House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was riding.


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.


Morris Bodnar Liberal Saskatoon—Dundurn, SK

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the comments of the hon. member, I come from the province of Saskatchewan where people cherish their independence very much and certainly do not appreciate the interference of government at most stages, including taxation, but I will not get into that.

Since most deaths occur in Canada on highways and not from the use of firearms, and many injuries in this country result not from the use of firearms but from the use of knives, are we not placing the wrong emphasis on further trying to control firearms? Are there not diminishing returns where further legislation will not result in further reduction of crime by the use of firearms?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

At the beginning of his speech, the hon. member said no new taxes were to be expected. I was not talking about taxes. I was talking about permits, the purchase of permits and the fact that we always seem to be in favour of user fees. Currently, we simply allow people to buy guns. Right now, all you have to do is get a $50 firearm certificate valid for five years and you can buy an unlimited number of firearms. It is a little much to ask of those who eventually have to pay for the people who want to buy firearms.

All those permits, the permits to carry a gun or to own a gun, all of those firearm permits are free, except for the restricted firearm certificate. All the others are free.

Why could firearm owners not pay for those permits, and I mean pay a fair price for them, not just a token amount of $50 for five years? That is totally ridiculous.

The hon. member voiced another reservation concerning the fact that more people die of injuries caused by knives or cutting and stabbing weapons that by guns and firearms. I would like to see the statistics on that, because that is not what we heard in committee.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the comment of the hon. member for Saint-Hubert on the ease with which an FAC can be obtained under the new legislation.

The problem I have to deal with the most in my constituency and the greatest single source of complaints I am getting is in the difficulty and the delay in getting FACs under this new act. I get more on that than I do on UIC, on income tax, on just about everything else put together. It is taking, believe it or not, up to five months to get an FAC which is supposed to be available in 28 days. When these people phone the authorities concerned, they simply say that there is a backlog and they cannot do it.

The other problem which is going to arise very soon is this question of the tests that have to be taken to determine whether or not one is suitable to have an FAC.

Most people in my part of the country own firearms, or have owned firearms from the time they were about 12 years old and they are quite expert and experienced in their handling and use. Yet anyone of those people will now have to go to some bureaucrat who probably knows less about firearms than they do and take a government sponsored course which will cost them a few hundred dollars before they will be able to get a new FAC. This is absurd.

When anyone tells me that this new law is working well, I have to from my experience take a lot of issue with that.

The other thing I would like to mention perhaps is more philosophical. The hon. member does have a certain mindset which is very common in this country, particularly in urban areas, with respect to the restriction of owning firearms by common citizens.

I spent many years of my life in Third World countries. This is basically the way it is done in the Third World. The only people who own firearms or who can easily get permission to own firearms are criminals and agents of the state and it sometimes is difficult to distinguish between them, but that is the way it is.

I would rather live in freedom in a country in which we do not have big brother looking over our shoulders at every respect than to live in one of those peaceful paradises that I have in which the ordinary citizen really does not have the right to that most basic of all human rights: to own arms to defend himself and his family.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Maybe you should move to east Los Angeles.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague certainly has a well-developed sense of humour, but I would like to tell you about the famous 28-day waiting period.

In Quebec now, applications are mostly processed on time. Since the hon. member is from Saskatchewan, I think he should put pressure in that area. In my province, anyway, it is going very well.

As for the firearms handling certificate, in Quebec, we have a hunter's certificate. To go hunting, you need that certificate, which is good for two years. So that is a difference between Saskatchewan and our province, because it seems to me that they do not need a hunting certificate, since as he said, people have gone hunting for years without ever taking a course on handling firearms. In our province, you must take a course on handling firearms to obtain the certificate.

In closing, I wanted to say that there may be big differences between his province and ours in the way the laws are applied, unfortunately.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, first allow me to echo the sentiments of my colleagues who have risen before me in this House and congratulate you on your appointment.

This new government faces a great number of daunting tasks, not the least of which is how to give Canadians a reason to believe in the dedication, perseverance and sound ethical judgment of their elected leaders.

Each of us was sent to this House because our constituents believe that we are the men and women most firmly committed to their concerns, their needs and their demands. However, we are more than our individual selves and we are more than our collective individual voices. We were elected to represent in this Parliament the collective voice of our constituents reconciling their competing and at times conflicting visions with the others.

The aim of Canada's House of Commons is not to serve the selfish and parochial interests of any one person or province to the detriment of others. It is to advance the well-being and prosperity of the whole country and therefore of all Canadians.

We were elected on this side of the House to fulfil the Liberal vision which was clearly articulated in our election platform, the red book "Creating Opportunity".

Everyday in my riding of Winnipeg North I talk with honest, hard working people eager to put their faith in hard working and honest politicians. For five solid years, from 1988 when I was first elected until last fall's election, I had fear.

I had a fear that 1.6 million Canadians, the unemployed in this country would remain jobless. I had a fear that the poor, particularly children, would continue to depend on social assistance. I had a fear that the sick, the elderly and all Canadians for that matter would continue to face the consequence of a threatened medicare system and the uncertainty that goes with it. I had a fear that the minorities, be it due to race, colour or creed and the disabled would continue to face unfair treatment and discrimination in the workplace.

I had a fear that the infrastructure of cities and municipalities would continue to decay without help from the federal government. I had a fear that the safety and security of persons and property would continue to be in peril. I had a fear that honesty and integrity in government would never be restored. I had a fear that Canada would close its doors to immigrants.

Last but not least I had a fear that Canada my adopted country and home to some 27 million Canadians was on the brink of national collapse. However, I had always hoped that my fears would not come to pass.

Now I am certain that there is much hope for this great nation. I have hope because this government has already taken significant strides to enhance its integrity by rejecting many of the unessential privileges parliamentarians had exercised for so many years during their tenures as public servants.

I have hope because each political party represented in this House has already voiced its commitment to seeking consultation from the public on a wide range of issues of great national importance.

I have hope because the finance minister has already made good on this commitment by talking to people across the country in an effort to formulate a federal budget that is both sensible and sensitive. I am confident that the minister will continue in the short number of days remaining before budget day to consult with all Canadians from all walks of life.

We must never let ourselves forget that each time we make fiscal decisions here in Ottawa we may be affecting the wallets and pocketbooks and the day to day budgets of individual citizens in ridings like yours and mine.

I have hope because this government promptly cancelled the questionable deal that was to lead to the privatization of portions of Toronto's Pearson airport.

I have hope because this government does not believe in allowing its leader to jet around in a $53 million VIP aircraft or a Porsche while many Canadians scramble to make both ends meet.

I have hope because this government has already put its infrastructure program into motion.

The moves we have made in the short time that has elapsed since the Liberals came to government have given me great hope. However, what assures me that we are on the road to recovery are our plans for the immediate future. It is our policies, ideals and blueprints for the years to come.

I am assured because we are committed to helping and supporting small and medium sized businesses that will create long term jobs in the country. I am assured because our plan to get youth working again will be realistic because we will be creating the youth corps service and national apprenticeship program. I am assured because this is a government that understands the importance of investing in people.

