House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.


Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question also. As the hon. member will probably realize, Snowflake is one of the best known smuggling ports in Manitoba. I do not think that it is the price of the American product that really has caused this underground economy.

It is the taxation on these products that has made it so lucrative. It is not just cigarettes in Manitoba. Liquor smuggling is twice as bad I would say as the cigarettes. If we look at the statistics which tell us that 90 per cent of liquor sold in hotels or restaurants could be smuggled, we start wondering what is next.

Another issue that we are addressing right now is gasoline. As the hon. member will know the drive across the border to fill up your tank is very lucrative or has been. With regard to farm production costs, it would make a lot more sense to take the tax off of gasoline so we could import our gasoline that we exported out of the country at probably two-thirds of the cost of what we are paying today.

This is what I have been trying to point out. I do not think the cost of the products is really the big issue here. It is the overtaxation of these products. A lot of these products we produce in Canada, export them to the United States and then smuggle them back in because of the taxation problem.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the debate on Bill C-11. I rise wearing many hats.

As a chartered accountant, I believe I have the ability to understand the financial implications of Bill C-11. As a former member of the Mississauga hospital board for nine years and serving as its vice-chairman, the health impacts certainly were of significant importance to the health care institution. As a member of Parliament representing my constituents and listening, as have many members, I have received numerous interventions from them asking questions and making suggestions on how we might further improve the legislation with regard to the health impacts and indeed with regard to smuggling.

I also speak as a father of three. I have three children aged 12 through 19. I am concerned of course about the implications to my children and whether or not they will make the right decisions for them. There is a choice for Canadians.

I have been somewhat concerned about the confusion that may arise for the Canadian people as they listen to the debate from the context of an excise tax reduction alone. I want to clarify this. I think it is going to be very important for Canadians to understand that we have here a complex problem that is being addressed.

In my experience, for every complex problem there is a simple solution and it is wrong. I would like to outline, as we have already heard from the Minister of National Revenue, from the Solicitor General and from the Minister of Health, that this is clearly not a regional problem. It is a national problem.

Therefore the government on February 8 came forward with a four point program to deal with this complex problem. It understands that the cheap contraband tobacco has undermined Canada's health objective to reduce smoking, especially among young people. The issue is no longer how to keep prices high so that young people do not smoke. That is not the issue. The issue is how to keep contraband cigarettes out of the hands of young people.

I would like to make sure that all members understand clearly the dimensions of the problem. The problem is very severe. To give an idea to all members in the House, between 1990 and 1993 the number of seizures by the RCMP increased from 303 to 5,044 over a four year period. With regard to the value of those seizures, the increase went from $4.1 million in 1990 up to $53.5 million in 1993.

What about exports? We all have heard that the major source of the contraband smuggling has been exports to the United States, 90 per cent of which are coming back into Canada. Exports in 1990 were 11.3 million cartons. Yet in 1993 the exports were 62.8 million cartons. Clearly the dimensions of this problem are immense and growing very rapidly.

Finally, with regard to the number of charges that have been laid by the authorities with regard to smuggling, in 1990 there were only 414 charges laid whereas in 1993 there were 3,389.

I am sure all members would agree we are not dealing with ordinary circumstances. We are dealing with a major problem. That must give members an idea of the magnitude of the disrespect that has been shown for the laws of Canada.

As has been pointed out by many members, but it bears repeating, illegal tobacco now accounts for 40 per cent of the Canadian tobacco market. Organized crime controls up to 95 per cent of contraband tobacco entering Canada.

Furthermore, more than two million Canadians are buying this contraband. More than $1 billion of federal revenue and an additional $1 billion in provincial revenues has been lost as a result of this smuggling activity.

Hon. members must ask themselves this. If we are losing to our one taxpayer $2 billion of revenue that could go to health care, social programs and employment initiatives, how can we ignore the problem?

On February 8, the government did come down with a four-point plan: the enforcement crackdown, a reduction of consumer taxes, a special action on tobacco manufacturers and also an initiative of the largest anti-smoking campaign in Canadian history. That was the initiative of the Prime Minister.

He spoke in the House eloquently, outlining to Canadians that having had full consultation with the provinces, having fully assessed the input from all sectors with regard to this complex problem, it was necessary for us to have a well rounded, comprehensive solution to deal with all aspects and not simply the health impacts as hon. members from the Reform Party seem to have been suggesting.

