House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rcmp.

Topics

Social Security ProgramsGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, we ran on a platform of putting our own house in order first. When I say we, I include all of us. To get our house in order we have to look at the programs and which ones we can afford.

We give out $38 billion for programs and services but we spend more than that in paying the interest on the public debt. I know we agree on that. We see eye to eye. We are going to have to reduce the annual deficit and bring down the public debt. I do not think we can wait for one and then the other. All of this has to go hand in hand.

I know the Reform Party would like to reduce the annual deficit in one year and wipe out the public debt in one or two years. If we did that we would put so many people out of work that we would really bankrupt this country because it is jobs that create the resources and funding that we need to carry on.

Let us not forget that even with all of our deficit and public debt, et cetera the United Nations still named Canada as the number one country on this planet in which to live. Therefore, we must be doing something right. We are not perfect and we never said we were, but we must be doing something right for a United Nations organization to put Canada that high on the map measured against certain social protection.

Social Security ProgramsGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Landry Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will share my time with my colleagues in this House by splitting it into 10-minute periods.

The least that can be said is that the Liberal government has finally achieved unanimity. In every province, a mass movement is taking shape against the proposed reform of social programs. I predicted-and I was not the only one-that the people would rise up against this reform whose prime objective is very clear: to meet the finance minister's budget requirements by slashing social programs. Yesterday, it was thousands of angry students, as the minister's dry cleaner can attest to. Tomorrow, it will be all the others who have nothing but whom the government is still going after. The only objective is to cut social programs.

The government plans to announce additional measures in its 1995 Budget, as it states on page 23 of its discussion paper. We know that the government has prepared a secret document specifying that the $7.5 billion in cuts announced in the last Budget will be supplemented by another $7.5 billion in cuts over five years.

I will now deal with the minister's proposal to address the current unemployment problem. His favoured option will introduce a second class of unemployed, that of workers with precarious jobs. Women and young people, who hold the majority of these jobs, will be the main victims of this reform. With this proposal, the minister creates cheap labour. In addition to compulsory employability measures, these unemployed people will be required to participate in community work. They also want these second-class people to pay higher premiums in return for lower benefits. Indeed, the government feels that some citizens are just lazy bums who lose their jobs on purpose. It wants to treat the unemployed like thieves sentenced to community work.

The federal government has always stressed that unemployment insurance was a generous system aimed at redistributing the wealth across the country. Yet, the minister's paper states that it may-repeat, may-become necessary to put in place special programs for seasonal workers to offset the negative impact of reform on regions with very high unemployment rates. If the government does not give that assurance in its document, this is cause for serious concern.

Earlier this week, a cartoon in a Quebec daily depicted a producer selling his corn for 75 cents a dozen, at -30 degrees. This is what the government wants seasonal workers to do.

As regards manpower training, the federal government continues to dismiss Quebec's claims. It wants to maintain national standards to bypass provincial initiatives and let local communities decide which programs they want to implement. The government is again trying to impose its famous single-window concept, which perpetuates overlapping and duplication, this time under the same roof. Talk about improvement! While all every stakeholder in Quebec agrees on the need for an integrated provincial policy on manpower development, the federal government persists in wanting to control everything. Ironically, the proposal made by the government in its report is the same one which was rejected last summer by the former Quebec Liberal government.

By persisting in maintaining and even increasing their involvement in manpower training, the Liberals only contribute to the administrative mess they know exists. In Quebec, $500 million were wasted within two years.

As we all saw, many students came here yesterday to demonstrate. Several women called me and said: "Can you tell me, sir, what will happen to me with the new social program reform? My husband earns $50,000 and I earn much less compared to him, but I do pay unemployment insurance premiums".

I told this woman: "Look, in all honesty, I think that you should get the service for which you pay". But this is not what the reform will do. The reform will ensure that you pay, but that you do not get the service.

I should tell you that one group of workers I helped at the union level went to court because they had paid for a service they never received. These people, who may be paying unemployment insurance premiums, will now be able to say: "I contribute to the unemployment insurance fund, and my husband earns so much money. I will no longer pay unemployment insurance premiums, since I will not be entitled to benefits".

