House of Commons Hansard #4 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

February 5th, 2004 / 3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in question period I asked a question of the President of the Treasury Board about an issue with respect to my riding. I was trying to do my job to correct an inequality situation. Today, just before question period, the President of the Treasury Board called me to try to explain his convoluted answer that he gave me yesterday. In the middle of the conversation, he slammed the phone down and hung up on me because I did not agree with his answer.

This is not helping me do my job. I wish the Speaker would instruct the President of the Treasury Board to not be rude and disrespectful to members and to call me and have a discussion about this issue, which is an equality issue with respect to all of Atlantic Canada. It certainly does not follow in the Prime Minister's new concept of democratic reform. I think an apology is due, and a phone call to restart this conversation. We will finish it and I will have my say, with not just him having his say.

Points of Order
Oral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I appreciate the hon. member's enthusiasm for having discussions with ministers about subjects of concern to his constituents. We all enjoy that opportunity. All of us do not get through to the President of the Treasury Board every time we try, I am sure, but we do often make that effort.

While I am sure the hon. member has a grievance, he must know that the Speaker does not control the actions of members outside the House. He could not have made the call from in here because that would have been contrary to the rules and so I am stuck.

The hon. member I am sure will have a chat with the President of the Treasury Board at his convenience and patch up relations to the extent necessary to enable him to discharge his duties as a member of Parliament for his constituency. I know that the President of the Treasury Board will be enthusiastic at the prospect of more discussions with the hon. member for Cumberland--Colchester.

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

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

When the House broke for question period, I believe the hon. member for Vancouver Island North had completed his remarks. It is now time for questions and comments on the speech given by the hon. member.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague who actually got into a subject and an issue that is very important. It has gone on for a decade or more. I am referring to the Virginia Fontaine Addictions Foundation and the corruption that has happened due to the misuse of dollars. I believe there are three different ministers who have been responsible for that file during the time period.

There are audits going back to that time period. There is obvious concern in the minister's office of what was actually happening. Then it went into a forensic audit where a number of charges have been laid.

Would my colleague comment on how far he believes the corruption has gone? I know he has looked at some of the documents. Could the member tell us how high the corruption has gone? Does he know who would be responsible and what ministers does he believe should be responsible for what was going on, if it got to that degree and if the knowledge went that high?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, in many situations such as this we now have a new minister. The new minister tries to sweep everything away. We have a former minister who is now an appointee and no longer a member of the government. We have the deputy minister who is now no longer the deputy minister. He has been appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada.

We have very clear evidence. The newspapers were writing in 2000 about how the federal government was taking its fight to court to audit spending at the centre. The government knew there were major problems in existence at that time. Yet we now have a further audit that demonstrates that even while it was doing that it was still flowing money to the foundation. The abuses were growing and not staying the same, not getting smaller. The abuses were getting bolder and bolder. The money that was being scammed was getting into larger and larger numbers.

All of that is a clear indicator to me that there is major corruption at work and is deep seated. It affects some elements of our bureaucracy. This suspicion was there in the early 1990s when I was in this portfolio and it is still there. It has not been fixed.

The signal the government is sending by not making anyone accountable unless they were actually caught with their hand in the cookie jar, on the take, is that we have a vested interest in preferring to bury these problems, more so than exposing them and cleaning up the accounts and the entire situation.

This is a sad story that the Canadian public deserves to know more about than they currently do.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must express some concern that the member seemed to be totally focusing--and that is a bit unfair because he did make some reference to the involvement of certain officials from the Department of Health--all of the blame, and again prejudging this case to some degree, on the aboriginal community and members of the first nations who were involved in the Fontaine centre.

He seemed to be downplaying and almost ignoring what appears to be some significant role in this scam, if that is in fact what it turns out to be, by federal officials at a fairly high level within the department. I am wondering if the member appreciates what he is doing in that regard.

Would the member agree with me that--not necessarily drawing a final conclusion because obviously this will result in some judicial decision making at some point--to characterize this as I think he has, is somewhat unfair when he points the finger entirely at the aboriginal community in not bringing in what appears to be some significant misdeeds by the public service?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is pretty selective hearing because I indeed plant this firmly at the feet of the federal government. It is the one that provided the funds. It is the one that was supposed to provide the checks and balances or ensure that it was there. It is the one that allowed corrupt federal officials to continue to operate with impugnity despite the fact there was an audit way back in 1997 that identified major problems. These people remained in place.

