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

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, everything I said yesterday in the House was correct.

I would say to the member opposite, he should be aware that in the year 2001 changes to the Customs Act, which were fully debated in the House, made a provision for an administrative review where errors had been made in seizures so they could be dealt with without going through the long and cumbersome adjudication procedures. That applies for all cases, and that law, after full debate, was passed in the House in 2001.

I will say very clearly, if people abuse our programs, they lose it.

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week, the Standing Committee on Official Languages tabled its ninth report on the lack of access by minority linguistic communities to health care services in the language of their choice.

One of the committee's fourteen recommendations asks the Government of Canada to make this important issue the focus of the next federal-provincial-territorial conference. Is the minister favourable to this recommendation?

Official Languages
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague and all the members of the Standing Committee on Official Languages for this report. I will examine this report and the recommendations with interest.

Let me say that I am willing to include the issue of minority language access to health care services on the agenda for the next formal meeting of federal-provincial-territorial health ministers.

Health Canada will continue to work with minority language communities as well as the provinces to ensure enhanced access to health services for all Canadians.

The 2003 budget allocated over $89 million to improve access to health services and to health care professionals--

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

November 6th, 2003 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the 2003 recipients of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.

The recipients for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in the Performing Arts are: the hon. member for Kicking Horse Pass, also known as Dave Broadfoot, Douglas Campbell, Norman Jewison, Micheline Lanctôt and Ian Tyson.

The recipients of the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts are: Sandra Pitblado and Jim Pitblado.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I invite all hon. members to meet the recipients at a reception at 3:15 p.m. in Room 216-N.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader to indicate what business is scheduled for the rest of today and tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, all opposition parties have agreed to pass at all stages, Bill C-57, which is the enabling legislation to bring into effect the Westbank first nation self-government agreement of October 3, 2003 and the Westbank first nation constitution.

My party has also agreed, and we hope others will, to pass Bill C-56 at all stages. Bill C-56 amends the Patent Act and the Food and Drugs Act to facilitate access to pharmaceutical products, to address the public health problems affecting many developing nations, especially those resulting from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics.

Could the government House leader advise us whether we will put those through the House before we leave on Friday? With great anticipation, could he also tell the House what business we will be dealing with on November 17?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer all these questions.

This afternoon, the House will proceed to the report stage of Bill C-19, the first nations fiscal legislation. If this is completed in time, we will call Bill S-13, the census bill.

Tomorrow morning the business will be Bill C-51, the amendments to the Canada Elections Act. In the afternoon, pursuant to the offer made by the hon. member and others, we will proceed with Bill C-57, for our aboriginal community of Westbank, and hopefully will do all stages.

There have been discussions among House leaders. I understand that we could also, pursuant to the outcome of further negotiations, deal with Bill C-56.

We would then return to Bill C-52, the radiocommunication bill.

On our return from the remembrance week break, we will return to the unfinished business from this week. We will also commence report stage of such anticipated legislation as Bill C-38, the marijuana bill.

May I in conclusion thank all House leaders for the excellent cooperation they have given me throughout the last several years. Of course I will get to say that when we come back in November. I thank the right hon. Prime Minister as well.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

Given that we were pushing for Bill C-56 long before the Alliance ever knew there was a problem, we just want you to know that the NDP agrees to pass it at all stages right away.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

They are delighted, I am sure, to know that.

Pursuant to order adopted earlier this day, we now have statements. The hon. member for Davenport.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 35 years, it has been my good fortune and great honour to be part of this magnificent institution, our Parliament, and to make, in my own way, a contribution to public life.

For all that time, the hon. member for Saint-Maurice was also present, successfully taking on one important political function after another. The most important, of course, is that of being our Prime Minister for the last 10 years, and what a Prime Minister he has been.

Yes, what a Prime Minister he has been and what demonstration of political instincts he has displayed. He is a man of infallible political instincts who pressed forward with the clarity bill and ensured that any future referenda would be fair and understood by everyone. He is a man of infallible political instincts who knew how to keep the right divided and put the Bloc Quebecois on the ropes and on the brink of extinction. He is a man of infallible political instincts who understands Canadian values and who knows what Canadians want from their government.

