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House of Commons Hansard #16 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was recall.

Topics

Cigarette TaxesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, it appears this government is going to cave in to the law breakers by lowering taxes on cigarettes.

Tobacco, I might point out to this House, is the only legal consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended. It costs the Canadian taxpayer an estimated $15 billion in indirect and direct health care costs.

The revenue minister says cost does not affect the use of tobacco. I wonder what the minister is smoking. In 1992 Statistics Canada indicated: "Affordability is to date the most significant factor in the reduction of tobacco use in Canada. Regular smoking among Canadian teenagers has plummeted as taxes drove prices up higher".

How about getting from the Minister of Health a real commitment to the health of Canadians. Stop the smoke-screen. The Minister of Health should come clean and cough up: Does she or does she not support lowering taxes on cigarettes?

BosniaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister.

Saturday, another barbaric act was committed in Sarajevo, where a mortar shell that hit the central market killed 68 people and wounded over 200. Following this tragedy, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali asked NATO for authority to proceed with airstrikes against the Serbian artillery positions which hold Sarajevo under siege.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he could indicate the Canadian government's official position on this request from the UN Secretary-General which favours airstrikes to free Sarajevo.

BosniaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, like everybody else we are very unhappy with the unacceptable and barbarous act committed in Sarajevo over the weekend.

At this moment we are consulting with our allies on this problem. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been in discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Christopher and the foreign ministers of England and France. Discussions are going on at this time.

The situation is very, very bad. We will see in the next few days what the best action is that we can take. Of course, Canadians have the particular situation that our troops are located in Srebrenica and we have to consider that.

We will be consulting with our allies. We hope that we will find a way to have peace in that part of the world because what is going on at this time is completely unacceptable.

BosniaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, an emergency NATO meeting on the matter was scheduled today, at the request of France and Belgium. What position did the Prime Minister instruct his representatives to take on behalf of Canada at this meeting?

BosniaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I do not think we can make a final decision at this time. I believe that the people who are meeting at this very moment want to analyse the situation and try to propose an action plan. The Canadian officers present are to report to us on the nature of these discussions, and we will see what their decision should be.

BosniaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he can promise that his government will not approve airstrikes without guarantees for the safety of Canadian peacekeepers in Bosnia.

BosniaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, at this very moment people are discussing the use of airstrikes to prevent the so-called strangulation of Sarajevo, and there is no direct connection with the position of Canadian soldiers who are now located in another part of Bosnia.

We have to weigh the pros and cons, and our position is still the same. In Brussels we said that airstrikes could only be used in self-defence, which is not the case in the Srebrenica area at this time. In the case of Sarajevo, the governments concerned are now analysing the situation.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Saturday edition of The Gazette reported that the chief of the Kahnawake reserve, Mr. Joe Norton, claimed to have received assurances from the RCMP that it was not planning to enter the reserve to fight cigarette smuggling and that moreover, the RCMP considered Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Kanesatake to be special cases.

Can the Prime Minister tell us clearly and unequivocally whether or not the RCMP gave such assurances to Chief Norton?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the RCMP officer who spoke last Friday evening on television stated his case very clearly. We have said clearly to everyone that the rule of law applies everywhere in Canada, without exception.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

In that case, Mr. Speaker, and to dispel any doubt or confusion people may have, including the inhabitants of these native reserves, could the Prime Minister agree to a request to meet with Mohawk chiefs and make it clear to them that he intends to ensure that the rule of law is applied everywhere in Canada?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, officers of the RCMP had occasion to discuss these matters with them last Friday. They were told clearly that the law has to apply everywhere. They have been in touch with the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development about that.

One thing I do not like is the impression the hon. member is trying to make that this is only a problem within Indian reserves.

Contraband is a problem across the country but especially in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Most of the contraband comes in outside the reserves and it is not very fair to try to create the impression that it is a problem with Indians in Canada. It is a problem with many people in every city across the land.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

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

It is rumoured the government is considering a major reduction in tobacco taxes. If this is true, to avoid any increase in the deficit these cuts will have to be offset by matching spending cuts or replacement tax revenues.

Can the Prime Minister tell the House which programs he intends to cut or which taxes he intends to increase.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there will be a budget in a few weeks.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect the rumours are very strong.