Certainly, there was an opportunity here for Perry Fontaine to do the most incredible things. If people were to read about it in Pulp Fiction , they would not believe it because the actions were so bold and so creative. The fact of the matter is that federal officials approved all of this because they were directly benefiting and that should never ever have happened.

There were all kinds of things done against Treasury Board guidelines, but nobody caught it because nobody chose to catch it. That is a sign that we have corruption within our federal bureaucracy. That is my main point. I do not think the member who asked me the question was really listening to me if he thought otherwise.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:10 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with the hon. member for Beaches—East York.

The government stated a clear vision for Canadians. This vision reflects how far our country has come over the past decade, while recognizing that a lot remains to be done to ensure that all Canadians from all walks of life and from all regions continue to enjoy prosperity, security and happiness.

Now that our basic macroeconomics parameters are firmly in place, the government feels that we should focus more on developing microeconomics, supporting small businesses, promoting entrepreneurship, building our research capability, reducing manpower shortages, strengthening our commercial infrastructure and developing our communities by investing in the social economy. In short, we must march forward and build a true economy for the 21st century.

As the Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, I want to take this opportunity to review a few initiatives that come under my portfolio and which are aimed at helping fulfill the government's vision.

First, I will look at what we are doing to create a positive business environment in Canada. We want to create a climate where the entrepreneurial spirit triumphs.

Second, I will focus on creating and using knowledge. Traditionally, we have talked about the importance of R and D, about investing in innovative ideas, but simply having good ideas is often not enough. We need to take knowledge and turn it into products and services that sell. In a 21st century economy, we should be talking about R and D and C, research and development but also commercialization.

Finally, I want to look at our country's single most important asset, our workforce, and the measures needed to nurture and sustain this critical competitive advantage.

By any objective criteria, the conditions for doing business in Canada are already favourable. Ask any entrepreneur and he or she will say that obstacles remain to efficient and effective commerce in our country. The Government of Canada has listened and is taking action.

In this context, we are creating a fiscal environment that is more beneficial to Canadian businesses. We continue to promote good governance, both in the public and private sectors. We also continue to look for ways to streamline our regulatory framework. We want to harmonize standards at the various levels of government and find ways to address the pressing concerns of businesses, such as the protection of privacy and intellectual property, and data security.

In order to achieve these objectives, we have created the external advisory committee on smart regulation. The creation of this committee shows the importance of this issue and is an important first step to meet the challenges that confront us. I should point out that the Prime Minister even appointed a parliamentary secretary responsible for monitoring the work of this external advisory committee on smart regulation.

Another area where we are concentrating efforts is removing barriers to internal trade and commerce in this country. This is surely an anachronism in an age where we are seeing national borders disappearing around the world in favour of regional cooperation.

I am pleased that the council of the federation has placed a special emphasis on issues such as internal trade, labour mobility, and harmonizing and streamlining regulations.

The Government of Canada is anxious to work with our provincial partners to improve our economic union. We need to continue to support programs aimed at small and medium sized entrepreneurs to give them the tools they need to compete effectively. This is particularly true for those individuals who are combining the entrepreneurial spirit with community consciousness. Men and women who look beyond the bottom line and recognize that giving back to the neighbourhood benefits us all.

We want to build a business climate that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship in this country; however, to succeed in the 21st century economy, we need to do more than just support traditional sectors. We need to identify and capitalize on new ideas and opportunities.

Some predict that we are on the brink of another industrial revolution, the era of nanotechnologies and biotechnologies. It must, however, also be the era of Canada.

This is why the Government of Canada has for the past few years been making major investments to renew its research base. We have invested in the universities and colleges, and other research institutes, and have encouraged the creation of centres of knowledge in communities everywhere across the country.

In fact, since 1997 the Government of Canada has invested more than $3 billion in research based in universities, colleges and institutes all over Canada, and this must continue.

It is not enough, however, to design and develop new technologies. We must get them out of the laboratories and commercialize them. We need to transform knowledge into products and services, thereby creating jobs and contributing to this country's progress.