Bill C-11 was introduced by the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Health, both of whom spoke today very well on the amendments that are being proposed to support this February 8 initiative. Those amendments to the Excise Act, the Customs Act and the Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act are all important complements to that initiative announced by the Prime Minister on February 8.

The amendments will provide Canada's law enforcement agencies with additional legal powers to end smuggling. It protects the health of young Canadians by banning the production of cigarette packages of less than 20 cigarettes, which we have referred to as kiddie packs, and the sale of tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. In addition, this legislation will require that each individual cigarette must bear a distinctive marking indicating that the duty has been paid.

Smuggling is a criminal activity that hurts all law-abiding Canadians. As all members know, law and order in our society is a very important issue. We were told throughout the election campaign and we continue to be told that Canadians want our laws to be enforced. They remind our government that we have a duty and a responsibility to enforce law and order in Canada.

That is why we need these amendments. It is to provide our police forces with the additional tools and flexibility that they are going to need to crack down on smuggling.

Since the initiative of the Prime Minister on February 8 and as a result of all the dialogues that have gone on since that time, there have been a number of feedbacks from the community. I have a couple here of notable news to share with hon. members.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has welcomed the government's action plan. It says that by taking the profit out of sale, organized crime will quickly lose interest. We also note in the Montreal Gazette that it compliments the Prime Minister on his plan saying that the high tax, high price policy had been effective for a while in reducing smoking but it was no longer working. It was being gutted by something far uglier than legal, cheap tobacco, that is cheap tobacco from a large and violent criminal network.

There are some key messages that we have received from the Canadian public since the introduction of these plans. First, criminal law applies to every person in Canada and enforcement officers must and have been cracking down on smuggling wherever it occurs. Second, the new legislation will strengthen the ability of our police to enforce the law. Finally, the concerted federal-provincial action is the best way to crack down on smuggling.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Health I would be remiss not to address the health issue. There is no question. This morning one Reform Party member in representing his party's interest said that they agree with the legislation of Bill C-11, except for the reduction in the excise taxes. I liken that to a table with each leg representing one of the four points of the Prime Minister's plan. The hon. member suggests that taking away one of those legs would still make the table a stable foundation for the activity to occur on it.

The hon. member will agree that by not having the excise tax reduction in combination with the export tax which is being applied, we would not have eliminated the profit motive for smuggling. It was absolutely essential to make this gesture so that from a financial perspective we could break the back of smuggling and get a handle on this situation. Hopefully through that, as the Minister of Health has indicated, we can return to a process of making sure young people do not have the incentive to smoke simply because of the accessibility of cigarettes.

I should acknowledge that the Canadian Medical Association wrote to all members. It complimented the government on three parts of the program but had concerns regarding the reduction of the excise tax. It is supportive and I know it is in consultation with the government and the Minister of Health. I know it supports the government in spirit.

We must deal with this major problem so that Canada can enforce its laws. Then we can get back to the creation of jobs and economic growth in Canada.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member in his presentation indicated that a reduction in the excise tax would reduce the profit motive for smugglers. Does

he believe that a reduction in tax generally would improve the situation for small business?

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say a reduction in the excise tax alone, disregarding anything else in lowering the price of a commodity would obviously make it more attractive to the marketplace. The hon. member's premise, however, is that having reduced the excise taxes it is hurting business. I do not imagine he considered that the contraband smuggling taking place had no impact on small business.

The idea of the government's initiative is to deal with contraband smuggling because every Canadian and every business in Canada is losing as a result of it.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been a lot of conversation since the lowering of the taxes on cigarettes that the government is losing money. Taking into consideration the fact that 75 per cent of the cigarettes smoked in Quebec were contraband and 35 to 40 per cent in Ontario were contraband, could the hon. member explain something concerning the money we are supposed to lose out of taxes? Does that take into consideration the contraband cigarettes or just the cigarettes that are being sold? Obviously there is an increase in sales to the retail outlets in Quebec and Ontario. There might not be any tax loss at all.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is no question in the estimates provided by ministry officials that in the near term there would be a net cost. However I have to applaud the minister and the Prime Minister for not anticipating some other benefits. One of the problems governments have had is anticipating revenues or benefits.

As a clear example to the extent government introduces tough measures to deal with tobacco smuggling, that same framework and mechanism would also apply and create some benefits with regard to alcohol, drugs, arms smuggling, et cetera. None of these have been discounted or included in terms of the benefits that will accrue to the country as a result of these initiatives.