All Canadians use their work to varying degrees to define who they are. When they are not working their self esteem suffers, their relationships suffer and their dignity suffers.

I am assured that our health care system is now to remain as universal and free for all. I am assured because the speech from the throne reaffirmed our commitment and the plan to have a national forum on health care is underway. In fact, the plan to establish a centre of excellence for women's health and a prenatal program across the country is underway.

It was not long ago that in a moment of great anger I stood up in this House on behalf of one of my constituents and questioned whether the previous government had any heart at all. Today I am proud to stand before you. I am assured that this is a government with plenty of heart.

We are speaking for the first time in a long time the language of those we represent. In short our ideals are backed by plausible and realistic means of implementation.

We are also keenly aware that it is self-defeating to focus only on any one issue before us. The issue of the economy, social policies and the environment and many more are all interrelated and interdependent.

Mr. Speaker, I know you share with me the desire to see this Parliament mark a turning point in our great nation's history. I began by indicating the daunting task we all know the government has to face.

I mentioned the fears that plagued me during my first five years as a member of this House. Given those fears how is it possible for me to feel the hope and assurance I now feel after just a short period of time in government?

I have seen what we have accomplished so far. I know that we will follow through on our promises and thereby resolve the fears of Canadians. Give them jobs, reform and stabilize our institutions and in the end control the deficit.

Citizens will continue to demonstrate the kind of support that sent 177 Liberals to this House in October 1993. I hope that the people of Winnipeg North and Canadians everywhere sense that great changes are afoot.

The next four years will reveal a new kind of government, a new kind of leadership and a new Canada that is united, strong and prosperous and working for all Canadians today and preparing Canada for the 21st century.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is my first opportunity to speak in this House. I represent the riding of Chambly which, for those of you who do not know, is located on Montreal's south shore, between Mont Saint-Bruno and Mont Beloeil, along the Richelieu River, which flows from Lake Champlain into the St. Lawrence River.

I was listening to my colleague from Winnipeg North and, of course, his speech was in the best tradition of his party. I also realize that my hon. colleague was, it seems, almost traumatized by the previous Parliament in which he had the pleasure of serving as a member of the opposition.

When the hon. member for Winnipeg North talks about a new Canada, as a Quebecer I would like to ask him to clarify for me certain paragraph in the speech from the throne, and I quote:

The Government will work vigorously to fulfil its responsibilities to ensure that federalism meets the needs of Canadians, recognizing that all Canadians share in the responsibility for making Canada work. It will be the policy of the Government to seek to clarify the federal government's responsibilities in relation to those of other orders of government, to eliminate overlap and duplication, and to find better ways to provide services so that they represent the best value for taxpayers' dollars and respond to the real needs of people.

If this paragraph had been read to me outside this House, I could have easily believed, and with good reason, that it was written by the leader of my party. But since it comes from the government party, it is obviously a summary of their red book. My question to the hon. member is this: How can he reconcile his vision of Canada which he described earlier with his party's vision of a renewed Canada?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to respond to the hon. member's questions for which I thank the hon. member.

Certainly my vision of Canada that I just articulated is the very vision that we as Liberals have developed as we travelled around the country. We would like a Canada that exists for all Canadians irrespective of geography, race, colour or origin. Whether Canadians have been born in this country or whether they come from across the seas or across the oceans, we are all equal and ought to receive the benefits of our nation and

federalism would respond to the needs of Canadians. For that we must have federal institutions.

Institutions do not mean only buildings. Institutions refer to programs that we have in this country. Let me mention national medicare. That is the type of institution I see and the Liberals see that will continue to respond to all Canadians irrespective of geography and with no user fees to make it very specific.

There is the question of how we can avoid overlapping. This government has already announced its plan to eliminate trade barriers that in a sense also allow for duplication. We have plans to eliminate duplication so that small and medium sized businesses can thrive and thrive prosperously.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, may I begin by adding my voice to those of many others who have spoken to congratulate you upon your appointment as Speaker. May I observe that in the few days you have presided it is already evident through your leadership in the House that members will better achieve the objective we all share which is a forum of civility and decorum acting in the public interest.

I feel enormously proud to take my place in this Chamber as the representative of Etobicoke Centre. The riding I represent is a diverse and a vital one whose needs and strengths reflect to a great degree those of Canada in these challenging times. During the election campaign, as was the case with so many of my colleagues, I had the opportunity to visit over 30,000 doorways in Etobicoke Centre and among other things I learned first hand the extent to which Canadians everywhere feel strongly about the important justice issues of our day. For me it is a great privilege to be in this Chamber not only as the member of Parliament for my constituents but also as their representative in cabinet dealing with justice issues.

It has been said that justice is the first of the social virtues. In its absence all else seems contrived. When the scales are in balance the way is open for the best in our nature to emerge.

As Minister of Justice of Canada, I am fully aware of my duty to initiate the development of policies and proposals to strengthen our justice system, which without the shadow of a doubt is one of the best, most flexible and fairest in the world.

Canadians have a system of justice that is bilingual and drawn from two different legal systems; the international community considers it to be a model of tolerance, integrity and openness. Although two distinct legal systems are developing, at the same time, they serve to advance a single idea in Canada, the primacy of law.

During these past 10 weeks I have worked with members of the department of justice and my colleagues to identify the immediate priorities for this portfolio at this time.

I wish to take this opportunity to outline for the House at least in general terms the priorities which we see as the most urgent.

In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to meet with members of the parties opposite, or at least some of them, to discuss their perspectives with respect to justice matters. I have found that they have valuable perspectives, that I look forward to working with them and that we have really common objectives in the public service so far as justice issues are concerned. That will ensure that Canada has the best and most effective system of justice possible. I respect their perspectives and, as I say, I look forward to working with them.

The justice agenda I will describe today falls generally into three categories: first, measures to deal with violence and initiatives to prevent crime; second, proposals to ensure the law promotes equality in the diversity of today's Canada and provides for equal access to justice; and third, steps to modernize our laws so they reflect current values and meet the challenge of changing times.

Let me acknowledge at the outset that which must be evident. It will be impossible for us to achieve meaningful progress on any justice issues without collaboration with our provincial and territorial counterparts. So much that is on our agenda involves shared jurisdictions. It needs co-operative collaboration. We cannot succeed alone and I acknowledge that at the outset. I will work with my provincial counterparts in addressing the objectives which I will describe today.

Let me first deal with measures dealing with violence and initiatives to prevent crime. The speech from the throne contained a commitment to enhance community safety and crime prevention. Canadians are determined to preserve the peaceful, orderly and safe communities that reflect our society's values. One of Canada's defining characteristics is our deep sense of order and civility. Yet in a society that abhors crime and violence, there is increasing concern for the safe and peaceful communities we feel are being threatened by crime, and particularly violent crime.

The time has come for us to send the message loud and clear that violence in any form will not be tolerated. We shall not stand for it from any individual, from any group, of any age. Yet our response to the problems of crime and violence must also reflect the very values that we seek to preserve. We must not simply become harsh, although stern measures will sometimes be required. We must recognize and address the causes of crime and put appropriate emphasis on rehabilitation, on treatment where that is required.

