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House of Commons Hansard #36 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the sound of the name is French perhaps I should reply in French because it is not the hon. member's question but was apparently asked by somebody else.

Every government wants to balance its books. No government wants a deficit. We have a target that is very well established in the red book to reduce the deficit in relation to GNP to 3 per cent and we intend to do that. Of course when we get to 3 per cent we will try to go lower and the day we have a balanced budget I will be extremely happy. But I cannot guarantee that to anybody.

Even if we were to pass that law, sometimes things happen which are completely outside the control of government and we have to meet those needs. It is a kind of dream to think that passing a law will balance the books. They have done it in the United States for how many years? They still have a problem there too. It is a problem around the world.

In Canada we have the problem but it is no worse than the one in Europe. Our deficit in relation to GNP is 6.2 per cent and the average in Europe is 6.5 per cent. I am not happy with that. I want to reduce it to 3 per cent in the next three years. After that we will go lower with everybody's help.

Social ProgramsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, a recent poll shows that Canadians support the government's initiative to reform social programs. Yet some individuals have expressed concern that the government's objective may be solely to cut services and programs.

What assurances can the parliamentary secretary to the human resources minister give the House that indeed the government's prime objective is to provide Canadians with better, more efficient services?

Social ProgramsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

York North Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member and Canadians that we have no intention of cutting services for the Canadian people. We are working with the provincial governments to bring about more efficient delivery of services.

The single window initiative will improve service to clients, will eliminate duplication and waste and will increase administrative efficiencies. As a matter of fact last week we opened a new employment resource centre in Ottawa that will merge the two services.

We plan to give Canadians only the very best.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 16 petitions.

Commonwealth DayRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, today is Commonwealth Day, celebrated annually on the second Monday in March to mark the establishment of the modern Commonwealth.

Each year a special theme is attached to this day. The focus this year is on sports and the Commonwealth. This theme has special significance for Canada because we will be hosting the 15th Commonwealth Games this summer in Victoria, British Columbia. For an unprecedented fourth time in the history of the Commonwealth Games, Canada will have the honour of hosting the Commonwealth's festival of sports and culture.

The Commonwealth exemplifies unity and diversity and the strength of multilateralism and co-operation. Almost one-quarter of the world's population now forms the Commonwealth.

Through the Commonwealth, Canada is linked with 49 other countries of various races, faiths, languages, cultures and traditions. The Commonwealth provides an opportunity for Canada to enhance its relationships with the member countries and to advance Canadian foreign policy interests.

Canadians can take pride in the accomplishments of the Commonwealth to which Canada has contributed greatly over its long and vital history. Arnold Smith, a remarkable Canadian diplomat and the first Secretary General of the Commonwealth who unfortunately died last month, is just one example of the dedicated Canadians who have helped to build the Commonwealth and its institutions. Canada will continue to contribute to the Commonwealth through the 1990s and beyond.

In just over one month Canadian observers will be present alongside other Commonwealth and international observers for the first ever democratic elections in South Africa. These elections are an important step in that country's history.

After having assumed a leadership role within the Commonwealth and the fight against apartheid and for universal suffrage these elections also hold a very special significance for Canada and Canadians. Our efforts in the aftermath of these elections will not diminish.

I assure hon. members and Canadians that we will continue to be a prominent member of the Commonwealth to mobilize efforts to promote fundamental human values. These basic values lie at the heart of the Commonwealth and were reaffirmed in the landmark 1991 Harare declaration.

The people to people linkages holding the Commonwealth family together are numerous and are found in every sector and we will continue to promote them. It is in this spirit that we intend to host the Commonwealth Games this year.

I ask all members to join with me today in recognizing the importance of Canada's membership in the modern Commonwealth.

Commonwealth DayRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for the Bloc Quebecois to join the government

today in recognizing the importance of Canada's membership in the Commonwealth. As you know, the Bloc Quebecois remains vigilant to ensure that resources allocated by the federal government to the francophonie reflect its importance in Canada and correspond to the priorities established by Quebec and the francophonie as a whole.

That being said, we have no intention of neglecting Canada's relations with the Commonwealth. As the Leader of the Opposition has said before, the Commonwealth is a very important forum for Canada to maintain close ties with nearly 50 countries throughout the world and to encourage the exercise of the rights and values cherished by Canada and Quebec.

On Commonwealth Day, I think it is important to recall that a sovereign Quebec would wish to maintain those ties. Without taking on additional financial burdens, Quebec would be able to maintain and intensify its relations with countries in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa. A sovereign Quebec will want to be more open to the world, and I think this should give you a clear indication of what its position will be.

