House do proceed to dispose of the bill at all stages, including committee of the whole.

I thank hon. members on all sides of the House for their excellent cooperation on this.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. member for Willowdale have the consent of the House to propose the motion?

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

An hon. member

No.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-19, an act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
Government Orders

November 6th, 2003 / 4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are 56 motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-19.

First Nations Fiscal and Statistical Management Act
Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

moved:

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 134.

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-19 be amended by deleting Clause 134.1. Debate arose on the motions in Group No. 1.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-19.

I want to preface my remarks by reflecting on the retirement of our Prime Minister and the numerous comments about his efforts to improve the life of first nations people throughout the course of his years. In the area of first nations governance and the treatment of first nations in Canada, we as a nation sadly are still failing.

The Prime Minister will leave the House on a note of grave sadness and with a demoralizing situation for first nations people with the introduction of the last number of bills on first nations issues, those being Bills C-7, C-19 and C-6. First nations in Canada have come out in an extremely strong voice. They are united in their opposition to these bills the government has put forward. Never in the time of my knowing first nations throughout the country have I seen such a unified voice in objection to what the government is doing.

I say to the Prime Minister as he is leaving, this will not be a high point of his career. This suite of legislation on fiscal management is not what the first nations want. They do not want to be told, “This is how you have to do it”.

If we as a Parliament firmly believe in the right of first nations to self-determination, just as I believe quite frankly that Quebec has a right to self-determination--and I do not want Quebec to separate but I believe that Quebec has a right to self-determination--I believe that the first nations in the country have a right to self-determination. They do not need legislation put forth by the Parliament of Canada to tell them what to do.

We are not living in a time when first nations people are being forced onto reservations and are being given no access to education or their children are being ripped away from their families. We are not in that situation any longer. Thank God, we are not there. There needs to be time for first nations to make the advancements that they want to make on their own, not by a dictate of the Government of Canada.

I say this representing over half the first nations of Manitoba in my riding and knowing that some would support some of the legislation. They would support the concept of the legislation but they do not want to be told by the Government of Canada that they have to do it and how they have to do it. That is the fault here. It is not that some of the systems are not right, not that they will not take on some of those systems and put them in place. What is at fault is that the Parliament of Canada is telling them they have to do it.

I can say that I am happy it will not be the opposition parties in the House doing that. I believe there has been a unified voice from the opposition parties opposed to the legislation. They recognize that the first nations do not want it.

I brought forward these amendments in the hope that somehow the government would see fit to abandon this agenda. There is going to be new leadership within the governing party. There is an indication that the legislation will not be pushed forward. I see no reason whatsoever to force it on first nations to just put them in their place. What this feels like is the heavy hand of government stomping on them saying, “You are going to do what I tell you once again. You are not going to have a choice”. That is not right.

I am glad I have been given the opportunity to speak to this issue. I am disappointed that a number of the motions were ruled out of order. I had got wind that it might happen and I sent a letter requesting some indication ahead of time as to what would happen. I am quite disappointed that a number of them were ruled out of order.

In dealing with the ones that are in place, I will certainly try to get my message out there. I want to read clause 134 into the record since a good number of people will not have an opportunity to see it. The government tends to think that because the Internet is available in Canada it somehow will be available to all first nations, but that is not the case. There are more pressing needs in first nations communities, such as houses, schools, water and sewage and decent economic opportunities.

As not everyone has ready access to the information, I will read clause 134. It states:

No civil proceedings lie against a commissioner or employee of the First Nations Tax Commission, or any director or employee of the First Nations Financial Management Board or First Nations Statistical Institute, for anything done, or omitted to be done, in the exercise or purported exercise in good faith of any power, or in the performance or purported performance in good faith of any duty, of that person in accordance with this Act.

My amendment would remove that clause. I am sure that as I read the clause everyone fully understood it but let us try to understand why it is in there.

The bottom line is that we have a piece of legislation that did not really take note of what first nations wanted. I am highlighting the fact that we have one clause in there which is somewhat convoluted and the everyday ordinary person hearing it would have no idea what it is in conjunction with the rest of the bill. The first nations throughout Canada have objected but nobody listened.

Since September, 400 letters have come in from first nations objecting to the bill and more come in on a regular basis. I have received e-mails from native student organizations throughout the country. The youth, the young people within the first nation communities, who will be the leaders in the future, are saying that it is not okay to introduce this legislation. They do not want it because it is not what is best for them. They want to make the decisions on the type of organizations they have in place.

What has also been extremely interesting to me over the course of the discussion on the bill is that somehow there is already a management or an administration in place on some of these institutions that we are talking about introducing. It is like having a vote to decide on whether or not we will have a particular business or program but we have already elected the people who will be the representatives. Some of these people, quite frankly, have been promoting the legislation as part of their organization for a fair bit of time.

It makes one wonder whether the dollars spent promoting the bills that first nations do not want, would have been better spent making it available to the first nations to put in place what they want, not promoting what the government wants.

It is like a strange ad campaign where we have, in my view, the bad guys promoting their bad legislation using dollars that should be going to the first nations to do what they want to do. It has just been a strange process and, certainly from my perspective and from what I have seen, a very demoralizing process for first nations people across Canada. It is demoralizing because they were active participants in committee meetings throughout the country. They made presentations and objected to numerous bits of legislation but they were totally ignored. Is it any wonder that first nations people do not feel they should vote? Apathy is the result. Why should they vote when nobody listens to them anyway?

I am saying today that the time has come for first nations people to be listened to. We should not be proceeding with any legislation whatsoever that does not have the support of first nations, not just individual first nation people but first nations as an individual body. First nations, such as the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Each first nation and their representative bodies, the AFN and the AMC in the case of Manitoba, and their provincial bodies have objected to the legislation.

I ask each and every member in the House how many Canadians would accept this happening to them without their acceptance and agreement? It is totally wrong.

I would hope, as the legislation progresses through the House, that parliamentarians will respect the wishes of first nations and vote down the legislation and show some respect for the first nations of Canada.