I wish I could be more specific as to the economics of the plan. Suffice it to say in the short term there may be an argument as to net cost. Clearly however government officials, business, industry and all Canadians believe the program is the right one for the long term.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish at some time we might have an easy issue to debate in Parliament but this certainly is not one. What is the problem we are addressing? It is a major health problem and there is no question about that.

I for one would be most happy if the federal and provincial governments never got one penny more in taxation from cigarettes. Many Canadians feel the way I do. The reality is however that there are people who smoke and will continue to do so. As a result that habit has created a problem. Looking at this rationally and reasonably we have to deal with that health issue and this legislation is attempting to do that.

The problem is not only a health issue, it is an enforcement issue. An underground economy, an illegal business or trade, is being carried out in this country in monumental proportions. There is absolutely no question when looking at the facts. In Quebec over the last four years this contraband trade has gone from 9 per cent to 60 per cent. In Ontario it has risen from 13 per cent to 35 per cent. In the Atlantic provinces it has risen from 12 per cent to 40 per cent. Just last year in the west it increased from 9 per cent to 15 per cent, which is a 60 per cent increase.

There is an illegal trade going on which is very damaging to the country. It is also providing megadollars to those people who carry out many other illegal illicit trades.

When we hear about millions of dollars being made overnight in illegal tobacco and the expansion of this across the country, I do not think there is anyone in Canada who does not want to see very strong measures brought against that trade to stop it from continuing. Therefore there are certain steps to be taken which everybody in the House can agree to.

There are other problems involved in dealing with this trade. Number one is enforcement. How on earth do we stop this illegal trade and at what costs do we carry out that enforcement?

This problem is certainly mixed up with many things. I have received letter after letter from the cancer society, the medical associations and different groups concerned about the health of Canadians. They are very concerned that the excise tax has been removed from cigarettes.

Let us look at what taxation has been put in place and the reason for it. The federal government in looking at the problem has thought the only way to stop the illegal trade in cigarettes is to cut the profits of those organizations carrying out this activity. The only way to cut the profits is to bring enforcement upon them so strongly they can no longer function and to take away their profit base.

The cutting of taxes takes away the profit base of the contraband trade. Looking at the ability for them to function, when we remove from a carton of cigarettes $10 of provincial tax and $10 of federal tax taking the gross sale from $43 down to $23, we reduce their profits substantially.

It is true that the Canadian government does not take in as much revenue. However as this contraband trade has been increasing the federal revenues have been declining dramatically. When we talk about the percentage of losses in Quebec and Ontario and other provinces, those are all losses in tax dollars.

In reducing the excise tax on cigarettes we are reducing the profits of those people who sell illegal cigarettes.

When looking at the health problem we have to realize there are implications for all of our communities. Smoking cigarettes causes health problems in old and young people alike. Certainly the government has moved to correct some of that problem.

Looking at the health problem in general stopping young people from smoking is a major goal of this government. In order to prevent young people from smoking, a regulation has been brought in increasing the age for purchasing cigarettes up to 18 years. That makes it impossible for young people to buy cigarettes legally.

Members might say in some cases they can get cigarettes anyway. I would submit if contraband cigarettes are easily available, kids 11, 12, 13 and up will buy illegal cigarettes very easily. The resultant factor is as long as we allow the illegal trade to flourish and continue, more availability will be made for young people to purchase those cigarettes.

Therefore continuing along the same line as in the past would be counterproductive to health. There is no question it would diminish our ability to control the commodity and therefore allow more and more young people to get cigarettes at a very low price and to purchase them at any age they wish. The two major attacks on health would be gone.

The minister has also taken other steps to make certain there are more controls which brings me to the enforcement level. The RCMP has been given the power to work in larger numbers along with Revenue Canada customs officers. They will work against organized crime groups trying to stop the major suppliers of these cigarettes at any point. They will better patrol the borders by making certain there is 24-hour surveillance at many border crossings where there is only short-time surveillance now.

There are steps to very carefully check the sale of cigarettes across the counter within our communities in order to make it more difficult for traffickers at the street level.

There is no question that it has to be a strong policing action with the RCMP as well as strong policing action with Customs Canada to create better enforcement. At the same time the bill is trying to open up that enforcement to provincial scope as well.