It only makes sense not to pay for a service you will not get. We should not focus only on the negative aspects of the reform. At one point, I asked why a reform of the unemployment insurance program was undertaken. I was told that too many people cheat the system. I said fine, can you tell me the percentage these people represent. The answer was 1 per cent. One per cent are cheaters, and because of that one percent, the 99 per cent who are honest, who have not done anything wrong, will be penalized.

That is totally unacceptable. I entirely agree that reform is necessary, but we should not penalize the most vulnerable in our society and we should not penalize all women in Quebec and

Canada by withholding unemployment insurance benefits because of a tax bracket that is beyond a certain level.

There are alternatives, and I can suggest a few simple ones. I agree that reform and cuts are necessary, but leave the most vulnerable members of our society alone, once and for all. Go after the multinationals that make millions of dollars in profits and do not pay taxes.

I have had enough. I can no longer go along with this system. There is something I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker. You saw those young people demonstrating on Parliament Hill. I would urge the unions, I would urge all workers to get up and come to Ottawa to demonstrate against these measures which are intolerable, and I can tell you I will be there on Parliament Hill with those groups, with the most vulnerable members of our society.

Social Security ProgramsGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I believe there are five minutes remaining in the period for questions and comments. We will continue after Question Period.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to statements by members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Senior CitizensStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, among Canada's senior citizens there is a strong desire to remain autonomous and stay in their homes as long as possible.

Home adaptations and safer consumer products can play an important role. Increasing the level of awareness among health, housing and support service professionals and seniors themselves about home adaptation resources and opportunities, as well as information about safety in the home can help seniors maintain their independence and remain in their homes with greater comfort and security.

Health Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists all support the Canada Safety Council's 1994 National Seniors Safety Week campaign, November 12 to 18. Together we can work to meet the safety and housing needs of this important segment of our Canadian population.

Cultural CommunitiesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week Quebec emphasizes the vital contribution made to our society by members of our cultural communities.

At a time when Quebec is preparing to choose the country it wants, this intercultural week should not be seen as another forum for dialogue but as an opportunity for co-operation and for actively promoting membership in a common culture while respecting one another's differences.

Since Monday, the unions, schools and municipalities, to name a few, have been organizing numerous activities that demonstrate how open Quebec is to its citizens from other countries and other cultures. For instance, we have the Association des droits des minorités du grand Châteauguay, which will hold a seminar called Contact 1994 , an opportunity to celebrate these much needed intercultural ties.

Our cultural communities are important to Quebec, and the Bloc Quebecois fully supports them.

Gun ControlStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

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

Mr. Speaker, the bedrock of the Canadian legal system is the British common law.

It is unnerving to know that our justice minister, Canada's top lawyer, has so little regard for the common law that on May 4 in the House he stated that the possession of personal arms is not a right but a privilege granted by the state.

He should reread his Blackstone. This greatest of all British jurists pointed out in his commentaries that without the auxiliary right to have arms, the absolute rights to life, security of person, liberty and property are illusory.

There is already more than enough regulation of firearms in Canada. Do we really want to continue sliding inch by inch into the Mexican model where firearms are restricted to criminals and agents of the state?

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to say that enough is enough. I have grown sick and tired of hearing anti-Atlantic Canadian comments coming from members of the Reform Party. Not only are they attacking Atlantic Canada but they are using untruths and distortions in

their partisan attempts to pit region against region. This is unacceptable.

One of the worst offenders is the member for Fraser Valley West who has been slandering the hard working scientists and researchers at the University of Moncton's food research centre.

Out of respect for the truth, the ACOA contribution was not to make jam as the member suggested. It assisted in research and development for the small fruit industry. This R and D contributes to the development of new markets for products from soft drinks to jellies. This is no small industry to take a knock at. For example, the blueberry industry alone provides 10,000 direct jobs for Atlantic Canadians and generates $35 million in revenues.