Health organizations across Canada are outraged by the government proposal to cut tobacco taxes.

Would the government calculate the long term increase in health care costs which would result from these cuts in tobacco taxes?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I hope to make a statement tomorrow on this. I said to the House very clearly that it is no good for anybody to bury his head in the sand.

A lot of very cheap illegal cigarettes are available everywhere at this moment. I said we would use every means at our disposal to make sure that the traffic of illegal cigarettes and other smuggling are terminated in the short term. We will use every tool at our disposal to achieve our goal in the shortest period possible. We are faced with a problem that has existed for years. We have decided that the time has come to bring order to that field and it will be done very quickly.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, a second supplementary question. Last week certain native Canadians threatened an armed response to any attempt by the RCMP to

enforce existing smuggling laws. This situation has caused understandable concern among law enforcement officers involved.

Does the Prime Minister's definition of self-government include the right to disregard the laws of Canada and to threaten police who may be called in to enforce them?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this statement is extremely exaggerated. We want to make sure that native Canadians can make decisions concerning themselves in order to find a better place in Canadian society. At the same time they know and accept the fact that they are within Canada and they have to respect the laws of Canada.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

My question is for the Prime Minister. A few days ago the chief of the Akwesasne reserve, Mike Mitchell, stated:

"[The police] are going to have to be reminded that there are a lot of weapons that exist here-and trying to pursue this in a violent manner is going to be met with probably a very hostile manner as well".

Does the Prime Minister think this is idle talk? Does he think that the police should let themselves be intimidated on the Akwesasne reserve?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the position of the government is clear. It intends to have the law enforced everywhere in Canada. That continues to be our position. It is not a matter of looking for confrontation but instead, of enforcing the law in an equal manner in every part of the country. This is what we are going to do.

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind you that there have been over 70 violent deaths on Akwesasne over the past seven years and that the Mohawk people are presently being terrorized by a handful of individuals. Is it not the responsibility of this government to ensure that all the inhabitants of this country, including the Mohawks living on Indian reservations, can live in peace without being terrorized at the hands of a few individuals?

Cigarette SmugglingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, That is exactly what we intend to do, and I am very pleased to have the support of my colleague opposite on this.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

February 7th, 1994 / 2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The Globe and Mail quotes a spokesperson for the Mohawk warriors as stating that any RCMP incursion into his reserve would be treated as an invasion by a hostile government.

As the civilian police forces are not presently enforcing the law in the Mohawk's self-declared sovereign lands, would the minister of Indian affairs agree the Canadian government appears to have accepted the Indian self-declared sovereignty?

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, there are times when we have to come together not just as members of this Commons but as concerned people and not be throwing gasoline on a highly volatile situation. Does the hon. member want to force another Oka? It happened so innocently and it could happen again.

If the hon. member would take the time to go down to Akwesasne, as many members on this side did, he will find 12,000 law-abiding Indians doing their business-law abiding, with a hospital, a school and a 500 criminal element. It is the criminal element we have to deal with.

The member for Lac-Saint-Jean said that in his statement about two weeks ago. There are Indians and there is the criminal element. The leader of the opposition said that when dealing with Davis Inlet. The hon. member who sits behind the leader of the opposition said that today. We do not have to deal with Indians, but with the criminal element in Indian communities the same way we deal with the criminal element in the non-Indian community. That is the long and the short of it.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the minister that we might be able to cool this fire if he could give us the government's position on this.

Does the government, representing all the people of Canada have ultimate, exclusive, supreme power and authority over all Canadian soil including territory claimed by all identifiable groups including those people described as aboriginal?

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, there are one and a half million aboriginal people. We are dealing with them as individuals, as family.

The hon. member is looking at one part of the country. I wish he would look at what the government has just done in B.C.-toward his neck of the woods-in Labrador and Nunavut.

In twelve weeks we have kick started most of the negotiations. That is what is going to bring this country together. Common ground brings us together and not what certain groups within the Mohawk community are doing right now.

I am getting upset because it only took Oka three weeks of this type of dialogue to happen. Meech Lake floundered. A few Indians went out to protect a golf course. The army was called out by the province of Quebec and the next thing is that we spent $150 million and killed a person. I do not want to see that happen again.

Our party and our government is going to ensure that it does not happen again.