Several recent and comprehensive studies have urged in the strongest terms that Canada develop a coherent national strategy for crime prevention.

Last year, the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General asked the federal government to take the lead and recommended that together with the provinces, territories and municipalities, it develop a national crime prevention strategy.

The special advisory committee on a Canadian strategy for community safety and crime prevention made the same recommendation. Crime prevention must take into account the fundamental causes of crime: poverty, sexual exploitation of children, family dysfunction, racial inequality and inefficient or underfunded social services.

Our government is determined to develop an integrated crime prevention strategy. Together with the other levels of government, the police, victims' groups and community organizations, we will make a priority of looking at the fundamental causes of criminal behaviour and eliminating them.

We will create a national crime prevention council and convene it at the earliest possible date to start preparing a comprehensive crime prevention strategy, and within that strategy, specific community based tactics to prevent crime. We will consult broadly on its mandate. We will ensure that it is not simply window dressing. We will make it meaningful. And we will need and we will appreciate the views of the members of all parties in this House as we put it together.

Turning now to another aspect of our response to violent crime, this government is determined to address squarely and openly the widespread concerns about the Young Offenders Act as it relates to violent crime among young people.

We will soon introduce legislation reflecting the commitments made during the election campaign to make specific changes to the statute: increased sentences for specific violent crime, the greater sharing of information about young offenders with those who need to know for reasons of safety, the creation of the category of dangerous youth offender for certain violent repeat offenders, adjustments to the provisions respecting transfers from youth to adult court and steps to ensure that treatment will be available for those young offenders who need it most.

At the same time, I intend also to initiate a thorough public review of the Young Offenders Act to ensure that it continues to serve the interests of justice in Canada. Canadians must be satisfied that the Young Offenders Act strikes the proper balance between, on the one hand, the protection of society, and on the other, recognition of the special needs of young persons in contact with the criminal justice system.

We will involve Parliament in this exercise of review in keeping with our commitments toward a consultative process contained in our election platform. As part of our review of the statute as a whole, we will have regard to the many helpful submissions that my department has received during the past few months as part of the public consultation process.

In addition, we shall demonstrate that Canada will not tolerate the manipulation and exploitation of young people by adults for criminal purposes. We will do this by encouraging law enforcement officials to make greater use of existing provisions of the Criminal Code which make it an offence to induce others to commit crime.

Still addressing the question of violent crime, I can tell the House that in the present session we will take steps to address concerns about the release of high-risk offenders into society at the end of their custodial terms.

Taking into account the imperatives of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we shall find ways by which society can protect itself from individuals who may be unfit for release. In many cases this issue will arise at the intersection of the criminal justice system and the health care system. For that reason it will be essential for us to develop these responses in concert once again with our provincial counterparts and we will consult for that purpose with those officials.

The government will address the serious problem of violence against women and children, including domestic violence, not as a women's issue, but as a justice issue. We acknowledge that violence against women is linked to their lack of economic equality. I will work with others, among them the Secretary of State for the Status of Women, to develop and introduce measures to promote equality and safety for women, both in their homes and in public places.

In support of this commitment and as Minister of Justice, I will work with federal, provincial and territorial colleagues to introduce appropriate justice reforms. We shall sponsor public education programs to increase understanding of violence against women. We will increase levels of funding for transition houses that provide refuge for victims of domestic abuse. We shall introduce changes to the nature and effect of peace bonds and more effectively protect spouses from abusive partners. We shall work in collaboration with colleagues in the department of human resources to ensure that court ordered child support payments are made.

It makes little sense for a government that is having to come to grips with massive deficits to pay out annually extraordinary sums to single parents, mostly mothers, when they are the beneficiaries of court orders that are not being respected. We are determined to find a way to make those responsible for making payments under court orders comply with those obligations.

Finally in this category, the government will take steps to reflect the widespread public expectation that there will be stricter gun control in Canada. We shall act on our campaign commitments in that regard.

In co-operation with other departments, we will tackle the problem of illegal arms smuggling. We will see to it that better statistics are compiled on the criminal use of firearms. We will scrutinize the list of prohibited weapons to see if it should be added to. We will strengthen the current legislation which provides for a separate offense if a weapon is used for criminal purposes. But we will not however disregard the views of legitimate firearm owners who now have to meet certain requirements before purchasing such weapons.

We will review the types of weapons sold in Canada and we will consider measures to ensure that no weapon falls into the hands of criminals or unfit individuals.

The second broad category to which I wish to refer has to do with equality before the law. Equal access to justice and equal treatment in the justice system are fundamental principles in Canadian society, a society that is increasingly diverse. There is, however, mounting evidence that our justice system is falling far short of the high standards that Canadians expect.

A number of recent and authoritative studies have established there is a significant degree of gender inequality in Canada's justice system. The present government is committed to addressing gender issues both in the justice system and in society generally.

The Department of Justice acted on the recommendations made by the working group chaired by Madam Justice Bertha Wilson. As a matter of fact, the department has already received an internal report which lists in detail steps aimed at eliminating the systemic inequalities prevalent in its own organization.

I am sure all members of this House will agree with me that a strong and independent judiciary is a fundamental element of a free society. Canadians are justly proud of the high quality of our judges. For my part, I shall bring forward to cabinet recommendations for judicial appointments that reflect competence and merit in order to maintain the present high level of confidence that Canadians feel in the judiciary that serves justice in Canada.

Another important element of our approach to equality before the law in a diverse Canada is the search for better ways of ensuring that the justice needs of aboriginal peoples are recognized and acted upon. Canadians generally tell us that our system of justice, despite its strengths, could work better. They are right.

Aboriginal people, among others, say the law has become a system more about process than about justice and to some extent they are right. In many aboriginal communities there is now a remarkable will to actually try to do something about this challenge. It is a will to carve out new relationships with the justice system. The process of change will be gradual and difficult but we have an obligation to aggressively pursue this opportunity for change. We shall work closely in these efforts with our provincial and territorial colleagues and with the aboriginal leadership, with the communities and with aboriginal individuals, who are prepared to improve the administration of justice.

A further aspect of equality before the law in Canada has to do with the Canadian Human Rights Act. In the throne speech the Prime Minister's commitment made during the election campaign was renewed. We shall introduce amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act. These amendments, among other things, will include sexual orientation as a ground upon which discrimination is prohibited.

The House has been committed to that principle for many years, and successive governments have expressed the intention to introduce the amendment. This government shall do so, not just to fulfil a commitment but as a matter of fundamental justice.

May I mention briefly steps we intend to take in connection with hate motivated crime. We shall make it clear that such crimes will not be tolerated. We shall introduce legislation that will expressly provide that hate motivation must be regarded as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence to be imposed for any specific criminal act.

Let me say also that we shall introduce changes in the criminal justice system that will help persons with disabilities participate fully on an equal basis.

May I turn now to the third and last broad category on the agenda for justice in the year ahead, modernizing the law.