The Reform Party members should tread lightly when they attempt to slander the business efforts of hard working Atlantic Canadians. They will never be a national party-

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I would encourage members to use words such as slander and untruths judiciously. We are walking a very tight rope in using these words. I would ask all hon. members to truly consider if and when they want to use that type of word in this House.

East TimorStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday, November 12, was the third anniversary of the Dili massacre in East Timor.

Since the Indonesian armed forces invaded East Timor in 1975, one-third of the nation's population has been killed, resulting in the worst genocide on a per capita basis since the holocaust.

Despite two UN Security Council resolutions condemning this invasion and requesting the withdrawal of Indonesian troops, no action has been taken by Indonesia to withdraw or the UN to enforce.

Since our Prime Minister in opposition said that he would take action to support the UN resolutions, I urge the Prime Minister to follow through on his commitment to raise this issue at the United Nations and elsewhere and to stop all arms sales to Indonesia.

Ms. Suu KyiStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, on September 20 I stood in the House to draw attention to the continued imprisonment of Ms. Suu Kyi, the leader who was democratically elected by the majority of the Burmese people. Ms. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since 1989.

Burma's military regime did meet with Ms. Suu Kyi on September 20. However, during this meeting they did not give a commitment or a time frame as to when they plan to release her.

I urge all my colleagues here today to remain vocal on the subject of Burma. I ask all my colleagues from both sides of the House to support a motion urging the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the current Burmese military regime and restore democracy to Burma.

CrtcStatements By Members

November 17th, 1994 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are reports in the newspapers today that a CRTC analyst did believe that the Minister of Canadian Heritage was lending his support to the licence application submitted by one of his constituents, and he did so long before the minister argued publicly that he never intended to influence the decision of the CRTC. The analyst even advised the CRTC committee reviewing the licence application in question accordingly.

So, this was much more than simple carelessness, as the Prime Minister claimed it was. These recent revelations show that the minister in fact interfered with the operations of the CRTC, a quasi-judicial organization operating at arm's length from the government. This new information confirms that the minister has lost all credibility by now.

Light StationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday during the Senate standing committee meeting on transport, Liberal senators defeated a planned fact finding mission to British Columbia next week to hold public consultations on the future of light stations.

The mandate and terms of reference were granted long before the coast guard announced the destaffing initiative. This is flagrant political initiative by Liberal senators to block input by concerned citizens and associations into the future use of light stations on the west coast.

An ad hoc parliamentary committee on light stations, jointly chaired by Senator Pat Carney and myself, was struck today. It will undertake this initiative and hold public hearings next week in Richmond, Sidney and Campbell River. The hearing group will be composed of two other senators and MPs.

We welcome participation on this committee from other federal parliamentarians.

Telephone City Musical SocietyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, on November 11, residents of Brant had the chance to remember the thousands of Canadians who have paid the ultimate price for our country. Again this year one could hear at the Brantford cenotaph the music of the Telephone City Musical Society. In fact, the band has played every November 11 in Brantford except two since 1919.

This year the band celebrates 75 years of providing music for parades, concerts and ceremonies in Brant. During these years highlights from the band include playing for the royal visit to Brantford in 1939 and playing on the same stage as the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1978.

Congratulations and many thanks must be extended to all members of the band, past and present, for their contribution to the quality of life in Brant. Special congratulations go out to Mr. Bert Locke and Mr. Fred Nicholas who are celebrating 57 and 48 years of service to the band respectively.

On behalf of the residents of Brant, I would like to say that their contributions are very much appreciated.

Atlantic CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my concern over the disturbing increase in anti-Atlantic Canadian sentiment coming from members of the Reform Party.

The Reform Party does not speak for westerners on this issue. First it was the Reform member from Capilano-Howe Sound who made insulting comments about westerners being tired of hearing Atlantic Canadians whine for more subsidies. Now in the same vein the member for Fraser Valley West has attacked entrepreneurial spirit in that region, stating that westerners are more money wise and work harder than their Atlantic counterparts. When will this stop?

