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

11:20 a.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a new member of this House. I have had the good fortune to listen to the remarks of the member for Sherbrooke. I admit that I am perhaps a less experienced orator than he, but I have just as much fire in my belly. A Latin tag comes to mind, although I am not big on Latin, which sums up what I have heard Asinus asinum fricat means that as a junior MP I have to expect verbal sparring matches, quite virulent ones sometimes, in the House.

Since I am speaking after the member for Sherbrooke and he talked about riding in on a wave and being elected with the wave

running in the opposite direction, I shall start my remarks in the same vein, coming as I do from a maritime riding, by pointing out that the member for Gaspé has continued, unlike his party, to ride the wave that the people of Quebec directed toward that party in 1984. In 1984 we talked about le beau risque, the gallant gamble. In 1988 they talked about returning with honour and enthusiasm. The riding of Gaspé has taken the same wave, and perhaps the Conservative Party was not listening to it.

As a member of the Bloc Québécois I intend to continue to repeat what the people of the riding of Gaspé and of Quebec said in the recent federal election.

The House of Commons is for me a place to speak out for the residents of the great riding of Gaspé. It is one of the most beautiful parts of Quebec. Whether my fellow members from Quebec agree or not, I would say it is the most beautiful part of Quebec. It is such a jewel that in the early 1970s the Liberal Party decided to create Forillon National Park on the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula.

It was in the Forillon National Park affair that the man who is now Prime Minister of Canada first took up arms against Quebec. In 1972, the member for Shawinigan expressed his delight at having gone over the head of the Bourassa government to create Forillon Park, and I quote his remarks at the time: "I used the Park to break the Quebec government and I'm proud of it!" Our new Prime Minister started his career fittingly.

We have a saying where I come from: you can take the Gaspésien out of Gaspé, but you can't take the Gaspé out of the Gaspésien. To a Gaspésien, having land expropriated forges character. As the motto of Quebec has it, we remember.

This maritime riding developed to a great extent thanks to cod. Centralizing federal management of this marine resource leaves a bitter taste in our mouths, just as the Forillon Park affair did. Management imposed from outside dismisses local attempts to solve the industry's problems. This is not the first time the fishery has undergone a crisis.

In the early 1970s, the cod stock was in about the same state as it is today, but the resourcefulness of the fishing folk of the time turned them toward other species. When in the early 1970s they could catch no more cod, they went after crab. Crab fishing was no gold mine then, but it is now.

A little later, around 1976, it was the turn of the ocean perch fishery in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to decline. The people who had been catching ocean perch started harvesting shrimp instead, because shrimp was not so well known. Their resourcefulness enabled them to get through a crisis.

I would conclude that these maritime communities have the ability to adapt as long as they have the freedom to work together. They can let each other know when there are other species around that are undervalued and could be marketed. For that to work there have to be channels of rapid communication between the decision makers and the ordinary people, the fishermen on the front line. The ability to make rapid feedback possible was lost by Quebec under its Liberal government in 1982 when jurisdiction over fisheries was returned.

It is high time the federal government opened its eyes. In 1986, rapid feedback would have enabled the people who fished for cod inshore and saw the stocks were declining to adapt. While cod stocks were declining, other species, wrongly thought to be undesirable, should have been promoted.

The problem goes a lot further than the exhausted stocks the department has proclaimed. It is the whole structure of the industry that has to be rethought. Instead of getting on with the structural changes needed to react to cyclical variations in cod stocks, the throne speech is still looking for someone to blame for their disappearance.

In order to get the economy going again, the government must set directions for the future of the fishing industry. I will address two important aspects of this issue; harvesting the resource and protecting workers.

Cod fishing is older than Canada. Since the fishery began, fish have been harvested using the preservation methods we knew. In the beginning, we salted and dried cod. With the arrival of electricity and freezers, we made blocks of frozen cod. That is what we are still doing, or were until the minister turned off the tap.

These types of harvesting resulted in the setting of an implicit standard on the length of fish caught. In order to meet these standards, which were set for a specialized industry, fishermen had to throw back undesirable fish solely on the basis of length.

The restructuring of the fishing industry, or rather, the revolution of the fishing industry, was not addressed in the speech from the throne.

Despite decades of intervention by the federal government, the structure of the fishing industry is still at the elementary school level. What does the government intend to do in order to upgrade it to the university level?

University is the top of the line. We must no longer limit our efforts to the traditional mass market. Instead we must seek out new market niches, such as those for fresh fish and under-utilized species. This means that we must support the fishing communities so that they are able to meet these new standards. We must enable them to make more money while catching fewer fish.

In order to reach this objective, the government should apply business methods to the fishing industry; in other words, it should bring the sales operation closer to the harvesting operation.