We will soon table a bill re-establishing the Law Reform Commission. We are fortunate to be able to revive this commission which will serve a useful purpose as an independent body drawing attention to needed amendments to Canadian legislation. We will give it a new mandate and a new structure.

Last year a subcommittee of the standing committee on justice released a report on a recodification of the Criminal Code. We will be considering those recommendations, and we will undertake an assessment of the question of whether the present code is serving the interests of criminal justice in the modern age.

We shall also introduce legislation to deal with the sentencing aspect of criminal law. The legislation will clearly set forth the purposes of sentencing, provide for a full range of alternative sentences, focus on the desirability of non-custodial sentences for non-violent crime, and provide for a range of intermediate sanctions where they are appropriate.

The agenda I have described very briefly this afternoon is a broad and a challenging one. Nonetheless it is equally clear that the issues we seek to address are urgent and important. May I say that I look forward to working with my colleagues in government, my colleagues throughout the House of Commons, in meeting the challenges this agenda presents. In doing so, may we recommit ourselves to what must be our ultimate objective in justice: to furnish, provide and maintain the fairest and most effective system of justice for Canada and Canadians.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I was just taking notice that many members are seeking the floor. I would remind all members that we will begin a 10-minute period of questions and answers. As short as the questions are is as many of you who will participate.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Bernard St-Laurent Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Justice. Naturally, it will be brief.

The Minister just announced in his speech the creation of a national crime prevention council. As everyone knows, councils such as this are often made of up of experts who are slow to report, so much so that when they do finally get around to releasing their report, all one can do is comment on the findings.

My question is this: Who will be appointed to this high-profile council?

Does the minister intend to take into account in the appointment process certain new elements which may not have been considered in the case of past councils. I am referring here for example to appointing certain individuals who through their work are familiar with criminals, indeed with hardened criminals. While it is natural that the council would include people whom we have come to expect to serve on such bodies, people such as lawyers and professionals who provide services to individuals in the corrections field, maybe it should also be made up of people who work with criminals every day. I am thinking about correctional services officers who in the course of their day-to-day jobs deal with those who have committed crimes and are serving time.

I know from experience that those who work inside correctional facilities are somewhat bound by professional secrecy. Understandably it is quite natural for them not to disclose everything that goes on. Some of what goes on is not very pretty and there is no need for everyone to know the details. The people who work inside these institutions and see firsthand how people in need of assistance live are, we have to admit, often overlooked initially, when in fact they may be in the best position to make a contribution to this high-profile council and to propose more pragmatic solutions.

Therefore, I will repeat my question to the minister. Has he given any thought to the make-up of this body? Who will be appointed to serve on the council?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question the hon. member has raised strikes really at the heart of this council. If it is going to be effective, if it is going to achieve the objectives I have described, it cannot be academic or remote. It cannot be slow to report. It cannot simply research and write. It has to be community based. It has to be pragmatic, and it has to be government supporting communities to get action under way.

I am sensitive to the dangers he has identified. We cannot burden the council with a mandate that will result in it going on forever and achieving nothing.

Let me tell my hon. friend that my department will be mailing out during the next week or so to dozens of individuals and organizations throughout the country a discussion paper raising many of the questions he has touched upon. My hon. friend talked about the structure and composition of the council and the mandate of the council itself.

We will be seeking the views of police forces, community groups, other levels of government and individuals with the kind of practical experience to which my hon. friend referred in coming to grips with the design and creation of this council. We will also be grateful for his suggestions. I will be sending the discussion paper to my colleagues in the House as well. We will look forward to having the benefit of his views as we put it together.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for the consideration he has shown me when we first met and had a short exchange of ideas. I would also thank the minister for keeping the door open for submissions on the Young Offenders Act. I believe Canadians certainly do want input into this particular piece of legislation.

The question I have for the minister is in relation to his crime prevention program. I am aware of the document of which he speaks and the direction in which the crime prevention program is going. Was it not supported by all parties last year?

There appears to be one matter though that the report does not thoroughly address. I believe it is on the minds of many Canadians. Certainly thousands of my constituents and hundreds of thousands of other Canadians want to see a punishment that fits the crime outlined. I would suggest they want to see it reintroduced into the system.

Would the minister please satisfy the Canadian people in their desire to see such a stand taken by the government?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in response to the question put by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast, with reference to the recommendation last year it was the Horner committee, an all-party committee of the House, that conducted extensive research and had lengthy hearings on the whole question of crime prevention. That committee unanimously recommended, among other things, that a national strategy including a national council be created for this purpose. We are really acting upon and giving life to recommendations that emanate from an all-party committee, as well as from other sources as I mentioned in my remarks.

In terms of sentencing obviously it must be the very purpose of the criminal justice system to ensure the sentence fits the crime. That is often, however, in the eye of the beholder. There can be controversy about whether a given sentence on a particular day in answer to a specific crime is the right one.

If I may be permitted to say so at this time, I recently reread a study done by Anthony Dube, a noted criminologist, who undertook as a research project to examine public reactions to sentences meted out to specific crimes first from the newspaper story and then after acquainting members of the public with all the facts of the case that went before the judge who passed sentence.

In his research Mr. Dube made the observation that when the citizens read of the sentence in the newspaper a given percentage thought it seemed like a very light sentence for such a crime. However when the same persons were given all the facts before the judge who actually passed the sentence, the percentage of those who agreed that the sentence was appropriate increased dramatically until it became almost unanimous.

The lesson we learned is that it is often misleading and sometimes dangerous to assess the appropriateness of a sentence from a brief newspaper report or a television report. Surely the justice system we want is one in which competent judges, on the basis of all the facts in the adversarial system, assess the appropriate sentence in keeping with appropriate principles in the courtroom where the case has been tried.

I do not wish to sidestep the question put by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast. Let me deal with it squarely by saying that I have already indicated we propose to introduce legislation on the subject of sentencing. I will be happy to have his reaction to it. In the process of committee hearings on that bill I am certain he will have an opportunity to develop his point further.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start my maiden speech by taking a moment to thank the constituents of Fraser Valley East for the trust they have placed in me. I will be doing my utmost to earn their continued confidence in the months and the years ahead.

I also thank my own family for their ongoing sacrifice and support. If, as many people say, a nation is only as strong as its families then in this International Year of the Family we must emphasize the importance of the nuclear family in our own country. My own family, Deb and Karina, Mark, Loni and Kyla, can rest assured that for me every year is the year of the family.

Listening to the speeches in the House during the throne speech debate has been very enlightening. Each member describes their riding as the most beautiful one in all of Canada, representing the best that Canada has to offer. Each of these speeches comes from the heart. They bode well for the future of our country if the members of Parliament will emphasize the positive themes that make us distinctively Canadian.

As a proud Canadian representing a proud area of Canada, I will fulfil my mandate as a positive, constructive opposition member in the 35th Parliament.

I come from a constituency that has given much and yet has even more to offer to the Canadian way of life. We can all take pride in the 1 Combat Engineer Regiment from Canadian Forces Base Chilliwack, a regiment that has represented us so well in Croatia. Often during Tuesday's debate on our peacekeeping role my thoughts were with the soldiers of 1 CER and their families as they prepare to go back into that very dangerous arena. We salute them all.