He is a man of infallible political instincts on the world scene who recognized Canada's obligation to the global community in resolving the difficult problems posed by climate change by ratifying the Kyoto accord. He is a man of infallible political instincts in moving forward the G-8 agenda resulting in NEPAD, the new partnership for Africa's development, a true breakthrough for the African continent, in the improvement of the condition of people in the least developed countries, in an impressive global partnership, and in the program for the destruction of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. He is a man of infallible political instincts in the United Nations Security Council, in keeping Canada, in true Pearsonian tradition, loyal to multilateralism and the United Nations' approach on Iraq which, if it had prevailed, would have saved so many innocent lives and the lives of so many soldiers.

Finally, he is a man of infallible political instincts who could have led the Liberal Party of Canada to a fourth consecutive majority victory.

If the Liberal government shows up so well in public opinion polls, it is in large part due not to deficit elimination or debt reduction, but to the courageous and timely leadership given by the Prime Minister on so many issues over the past 10 years, including his recent stand during the Iraq crisis.

Major initiatives which can be traced back to the influence of the member from Shawinigan include the national child benefit, the millennium scholarship, the creation of 10 new national parks, the federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program, the endangered species legislation, the Romanow commission, and now the ratification of the United Nations law of the sea.

Appointments, much maligned by so many, also carry his imprint. For example, there is the recognition of 52% of Canada's population, women: the Governor General, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the leader of the government in the Senate, the lieutenant-governors in many provinces, our whip, the improved number of women candidates at election time in Parliament and in cabinet. There is also the unprecedented number of appointments of visible minorities and aboriginal Canadians.

One should also reach back to 1982 and the fact that 20 years later the member from Shawinigan is still pursuing the ideals of the charter through his reinstatement of the court challenges program, his commitment to legislation on same sex benefits and marriage, and his longstanding efforts to improve the quality of life of aboriginal Canadians.

Throughout his long and remarkable career in Canadian politics, he has never lost sight of the fact that the role of the state is to serve citizens, not corporations or special interests. He never lost sight of the essential Liberal values of tolerance and equality of opportunity.

Canadians have been well served by the Prime Minister and he is justly deserving of the high esteem in which they hold him. This esteem does not stop at the Canadian border. Among his many friends and supporters abroad is Nelson Mandela who, in praising Canada, referred to the Prime Minister by saying, “Whenever we have needed support, he has never been found wanting”.

What a Prime Minister. What a fine record. What a fine reputation for which Canadians can be proud.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to follow the member for Davenport whom I first met in 1972 when I came to the House. I could not help but notice when he was speaking the colour of our hair, and the Prime Minister still has a different colour. It must be the way he has treated us both.

Today we pay tribute to and salute a long and distinguished career in Canadian politics of the right hon. gentleman from Saint-Maurice. He has served Canada for nearly 40 years. In fact, it was in April we stood and recognized the 40th anniversary of his first election to the House.

All hon. members offer congratulations for a career spanning five decades.

We have disagreed vehemently many times over the issues and policies of the day but today we lay all that to rest when we thank him for his service to Canada.

We will recall that when he first came here he was the hon. member for Saint-Maurice--Laflèche. I am certain that the people of Saint-Maurice are grateful for his long years of service to his constituents. They will remember, when he was once questioned about federal grants and contracts in his riding, his response to the media. He said “What do you say after you say you're not sorry?”

Somehow I doubt if the little guy from Shawinigan ever regretted anything he ever did. That is not to be taken as criticism but simply recognition that he probably retired most evenings knowing that in the morning both his desk and his conscience would be clear.

We were colleagues on the opposite sides of this place back in the early 1970s and the contact we had in those years was renewed many years later.

In 1987 my friends and supporters organized a fundraising roast. The little guy from Shawinigan was the featured speaker. He could not be called little by that time because he drew a very broad audience that included Liberals. They would come to see and hear him even though it meant spending money that would go to some other political party.

That evening drew more than 1,200 paying guests and raised the largest amount of money of any political fundraiser to that time in British Columbia history.

His career has been a remarkable one. He has seen seven prime ministers come and Joe--

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

--and go during his time. In fact it can be said that he helped some of them go.

He has served under the following: Diefenbaker, Pearson, Trudeau, the right hon. gentleman from Calgary Centre, Turner, Mulroney and Campbell.