If all the steps or all the links in the industrial chain are respected, fishermen will be able to sell everything they catch. At present, they depend on overspecialized plants and as a result what they harvest is overspecialized.

In the past, the government pinned all its hopes on harvesting the natural resource. Today, we must rely on human resources, the grey matter of the people in the communities, to make more money while being more respectful of the marine resource. These people are familiar with the problems, they have solutions. Is the government prepared to support their efforts?

These communities need concrete measures like those put forward by the Bloc during the election campaign, which I will list. One such measure was the creation of landing warehouses, in order to group together underutilized species and promote the sale of fish turned down by traditional plants.

The second measure put forward by the Bloc was the creation of a provincial clearinghouse to implement the logistics of transportation to the various markets because they will be new.

The third measure, which I will mention but about which I will be speaking again later, was returning the management of fishing licences to the provinces.

What I mean to say is that the government, instead of looking to the future, set up short focus programs that did not address existing problems. Meanwhile, the situation has deteriorated and workers have found themselves without work.

The government is proposing pointless training programs. Rather than forcing workers to bend over backwards to meet the requirements of these programs, we should be listening to them and taking their tastes and their skills into consideration. We have to rely on people's experience and help them to put their ideas into practice. It is up to Ottawa to understand how people think, not the other way around. As I said during my election campaign, there is a local solution to a local problem. Real solutions will not come from Ottawa.

However, a transition period is necessary in order to revitalize industry. Since it was the government that allowed the situation to get worse over the years, it is up to the government, if it wants to be a responsible government, to support the people who are now unemployed. The current minister of fisheries has already made an attempt to simplify access to assistance programs for workers in the industry. It is a step in the right direction.

However, a great deal remains to be done. Words are wasted on a starving man. Throughout this transition period, the government must make sure that the people affected have bread and butter on the table. It is not the fault of the people in the coastal communities if the previous federal government preferred to waste public funds rather than investing in projects that would create jobs. Coastal communities are in shock. Now is not the time to let them down and force the residents to find a job that does not correspond to either their inclinations or their skills.

Those who live in coastal communities have passed on their fishing practices from father to son, from mother to daughter, and have never had to change their way of doing things.

The Gaspé poet, Maurice Joncas, described their lives in the song " Les expropriés de Forillon '':

Their universe was filled with these: Fishing boats upon the seas, Trees to fell in winter snow, Pleasures that were theirs to know.

I think these lines are a fitting description of past life in the communities which now, because of the federal government's management mistakes, have been turned upside down. For them, life will never be the same. They have to reinvent a way of life. All this cannot be done by waving a magic wand, and the government must respect the rate at which the communities are able to adapt. This revolution requires that the various levels of government give the coastal communities new development tools.

These tools will have to enable coastal communities to take stock of the human and natural resources in their surrounding area, because all too often the government has acted unilaterally.

Now is not the time to boast and brag about the merits of federalism. We really have to work together and ensure that the coastal communities feel they are full partners in the enormous changes to come, changes that affect them. It would be irresponsible to act otherwise.

The appalling collapse of the Atlantic fish stocks is the direct result of federal intervention in the fishery. The Liberal government does not have a spotless record in this area. Early in the 1980s, the Liberals gave out a large number of subsidies for shipbuilding that sometimes reached to 60 per cent of the price of the boat. They contributed to the current situation of overcapacity. Instead of diversifying the industry, the federal government of the day-we will see what the new one plans to do-made the problem worse.

For their part the provincial governments had no choice but to assist the processing sector to adapt to the higher volume of catches. They invested money while the resource itself, the cornerstone of the industry, slipped away.

There cannot be a valid and coherent fisheries policy unless the provinces share in managing the resource. The vulnerability of Quebec and the other provinces regarding fisheries arises from the fact that the final decision making power rests with the federal government.

Quebec and Newfoundland are perhaps closer on the issue of managing the fishery than we might think. In Quebec, we say Newfoundland is more separatist than we are. In the context of fisheries and oceans' reform-the research carried out last year-Newfoundland has asked for exclusive management of the resource and exclusive authority to issue licences for fishing in its waters.

I would be in favour of returning licensing management to the provinces. However, because fish stocks are migratory, the provinces cannot claim exclusive jurisdiction. If Newfoundland believes that the federal government is managing the resource inadequately, we hope it will support us in working to achieve joint management among the provinces. With joint management the resource would be managed more efficiently and we would have a better chance of preserving it.

However, a sovereign Quebec, with a seat on the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, could achieve a degree of rational management more rapidly. A sovereign Quebec would determine total levels of allowable catches just like any other sovereign state. It would distribute its share by issuing Quebec fishing licences.

This approach would enable Quebec to voice its opinions, as a people, at the international level and to manage its biomass jointly as it saw fit, without the federal government acting as an intermediary.