I could talk for a long time about my riding. Our forest industry has provided jobs for a century and continues to offer exciting opportunities for the future. From farms to flowers, high mountains and hot springs, our area is so colourful that we call it rainbow country. Tourism, fishing, golfing, unmatched scenery and warm weather year round make Fraser Valley East one of the finest places in Canada to live, to work and to play. All members are invited to B.C. to see for themselves.

I want to bring the attention of the House to a matter of great concern for the people who live in B.C.'s beautiful Fraser Valley.

Most Canadians can take satisfaction in the successful conclusion of the recent GATT agreement. The Reform Party believes that much of Canada's future prosperity is dependent upon the security of our export markets. To the extent that the Liberal government has secured this access we commend it. Consumers and western grain producers will benefit. Lowering import barriers will allow in turn our high quality Canadian products into more world markets.

However, in any deal there are winners and losers. I want to express the concern of my constituents especially in the poultry and dairy sectors. They were the losers at the GATT table. They were left swinging in the shifting wind by this deal, uncertain of their future. Many of these hard-working people have invested heavily in land, buildings, equipment and livestock. Most have purchased the right to produce at great cost. However the value of their quota could now drop drastically. It depends on the American response to the proposed Canadian tariffs.

What if the U.S. challenges our tariffs under the NAFTA agreement and wins? It is going to try. Promises that everything will be fine made by the agriculture minister last week in the House ring hollow compared with the stirring election promises that they will go to the wall for our producers in the GATT negotiations. A poet once said that a promise made is a debt unpaid. Many farmers are counting on the government for an IOU given during the election, the promise of a secure future. Many are concerned that a lack of foresight yesterday and wishful thinking today may spell disaster for their system tomorrow.

It is not just a system we are talking about. In Canada, it is an $8 billion a year industry. It is a way of life for 100,000 families who stand to be stripped bare by the global market. They feel they have been left naked by a government spending too much time promoting its much ballyhooed infrastructure program and not enough time tending to the bread and butter businesses that actually generate wealth in this country.

Does the Liberal government have a plan for agriculture? As of last week, we still could not find out who in the Liberal caucus was a member of their own agriculture committee. It is unsettling when a simple request for information from the minister a month ago not only went unanswered but unacknowledged. Worse, we hear that officials in the agriculture department admit there is no contingency plan if Canadian tariffs should fall under a NAFTA ruling.

The Reform Party has had a detailed plan for over three years now. Let me share with this House just a few of the principles from our agricultural program that should guide this government in the months ahead.

The first is summed up in just one word: Order. For all its flaws, supply management ensured a stable, orderly production climate and the government must now work to ensure that the transition from a managed to an unmanaged environment will be orderly. Because of the long cycles of crop yields and livestock renewal, predictability on the part of the government is essential to the farmer.

The throne speech repeated the second important principle and I quote: "The government will assist Canadian companies to translate improved market access into greater export sales". Access to markets is the key to future prosperity and for that we support the successful completion of the GATT negotiations. What we do not need is another level of bureaucracy to grind this search to a halt. Let aggressive companies search out new markets and develop new value-added products.

The third and final principle is the most important. Although the Liberal government expressed a vague intention a few months ago to reduce agricultural input costs, the House will note that Preston Manning delivered a keynote address on this subject over three years ago. Input costs, especially input costs caused by excessive taxation levels is one cost area we can control within Canada.

We envisage a day when the government assists our industry to compete by eliminating the interprovincial trade barriers-recent agreements are a step in the right direction-and by pushing aside antiquated regulations that impede our producers, restrictions that our neighbours to the south do not suffer from, a time when the government levels up the north-south playing field and lets our industries score the goals for Canada.

Our farmers are among the world's most efficient, but even the best farmers cannot overcome taxation levels and costs that are higher than those faced by their American counterparts. The elusive level playing field will never be possible until the government cuts federal spending resulting in a lower level of taxation for all Canadians, including farmers. Our producers can do the job but the government must supply this tool of competitiveness.

Reformers were talking about this for years and marketing boards, farmers and small businesses throughout my riding are in agreement on this issue. They have repeatedly urged governments at all levels to reduce taxes and cut the red tape that impedes growth, to get out of their pockets and off their backs so they can do what they do best: create jobs, create exports, and create wealth for my riding, for all of B.C., and for all of Canada.

We have talked for years about this subject but it is time to actually do something. The Liberals have a clear majority in the House but it remains to be seen if they have the will to push through on these reforms. I remind the minister that the Canadian people are reluctant to accept talk any more. They are

judging this government and all governments every day by their performance.

Over the past two years we have repeatedly invited other party leaders to debate this important subject. We have repeatedly asked them to place their ideas on the table for discussion, to help our industry plan for the future. Those invitations were never accepted. Now we see why. The ideas just were not there. The opposition party of yesterday, today's governing party, did not take the time to develop a well-reasoned agricultural policy.

To conclude, the Liberal red book is over 100 pages in length yet it has devoted a full four sentences to its agricultural agenda. That is all, four sentences. The throne speech did not even mention the word agriculture and I hope along with my riding's farmers that this does not reflect the priority that the government places on our own agriculture ministry.

It is especially unfortunate because the essence of real leadership is setting broad goals with the input of all the stakeholders, making public a detailed agenda to meet those goals and then pressing ahead with the plan. Our producers can run with the best in the world, but they can never win on an undefined course.

If GATT and NAFTA form the new rule book that farmers must take to the field in the next few years they will need the right equipment. Only stability, lower taxes, less red tape and an even chance in the marketplace will equip our industry, including the agriculture industry in Fraser Valley East, to proceed with confidence into the 21st century.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I quite enjoyed the remarks of the hon. member for Fraser Valley East and I found them very edifying.

I come from a riding that is mainly suburban-urban so I cannot claim to have the expertise on GATT and agriculture that he obviously does have. However, I do have to say that some of his remarks do not parallel the kind of reading I am doing on this issue. In my mind, he seems to confuse ice cream and yogurt with other dairy products.

My understanding is that in the GATT round at Geneva what was at stake was a question of either sacrificing all the GATT or preserving marketing boards and in fact what subsequently occurred is that a deal was struck at GATT which is still to be ratified basically putting a tariff regime on most poultry and dairy products.

What has happened here is that ice cream and yogurt failed at the GATT panel some years ago. Now the Americans have come forward and questioned the tariff regime that we would like to see on ice cream and yogurt. That is what is at question here. Perhaps the hon. member knows something that I do not on this issue. As I understand it also from everything that I have read GATT takes precedence over NAFTA in every category involving this tariffication of dairy and poultry products, with the exception of ice cream and yogurt.

Given all these things, is the hon. member suggesting that the Reform Party's approach to agriculture policy over the last two months would be one where he would sacrifice, would do without the GATT agreement in favour of preserving marketing boards? That was the kind of choice we had. Is that what the member for Fraser Valley East would recommend?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

January 27th, 1994 / 5:45 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, some of the points the hon. member brings forth are valid in the sense that we recognized several years ago the inevitability of the GATT negotiations and the ruling on article XI(2)(c). That was never in question in the Reform Party. In fact we campaigned vigorously on it and took a lot of flak from members of the Liberal Party at the time which said that would never come to pass, that article XI(2)(c) was safe in their bosom.