In many respects, this will require a new way of thinking in our universities, colleges and research institutions. For too long the science faculties and the business schools have existed as two different worlds. We need to bridge the gap and bring our brightest young minds together with our most savvy entrepreneurs.

The government has already signed an agreement with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada under which it was agreed to double research by 2010 and triple the rate of commercialization.

The National Research Council administers a successful industrial research assistance program to help small and medium sized businesses in developing and using new innovative technologies and processes.

Bringing the various parties together is an important forward step. We also will be instituting mechanisms to facilitate access to risk capital at all the life stages of new businesses, from start-up to maturity.

This brings me to my final point. We can have the best regulatory regimes and business climates at the most sophisticated research facilities, but without the right people with the right skills, our country will not rise to achieve its full potential. That is why the government will be looking for ways to provide Canadian workers with greater opportunities to upgrade their skills, improve their literacy and learn on the job.

The government wants to put an emphasis on developing initiatives to support entrepreneurs and particularly new Canadians who wish to become involved in business. Addressing this issue will be a priority in the days ahead and I look forward to working closely on this file with my parliamentary secretary, the member for Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale.

We will also be looking for ways to capitalize on the greater mobility of skilled workers around the world. We want to brand Canada as the destination of choice for the world's best and brightest. I believe our country should be an easy sell. We have a quality of life that is second to none. But of course, there are obstacles to overcome.

First and foremost, from a business point of view, is the question of accreditation. At a time when we face shortages in nursing, engineering and management, we cannot afford to have qualified immigrants not using their skills to the fullest. We need a pan-Canadian approach to foreign credential recognition and I know that my colleagues are working closely with their provincial counterparts to find solutions to that problem.

The Speech from the Throne sets out the main thrust of a mandate that is both clear and visionary for the Government of Canada. It is a mandate aimed a promoting a more vigorous economy, safer and healthier communities, and a fairer and more equitable society in which all Canadians may realize their aspirations and share in the national prosperity.

The challenges that await us are far more than a single government can do on its own. When we refer to an economy for the 21st century what we need is to mobilize the nation, mobilize companies in the private sector of course, whether big or small, mobilize the provinces and territories, the municipalities and even the volunteer and community sector, along with all Canadians who want to see our country continue to be admired throughout the world.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the throne speech, especially as it clearly recognizes what I have been saying for some time now, that social policy and economic policy are one and the same.

The main focus of the throne speech, strengthening Canada's social foundations, recognizes that investing in things such as universal health care, education, child care, affordable housing, training and skills, and safe communities is good for society and for our economy as well.

For the earlier part of our mandate we focused more on eliminating the national deficit and lowering the debt. We have also cut both individual and corporate taxes. We have restored full indexation of the personal income tax system and reduced personal income tax by an average of 15% annually.

In more recent years we had begun to increase investment in children, skills training, research and innovation, the environment, health care, crime prevention, affordable housing and infrastructure, although in this case we have been investing since 1994, totalling $12 billion. Now we are making a commitment to strengthen our commitment to the social deficit.

I am pleased to see the government's commitment to see that every Canadian has timely access to quality care, regardless of income or geography. As the Prime Minister said, care delayed cannot become care denied.

The government is transferring $2 billion to the provinces as promised, but additional funding alone will not improve health care. I believe that we must follow through, together with the provinces and territories, with health care reform, such as reform of primary care and dealing with home care and long term care.

In my riding of Beaches—East York we have a great example of quality, accessible, timely and sustainable primary care delivery through a community health care centre. The doctors are paid a salary. There are nurse practitioners to help and nutritionists to address healthy living. The doctors are on call 24/7, which keeps most cases from the hospital emergency rooms.

The new Canada public health agency that will ensure Canada is linked both nationally and globally in a network for disease control and emergency response is also welcome. I believe it should deal with public health promotion and preventive care as well.

Also, there is the appointment of a new chief public health officer for Canada, who will undertake a much needed overhaul of federal health protection through a Canada health protection act. This is welcome news.

I was proud to vote in favour of the ratification of the Kyoto accord. I am pleased to see the Government of Canada make a clear commitment to respect its commitment to the Kyoto accord on climate change.