I want these remarks to be a plea for common sense, plea for respect for the maritime communities and their respective provinces. I have always tried to be fair. My remarks are not inspired by short-term interests but by a desire to counter the trend toward centralization in Canada that is responsible for the collapse of our fish stocks.

It is thus with a profound respect for the parties concerned that I submit my vision to the House. This is my reply to the speech from the throne, which in my opinion showed no understanding at all of the problems endured by maritime communities in Canada and Quebec.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent so that the House can continue with its business during the lunch break, between one o'clock and two o'clock.

I would also like to ask that the ministerial statement scheduled for this morning be delivered between speeches, after one member has finished speaking and before another begins, so that neither need interrupt his or her remarks.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

January 27th, 1994 / 11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I will start with the request for unanimous consent to continue over the lunch break. Have I the consent of the House for the proceedings to continue over the lunch break?

Is there unanimous consent to continue through the lunch break between one o'clock and two o'clock?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members


Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

As to the hon. member's second point, I will check with the Clerks to make sure it is in order and let him know.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate and pay my respects to the great member for Gaspé, a devoted member who has proven his interest in the citizens of the Gaspé Peninsula.

He did not have only negative criticism to give in his speech. I notice he also suggested several solutions to improve the welfare of the citizens of that area, particularly regarding fishing. He also said that if Quebec had full jurisdiction over fishing, the people of the Gaspé Peninsula would not be in the terrible slump they are presently experiencing. As he put it so well, the Gaspé Peninsula is probably the most beautiful region of Quebec. It might be a bit cold, but it is still a most beautiful area which I had the opportunity to visit as recently as last year.

To the hon. member for Gaspé, I want to say that listened to his speech with great interest. I congratulate him and urge him to keep up the good work.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for Longueuil for his remarks. I will often take the floor in this House to defend the interests of fishermen, Quebec fishermen certainly, but also fishermen in general. I have a motto, and when we want to be impartial and show fair play, as we used to say in my former business, to be able to defend our own, we must determine what is our fair share of the resources and be respectful of our colleagues on the other side so as to agree on regulations and achieve administrative agreements that will ensure long-term harmony for the good of the communities as well as of the resources.

It is in that frame of mind that I extend my hand today to the members opposite and ask them to work with me, to take me seriously and not dismiss my remarks on the pretext that I am a sovereignist. I may be a sovereignist but I am not a racist. I want to work for the good of the fishermen. In my speech I endeavoured to show the government that if it intends to make communities which have nothing to do with it carry the can for a situation they have not chosen, the members and ministers will find that I will stand in their way and they will come to know me and learn what it is to deal with a quick-tempered son of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Gaspé on his first speech in the House. I noted his concerns about his constituents, especially with regard to fish and the fact they derive their livelihood from the sea.

In his speech he mentioned that if the province of Quebec were more involved in the determination of the potential solutions to the lack of fish and lack of cod in the Atlantic region, somehow that would alleviate the problem for his constituents.

I do not think having the province of Quebec become involved in the negotiations for the allocation of fish quotas will create any more fish to be harvested. Is he suggesting that the province of Quebec be given a larger share of the quotas available, or is he suggesting some other alternative that we are not aware of, whereby more fish could be harvested and in that way improve the prosperity and the livelihood of all the fishermen on the Atlantic coast?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for St. Albert for his question. When I spoke a moment ago, I did not mean to say that Quebec could make fish appear out of nowhere at this moment. What I meant was that in the past, because we had the right to jointly manage the stocks, we were entitled to manage them in Quebec. The process for feedback, as it occurred in a field as complex as that of the fisheries, was implemented much faster.

In that sense, I understand that all Canadians, including Quebecers, must tighten their belts and participate in reconstituting the stocks. When I spoke a moment ago, I meant to invite the government not to make the mistakes of the past all over again. Since a man grows when he learns from his mistakes, I believe we all have a great opportunity to grow, because the federal government has made a lot of mistakes in the past, and I wish we could learn from them.

If we jointly managed the stocks, it would be so much easier to harmonize the industrial policies of the provinces in the field of fisheries. At the present time, we take advantage of the fact that the decision will be made at the federal level, and that everyone will pull uncle Prime Minister's sleeve to get a little piece of the pie, whereas if we all sat around the same table as equals in mutual respect, we would achieve harmony, but it would be for the better of the resource. We must never forget that people depend on that resource. Their survival is linked to that of the stock, they need it to eat, to earn their living, to maintain their lifestyle because the Canadian fisheries industry, including that of Quebec, is an export-oriented industry. We therefore owe it to ourselves to take good care of the stocks. They are a gold mine and I wish we could all work together to that end.