We are aware of his musing about staying on as a backbencher where all the power will reside when the ancient mariner takes the helm. We would strongly urge it because power is addictive. If he can enjoy as much power on the backbenches as he does now, he will not suffer withdrawal pains.

I am sure that the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard would welcome the thought of having the former Prime Minister sitting behind him and watching his back, and watching it closely, intently, day in and day out, and every day that the House is sitting, just as the member for LaSalle--Émard watched his back very closely, intently, day in and day out over the last 10 years.

If the right hon. gentleman did decide to stay on as an ordinary backbencher, he could assume the role of the conscience of his party. He could remind the House daily that the new Liberal leader has not yet brought the cod back to Newfoundland or raised the average family farm income to a quarter of a million dollars annually. He could ask the new Liberal leader to identify which streets in which cities he plans to pave with gold. He should be there to act as the conscience of his party and to remind the new leader that a promise made is a debt unpaid.

When the new leader falters, as he inevitably will, the little backbencher from Shawinigan would be close by, sitting here in the opposition benches ready to heed the call to return and save the party.

Seriously, we are here to recognize and pay tribute to the right hon. gentleman for his over 40 years of public service.

As I said earlier, he did not do it all on his own. He did not win his first election and subsequent elections all on his own. He had the loving support of a devoted partner and family.

We pay tribute to him but also to those who supported him throughout his political life. The Prime Minister has often paid tribute to Aline and we do as well for her contribution to Canada.

We have sharp differences of opinion in this place. Now, however, at this moment in time, we think it appropriate to offer our best wishes and thanks on behalf of all Canadians to the Prime Minister.

All political differences aside, he did his best and he did it straight from the heart. And he did it with Canada always foremost in his thoughts and his heart.

We have found little common ground in our political relationship but we find common ground on the other side of the curtains. It is our deep abiding love for Canada that is our common ground.

My own leader, who is in Toronto with the leader of the Conservative Party organizing a new party to beat the other guy, has written a personal letter to the Prime Minister, and I am told the letter will be made public in due course. I know my leader joins me and all caucus colleagues in wishing the Prime Minister a long and healthy retirement that will include many good golf days in the sunshine and even birdies on the bluebird days, when the swing is in synchronized rhythm.

Godspeed, good health and contented days ahead is our wish for him and his family.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, this is the first time since I became the leader of the Bloc Quebecois that I have had the opportunity to pay tribute to the Prime Minister, and I hope it will also be the last. I am afraid that the tributes paid to him today might make him change his mind and attempt a comeback.

More realistically, the Prime Minister has decided, with a little help, to retire after 40 years of political life, including 13 as the leader of his party and 10 as the Prime Minister. After all these years, even a sovereignist has to recognize his feistiness and his unwavering commitment to Canada.

In politics, we must respect our opponents and recognize their strengths. The Prime Minister has been a feisty and tenacious politician. He has been a formidable foe. With him, politics has never been boring. Between opponents, we must also be able to deal with issues openly, while being respectful of our opponent's views. That is what I shall do today.

Giving the impression that I agree with everything he has said and done would not only be denying who I am but also would be insulting to him. When he was first elected, it was on the platform of amending the Constitution, not among the 10 provinces but between two peoples, as he put it then. I think that he in actual fact, for 40 years he has done just the opposite, that is he tried to reduce Quebec's status to that of a province no different from the others. He did so unwaveringly.

Upon his arrival in Ottawa, he immediately chose Canada. Over the course of 40 years, he never wavered. Here is just one example of that. He considers the unilateral patriation of the Constitution as one of his greatest achievements. By contrast, the National Assembly sees it as isolating Quebec. What was viewed as a triumph in Canada has left deep scars in Quebec.

The Prime Minister never once wavered, and in that he will probably remain unequalled. After 40 years of effort, the Prime Minister is leaving, convinced that the issue of Quebec has been resolved. He is one of a long line of prophets who have announced the demise of the sovereignist movement. Like them, he is wrong.

I will tell him that he can count on us. The issue of Quebec will not be resolved until Quebec has become a sovereign country. In spite of our very fundamental disagreements, I must recognize the strength of the Prime Minister's Canadian beliefs. I wish him a pleasant retirement and a very happy life.

I want him to know that he will always be welcome in a sovereign Quebec, at home, in Shawinigan.