The cleaning up of contaminated sites the government is responsible for by spending $3.5 billion and helping to remediate contaminated sites such as the tar ponds are well overdue. I am glad to see that.

As well the government is committing to clean air and clean water and will work with the provinces to achieve more stringent national guidelines on air and water quality. It will also start incorporating key indicators on clean water, clean air, and emissions reductions into its decision making.

It was important for me to see that the government is making a commitment to safe communities. Our current crime prevention program has benefited many communities across Canada. In Beaches—East York this program is helping address the root causes of crime by contributing $97,744 under the community mobilization program. Neighbourhood Link and East York-East Toronto Family Resources are the agencies delivering the programs.

There is a new deal for our cities that targets the infrastructure needed to support quality of life and sustainable growth, a new deal that delivers reliable, predictable and long term funding. These are statements we have all been working to hear. I know that the residents of my riding and of Toronto are happy to finally hear them.

The government has appointed Mr. Harcourt to help work out long term financial agreements, such as the sharing of a portion of gas revenues or other fiscal mechanisms which achieve the same goals, with the provinces, cities and federal government. The government has made an immediate down payment by providing all municipalities with full relief from the portion of the GST they now pay.

Current investments in infrastructure, urban transit, affordable housing, clean water and good roads will see funds committed.

During the last 10 years I worked very hard toward the eradication of child poverty and to deal with the urgent need of early learning and care for children. The child benefit has been increased to provide $3,240 for the first child in 2007. This means an annual support of over $10 billion by 2007.

In 2000 the government signed a historic accord with the provinces on the early childhood development initiative and committed $2.2 billion to that effect. The Beaches—East York early learning program is receiving $500,000, most of which is coming from the $2.2 billion.

The 2003 budget committed an additional $935 million over the next five years to address quality child care. The government's continued commitment to early learning and care is indeed good news because this will mean more quality child care and better starts for all our children.

Education is fundamental to the quality of life of all our citizens. By this I do not just mean formal education such as college and university, although accessibility to post-secondary education is a must. I am pleased to see that the government is also committing to skills training and working in partnership with union and sector councils.

In Beaches--East York the Government of Canada funds the neighbourhood link employment centre, the Gateway Café which helps youth at risk, the job squad for young people, and summer employment programs. These are programs that I worked hard to bring to the riding and I will continue to ensure their funding.

I am also pleased to see that there is a real commitment to address the shameful way in which we have treated professional immigrants in this country, essentially marginalizing them to low paying jobs. Canada has the most highly skilled and educated taxi drivers and large numbers of doctors are being wasted even while there is a shortage of doctors. We made promises here before and I intend to hold the government's feet to the fire on the commitment in the Speech from the Throne to address the problem of foreign credentials.

Finally, I am pleased that the government has recognized the importance of the characteristic that most reflects who and what we are to ourselves and to the world, and that is our culture. Canada's artists and cultural organizations, including our multicultural arts, make us a distinct society and we must support and nurture it. Public broadcasting is fundamental to maintaining Canada's cultural sovereignty. I will continue to ensure that the government continues to provide sustainable funding.

This, I must say, is the Speech from the Throne that I have been waiting for.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would be impossible to list in just 10 minutes all the concerns that have been raised by the Speech from the Throne.

But in the next 10 minutes—and I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Laurentides—I would like to concentrate my remarks on three subjects: health, government ethics and aboriginal affairs.

In the throne speech, the government has not mentioned any plan for additional funding for the future, nor any stability in the transfer payments to Quebec and the provinces for health financing. And yet health is the highest priority, not only in Quebec but in Canada as well.

The Minister of Finance, echoing the Prime Minister who said it through the throne speech, has repeatedly told us that public finances are tight. He can only honour a two-year-old promise that a one-time payment of $2 billion would be transferred—a promise his predecessor made. But for the rest, the public purse is too strained and he will not be able to free up any money.

This Prime Minister, once the minister of finance, still has the same tendency to hide the true picture of public finances from the people. This year there will be a surplus of at least $6 or $7 billion. The minister is going to great lengths to show us that it will be difficult, that there may be only $2 or $3 billion, but there will be $6 or $7 billion, and my estimate is conservative.