Provincial officers in the province of Ontario and in Quebec will be able to work hand in hand with the RCMP and customs officers to try to curb this growing illegal industry. I might remind people in this House as well that the profits of that illegal trade do go into organized crimes. There have been very strong suggestions that groups from Montreal and Toronto such as Mafia organizations and Hell's Angels bicycle groups have all been involved with the illegal trade of cigarettes.

When it is stated that 95 per cent of the profits of illegal cigarettes goes into organized crime and works against Canadian society, we must take every measure we can to stop that from occurring.

There is absolutely no question when we look at the health problem and solutions to the health problem, they are not easy but the plan that has been put forth by the government is very logical. It is not easy to suggest that we reduce taxes and look as if we are caving in to organized crime.

At the same time it is taking the profits away from organized crime and creating an environment where their sales will not destroy more and more of the normal trade and therefore allow organized crime to totally control cigarette sales in this country.

It is important to realize too that there has been a manufacturers' tax placed on exported cigarettes to control the flow of cigarettes out of this country which are being recycled back into the country. The extra $8 on export tax will cost anybody who is trying to buy those and bring them back into the country more money to operate that illegal trade.

As we look at the whole picture, the government has tried to take into account health measures, enforcement measures and tax measures in order to resolve a problem, hopefully bringing us to a more prosperous future.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would to start by making a comment. The hon. member mentioned that one of the provisions in this bill raises the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 16 to 18 years of age. I simply want to point out that this measure was contained in Bill C-111 which was passed last year. However, the legislation only takes effect this year.

The hon. member did, however, raise some interesting questions about enforcement measures to control the sale of tobacco products. At one point, he said did not know how we would stop this illegal trade going on and what it would cost to carry out that enforcement. Therefore, I would like to send the question back to him and ask him to explain a little more how far his government intends to go in enforcing these measures?

Excise ActGovernment Orders

February 22nd, 1994 / 1:45 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, as far as the number of agents goes, Customs Canada is presently putting an additional 350 people into increased enforcement. They are providing 24-hour service at 22 ports to handle more than 99 per cent of the commercial traffic in this country.

When we talk about increased police enforcement, the bill is to open the opportunity for provincial police forces to operate under the excise tax rules and regulations. Therefore without extra cost to the taxpayer, we are increasing the number of people who can effectively work in this area by hundreds of thousands when we consider the major police forces like the OPP in Ontario and la Sûreté du Québec in Quebec. Therefore policing has opened up very greatly as well.

When it comes to the implementation of the age 16 to 18 law, it is very clear that there are different regulations in different provinces. However, in this case we are allowing or forcing the importation of cigarettes to be done only by people beyond their 18th birthday. Therefore we have changed the regulations and forced that age up two years from what it previously was.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the hon. member's comments. He has pointed out very vividly that there are two big problems in this situation. One is overtaxation and the other is the law enforcement side.

I am wondering if the hon. member could comment on how we should deal with the law enforcement issue. The overtaxation issue I think we have dealt with because we have made it unprofitable to smuggle cigarettes. These same people who have been doing that will now be unemployed. I do not think they paid into the unemployment insurance fund. Will they now take a job at the minimum wage or will these people go somewhere else and smuggle other products? Are we again going to lower those taxes to do away with that issue?

Now we have lost revenue and probably created a health problem. When are we going to address the issue of law enforcement? That is the big problem that we have to look at because these people are not ordinary law-abiding citizens.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question.

Without strong measures being taken, as this government is doing right now, we would be caving in to chaos, as far as I am concerned, and to a lawless society which openly-and we have seen it very openly in this country-sells contraband products. It has spread across this country very widely. We have to look at some of the root causes of that.

I believe part of the root cause is the taxation structure. I believe part of the root cause is the dissension people feel toward taxes at this time in our history. I believe other parts of the root causes are suggestions by people in authority that law and order is not to be upheld or strongly adhered to.

It is very important for all Canadians to be sure that this government will uphold the law and bring in whatever measures must be taken in order to make certain that the law is enforced.

We do not worry about the people who would break the law. We punish them.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to debate Bill C-11.

Most of the elements of this bill are minor and insignificant. There is very little in Bill C-11 that will combat smuggling. The government believes it has eliminated the incentive to smuggle with the initiatives that were implemented by ways and means motion No. 3.

This may in fact be the case for cigarettes, but all it has done is change the contraband of choice. We already are hearing about increases in the smuggling of liquor. We know that guns, narcotics and illegal persons are also a part of smuggling organizations.

