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House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was deputy.

Topics

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The recently announced government immigration policy which will allow for the entry of nearly 200,000 immigrants this year under the family and independent class is commendable. These expected new arrivals, in addition to further enriching the multicultural fabric of our nation, will contribute greatly to economic growth according to the Economic Council of Canada.

To give success to this policy, will the minister take steps to ensure that visa offices and certified medical examination centres in countries such as Ukraine, India, the Philippines and others, will be sufficiently staffed and strategically located to ensure that the application process is as convenient and as speedy as possible.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. friend from Winnipeg North and also take the opportunity to commend him for the leadership role he has taken within the general policy areas of both immigration and multiculturalism.

The member raises a good point. There needs to be a connection between the desired levels of immigration announced and debated and the delivery mechanism.

I can tell the hon. member and the House that, for instance, we have increased the number of visa officers at our High Commission in India from 19 to a current 30. As well, we have also put in place accredited medical practitioners because of the demand in the state of the Punjab.

Since the fall of the Berlin wall we have opened visa offices in Kiev, Bucharest and Prague. The hon. member is correct and we are moving with dispatch.

Tobacco ProductsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

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

The issue of whether to lower cigarette taxes is especially complex and divisive because there are many other issues involved, including health care and crime to name but two.

Since the convictions of members on this issue do not follow party lines, will the Deputy Prime Minister allow members of her government to vote on cigarette taxes without considering it a confidence vote?

Tobacco ProductsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it quite clear that on issues that involve the spending of taxpayers' dollars, the government has to have the confidence of the House to be able to carry out those measures.

When the question relates to the budget or major initiatives on excise taxes, the government needs the confidence of its members to be able to proceed with money measures.

Tobacco ProductsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, if members of the government vote according to their conscience or according with their constituents' wishes on the issue of cigarette taxes, can the Deputy Prime Minister assure the House they will not be disciplined?

Tobacco ProductsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I should have congratulated the member on her first question.

Second, I hope that every member of this House has a conscience and when it comes to making decisions around cabinet, caucus, party or government policy that we do not park our consciences at the door.

The Prime Minister has made it very clear that when it comes to matters involving taxation, the government must have the confidence of the House of Commons to proceed with initiatives.

It is not simply a case of saying on every tough issue that it is a matter for an individual; on a tough issue which involves several departmental initiatives, such as health issues, criminal and enforcement issues, or tax issues, obviously we intend and need to have a united front as the Government of Canada.

Hibernia ProjectOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, Hibernia, the oil drilling megaproject off Newfoundland, is becoming the biggest white elephant in Canada's history.

The federal government is sinking billions of dollars into this financial black hole, at the same time as we are finding out that the Minister of Finance is seriously considering a sizable increase in taxes.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister of Natural Resources. Does the Deputy Prime Minister admit that this project is not financially viable and will she confirm that the cost overruns could exceed $1.5 billion?

Hibernia ProjectOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, of course, in the red book, the Government of Canada adopted policies on this megaproject for the future. I will also remind the hon. member of comments

made by Quebec's Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Christos Sirros, who spoke on this issue this week.

That being said, the Government of Canada intends to respect contracts and written commitments, because the government has the right and the duty to honour commitments already made, including those concerning the Hibernia project.

Hibernia ProjectOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

An answer like that is rather surprising, Mr. Speaker, since the Liberals cancelled the helicopter contract as soon as they took office.

At any rate, can the Deputy Prime Minister tell us if she intends to stop this hemorrhage of public funds, or are we to gather from her answer that in fact her government will continue to squander taxpayers' money on a political pay-off to the Premier of Newfoundland, Clyde Wells.

Hibernia ProjectOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I think that it would be inappropriate to compare Toronto Airport with the Hibernia project.

The Toronto Airport deal was signed during the election campaign. It is also known that the Government of Canada had made a direct commitment to cancel the helicopter contract and that the former government, during the election campaign, was in a position to withdraw the contract but the previous prime minister did not exercise that option.

As a government, we have said that the future projects which we will consider will not be megaprojects, because we cannot afford them and it is not profitable for small and medium-sized businesses, which are the basis of our red book.

That said, we want to respect the contracts and commitments made in writing by the previous government. I presume that it must also be the policy of the Bloc Quebecois, if it ever came to power, to respect the contracts signed by previous governments.

National DefenceOral Question Period

February 4th, 1994 / 11:45 a.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Reform Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister and reflects my genuine concern with decision making in the House.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister explain how and if the parliamentary debate held last week on cruise missile testing had any influence on the government's subsequent decision on this matter?