He already has $6 or $7 billion he could use to plan an additional transfer to the provinces to fulfil one of the recommendations in the report by Mr. Romanow, who is not a sovereignist, namely, that the federal government ought to increase its contribution from 16% to 25% of health costs.

The second suggestion we could make to the Minister of Finance is one he knows well, because he designed these measures. The large number of foundations he created while he was finance minister are completely ineffective. These foundations are still holding $7 billion. Why does the federal government not take back the billions of dollars lying dormant in those foundations in order to do something about people's real priorities, which are health and education?

Education was neglected, due to the systematic cuts initiated by the former finance minister, now Prime Minister. He is responsible for the health care crisis. He is also responsible for the precarious situation in education, because he slashed transfer payments to these two essential services.

Let us talk about ethics. The Minister of Finance repeated it following the throne speech: they want to redo or examine the tax system to see if it could be made more equitable, ensure equal treatment for all, and eliminate any tax loopholes. It is a disgrace.

It is disgraceful that this is what the government wants to do when we are now faced with the situation created by the former finance minister, now Prime Minister, with regard to a bill he introduced himself for the first time in 1996, Bill C-69, and a second time, through his parliamentary secretary in 1998. This bill, Bill C-28, granted Canada Steamship Lines International, headquartered in Barbados, undue benefits in terms of tax treatments and also protection from legal proceedings, for example, if it were in violation of environmental standards or minimum workings standards.

The throne speech refers to ethics, and we have before us a Prime Minister who himself initiated highly questionable legislation that is in his own interests and the interests of his company, to the tune of $100 million per year.

When I let the cat out of the bag in 1998, everyone was skeptical, so much so that, at one point, we wondered about the contents of Bill C-28. However, on verification, following numerous analyses, after getting outside experts to look at these analyses and debating with the former finance minister and the former prime minister, who protected him because he was unable to defend himself—he was unable to defend the indefensible—we realized that Bill C-28 was totally unacceptable.

It was almost like helping himself to the public purse, since the $100 million he has not paid in tax over the past five years is being paid by others. By those earning minimum wage. Families are suffering because of him. These families pay tax, but he does not.

Today, he is trying to defend the indefensible.

As for the ethics issue, I was listening to Mr. Jean Lapierre, who just joined the Liberal Party of Canada and said that the Bloc Quebecois was outdated. However, if the Bloc Quebecois is outdated, on the ethics level, the Liberal Party is in an advanced state of decomposition. This new Prime Minister has solved nothing.

Let us take the example of Gagliano, of the sponsorship contracts. He had promised that there would be a more serious inquiry. He did not mention this at all in the Speech from the Throne. Yet, this is a very serious issue. It is the very integrity of the government that is in question. And he, as the successor in this Liberal government, should be concerned about this. But he is not.

I think that the Prime Minister is missing a great opportunity to correct the ethics situation. And if he does not have the political will to do so, it means that he thinks ethics is not an important value.

We see this in the actions on Bill C-28. We also see this in the nonsense uttered by his Minister of Finance, who says that Bill C-28 did not affect CSL, while even the vice-president of CSL told us that changes were made since 1995 to international holdings, to comply with changes made to the Canadian Income Tax Act. And it was at the same time that this act was being framed, that the current Prime Minister, the then Minister of Finance, was framing the act.

Consequently, these changes were made especially for CSL International, to ensure that the current Prime Minister, the former finance minister and ship owner could save $100 million in taxes. These changes were also made so that he would be protected against Canadian environmental laws if he caused disasters with his ships in international waters. Moreover, these changes were made so that he could be protected against Canadian laws on minimal labour standards. Indeed, he hires Filipino workers for $10 a day.

If CSL International were not now deemed a foreign company because of Bill C-28, which he introduced in this House himself, he would be charged for his antisocial acts. He may claim to work for the less fortunate in society, but he is exploiting people through CSL International. Filipino workers paid $10 a day for working in atrocious conditions is not exactly helping the less fortunate. Do as I say, not as I do. My colleague from Laurier—Sainte-Marie, the Leader of the Bloc Quebecois, was right.