If the government were to follow the precedent it set with tobacco smuggling, we can assume that taxes on alcohol products will soon be dropped and that the laws against guns and illegal persons will be changed to remove the monetary gains. This is not a national action plan to combat smuggling. This is capitulation.

Do we solve the problem of smuggling cocaine and heroin by making them legal and selling them across the counter? It would certainly solve the problem of drug smuggling, but are we prepared to live with the social consequences of such actions?

These laws against smuggling are there for a reason and they must be enforced. Taking the course of action that this government is taking sends the wrong message. It tells Canadians that if enough people engage in illegal activity, the government will give in and change the law.

With regard to the elements of the bill they are for the most part insignificant. However there is one area of concern that I have with the bill. My concern is with the amendments to the Excise Act and the Customs Act that would allow seized property to be sold or destroyed even if the claim is still unresolved. We are told the reason for this is to reduce storage costs and will apply mainly to tobacco and alcohol seizures, but it will also apply to the seizures of the vehicles that brought in anything considered contraband.

I am currently assisting a constituent who recently won a Federal Court decision against improper customs seizure. Unfortunately for this individual the court decision came 10 years after the seizure. Unfortunately for the Canadian taxpayer a $200,000-plus award has grown to in excess of $400,000 with interest payments.

Rather than providing the minister with the authority to dispose of seized goods, it may be in the best interest of both the accused and the Canadian taxpayer to develop a dispute mechanism which is made up of an independent assessment authority which could hear such disputes and avoid enormous court costs resulting from lengthy court challenges.

As for other aspects of the bill the amendment to the Excise Act giving non-federal police forces the same seizure powers as the RCMP is probably long overdue. Removing bureaucratic barriers in enforcing the law is preferable to capitulation.

However it is with the amendments to the Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act that the government is operating at its hypocritical best. It is trying to convince us that by making it illegal to manufacture or package cigarettes in packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes that smoking among young people will not increase. It is trying to convince us that by making it illegal to sell or offer for sale cigarettes in packages containing fewer than 20 cigarettes that smoking among young people will not increase. It is trying to tell us that by prohibiting the importation of tobacco products by or on behalf of persons under the age of 18 that smoking among young people will not increase.

The government is not telling us about one important issue, that because it lowered the price of cigarettes that more young people are going to start smoking. We have all seen the graph and it clearly indicates that with a sharp increase in the price of cigarettes, there was a proportionate drop in the number of young people smoking.

I imagine that we will soon see a graph that shows that with the dramatic decrease in the price of cigarettes there will be an increase in the number of young smokers.

Will it be difficult to enforce these amendments to the Tobacco Sales to Young Persons Act? I do not think so. Why would tobacco companies want to make packages of less than 20 cigarettes today? Thanks to this government the price of a package of cigarettes is now about half of what it was last month. The amendment to prohibit the importation of tobacco products by anyone less than 18 years of age is redundant. Why would anyone go across the border to buy cheap smokes when they can buy them at the corner grocery store?

If these amendments had been introduced prior to the government capitulating in the ways and means motion No. 3 they may have had some meaning.

It is ironic on one hand to see the Minister of National Revenue talk tough about eliminating smuggling and the underground economy while on the other hand being part of a government that is quick to capitulate. I wonder if the government will likewise be willing to surrender to the ever expanding underground economy. With more and more Canadians involving themselves in the multibillion underground economy, and probably many more will be ready to join them after the budget comes down this afternoon, is this government prepared to reduce all of its taxes?

Given the government's philosophy that lower taxes will take away the incentive for illegal behaviour, it seems natural that the government would reduce the tax burden to eliminate the financial incentives for participating in the underground economy. Of course it will not. Where would it get the money to make up for lost tax revenue? Where is the federal government and those provincial governments which are participating in this joint program going to get the lost revenue from the cigarette taxes?

Taxes on cigarettes were high but they were there for a reason. The toll that cigarette smoking has inflicted on the Canadian health system is even higher. Now all Canadians will have to subsidize the increased shortfall.

I am afraid that what the government has done in this instance has sent a loud message that if enough people are ignoring the law, do not worry, we will change it. What the government should have done is enforce that law and enforce all the laws that were there. If a law has the support of Canadians it must be enforced. There was support from the community for higher taxes on cigarettes.

