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.

Topics

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Prime Minister, my question is directed to the Minister of Indian Affairs. A year ago, images of six young Innu sniffing gas vapours horrified public opinion, as we became aware of the terrible living conditions of the native population in Davis Inlet. A year later, nothing has changed. Drugs and suicide are still a serious problem, as shown in a report televised last night on Radio-Canada's Le Point . On the same program, we also saw that conditions were similar in a native community, in Quebec, at Lac Simon.

My question is this: Does the minister agree that if the government is serious about its fiduciary responsibility for these people, it must develop a joint strategy for putting an end to the obscene poverty in Canada's native communities, including Davis Inlet and Lac Simon?

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I quite agree. The hon. Leader of the Official Opposition was once a member of another government which spent $1.7 million to send these children to Poundmaker. Of the 17 families who went there, 16 of the kids are back in trouble. So that did not work.

We are back in there again working with the leadership. As I said last week, three of our people have been working actively. Hopefully we can have a package some time in March that addresses these things.

I do not think there are quick solutions and I do not think the hon. member thinks so either. I think we have the responsibility to be there to do whatever we can as far as healing, health, housing, and trying to solve the situation in a pragmatic step-by-step process.

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary for the Minister of Indian Affairs. This week in response to a question from the hon. member from Saint-Jean, the minister said that he was about to make a proposal to the people of Davis Inlet that would deal with issues of justice and health care, a proposal that he felt was acceptable. Does the minister realize that the problem is escalating, since RCMP officers are being denied access to Davis Inlet to investigate cases of sexual assault and violence against women and children?

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

After the initial incident when I was down in the area the leadership took another position. They invited the RCMP in. They came and collected the prisoners and then left. I think the situation is much better at Davis Inlet now than it was when I was there. The leadership wants to work with the RCMP, wants to work with the government in Newfoundland, and wants to work with us. I think together we can find solutions.

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister should have watched the television program last night. He should ask his staff to show it to him because it is really terrible to see. You cannot watch this program and report without feeling sad about the situation of those people in Canada.

I would like to ask the minister if he is prepared to agree to the request of the Innu in Davis Inlet who want to leave the island to go back to the Labrador mainland to recover their ancestral hunting grounds?

Native CommunitiesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I have heard some crazy figures like $80 million. I am at present getting hard figures on it. I am very sympathetic to that move but I want to make sure it can be done within our budget. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition realizes we have budget constraints and I have to work within that budget.

In my heart I want to make that move. I hope we can do it within the constraints of government these days with the heavy deficit.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question deals with the incidents which occurred last Friday in Kanesatake, and about which the Minister of National Defence is constantly changing his version of the facts. He first talked about the Sûreté du Québec, which proved incorrect. Then he said that he had been informed that the Sûreté du Québec was investigating, which also proved incorrect. Finally, yesterday, he said he did not have time to ask the Sûreté du Québec to investigate.

Could the minister tell us whether anyone is investigating the events in Kanesatake? If so, will the minister give us the assurance that he will table the report once the investigation is completed?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member is unaware that the chief of the band involved at Oka, Chief Peltier, gave a press conference a short time ago. In that press conference he said, first, that he was completely satisfied with the explanations given by the Department of National Defence.

Second, as far as he is concerned the matter is closed. Third, bearing in mind what I said the other day about members on the other side inflaming the situation, he has accused the members of the Bloc Quebecois of deliberately inflaming the situation for their own political ends in Quebec. That is a shame. The member should be ashamed of that action.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not seem to understand that his first obligation is to answer questions in this House where he sits as an elected representative, rather than satisfy some people, people who might be involved in that affair.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

The truth hurts on the other side.

Could the minister tell us whether the mysterious signal received by the Canadian Forces could have come from a plane used for cigarette or arms smuggling? Can the minister give us any information on that?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, my first obligation is to answer legitimate questions posed in the House and to expose the truth. The chief of the band made the statement that I referred to a few moments ago.

I find it rather ironic that a couple of days ago the hon. member was posing as an advocate of natives at Oka. Now he is attacking them. Please be consistent.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Last week the Reform Party proposed a spending cap that would have reduced federal spending next year by a modest 6 per cent. Yesterday the minister described this proposal as savagery.