I am 5 feet, 10 inches tall and I am a sovereignist but that is not all there is. The most important thing is that we come to agree on the management of the fish stocks, and I would be extremely happy if we could achieve that.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Gaspé on the positive tone of his speech. I suggest to him there is no doubt the federal government has mismanaged the east coast fisheries.

The member seems to suggest that the solution to what ails the east coast fishery lies in turning jurisdiction of the fisheries over to the provinces. Would this not just exacerbate the problem and simply lead to endless bickering between the provinces rather than a real solution?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, when someone wants to find solutions to a problem, should he be afraid to say what he really thinks? Should he be concerned that it could start a squabble? I certainly did not speak with the intention to cause an argument. I simply invited the members collectively to improve the condition of the industry and the sharing of resources so we could perpetuate these resources.

I do not expect to start a constitutional squabble. If that were the case, I would face the music. With all my colleagues sitting here, I think I am strong enough to do that. Nevertheless, that was not my intention this morning.

I understand that the riding of Delta is in British Columbia. I would like to give my regards to the people of British Columbia and to apologize for not having mentioned their province when I talked about fisheries.

This morning I wanted to take a stand and respond to the speech from the throne. This speech overlooks many serious points. Two things were mentioned: find the reason for the

depletion of stocks and create an emergency program for Atlantic fishermen who are at the moment greatly affected.

I would like to tell my hon. colleague from British Columbia that I intend to visit the fishermen from his province once my English has improved somewhat.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege for me to rise in my place as a new member for the riding of Brant and participate in this throne speech debate.

Before I make my comments in that regard, I would like to thank the people from the riding of Brant for electing me as their representative to this House. As well, I would like to recognize the contribution made to this House and to my riding by my predecessor, Mr. Derek Blackburn. I wish him well on his appointment to the Immigration Board and thank him for accepting that appointment prior to the call of the 1993 federal election. Certainly that is one political appointment that I will not argue with the previous government.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize you and congratulate you on your appointment to the Chair and on behalf of the people of Brant congratulate the Speaker for being elected as our presiding officer. I have every confidence in his ability to keep our House in order and I offer all my support and my co-operation in that regard.

There are a couple of things I would like to share with the House this morning. First of all, I would like everyone to know why I so strongly support the speech from the throne as it was presented to us by the Governor General on the opening of this historic 35th Parliament.

Second, I would like to offer to the government an idea. It is not a new idea, but it is one which, if implemented more broadly, would help us effect real change in government.

Why do I support so strongly the agenda that has been presented to us in the speech from the throne? In a word, it is because it is practical. The people of Brant are tired of smoke and mirrors. They want no nonsense. They want a common sense approach to the challenges that face us. What we find in the speech from the throne is just that.

Take, for example, the infrastructure program. It is a program that can be used by municipalities all across the country. My riding of Brant is a wonderful mix of rural and urban. Brantford and South Dumfries townships boast some of the most fertile and productive farm land in Ontario and they are dotted with beautiful historical villages like Glen Morris, Mount Pleasant, Harrisburg and the community in which my family has been for over six generations, the village of St. George.

We need road improvements to connect our rural residents with these villages and with our urban centres, the town of Paris and the city of Brantford. Paris is a wonderful town, located between the rivers Nith and Grand. It needs new sewers for their residential areas. On the other hand, the city of Brantford needs support to improve its landfill site, its water treatment facilities and its roads if it is going to compete for the economic development that we so sorely need. The infrastructure program makes sense. It is practical for the people in my riding and I believe members will find it is practical for the people in theirs.

When we look at the government's approach to small and medium sized business we see yet another set of practical strategies. In my riding we have historically depended on the manufacture of farm implements and farm equipment. Companies like Cockshutt, then White, Massey-Harris, then Massey-Ferguson, are the companies that employed the people of Brant.

Not very long ago the city of Brant boasted having 5,000 of the highest paying manufacturing jobs in North America. However, those jobs are all gone. Those companies are all closed and we, like many communities, are now trying to rebuild our economy. We know that it is small and medium sized businesses that are going to do that for us. My employers are very supportive of this government's understanding that they need better access to capital and less government red tape. They need support if we are to build local economic, industrial clusters.

As a final example of our government's practicality let us look at the approach to youth and youth employment. Again, two very practical programs have been suggested. The national apprenticeship program is one example. It is a very important strategy for us because we need to transfer our young people more effectively from school to the work place.

It might interest members to know that the city of Brantford, despite a population of over 100,000 people, does not have its own post-secondary educational institution. This is a real liability for us. It means that we do not have a history of lifelong learning. It means it is very difficult for us to attract new high tech investment.

When we think of the apprenticeship program we see some possibilities for partnerships to be forged between the private sector and government, perhaps in starting technological institutes that can help with apprenticeship training. Of course, we believe Brantford is a perfect place for such an institute.