My third point concerns aboriginals. They must be sick of hearing in every Speech from the Throne how aboriginal children have health and substance abuse problems and how aboriginals have problems with governance, yet nothing is ever done to resolve the aboriginal issue. They must be sick of being studies in anthropology.

Indeed, they are fed up. While the Minister of Finance was part of cabinet, while he dithers about speeding up negotiations for self-government, aboriginal nations are dying. Aboriginal children are committing suicide. Aboriginal children have multiple addictions. Entire communities are living in conditions that are reprehensible for a country that is supposed to be one of the most advanced in the world. There is a limit on using aboriginals to make the throne speech look good.

Do you know how long it has been since the Erasmus-Dussault report was tabled? Almost 7 years. Contrary to the recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, there has been no acceleration in negotiations to make aboriginal communities independent, to respect their inherent right to self-government, to give them the tools they need to take charge of their own development, bearing in mind the fact that they are nations within the United Nations definition.

Seven years have been wasted with this government and time will continue to be wasted. The events at Kanesatake should be a wake-up call. To go to aboriginal communities and see the incredible poverty, unemployment rates of 80%, young aboriginals with no hope for the future; is this not a breeding ground for organized crime? That is what is happening.

As for events such as those that occurred at Kanesatake in 1990 and recently, there are hundreds of communities in danger of facing the same fate because the government is not thinking about speeding up negotiations for self-government and not thinking about resolving this issue once and for all.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Mario Laframboise Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, actually, I would like the hon. member to comment on the latest crisis at Kanesatake.

A chief, James Gabriel, decided to tighten up discipline in his territory, and he asked for assistance from the other first nations communities in Quebec. We saw how the situation turned out. We saw the Government of Quebec intervene and the terrible handling of the situation. The chief lost almost all his credibility as a result of the Quebec government's interventions.

Still, we did not see any intervention by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, although it is very familiar with the relations among the first nations. That is the hard reality of the throne speech. Many words are written but when the time comes to make decisions, the federal government is absent.

Many documents can be written about it. That is not a problem. When there is a crisis like the one at Kanesatake, what action should the federal government have taken? That is what I am asking the hon. member.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The federal government has indeed had nothing to say for over a week in connection with Kanesatake, although it is the prime fiduciary of Indians according to the old Indian Act.

What is worse is that it was there when James Gabriel and a large portion of the band council asked for help from the federal government to fight organized crime. Let no one say these are just suppositions. The Hells Angels are there and are trafficking in drugs and cigarettes, and in weapons as well. That has been going on since 1990.

Mr. Gabriel was given the help. In a document awarding the $900,000 to him to help fight organized crime, there was an acknowledgment of the urgency of action, the presence of organized crime, and the extraordinary nature of the situation at Kanesatake. Once he was given the money things took a turn for the worse and the government washed its hands of any responsibility, turned its back and walked out the door. That is how the federal government acted.

This is a totally irresponsible way of acting, particularly when the Government of Quebec, Mr. Chagnon in particular, had acted in a totallyresponsible manner, undermining the credibility of duly elected Grand Chief James Gabriel, saying he was the one who had made mistakes. It is easy to accuse others when such things happen. Negotiating with people associated with crime, and likely connected to those who torched Grand Chief Gabriel's house, is a serious matter.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:40 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to briefly raise with my hon. colleague from Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot the issue of ethics, but mostly of Bill C-69, which later became Bill C-28.

This is a matter of concern to me, because the throne speech mentions fairness, transparency, greater involvement for members of Parliament, and so on. Since the hon. member used to be the finance critic for our party, I would like him to confirm the following.

If memory serves me well, shipping companies were mentioned in an omnibus bill which was introduced, I believe, during the Easter break or something like that. And that is what they call transparency and fairness.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his question. Indeed, that bill was introduced twice.

The first time, in 1996, the finance minister introduced Bill C-69. The provision concerning international shipping was found at the very end of the 485 page bill, which died on the order paper when an election was called.

He tried again in 1998. He had his own parliamentary secretary introduce the same omnibus bill that contained, again at the very end, the same minor provision of about 20 lines or so. I thought he showed then a total lack of transparency in a premeditated way. In 1996, he had himself introduced this provision for the first time in Bill C-69. If he does not know what he is putting forward, that is a whole other issue.