All Canadians have benefited at some time or another from government support, even British Columbians. As a British Columbian I am personally ashamed of this tactic. Rather than slander our fellow Canadians on the Atlantic coast for political gain, we in the Pacific should be more understanding.

Folk Of The SeaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Fred Mifflin Liberal Bonavista—Trinity—Conception, NL

Mr. Speaker, on November 13 and 14, I along with several thousand citizens of Ottawa and Toronto was fortunate to witness the inspirational concerts given to packed houses by the Folk of the Sea.

Folk of the Sea consists of 110 fisherpersons from Newfoundland and Labrador who have come together to prepare their gift of song and story and to proudly present this heritage to the people of Canada. Everything that has been of consequence to Newfoundlanders invariably centres on the necessity that grafted us to the salt water trade. Our speech, our song, our common memories that shape and temper what has come to be recognized as characteristically Newfoundland was portrayed in a powerful and moving manner.

When we in Newfoundland and Labrador face the greatest challenge of our 500-year history in the fishery, which has been our sustenance, our occupation and our craft, it has never been more important to share our bounty of music and narrative with other Canadians.

I ask this House to join me in extending heartiest congratulations to this talented group of ordinary Newfoundlanders achieving extraordinary results as Folk of the Sea. We believe in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Social Program ReformStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are finally finding out the real impact the cuts the HRD minister is contemplating as part of his social reform plan.

The Quebec government announced yesterday that the minister's cutback frenzy will force another 45,000 or so Quebec households onto welfare. This translates into tax increases of over $340 million for Quebec taxpayers.

That is real impact of the minister's plan cynically dubbed "from unemployment insurance to employment insurance". The minister will no doubt argue that you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs, but he will have to come to the realization that his reform will create unbearable poverty in several regions. Again, this government is cutting where it hurts the most.

Private Health ClinicsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, health care is far too important to be partisan with. Last week our health minister went on national TV and singled out Alberta's private clinics because they charge facility fees directly to the patient while the doctor's fee is paid by medicare.

When I pointed out to her that exactly the same thing is done in every province, stunned silence. When I asked the minister to clarify, she waffled. When I challenged the minister to a debate, she ran like a scared rabbit.

Private clinics are an offshoot of this country's financial crisis. Our debt is squeezing the life out of social programs like health care. When the health minister was in opposition she knew this was true. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Private Health ClinicsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, on September 20 I raised the issue of private health clinics in Alberta with the Minister of Health. Since then she has done nothing to enforce the Canada Health Act. Members of the Reform Party have been raising this issue but the Reform Party is clear in its intention to move Canada toward a two-tier health system.

The Reform Party wants to end the national system of health care that we have in this country. Clearly, with this kind of opposition the government will do nothing to enforce the Canada Health Care Act.

While the Reform and Liberal parties bicker, the province of Alberta is allowed to continue this violation of the Canada Health Act. I urge the minister to act today to end what is a very clear violation of the Canada Health Act. End it before we have two health care systems in Canada, one for the rich and one for the poor.

McSc ElectionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Liberal Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, Le Soleil reported recently that the Leader of the Official Opposition denied that his party was trying to infiltrate the Montreal Catholic School Commission. He said that they were not trying to infiltrate any school board or municipal council in any way.

How can the leader of the Bloc limit himself to such a simple explanation for the bias his members have shown for a particular school board party, when two of his members have made public statements flatly contradicting him.

The Canadian press reported a Bloc member as saying, "I am not necessarily talking about infiltration, but I am asking you to be there in large numbers". We ask the Leader of the Opposition to restore discipline in his caucus and thus ensure that Montrealers will have free and democratic school elections, not shameless ideological infiltration for the separatist cause.

Crime Cards And Board GamesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the report on crime cards and board games was tabled in the House of Commons yesterday. Crime cards and board games have no redeeming cultural value. They glorify and commodify heinous crimes and make heroes of those who commit those crimes. At the same time they devalue the terrible losses experienced by the victims' families and loved ones.