We talk about the national youth services corps, an idea that received great support in my riding over the course of the campaign. There are a number of organizations in my riding that could provide opportunities for our young people. One of our great natural resources is the Grand River. It is a wide, slow moving river that comes right through the centre of my riding.

The Brant Waterways Committee, I am sure, has environmentally related jobs that would help our young people get that very important first work experience.

There is also a vibrant seniors community in my riding and the opportunity for inter-generational work, training and experiences exist. Our schools need young people to help younger people learn to read, write, do math and improve their computer skills.

When I read the speech from the throne I saw all kinds of opportunities for me as a member to go back to my riding and work with the people to make things better and to improve our local economy.

However, there is one idea that is not included in the speech from the throne and I would like to suggest it to the government for consideration. It is the idea of government decentralization; of taking certain government agencies, ministries and departments and moving them out of large urban centres like Ottawa and Toronto into smaller centres like those in my community.

The people of my riding are very supportive of this notion. In fact, we had been promised the relocation of the computer and telecommunications services department of the provincial government into our riding early in 1993. This made a lot of sense to us because Brantford is the telephone city. It is where Alexander Graham Bell made the first long distance phone call between Brantford and Paris.

We were very excited about the possibility and expected this relocation to occur. Unfortunately, with the change in government, there was a decision made to cancel that program. With that cancellation came depression, not only economic but social, to my community.

Decentralization is an interesting idea. It is not new. However, it can help us meet a number of our priorities. It can help improve economic equality across the country. It can help improve the physical and social well-being of Canadians. It is a strategy that we can use as we look to streamline the public service and increase participatory democracy. It certainly would require us to make quantum leaps in the development and use of the electronic highway.

Whether the federal government chooses to utilize the strategy of decentralization by itself or in concert with the provincial governments, as we try to affect reduction in duplications of government servicing or in new and innovative ways by working with the private sector in out-sourcing models and concepts, I believe that government decentralization is an idea whose time has come. I would encourage all our ministers as they look at their departmental management to consider this strategy. If they find that they have opportunities, particularly in the area of telecommunications, agriculture, the environment and others, I hope they would think of the riding of Brant.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to share with the members of this House a little bit about the riding that I represent. I also appreciate the opportunity to share with them the reasons why I so strongly support the agenda that has been put before us in the speech from the throne.

I would ask them all to vote in favour of the motion that is on the floor, put there by my colleague, the member for Bruce-Grey, and seconded by my colleague, the member for Madawaska-Victoria.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member from Brantford. I was in that community numerous times and it is indeed a beautiful community.

I am interested in asking the hon. member about the infrastructure program which she so adamantly supports. The question I have is, what does the hon. member see as the longest term effect on her community for infrastructure? Is it the bill that the taxpayer picks up from the municipal, federal and provincial portion or the short-term job that may be arranged as a result of the program itself?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question.

I do not see these projects as only being of value in the short term. We are very anxious of course to get the shovels in the ground in my community because we do need job creation.

Certainly in the discussions that I have had with all my municipalities there is a true expectation that this work will provide longer term opportunities. It will provide economic benefits to Brantford, Paris, South Dumfries and Brantford township.

I have been extremely excited by the energy that all the municipal councils have shown toward the project. They feel they do have the moneys and can reallocate moneys collected for these projects.

I have no hesitation in supporting the program and encouraging it to other municipalities.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I too want to congratulate the hon. member on an excellent presentation to the House. I was extremely impressed.

I want to follow up on one area that she touched on toward the end of her presentation concerning government offices moving out to, I assume she was suggesting, various parts of the country.

In that light, I would ask the hon. member if it was her thought to do this only after investigation might take place as to the economics of making that transition and the economics of where they were going compared to where they are at the present time.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:05 p.m.


Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, absolutely. There is no question that not everything can be moved. There is no question that we have to look at the economics. However, I think we have to look at the longer term.

While there may be costs associated with the physical move and with restructuring and organizing particular agencies or departments selected to move, in the longer term there is a tremendous advantage to be held. It would be a very broad advantage for the country. I mentioned several reasons why that is important.

I do not want the hon. member to get me wrong. Certainly there is a reason for many government departments and ministries to stay centralized.

As I look at our need to stabilize economies across this country, in my area and particularly in the east, I think of the money that we put in in terms of unemployment insurance and social services and think maybe we should also be providing government jobs.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to support the motion on the address in reply to the throne speech and to explain how the government intends to dedicate its resources and energy to the future of our young people.

First, however, I want to thank those hundreds of volunteers and the people of Vaudreuil who elected me to speak on their behalf in this venerable institution, the House of Commons. I will represent them with great pride, integrity and a sense of purpose, to defend our common goals.