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Allan Kerpan Reform Moose Jaw—Lake Centre, SK

A supplementary question, Mr. Speaker.

I raise this issue to determine the relevance of these open debates. My party and I applaud any steps taken by the government to make Parliament more relevant.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell the House if the debate had ended with a motion and a vote to curtail cruise missile testing, would the government have bowed to the will of this House?

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I will permit the Deputy Prime Minister to answer the question. It is a hypothetical question. However, if she would like to address it?

National DefenceOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, obviously the government respects the will of Parliament on any motion passed in the House. That is democracy.

HelicoptersOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Jim Peterson Liberal Willowdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

This morning's Globe and Mail contained an article regarding Canada's Sea King helicopters which implied that in spite of their recent use in the gulf war, off Yugoslavia, Haiti and Somalia, they were not airworthy or capable of carrying out their missions.

I wonder if the minister could comment on the airworthiness of the Sea King helicopters and their capability for the jobs that they have to do.

HelicoptersOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. I know he is very interested in military matters.

When we cancelled the EH-101 we did so with the full knowledge that the Sea Kings could last until the year 2000. Indeed the EH-101s would not come on stream until about 1999 and 2000.

I recognize some of the comments made but in the article-I read it this morning-the commanding officer at Shearwater said that as far as he is concerned, like any aging equipment the Sea Kings require more and more maintenance but are perfectly safe.

I flew on one in the Adriatic before Christmas, 70 miles, pitch black in stormy seas. It landed on the ship and got me back here. I think it is a good enough indication of how airworthy they are if they could take me that distance and get back safely.

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would not want to end the week without asking a question to the Minister of Industry.

During a conference in Toronto on the electronic highway, the secretary of state for science announced the creation of an advisory council. The name of the former president of TV Ontario, Mr. Bernard Ostry, was mentioned as the chairman of this committee.

Can the minister confirm that, indeed, Mr. Ostry will be chairing that committee?

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. No, I cannot confirm that.

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the minister will not confirm that will not prevent me from asking a supplementary question.

Given that the minister already has recommendations contained in the Ostry report on the electronic highway, could he explain why we would need a second committee to study the matter?

Electronic HighwayOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as we said in the speech from the throne, the implementation of a Canadian strategy for an information highway is a priority of our gouvernement.

Considering this is a sector constantly going through changes, we believe we should have a committee to provide us with precise information on an ongoing basis.

What we are looking for in the formation of an advisory council on the electronic highway, is a group of individuals whose interest in the information highway will touch on a variety of fields; users, those who will be contributing to the highway as well as outside sources. To compose a broad committee which can keep track of the rapid change in this area is what is vital to us in ensuring that we have adequate advice as this important file evolves.

JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. On January 4, 1994 I wrote to the minister with regard to the case of Patrick Kelly. He is the former RCMP officer convicted of murdering his wife in 1981.

Since his conviction the crown's key witness, whose testimony convicted Mr. Kelly, now admits her testimony was false. Given this new information that now introduces reasonable doubt, will the Minister of Justice take action to review the case?

JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, may I acknowledge at the outset my gratitude to the hon. member for Comox-Alberni for informing me last evening of his intention to raise this matter. I am grateful for his consideration.

As a result I have had an opportunity to review the dossier. I can tell the hon. member that I have received correspondence from counsel acting on behalf of Mr. Kelly, invoking the provisions of section 690 of the Criminal Code. This section empowers the Minister of Justice to grant mercy in the name of the crown either by directing a new trial, or by referring the matter to an appeal court for a review where there has been some indication that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

I am now in the process of assembling the material that will enable me to deal with that application, including requesting a copy of the transcript at trial, the addresses to the jury, any reasons for judgment that may have been given, also particulars of any new evidence that counsel wishes me to consider.

In accordance with the invariable practice that material will be organized and assessed. An investigative brief will be prepared. It will be presented in the fullness of time to counsel for the applicant for comment and then the matter will be put on my desk for decision.

I assure the hon. member that I consider my functions under section 690 to be among the most important responsibilities in my portfolio. I will deal with this, as with all other such applications, very carefully and I assure him it will be dealt with in accordance with standard procedure.

JusticeOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, my compliments to the hon. minister for giving such a full, complete and direct answer when direct answers from this government are sometimes very hard to come by.

JusticeOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.