Calls to my office were six to one against lowering the taxes on cigarettes. If my constituents oppose the lowering of any tax we have accomplished something. They do not like taxes. They want taxes lowered but they want them lowered in a sane and reasonable manner across the board. The government should have concentrated on enforcement, not on isolating tax cuts to contraband cigarettes.

Unfortunately some Canadians need the occasional reminder that there are laws in the country and that they have to be enforced. There are laws against speeding in this country despite the fact that most of us speed. The mere sight of a police car on the side of the road is enough to slow must of us down.

Excise ActGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Post-Secondary EducationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, recently the Students Union of Nova Scotia forwarded to me a recommendation that federal education transfer payments be made on the basis of the size of provincial student populations.

Presently federal funding for post-secondary education is based on the overall population of each province. This formula has worked against and is a detriment to Nova Scotia.

Due to the large number of out of province students studying at institutions such as Acadia University in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants, our provincial population has a much larger ratio of students than most. Current funding, however, does not reflect this reality.

I support the recommendation made by the Students Union of Nova Scotia and I urge the government to give full consideration to this important proposal.

City Of JonquièreStatements By Members

2 p.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the publication of a guidebook called Jonquière, mémoires et lieux that illustrates and interprets the architectural heritage of the city of Jonquière, in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region. This book shows the evolution of the city since it was founded in 1847.

The authors, Luc Noppen and Lucie Morrisset of Laval University, mention the uniqueness of Arvida, home of Alcan and now part of the city of Jonquière. Arvida, which was built between 1926 and 1928, is distinguished by its innovative town planning and its original architecture.

On the eve of their city's 150th anniversary, the people of Jonquière worked in close collaboration to produce this book, which commemorates architectural treasures often overlooked and sometimes forgotten.

Stephen GoughStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge that Stephen Gough, the only Olympic athlete from New Brunswick, begins his first of three short track speed skating competitions today in Lillehammer. Stephen is from my riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury. I want to publicly wish him well on behalf of the people of my constituency, the people of New Brunswick and indeed all Canadians.

As one of 110 athletes representing Canada in the Olympics, he is the the fourth skater in the 45 lap relay race.

Stephen has an impressive speed skating record. Just last month he ranked second at the Lake Placid Pacific Rim meet, placed fifth out of 66 in the pre-Olympic 500 meter race in Norway and earned a first place ranking in the relay as well.

While he makes Canadians proud as a representative in Norway, I know that he will be extremely successful during competitions as well.

Scott Tournament Of HeartsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that Waterloo will be hosting the biggest women's sporting event held in Canada, the Scott Tournament of Hearts. It is the Canadian women's curling championship.

We are very honoured to be able to hold this prestigious event at our newest facility, the Waterloo Recreational Sports Complex, from February 26 to March 5. Teams from across Canada will be represented, including Team Canada from Saskatchewan which went on to win the world championship in Switzerland last year.

We in the Waterloo region are very excited about hosting this event. I would like to extend an invitation to my colleagues and to all Canadians to come and join us in these festivities.

Grain HandlingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, on January 31 I urged the Minister of Human Resources Development to declare grain handling an essential service. Because of his failure to respond immediately, the grain industry is now experiencing devastating losses of more than $10 million. The canola, flax and rye business may have been lost permanently. The elevator system is operating at 90 per cent capacity, leaving many elevators plugged.

The strike's impact on grain flow to the west coast is difficult to measure in dollars, but it is expected to take until June for wheat barley movements to return to normal.

Now longshoremen at the port of Montreal and grain handlers at Lakehead are in a position to strike.

The federal government must immediately enact legislation that would declare grain handling an essential service to prevent any further disruptions that would compromise our western economy.

TourismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Brent St. Denis Liberal Algoma, ON

Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry in Canada provides our national economy with many opportunities for job creation and community development. Right now it is a $28 billion industry.

The future of tourism is bright but it is necessary that we take steps now to ensure full realization of our national and regional tourism potential.

In Algoma riding we are blessed with the north channel of Lake Huron which is among the world's top ten boating areas. We have pristine lakes and forests. Our Cambrian Shield mountains are spectacular. We have a great number of Canada's best trout lakes. My riding has fishing, hunting, sightseeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, canoe routes, fly-in camps, hospitality training and much more.

The Manitoulin, Espanola, North Shore, Elliot Lake, central Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie and east Superior shore areas have developed an excellent tourism infrastructure, but much more needs to be done.