To my friends and fellow citizens from Kirkland, selected as one of the top ten towns in Canada, thank you for your confidence, your support and trust over the past ten years. I have been honoured to serve you in my capacity as councillor and mayor. I am now proud to include you in the new family of the riding of Vaudreuil where I hope to serve you with equal dedication.

I also want to express my love and gratitude to my wife Mary Alice, to our four children, Lisa, Laura, Michele and Marco, for their patience and unconditional support. They have been a true source of inspiration for me. To my parents, Domenico and Immacolata, thank you for teaching me the values and the importance of education and family values.

To you, Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to say that I admire your setting down a code of ethics for politicians, in order to restore the dignity of public office. Your great integrity is an example to us all. I thank you for it.

To you, Mr. Speaker, I offer my sincere congratulations upon taking up your new duties.

As a Quebecer, I always felt the opportunities for myself and members of my family were unlimited. Thirty-seven years ago, four Discepola brothers left the village where they were born, Volturara Irpina in the Campagna region in Italy, to settle in Canada with their families. Their dreams came true.

Today, their children include judges, one doctor, teachers, engineers and accountants. One of them even wandered off to become a member of the House of Commons. I do not know of any other place in the world, any nation, any country where this would have been possible.

The riding of Vaudreuil has many concerns and a number of priorities, but I have decided to use my maiden speech in the House of Commons to talk about the government's program for the future of our young people, because like all Quebecers and all Canadians, I am concerned about the future of my children and my children's children.

It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to explain what the government intends to do to ensure that our young people have a decent future.

Canada is proud that it can give its young people a wonderful place to grow up in. They enjoy the kind of life that is the envy of the whole world. Like the generations before them, these young people are looking for rewarding jobs, a comfortable standard of living and a satisfying family life. The ideals of youth have changed very little, although the circumstances have changed dramatically.

The recession, high youth unemployment and the prevailing uncertainty in the work force put enormous pressures on our youth, pressures that older Canadians have never had to experience.

Today, students who graduate with a high school graduation certificate and choose not to further their studies seriously limit their future. In the 1990s, 60 per cent of available jobs will require grade 12 education or better. It is evident that our youth are not very well prepared to penetrate the work place. Their lack of competency will have tremendous social and economic consequences for us all.

Science and mathematics are the two engines that power innovation and progress that in turn will determine our survival in the age of technology. According to international studies, Canadian high school students are barely average in science.

Compared with other OECD countries, Canada has a low percentage of graduates in science and engineering. There is no question that we must improve our performance. As the 21st century fast approaches, Canada must find the way to make its labour force more competitive. We believe that co-operation at all levels among governments, the provinces, management and labour will enable us to find solutions to our country's human resource needs.

Canada spends in excess of $55 billion per year on education and training. Of this total, $13 billion comes from the federal government, which represents 7.4 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. This puts us well ahead of all OECD countries in this area.

Not only is this government determined to promote education and the acquisition of knowledge, it also wants young people to get the best possible training to fill the jobs of the future.

Despite the current high rate of unemployment among young people, some employers are still having trouble finding skilled workers. Serious gaps exist between school and the work world. With the emergence of new technologies, training in traditional fields has become outmoded. Many young people continue to opt for careers in fields which have become saturated, ignoring others in which workers are more in demand.

Within the context of the new economy, there is a shortage of training programs in emerging fields in which job opportunities are plentiful. I am thinking here, for example, about information technology and telecommunications.

Governments, labour and business leaders must join forces to revitalize our training system and create new apprenticeship opportunities geared to new, rapidly growing sectors of the economy.

This recession has dealt a harsh blow to the aspirations of our youth. After years of study and part-time work, they cannot find work, even with a degree in hand.

We have to come up with better solutions. It is clear that our country's social security safety net is not working in its present form and does little to encourage integration of young people into the labour force and develop their full potential.

The hon. Minister of Human Resources Development will be consulting with the Canadian public and working with the provinces to ensure that together we are able to adapt our social programs to the realities of the nineties. Our social security system is the envy of the entire world. Whether it survives and remains effective, however, will depend on its ability to adapt to the new labour context.

One of the options that the government is presently considering is the development of more and improved training programs geared to employment in order to ease the transition into the labour force for young people and help them acquire the skills in demand by employers.

The second option under review by the government involves setting up a program in which young people would have an opportunity to serve their community. The government has made a commitment in this area by announcing plans to create a Youth Service Corps to give young people who are out of work the chance to gain some experience.

The goal of the Youth Service Corps is not only to enhance the quality of life in our communities, but also to give young people back some hope and sense of accomplishment. Young people up to the age of 25 who participate in the Youth Service Corps will gain some on-the-job experience, have a head start on finding work and maybe even have a chance to break out of the vicious cycle of social dependency which destroys ambition and wastes talent.