Really that is what I am arguing about when I talk about order. Farmers were willing and are currently willing to live with the proposed tariffication rules of the GATT. However starting on December 29 and every week since I have asked the Minister of Agriculture for a legal opinion of even why he believes that the GATT ruling will supersede NAFTA because the Americans say otherwise. I have yet to receive a response to my request.

There again, that just creates more indecision and uncertainty in the farming community which is really only looking for that stability. Farmers are willing to work under the new rules but they need to know what the rules are.

Two years ago we proposed that the GATT negotiations should be successfully completed and that we should have negotiated the proper tariffication protection for our farmers at that time. We feel that had we proceeded then while we still had some bargaining chips in our hands we could have made a good deal for Canadian farmers that would have been negotiated rather than brought through the courts.

Really I am not arguing with the completion of GATT. My argument stems from the fact that it should have been planned. I think even at this late date if we can somehow assure our farmers that GATT will proceed, that GATT will supersede NAFTA, then they will proceed with confidence and do the investing, exporting and so on that brings prosperity to that industry.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:45 p.m.


John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, a thank you is in order. We have a new Speaker in the House and a new speaker team and hopefully we are entering into a new era in the House of Commons.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters of North Island-Powell River who have given me the opportunity to represent them in this House. North Island-Powell River riding takes up the north half of Vancouver Island and half the mainland coast in British Columbia. The population within this large diverse area is evenly split between Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland. It is a resource based riding.

The population has a very strong feeling that government decision making is not representative and sensitive to their interests very often. It is my pledge to bring their concerns to the House of Commons regularly. I pledge also to bring to the House of Commons constructive thoughts from my constituents on how to improve life in the riding and throughout the nation.

Within the riding we have a diversity of progressive aboriginal groups with a living culture. The Sechelt Indian Band took the initiative to negotiate unique legislation to replace the Indian Act for their band alone and as a result they have been operating under a municipal style of self-government since 1986.

The primary focus of my speech today is aboriginal affairs. As the Reform Party spokesman for aboriginal affairs, I want to discuss the current direction of federal policy in respect to Canada's indigenous peoples with a B.C. perspective.

British Columbia is in a unique situation. We have 15 existing treaties including 14 on southern Vancouver Island and one in northeast B.C. We have a predominantly non-treaty aboriginal situation and a very significant portion of the nation's aboriginal population.

In general there is a spirit of good will between the aboriginal and non-aboriginal populations. We all want aboriginal people to enjoy a standard of living and quality of life and opportunity equal to other Canadians. There is consensus that a self-government model is essential to create a climate of certainty for investors and to bring together the population at large.

The federal government has a paramount mandate and responsibility in the area of aboriginal affairs. It is essential that government direction and policy unify rather than divide the population.

The government has pledged to wind down the department of Indian affairs at a pace agreed on by First Nations. There is a consensus that a wind down is called for, replacing the current outmoded and outdated department with a system of accountability provided by self-government. Federally chartered municipal status on reserves such as the Sechelt arrangement is a good way to go, giving the bands autonomy to run their affairs.

I believe it is time for some new points of view. Some recent federal initiatives have been divisive, not uniting and I would like to offer a new perspective.

The aboriginal fishing strategy of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is one area that needs overhauling. The commercial fishing industry in B.C. until 1992 was a colour blind industry with 25 per cent aboriginal participation. There is a longstanding aboriginal food fishery which remains unaffected.

The federal AFS policy implemented two years ago has created a separate aboriginal commercial fishery based on race. This is a two-year pilot project with agreements under the AFS umbrella expiring March 31, 1994. Implementation of these agreements has been very divisive within the industry and socially. Also it has not been conducive to conservation management. In 1993 several B.C. Court of Appeal decisions served to reject the necessity of a separate aboriginal commercial fishery. The promised DFO review of the AFS this spring must be carried out with transparency and sensitivity to the conflicts that the agreements have created.

We recommend avoidance of this conflict and new direction for our important fishery by orienting the AFS to the recreational fishery and to fisheries enhancement. No new commercial fishing agreements should be negotiated under the AFS umbrella.

There has been a great deal of recent discussion about the terminology "inherent right to self-government". According to my understanding the term "inherent" can mean that federal and provincial legislation would not apply to aboriginal people without their agreement. I also understand that it could be the basis for claims to international sovereignty which would signal aboriginal government immunity from all federal and provincial laws. This is unacceptable to most Canadians.

We believe that aboriginal self-government means a mix of federal, provincial and aboriginal laws to be worked out through negotiations. Regardless of the framework, it must work within the structure of Canadian society as a whole.

British Columbia residents want to resolve the issue of unsettled land claims so that the investment climate is improved and so that individuals, business, government and aboriginal groups can go forward with certainty. The recently formed B.C. Treaty Commission which is federal, provincial and First Nations is up and running, having already received 38 proposals from bands in British Columbia. The commission will be a positive influence on negotiations but there are major shortcomings. To overcome these shortcomings I have recommendations related to interim measures, third party interests and transparency.

Recent resource related interim measures negotiated between the province and aboriginal groups are eroding federal aborigi-

nal jurisdiction and the urgency of the negotiating process. It is in the federal government's interest to question the mandate of the province's negotiation of these agreements without federal participation.

Third party interests are not at the negotiating table. Philosophical objection to having them at the table is unfounded as they also want to remove the current impasse. They will expedite rather than delay the process. The whole question of government mandate would be much more clear if third parties were represented.

The population at large is increasingly suspicious of the entire negotiating process. This initiative of involving them is a bold step for the current players but it is an essential step in order to build consensus.

Philosophically I question and a body of legal opinion suggests that because of the fiduciary relationship, our federal and provincial governments are in a conflict of interest in negotiations with the First Nations unless third parties are at the table. Litigation is the likely result.

In conclusion, I call for new directions regarding aboriginal affairs. British Columbians want to end the climate of uncertainty, secrecy and divisiveness. This requires adoption of the measures I have outlined.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, in this my maiden speech I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his election to such a prestigious position and my personal congratulations to you for your appointment to an equally prestigious position.

I wish to thank the mover and seconder of the speech from the throne. I also wish to thank the people of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo for electing me to represent them in the House of Commons. I want to assure them that I will represent them and serve them to the best of my ability.

I would be remiss if I did not also thank my wife and family for their wholehearted support during my campaign.

The riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo is located in the fertile lands of southwestern Ontario. It looks like and produces as though it were the garden of Eden. It is the number one dairy and pork producing riding in Canada, and second in white bean and mixed farm acreage. The fact that this area is so productive is because of the dedication and efficiency of its farmers, and I congratulate them for their contribution to the wealth of our country.