Many Burlington residents, in particular Deborah Mahaffy, a mother who lost her daughter, a victim of violent crime, have been deeply involved and active in this issue. By writing letters, distributing and signing petitions, acting as a witness at the justice committee, she encouraged others to get involved in an issue that affects the attitude of youths and adults.

Canadians are concerned about the long term impact of the absolute violence contained in some of our entertainment products. Women and children are directly affected by them.

As legislators it must be our goal to work toward the day when every person in our society lives without the threat of violence. Members, join with me in moving this legislation forward.

Mps PensionsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, next Monday 52 MPs of the class of '88, 46 Liberals, will be eligible for their gold plated pensions for life, worth $53 million. This is on top of the estimated 480 current recipients who will cost taxpayers almost half a billion dollars. That is a lot of money for the services of former backbenchers, former frontbenchers and former prime ministers.

Reformers have had it. Canadians have had it and yes, even the steelworkers in Hamilton have had it. It is time for the Liberals to get off their high horses and reform this ridiculous MP pension plan now before they decide to cut RRSPs.

The Prime Minister promised action one year ago but we have seen no action. Reformers cannot even opt out. Could it be that he is waiting for his colleagues to hit pay dirt on November 21?

Stop stalling, stop talking the talk, start walking the walk like Reformers. Start living in the real world like the taxpayers who pay our salaries.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, Major Barry Armstrong, senior medical officer of the unit in which several members were accused of murdering and torturing Somali civilians, said that he was ordered by superior officers to destroy photographs showing Somali patients who were tortured, so that these photographs would not be used as evidence against other Canadian servicemen.

Yesterday in this House, the defence minister tried to minimize the serious allegations of Major Armstrong, who says that he kept some photographs, despite the order to destroy them.

My question is for the Minister of Defence. How can the minister continue to trust the military investigation, when senior army officers ordered the destruction of photographs that could be used as evidence against servicemen accused of torture and murder?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the hon. Leader of the Opposition has stated, I did not and I do not try to minimize the awful events that occurred in 1993 in Somalia with members of the Canadian forces serving under the UN banner.

However the hon. member must realize that a number of charges were laid as a result of investigations conducted concerning members of the armed forces. Those charges are being adjudicated at present. In fact an appeal which the crown has initiated-I believe the crown has initiated appeals on most of the verdicts so far-will commence next Tuesday. The last of the original charges will be heard next January or February.

Whatever I say or do and whatever the hon. member says and does should not impinge on the rights of the accused for a fair trial.

That having been said, the allegations that were raised yesterday by Major Armstrong were indeed quite troubling to me as the minister. As a result I have decided under the auspices of the National Defence Act to have an inquiry that will continue either after the original courts martial or after the court martial appeals are heard. I am seeking legal advice on that. This inquiry will be totally public. It will be totally civilian. The chair will be a civilian. The members of the original inquiry will be invited to participate.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister told us that the case for which a conviction was obtained, involving only a private, has been appealed. I ask him if he thinks that the appeal can be effective, since it must be based on the evidence already accumulated, without existing photographs in the possession of Major Armstrong and other photographs that were destroyed?

So I ask him whether, in these circumstances, he can go on trusting military justice for the case under consideration. Should he not ask himself the troubling question as to whether the destruction of some photographs has made it possible for other military people to escape justice?

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, it is a basic premise of jurisprudence that a person in my position cannot comment on the facts when a trial is ongoing.

I would like to address the question of military justice. Military justice has a long, noble tradition in this country. It has been upheld as being constitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada. However, once the courts martial are completed then the crown and individuals if they are dissatisfied with the verdict have a right to appeal.

The court martial appeals court is headed by a member of the Federal Court of Canada. Next Tuesday the acting head of the court martial appeals court or the justice of the Federal Court, perhaps himself or one of his colleagues, or with one of his colleagues, and perhaps with members of the supreme courts of the various provinces, perhaps even the province of Quebec, will hear the first appeal.

I want to emphasize that what we have here is the military justice system which has been ongoing. However the appeals when they are deemed to be appropriate are being heard by civilian authorities.