The Minister of Human Resources Development is determined to improve the Canada student loans program. He will consider making some changes which would increase the amount of short-term assistance provided and will hold consultations with the provinces and the other interested parties.

The government also wants to increase the level of support provided to the co-operative education program which it sees as a way for students, the provinces, labour and business to work together to build a highly skilled workforce.

Canada's future rests with our young people who need an opportunity to become productive adults. In its pursuit of this objective, the federal government will vigorously support programs that enable young people to acquire the know-how to get good, well paid jobs and to look to the future with optimism.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank and to congratulate my hon. colleague from Vaudreuil for his speech. Obviously, he is deeply concerned with our youth, especially with respect to job training. I would like to ask him-and this may take a lot of courage on his part, considering his political affiliation-to tell me where he stands as a Quebecer on the issue of job training.

If there is an issue for which there is a consensus today in Quebec, where public opinion is often divided, it is job training. The Conseil du Patronat du Québec, the CNTU, the FTQ, the government of Quebec all agree. The Liberal Party of Canada may well be the only one not to agree that the jurisdiction for job training should finally be given back to the government of Quebec and its natural allies, which are labour and management. Given that, where does the member for Vaudreuil, who has

proven to be sensitive, stand on the whole issue of young people and job training?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I think that our government has clearly stated its intention to review the entire subject of social programs, including job training.

As far as I am concerned, as the member for Vaudreuil, I think it is in the interest of all Quebecers and all Canadians to make sure that future programs are well structured and clearly meet the needs of the public in general.

It is also clear that our government did not take a stand against manpower training. What we said is that we were not prepared to sign the agreement immediately. We want to review the programs first, but I am fairly confident that the member will soon get the answer he was hoping for.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, while the member talked about the envy of the world of our social programs it would seem to me that our social programs in many ways have been part of the destruction of the economic viability of this country. We are now $500 billion in debt and I think it is past time that we took our social programs and re-evaluated them to ensure that they are focused only on those who are in need rather than those who have collected by virtue of being part of a specific group.

The hon. member also talked about the right or the relationship between study and work and one particular situation that was posed to me by a constituent a few weeks ago was that we seem to have a situation in our labour training in which we pay unemployment insurance to people who are in the apprenticeship training program while they attend school. This appears to be a good move yet we deny unemployment insurance to those who are going to university for a longer period of time.

The point being made to me was that here we have someone on a training program who has a guaranteed job because he is on a release from his employer who is entitled to pick up unemployment insurance. Someone going to university has to fight for a summer job in order that he may continue his studies.

It seems to me there is a vast divergence between the two attitudes toward the two different kinds of qualifications of study. I would think that university training has to be encouraged as much as possible. How do the hon. member and his government think we can ensure that money is available to enhance and motivate and pay for the education we so greatly need in this country?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr Speaker, I could not agree more with the comments made by the hon. member. I think that when it comes to youth training programs and experience, it has always been my experience-having had in my other life a small computer business-that I was able to hire young students coming out of CEGEP, which is a pre-university entry program.

I must say that in hiring those young students I was able in my own humble way to give them the experience that is so lacking when one is trying to find permanent employment.

I think those kinds of programs are the initiatives that our minister, Lloyd Axworthy, is trying to put into place. What I am hearing from my two daughters who are in CEGEP is that once they graduate they cannot go anywhere. That is what our government has to do and what we have to respond to. Those are the needs of our youth. It is essentially this: "Give me the ability to get some experience and I will show what I can do as a youth". That is what I have done in my whole career and that is what I think we owe our youth.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the two previous government speakers, the hon. members for Brant and for Vaudreuil, for their very pertinent comments on youth employment. These two hon. members told us that they were willing to take a lot of steps and participate in a lot of discussions to allow our young people to work, and I congratulate them on their position.

On the other hand, I thought that the hon. member for Vaudreuil gave a very evasive answer to the question posed by my Bloc Quebecois colleague concerning the decentralization of job training in Quebec. His response gave me the impression that he was not ready to transfer all this responsibility to the Quebec government. We are perfectly aware that the people who know best what our young people need are those closest to them. As a teacher I can say that to offer our young people an interesting lifestyle and lasting employment, we must bring them closer to the decision centres, namely the schools, or to the government that is more attuned to their needs.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Once again, I think the important thing for the youth of today is to get the training that they so desperately need. I do not think it is really my job as a member of Parliament to decide who delivers that service. I think it is incumbent upon our government to make sure that it is delivered and done with the most efficient cost possible and that we respond to the aspirations of the youth of today. We should not get into another quasi-constitutional debate on who has jurisdiction over what.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am going to address my comments this day to the speech from the throne on the matter of health.