I have received several hundred calls from dairy, poultry and egg farmers in my riding since the conclusion of the GATT negotiations. They feared for their survival because article XI has been removed from the treaty. I want to assure Canadian farmers in these supply management sectors that the Liberal government in Ottawa is committed to preserving the family farm, the Canadian agriculture sector and the supply management system.

Perth-Wellington-Waterloo's number one employer is the automotive related sector, with factories in Stratford, St. Mary's, Mitchell, Listowel and New Hamburg. The success of this sector depends upon a well-trained and hard-working labour force. This level of competence has been maintained through a commitment by both management and workers to improving their education and skill level in order to produce the highest quality product for consumers.

Finally, I must recognize the most famous institution in my riding, the Stratford Shakespearian Festival, North America's most esteemed repertory theatre which performs on three world class stages in town, a town that is renowned for its park systems, shops and restaurants. I am proud to live in Stratford, the home of Canada's national English speaking theatre, the jewel of southwestern Ontario. This is a cultural success story. The theatre achieves the highest artistic standards while attracting thousands of visitors to the region every year and pumping millions of dollars into the local economy. On behalf of the theatre, I invite every member of Parliament to visit Stratford and attend one of its several performances as my guest and theirs.

The Liberals won the federal election of October 1993 because we provided Canadians with a vision of hope, hope for improved job prospects, with initiatives such as improving the economic climate for small and medium sized businesses. I can assure everyone that my constituents support the proposals contained in the throne speech, proposals such as encouraging financial institutions to improve access to capital for owners of small and medium sized businesses. Consultations with bank executives by members of the government have already started to bear fruit.

The establishment of the Canada investment fund will help leading edge technology firms to obtain the long-term capital they need.

We Liberals will create a Canadian technology network to assist with the spreading of information about technological innovations, providing further assistance to these firms. The government will encourage partnerships between Canadian universities, research institutions and the private sector to strengthen the research and development required by entrepreneurs in order to establish their own businesses. This partnership will help to keep small business managers abreast of new technologies and strategic information vital to their long term success.

We Liberals recognize that the government often acts as a catalyst in the areas of economic growth and job creation, relying on the private sector to be the engine. We hope that the residential rehabilitation assistance program will encourage home owners to renovate their homes and thus stimulate what has been a sluggish building industry.

We also believe there are important programs a government can put in place to give hope and jobs to some of our youth, such as the youth service corps. It will put thousands of Canada's enthusiastic youth into the workplace on worthy community and environmental projects.

Governments in every corner of the globe recognize that the critical component of economic competitiveness in the global marketplace is a well trained workforce.

We Liberals propose measures to improve job training and the transition from school to the workplace. In these days of high unemployment thousands of jobs go unfilled in rapidly expanding industries such as telecommunications, computer services and environmental sciences because skilled labour cannot be found. While thousands of our youth are unemployed we cannot tolerate the squandering of their energy, talent and education.

We will in partnerships with the provinces and the private sector establish a national apprenticeship program. This program will establish national standards for apprenticeship programs and establish new programs for fast growing sectors in the economy. All of these programs are necessary. To simply stay with the status quo would be intolerable.

Just as the goal of Liberal economic policy is to ensure economic growth in the nation, the goal of our social policy is to ensure the social well-being of its citizens. Change is a relentless and often disruptive force in our modern society and has rendered some elements of our social safety net cumbersome and redundant. The role of the government is to design legislation that is current and relevant to meet the needs of the citizen.

Social planners who employ foresight in the designing of legislation will ensure that the revision and amendment of such legislation will require it to be amended in the future. We Liberals are committed to the carrying out of a major study in the social security system.

We will also study our highly prized health care system in co-operation with the provincial governments and in consultation with Canadians. The national forum on health will be chaired by the Prime Minister, the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien. We Liberals assure the people that our government remains deeply committed to the principles of the Canadian Health Act including the rejection of user fees in any form.

As I worked my way across the riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo last year, at the farm gates and the factory gates the most disheartening refrain I heard was from the people who had given up on government. Many others were just plain angry at politicians who they felt were dishonest or indifferent to their needs.

There must be some good reason why Canadians are so eager for honesty and integrity in government and why they universally demand fairness and justice. I believe that for too many Canadians the Canadian dream had become the Canadian nightmare. They feared the loss of their jobs, their social safety nets, their cultural identity and the integrity of their natural environment. We Liberals have promised and we must deliver on our promise to return honesty and integrity to Canada's federal government.

In conclusion we Liberals believe that the very essence of a civilized society is mutual interest, mutual forbearance and mutual co-operation. We believe that today Canadians are prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder to work together and make sacrifices to the benefit of each other and to Canada.

We Liberals believe that the government's policy as outlined in the speech from the throne will provide the road map for both legislators and the citizens to follow in their common mission. It provides hope through its many initiatives for job creation and economic stimulation. It provides leadership through reforms that will make the operation of government more transparent and accountable and it provides vision through the establishment of structures to examine and upgrade our social security system. It is what Canadians and Canada need today.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

A few comments, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member started his speech saying that the Liberal Party was elected because it provided Canadians with a vision of hope. This is partly true, I suppose, but since that vision does not come across very clearly in the throne speech, I am afraid Canadians' hopes will be dashed fairly quickly.

There is nothing really significant in the throne speech: merely a string of very general projects and good intentions, with very little in the way of tangible proposals.

We must not forget that until the government has decided it will deal with the whole issue of the deficit and the debt, any economic recovery will be superficial. The debt and the deficit are a drag on the private sector because they absorb such a large share of financial resources.

The hon. member also referred to technological innovation. I agree this is important. It was said earlier in the House that Canada's contribution, participation or investment in research and development is well below that of other countries. We invest 1.4 per cent of GDP, while countries like Germany, Japan and the United States invest twice as much in technology, and that creates jobs. There is practically nothing in the throne speech to provide any hope in this area.

The hon. member also mentioned home renovation and the construction industry. In Quebec, we have a major problem with the underground economy. It is all part of the same problem, which is that taxes are too high, and until the government has given a clear signal in this respect, it would be wishful thinking to expect construction and home renovation to pick up.

And now a final comment on national standards for apprenticeship. It seems the Liberal Party, like the Tories, will not learn from past mistakes. National standards are a major barrier to regional development. The federal government likes to suggest and dictate national standards. Initially it provides subsidies to go along with those standards, and then it withdraws them, and the result, as we know, is that the provinces are left holding the bag of financial problems that were, in fact, created by the federal government. Occupational training is a provincial responsibility, and the federal government has no business regulating this area. The members of the Bloc Quebecois, reflecting the position of Quebecers, will demand full responsibility in this area.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his close attention to my speech. It helped to refresh in my mind what I had said.

I would like to pick up on one or two things about hope. Every one of us is in great need for a dose of hope whether we are from the party of the hon. member or from my own party. Every farmer every spring has some hope.

In the throne speech there were all kinds of seeds and those seeds were in the speech in the form of the things that I have mentioned and the things that you have reiterated. There was not anything tangible there but those seeds have to be scattered on the land. Given the right situation in the right environment they will sprout, grow and bear fruit.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, esteemed members of the House of Commons, it is a great privilege for me to speak in response to the throne speech which outlines the government's priorities for the first session of the 35th Parliament.