This weekend the minister is attending a pre-budget conference in Calgary where resource companies have had to downsize 10, 15 and 20 per cent in order to remain competitive.

Will the minister tell the House how he intends to explain to workers and investors in those companies why the federal government cannot cut its spending by even a modest 6 per cent and prefers instead to expand the tax base?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, the reference I made yesterday to savagery was to not only the motion made in this House but to the program put forward by members of the Reform Party during the election. They put forward a series of recommendations concerning old age pensions which they said would affect families above $54,000 but in fact affected families below $35,000, going down.

It is certainly not the case that we are reluctant to cut spending. We are very desirous of cutting spending and in fact we intend to do so. But it is precisely because we are not prepared to ignore the cause and the plight of laid-off workers that we are not going to cut spending the way the Reform Party would want us to do.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, a supplementary question for the Minister of Finance that relates to the helping of workers.

A recent publication by the minister's department entitled Canada's Economic Challenges shows that Canada's total public debt as a percentage of GDP is higher than that of our major trading partners.

This weekend the minister will be told that the higher taxes paid by Canadian exporters to service that debt are already a competitive disadvantage, killing jobs in the export sector. Does the finance minister agree that this is so, and if so will he explain how further expanding the tax base can possibly stimulate job creation in the export sector?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, broadening the tax base and filling in the tax loopholes will simply remove inequities in the tax system and make it a great deal fairer. Then Canadians will be far more prepared to support it. That is what we are dealing with.

In terms of export sales we stated unequivocally in the red book that the ultimate aim of any government, certainly this one, must be to reduce taxes. But this party, as the Reform Party certainly claims to be, is also worried about the financial condition of the public finances of this country. We also know that unless we attack the deficit we are not going to get interest rates down. Unless we get interest rates down we are not going to have a competitive economy. If the member would like a lesson on the deficit I would be prepared to give it.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, one further supplementary question for the finance minister so that we are clear on his position.

The airline industry in Canada pays about 20 per cent of its gross revenues in direct charges and taxes to governments compared to about 10 per cent paid by the American carriers to their government. Will the finance minister acknowledge that the high levels of these charges and taxes are already killing jobs in the airline industry and again explain how expanding the tax base can possibly improve the job situation in that industry or any other industry?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about equity, making sure that one group of Canadians does not benefit more from the system and the services that this country provides than other groups of Canadians. We are trying to build fairness into the system. That is crucial.

I fail to understand the objection of the party opposite to that kind of fairness. However we are going to continue to do it despite the objectives of the party opposite.

In terms of the competitiveness of our system there is no doubt that our airlines, our farmers, the inputs to fertilizers, the interest rates that this country has had to bear over the last five years; there has been a great deal of unfairness in this country and that is why we were elected, to try and make that right.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Solicitor General. Yesterday, the Prime Minister, justifying the reluctance of the RCMP to lay charges against cigarette smugglers, claimed that it did not have enough evidence to take action, and I quote: "-when it has compiled valid evidence, it takes quick action, as it must."

How is it that the RCMP does not yet have enough evidence to lay charges when, every night, we see smugglers strutting their stuff on TV?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is up to the RCMP, in consultation with Crown prosecutors, to decide when there is enough proof not only to lay charges, but charges that will lead to convictions.

I do not think it is for me to interfere in these operational decisions of the force. I think that courts in the past have demanded more than nightly television programs on which to base findings of guilt.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that it has been going on long enough, will the Solicitor General be forthright and tell the House why the media are able to compile such evidence and show it live on our TV screens, while the RCMP, with the tools at its disposal, is unable to gather evidence of this kind, and go after the real criminals?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

January 27th, 1994 / 2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the press plays a very useful role in this country, but it is not the equivalent of proof on the basis of which charges can be laid and on the basis of which after a trial where the burden of proof is on the Crown there will be convictions.

I will draw the attention of the RCMP to my hon. friend's suggestions. I am sure they will take them into account in doing the work for which they are world famous.

International Maritime OrganizationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance in the absence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

By way of preamble I would like to say that a lesson in deficit cutting from a Liberal finance minister is like a lesson in firefighting from a pyromaniac.

International Maritime OrganizationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

International Maritime OrganizationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I know the hon. member will want to change his statement about the pyromaniac and rephrase it just a little bit.