Let us recognize tourism for what it is, one of our best opportunities for economic growth. Let us all start smiling because Canada has all it takes to be a world tourism leader.

Fight Against Cigarette SmugglingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, it only took two weeks for the Ontario government to realize how detrimental cigarette smuggling can be, a situation that the Quebec government has lived with for nearly five years.

The Ontario government finally saw the light and announced yesterday that it would join the federal, New Brunswick and Quebec governments in their plan to fight cigarette smuggling.

In a moment of lucidity, Mr. Rae finally understood that the smuggling plague has become a national problem in Canada. By hesitating, the Rae government compromised the implementation of a national anti-smuggling plan.

It seems that Mr. Rae forgot about the virtues of co-operative federalism for several unfortunate hours.

Small BusinessStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of a letter from Harvey Wiebe, one of my constituents, to the hon. Minister of Finance. It reads:

As a small business person, I account for about 200 jobs. I know that many people like me have already moved their money and their energy off shore. The loss of these people is far greater than the loss from people who have gone underground. Just think, 25,000 people like me could create 5,000,000 new jobs.

Unlike big business, my group does not want subsidies. We can be compared to a carpenter building a house. Every time we reach for a tool the government has taken it away. We do not mind sharing our house, but for the sake of Canada, let us keep our tools.

I believe that you know what you need to do. I also believe that you lack the courage to do it. You will earn far more support if people have hope, than you will by pandering to the wealth consumers.

Avro ArrowStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Len Hopkins Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was 35 years ago Sunday, February 20, 1959, that the Diefenbaker government cancelled the Canadian made Avro Arrow aircraft which was the sleekest and most advanced military plane of its day. Thus ended a second national dream for Canada.

Janusz Zurakowski, who had a distinguished military career in Poland, Britain and Europe, arrived in Toronto in 1952 and became the first test pilot for the Avro Arrow. Jan and his wife Anna own Kartuzy Lodge near Barry's Bay in my constituency. When asked about flying so fast he said: "It feels just like flying slowly, only faster".

The Arrow could fly at twice the speed of sound. It would still have been a modern aircraft in the early 1980s when we spent many times the cost to buy CF-18 aircraft from the United States.

The Diefenbaker government ordered the six Arrows already built to be cut up for scrap. All records, all factory facilities, all plans of any kind were ordered destroyed. What a sad commentary on a fantastic Canadian achievement.

As Canadians, let us build from our fires of success, not from our ashes. The Janusz Zurakowskis will be glad to see the change.

Apprenticeship ProgramsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, co-operative programs are an approach to technical and technological education which is flourishing in Canada. In this approach students go out from their base in school to gain experience in the workplace.

However, another approach, apprenticeship programs, is doing very poorly here. In this case students are trained in the workplace, reaching out for school programs as required.

The number of apprentices and the quality and relevance of apprenticeship programs in Canada have declined drastically.

One industry in Peterborough which used to have hundreds of apprentices now has only four. One reason for this is that apprentices often receive qualifications which are restricted to

their province. Only 14 per cent of apprentices in Ontario earn licences to work elsewhere in the country.

This is a national disgrace and it is as tragedy for well trained people who find themselves trapped in a province in which the economy is slack.

I urge the government to move quickly on the national apprenticeship program. We need a highly trained, highly mobile, truly national workforce.

Provincial Riding Of BonaventureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, to deal with the problems of unemployment, the exodus of young people and the over-exploitation of natural resources, the people of Bonaventure in a byelection yesterday chose Marcel Landry and the Parti Quebecois, thus showing their desire for change and that they want to make Quebec a sovereign state.

As the great Quebec poet, Félix Leclerc, said so well: "The Gaspé is in all of us-a mysterious, silent, patient land. The cry that will frighten everyone will come from there".

After 37 years of Liberal rule, this byelection is a real thunderbolt in the Quebec sky and we are pleased with it.

Winter Olympic GamesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to commend our Canadian athletes at the Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.

These athletes deserve our full support and recognition for their hard work and the commitment they have shown to excellence in their sport.

I wish to make special mention of one such athlete, Susan Auch, a resident of my riding of Calgary North who on Saturday, February 19, 1994 captured a silver medal in the 500-metre speed skating competition at Hamar Olympic Hall. Susan is the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic medal in long track since 1976.

On behalf of the residents of Calgary North I want to extend sincere congratulations to Susan Auch for her outstanding achievement.