Let me first, however, make my traditional comments as a novice member of this House to thank the electors of my riding of Macleod who sent me to this august Chamber. Macleod is in southwest Alberta and extends from Calgary down to the U.S. border from the mountains to far out in the grain farming country. Macleod has a fine group of people I intend to represent as best I can.

I would also like to thank my children for their sacrifice and my wife, Sue, for her support and the sacrifice that she is making in sending me here.

I would like to congratulate the Speaker on his performance in the chair and pledge my support.

I would finally like to thank the members who sit in this House, for I believe that they deserve some applause, each one of them, for serving this country by a contribution to public life.

I am a novice in Ottawa. When I first came to Ottawa I was interested in looking at the call letters for the Ottawa airport, YOW. I am not sure what this means in French but in English YOW has an interesting connotation. I will leave one to imagine what my connotation was for the call letters for the Ottawa airport.

What does the throne speech say about health? There are four items in the throne speech relating to health. The first is a commitment to the Canada Health Act and a rejection of measures that would undermine that act. The second suggested that there will be a national forum on the renewal of Canada's health system led by the Prime Minister. The third talks about a centre of excellence for women's health. The fourth is a pre-natal nutrition program for low income women. To these four statements I extend my compliments to the Government of Canada.

However, is this system sick? Is our health care system in trouble and does it indeed need renewal?

Let me go through a few specific items on Canada's health care plan. First, Canada spends more on health care than any other country except the U.S. We are spending over $60 billion a year on our health care system, yet we are less healthy than many other countries that spend less. If we consider life expectancy, perinatal mortality and morbidity statistics then Canada does not stand at the top of the heap. Almost daily as well we read of bed closures, hospital lay offs and longer waiting lists for urgent surgery.

Here is an interesting recent statistic that I read. In 1992 Canada lost 689 highly trained physicians who emigrated from Canada. That is approximately the output of five medical schools. This is a resource that Canada should not be losing.

In the short time I have available today I would like to suggest what I think is wrong with our medical system. Canada is truly in a debt crisis that threatens all our social programs. With over $30 billion spent on interest alone on the debt and with no end in sight our social programs are in serious jeopardy.

There are many internal problems in health care that I could address, but those internal items are primarily a provincial responsibility. I will not speak of those at all today, but I will speak about what we can and I think must do federally.

The Canada Health Act has five principles: universality; portability; accessibility; comprehensiveness; and public administration for necessary medical services. I underline the words: "for necessary medical services".

When the program was started, established program financing provided 50 cents of every dollar back to the provinces for medical services. These funds have been allowed to slip until today when on average 29 cents on the dollar is all that the federal government is providing in cash transfers to the provinces. This slide of transfer payments must be stopped.

Reformers say to the Government of Canada that the number one issue on health care is to stop the slide of transfers. That can be done at this federal level. In real dollar terms the transfers must be frozen.

Second, I spoke of necessary medical services. Necessary, as I underline it, means a definition of what in our country is truly needed. Here I say that the federal government should be standing up and setting national standards for our health care. These national standards would define what is necessary and would also imply what is unnecessary.

Might I suggest a few things that in my view are not necessary under the terms of universal health care: vasectomy reversal, cosmetic surgery, routine circumcision, tattoo removal and I could go on.

Finally, another issue that in my view deserves federal government attention is the issue of medical malpractice. At the start of my career my medical malpractice premiums were $300. At this point in my medical career they are up to $3,400. I cannot say what engine drives medical costs like the threat of suits in Canada. Many tests are ordered and X-rays are ordered just to be on the safe side.

In my view this is a spot where the federal government could step in. I personally favour a no fault medical malpractice system that could save untold millions of dollars.

The real threat to our social programs is the debt-deficit crisis. Ignoring this problem will surely see us on the path that New Zealand followed. It ignored its debt-deficit crisis and lost its health care system in one day. Now it has new measures like advertising on its ambulances simply to pay for the fuel.

This should be a truly non-partisan question in my view and one that transcends all party lines since health care is number one for Canadians, Reformers and the member for Macleod.

Just before taking my seat in this House I delivered by Caesarean section a 6-pound, 15-ounce baby boy, Zachary David Birney. As I held that little child in my arms and washed him off and handed him to a delighted father, nothing could be happier. That infant, however, owes to the federal treasury over $17,400. This debt is wrong. This mortgage on his future is immoral. We in this House are the guardians of that debt. I dedicate my service in this House to the physical and financial health of all the Zachary David Birneys.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In fairness to the hon. member for Macleod, I was simply indicating that he had approximately one minute left. If you have any other remarks or comments you would like to make in the one minute remaining, I will be glad to give you the floor. Otherwise we will go back to five minutes of questions or comments.