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House of Commons Hansard #26 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was petitions.

Topics

BosniaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the ultimatum for the lifting of the siege in Sarajevo has expired, can the minister indicate what the new timetable will be for the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Srebrenica? Can we now expect a rapid withdrawal under conditions that guarantee the safety of the troops?

BosniaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that the decision made in regard to the changing of the guard in Srebrenica is implemented. It is in the process of being totally implemented.

Unfortunately because of the weather conditions and the numerous points of control that the Dutch troops have to go through in order to arrive there, they are not there yet. However they are en route and I am optimistic that this will take place in the coming weeks.

Native AffairsOral Question Period

February 21st, 1994 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the grand chief of the band council of Akwesasne, Mr. Mike Mitchell, handed in his resignation saying, and I quote: "I have put plans forward to initiate collaboration between Mohawks and the government, but the infighting has worn me out".

Would the Solicitor General not agree that the sudden resignation of Mr. Mitchell is proof that Mohawk authorities are powerless when it comes to enforcing the law on their territory?

Native AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, my colleague should ask Chief Mitchell, if he wants to know the reasons for his resignation. I can say that the RCMP has tried to enforce the law everywhere, and continues to do so, but I see no link between the resignation of Chief Mitchell and the work of police forces, including the Sûreté du Québec.

Native AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, should we conclude from the resignation of Mr. Mitchell and the assurance given by the Solicitor General that there would be no police action on Mohawk territory, that the government has given up enforcing the law on these territories and leaves a small band of armed men the opportunity to pursue, with total impunity, their criminal acts and illegal activities?

Native AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I never gave the assurance that there would be no police action on Mohawk reserves. I said exactly the opposite. I said that it was in the hands of the RCMP and that they would make their own decisions regarding inquiries and action if warranted. I never promised anyone that there would be no such action.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

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Whatever proposals the budget contains for deficit reduction, most members agree that their effectiveness would be strengthened if Parliament had more and better tools to control overspending.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether the government has any specific plans and proposals for giving Parliament such tools and, if so, what those plans might be?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader has already laid out his plans for making Parliament not only more accountable but more responsible to the needs of the taxpayers.

When the estimates are tabled, as they will be this week, I am sure the hon. member and his friends in the Reform Party will be as scrupulous and as active as are members of the government in ensuring that the taxpayers' dollars are well spent in every department.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. The Lambert commission recommended the introduction of sunset clauses whereby statutory authority to spend on certain programs would cease after five years unless Parliament voted specifically to renew.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House whether the government agrees in principle with sunset clauses as a tool to control government spending?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is not waiting for sunsets to control spending. We are constantly reviewing the necessity for every program because we realize that the responsibility we have received from the taxpayers is to spend their dollars wisely every day, every month and every year.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, a further supplementary for the Deputy Prime Minister. The last Parliament, as some members will remember, considered a spending control act which provided that program spending would not exceed certain specified limits.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House whether the government agrees in principle with legislated spending controls as yet another tool for getting spending under control?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the best legislated spending control that we are going to have is the budget that will be tabled tomorrow.

BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the last stretch before the budget, all the signs are there that this government, which listens to the people, or so it says, will ignore the interests of Canadians and increase the tax burden on middle income families.

My question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister. Would she agree that the direction her government appears to be taking goes against the very principles of fiscal fairness and economic recovery it apparently wants to defend?

BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the government is not being hypocritical, but speaking of hypocrisy, on the weekend I heard the opposition's finance critic say we had to deal with our financial problems and do our best to take care of Canadian taxpayers, but we could not touch any programs that benefit the middle class or the government's tax programs or RRSPs. I have a question for the finance critic: How would he meet his commitment to balance Canada's budget?

BudgetOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted with the Deputy Prime Minister's question, because it happens to be the same question we have been asking her government and the Minister of Finance since January 17.

Does the government intend to get the money where it is to be found, in other words, from Canada's big corporations which have not paid a penny in taxes since 1987, even when their profits are sky-high, and from the wealthiest Canadian families that use family trusts to avoid paying taxes? That is where the billions to cover the shortfall in the government's annual budget could be found.

Does her government intend to cut in those areas and spare middle income Canadians?

BudgetOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the finance critic for the Bloc Quebecois would not, for instance, want us to touch the tax shelters available to the Fonds de solidarité. I believe there are a number of government instruments that are very important for economic development.

The member says we should review these tax shelters to deal with the problem, and of course we all agree that the tax burden should be shared. We cannot put the whole burden on only 2 per cent of the population because that is not going to solve the problem. We must all be prepared to do our share. I would like to see the opposition be part of this process, which will not be easy

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but which is necessary to guarantee our fiscal health and jobs for Canadians.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. This matter was brought to my attention by members of the Somali community and the media.

It appears that an alleged human rights abuser from the brutal Barre regime of Somalia now resides in the Ottawa area. When will the Deputy Prime Minister see to it that this individual is investigated and that these allegations of brutality are substantiated? If they are substantiated will deportation proceedings begin immediately?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and tell him that as we speak departmental officials are investigating these allegations.

There are provisions in the Immigration Act to remove persons who are senior officials of a government engaged in gross human rights violations. Should it be confirmed that this subject was a senior official of the Barre government, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will ensure, as he has done in the past, that removal action is taken.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, a supplemental to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Last week I asked the minister of immigration how many more examples of abuse Canadians should have to tolerate. Stories of criminals and human rights abusers entering Canada surface regularly in the media despite the minister's assurances to the contrary.

When does the Deputy Prime Minister, or the Prime Minister for that matter, expect the immigration minister to start doing his job rather than leaving it to the media?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia

Liberal

Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, we can say the immigration minister is doing a superb job under due process of law.

This country has long been an open one and one that is delighted to receive immigrants and refugees from those countries not as fortunate as Canada and this process will continue.

There are laws in place and occasionally those laws are broken. When they are broken there is due process to ensure that offenders are punished to the fullest extent of the law. If this turns out to be the situation in the present case, then that will be the end result.

Income SecurityOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

On Friday, February 18 last, the minister announced the make-up of the expert committee which will have slightly less than two months to advise him on the ambitious proposed reform of Canada's income security system and labour market.

However, the House committee will have only 12 days to hear testimony from individuals and groups and to advise the minister on the concerns and priorities of Canadians.

Considering this unrealistic timetable, my question is will the minister concede that in fact, his action plan is already in place, that it is the same as the Conservatives and that he prefers to consult a committee of experts at $500 per day rather than allow enough time for public consultations?

Income SecurityOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I have far more confidence in the abilities of members of Parliament and the committee than the hon. member seems to have.

The hon member should not underestimate the capacity of this Parliament to provide an open forum for Canadians to be heard, making sure there is broad consultation and to perform the valuable task of ensuring that a range of opinions from one coast to the other is clearly brought forward as the first stage in consultation. Then the committee can get on with a longer review of an action plan so there can be something specific.

The attempt by the hon. member to try to subvert or short change the work of this committee does not do much credit to her role as opposition critic. It is very important that Parliament get down to work and give Canadians an opportunity to be heard so that we can come together with the reform all Canadians want.

Income SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want the minister to know that my role as a parliamentarian on this committee cannot be questioned. I pushed for more time, but despite everything, we will still have only twelve days to conduct hearings.

I would also like to quote, if I may, from an article which appeared in this morning's edition of The Globe and Mail :

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"Finance Minister Paul Martin has indicated that reducing Canada's $45 billion deficit will have to wait while the government deals with fundamental issues such as reforming the social safety net".

My supplementary question is as follows: Will the minister concede that if he is in such a rush, it is because he wants to give the Minister of Finance the opportunity to make cuts in social programs next year?

Income SecurityOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I say in response to the hon. member that may have been the agenda of the previous government. She could ask the leader of her own party about that because he was a member of that government.

However, that is certainly not the agenda of this government. Our agenda is to provide a more fair, just and equitable way to allow Canadians to get back to work, to have the opportunity to be properly supported and to make sure there is an up to date system, one that gives Canadians a real platform to fully participate in the life of this country.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Canadian Press yesterday reported that the minister walked out of a meeting between the representatives of the Lesser Slave Lake band council and the Sawridge Indian band. Apparently the minister found the Sawridge band's approach to aboriginal self-government unacceptable. As I understand it, the Sawridge proposals call for a municipal government approach and an opting out of the Indian Act.

Could the minister please tell the House today what he finds so objectionable about this approach?