I would like to start by thanking my constituents of Simcoe North for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing their interests in Ottawa. I would also like to thank my wife, family and hundreds of volunteers without whose help I would not be here today.

Last October Canadians clearly told us that the policies of the former government and the way things are done in Ottawa had to change.

I am happy to see that the throne speech reflects the promises of renewal included in the electoral platform of the Liberal Party. As a member of this House, I will be happy to support these policies.

The 35th Parliament must do its utmost to restore confidence in the federal government among Canadians. Members of Parliament must be allowed a meaningful role in the development of public policy and legislation. During a recent election I campaigned on the slogan: "We need Simcoe North's voice in Ottawa, not Ottawa's voice in Simcoe North". I remain committed to that principle.

I am pleased that the government will take measures to enhance the credibility of Parliament but that is not enough. I believe that every member of Parliament must do whatever he or she can to restore confidence in the electorate and encourage their participation in the process. That is why I am seeking to create community advisory committees in my riding. These committees will provide me with advice and support on various issues of importance to my constituents.

Since the election I have met with a great number of individuals who represent small business, the agricultural sector, environmental groups, municipal councils as well as cultural organizations.

Their participation in these advisory committees will be crucial for me in delivering my message to Parliament from a generally grassroots perspective.

The government must address economic development and unemployment issues as soon as possible. By helping small and medium size businesses to obtain the capital they need to grow, by creating the youth service corps, by encouraging the development of a Canadian technology network and by rebuilding our infrastructure, Canada will be on the right track towards a vigorous economic recovery.

Simcoe North is the home of the Industrial Research and Development Institute whose physical plant will be built during the coming months. This organization will elevate Canada's technological expertise in tool, die and mould production to the highest standards in the world resulting in many spinoffs for the Canadian economy. IRDI embodies the partnership between

industry, academia and government called for in the speech from the throne.

We must be sure to continue to support our agricultural industry which is the backbone of the economy in many regions of Canada. Lately our farmers have had much to be concerned about with the recent proclamation of NAFTA and the changes that will occur as a result of the GATT. It is very important that the government continues to foster our agricultural industry using whatever tools it has at its disposal.

It is easy to realize that Canadians feel that they pay far too many taxes and that their money is being wasted at every level of government. The Auditor General's Report tabled in this House last week did not do anything to allay these concerns.

People hope that the new government will improve things; we must not let them down. They can already see that the government is trying to reduce overlap and duplication with the provinces and that we want to eliminate the GST.

But it is not enough to make a few changes here and there. Canadians expect a full review of the tax system and its inequities. Our government must ensure that, in the future, corporate and individual citizens, rich and poor alike, will all pay their fair share of taxes.

While Canadians demand substantial changes, they are also saying that they will not accept any watering down of our important social safety net, including medicare.

I am confident the government realizes we are facing a revenue crisis in this country, not a spending crisis.

It is evident that our country's fiscal difficulties can only be resolved by first addressing the unacceptably high level of unemployment in Canada so that the victims of the recession can contribute to our tax base. We need more people paying taxes, not people paying more taxes.

The government must also address important revenue drains such as capital gains exemptions, the family trust rules and tax loopholes associated with offshore affiliates of Canadian companies.

It is obvious that we must address the deficit but it must be done by augmenting revenues and eliminating wasteful spending, not cutting our social programs.

Canada's native population has been ignored for far too long and it is with a keen sense of excitement that I see the federal government begin its discussion on aboriginal self-government. The outcome of these discussions will be especially relevant to band members of the Chippewas of Beausoleil and the Rama First Nation, both of which are located in my riding.

Although most of my constituents speak English, there is a large francophone community whose language and culture continue to grow. I sincerely believe that if Quebec decides to leave Canada, the French language and culture outside Quebec could very well disappear. There are about 1 million francophones outside Quebec. Being one of them myself, I am proud to consider myself a Canadian and I am not afraid to say that all the regions of this country are well served by federalism. That is why I am asking the hon. members from the Bloc Quebecois not to abandon us.

Canadians want the government to get to work to make our country a better place. Our work must concentrate upon job creation and economic growth, not constitutional wrangling. We must reduce the deficit and debt.

It is true we have fewer resources with which to work but, as my hon. colleague from Madawaska-Victoria has said, a lean government does not have to be a mean government.

In conclusion, I pledge to represent my constituents and to work co-operatively with all members of the House to provide accountable and responsible government.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:20 p.m.


Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank my colleague from Simcoe North, whom I know very well, for what he said. I found it very interesting. However, I picked up something he said in his speech, that Quebec's separation would mean the end of French outside Quebec. He knows very well that French is not at all strong outside Quebec. The city he lives in is a perfect example of what happens to francophones outside Quebec, in Canada.

Rights are not respected. The schools which francophones were promised are not given them. They do not manage their own school system. Francophones outside Quebec do not have many things. The hon. member surely knows all that.

So I would like to end with this comment. I think the main reason that Quebec needs to become sovereign is to ensure the survival of French culture in North America.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.


Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I expected such a question from the hon. member for Québec-Est. Personally, I cannot say that francophones outside Quebec have no problem getting their rights respected now, but in Penetanguishene, in the riding of Simcoe North, we have a French school for which we fought, and we finally had our French school. I believe that we can have our rights respected if we really want to.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add a few comments to this debate being someone who comes from southern Ontario, very much an anglophone region.

Ultimately, my question is: Is it a matter of language or is it a matter of other things that we might have in common? I would like to very briefly tell an anecdote for the benefit of the hon. members of the Bloc.

Some 15 years ago I was a journalist at a newspaper in southern Ontario when an event occurred in Quebec that some of the Bloc Quebecois members will remember. It was called the Saint-Jean-Vianney landslide that occurred in the region of Lac-Saint-Jean.

I, as the only reporter at my newspaper with only my school French, and very poor French I have to say, was sent to that area on the anniversary of the landslide to do a story on a year's aftermath. I had a great deal of difficulty, with my poor school French, to communicate with the people in the area because the accent was very different than the accent I had been taught in school.

However, I have to say that the people were very nice. They took me to their local club, an Odd Fellows hall, in which I must say I felt very much at home. I was able to communicate with the people through a person I had met in the club from northern Ontario. He was able to translate my bad French into the Quebeçois French-and possibly my very bad English as well-which was very useful for me.

What was so striking about this event was that even with the language problem I felt very much at home when I sat in this little Odd Fellows hall. We then went across to the beverage room, as we would say in English Canada in those days. I suppose Le bar is what they say in the Lac-Saint-Jean region.

As a journalist in those days, I very much favoured drinking Scotch. Journalists in those days drank scotch in order to show that they really were newspapermen. At the bar I asked if I could have a scotch. I was told that they did not have scotch, only rye, but I still felt very much at home. We really share a Canadian thing in that.

What I finally found out during my investigation of the landslide was that when the catastrophe occurred the majority of the people in Saint-Jean-Vianney were watching hockey. I felt very much at home.