The Bloc Quebecois is pleased to celebrate this commemorative occasion under the special theme: "Sports and the Commonwealth". And we are certain that Canada will be the perfect host this summer at the Fifteenth Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

Commonwealth DayRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, on this Commonwealth Day we should take a moment to think of the advantages to Canada of being a member of the modern Commonwealth.

As the minister said, it certainly gives us an opportunity to enhance our position in the world as a potential leader of one-quarter of the world's population. It gives us a chance to demonstrate our expertise, technology and service to a major world trading bloc. It also gives us the opportunity to do something independent of the United States. That has its benefits for our national unity as well.

It is particularly meaningful this year that the Commonwealth Games will be held in Victoria. By allowing us to host this unique event, through the competitiveness of athletics we can understand our strengths and weaknesses. We can take this opportunity to understand the customs, traditions and the ways of thinking of other people in the Commonwealth.

The Olympics has given us a great world hope for the future and has created an environment for potential greater unity. I am sure the Commonwealth Games will be an extension of this goodwill. Our Victoria friends will do the very best job of hosting them. I think back to when Edmonton hosted this event and the great associations and friendships made during that occasion.

I was also interested in the minister's comments on our commitment to South Africa. I am concerned about South Africa as well and the democracy taking place there. Before we commit ourselves to what I understand could be in the neighbourhood of 50 people, we must ask what the cost will be, what will actually be done and what actual value there is to Canadians. I was personally asked to get involved in this process. I must admit I have great difficulty doing so unless I can have those three questions answered during these difficult economic times.

We in the Reform Party recognize the importance of Canada's membership in the modern Commonwealth and we continue to support that membership.

Ombudsman ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-221, an act establishing the office of ombudsman and amending acts in consequence thereof.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this act is to establish the institution of a federal ombudsman. This would be an independent and non-partisan officer of this Parliament who would supervise the administration, deal with specific complaints from the public against the administrative injustice and the maladministration and who would have the power to investigate, criticize and publicize but not to reverse administrative action.

A federal ombudsman with his or her wide powers of investigation, which is something we as MPs do not have, would be able to handle the flow of complaints for which parliamentary procedure is less suitable and to strengthen the present system at its weak point.

Furthermore, a federal ombudsman would be the servant of Parliament and answerable to it alone.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Excise Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-222, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act (extremity pumps).

Mr. Speaker, some people for health reasons require a piece of medical equipment called an extremity pump. It is the supply of an extremity pump that releases swelling caused by lymphedema of the legs in particular.

I am simply asking that the Excise Tax Act be amended to allow for this extremity pump.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-223, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (air conditioners).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of Bill C-223, which is an act to amend the Income Tax Act, concerns the cost of an air conditioner required for health reasons. To be more specific, people who suffer from multiple sclerosis find it very difficult to breathe during the hot humid summer months and would like an air conditioner. As it would be used for health purposes, its cost would be included as a medical expense under the medical expense tax credit under the Income Tax Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present a petition on behalf of residents of my riding of Perth-Wellington-Waterloo.

The nature of the petition is to enact legislation to ban the selling of serial killer cards in Canada and I support this petition.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 and speaking on behalf of my constituents, I wish to present a petition asking the government to fully reinstate the budget for social housing. This petition, with 293 signatures, is being presented to ask the government to act on its responsibility to the most vulnerable members of our society by guaranteeing them the right to housing.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario

Liberal

Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 36, to present a petition signed by residents of the greater Toronto region.

The petition states the response to petition 343-2034 avoided the thrust of the petition, namely the rights of individuals under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the individual and dealing with abortion and Bill C-43. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to the Parliament and Government of Canada and article 15(1) states: "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law".

The petitioners pray and call upon Parliament to urge the government to prepare a response to this petition which addresses why "individuals within the bodies of their mothers" are not individuals with rights under the charter for Parliament to honour.

The petitioners urge the government to honour Parliament's obligation under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provide equality before and under the law and equal protection and equal benefit of law for individuals within the bodies of their mothers from fertilization to the end of the birthing process. In duty bound, the petitioners will ever pray.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased and honoured to present a petition signed by a number of constituents from Victoria-Haliburton, duly certified by the Clerk of Petitions.

The petition signed by many seniors who live in and around the Diplomat apartment building in Lindsay, Ontario, request that a mailbox be located near the residence to provide them with better access to Canada Post services.

The petition was circulated by Mrs. Jean Birchard, a resident of the apartment building, and calls on Parliament to consider locating a mailbox in the vicinity of 53 Adelaide Street North for the convenience of the residents of this building and the surrounding residential district.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two more petitions to present pursuant to Standing Order 36 requesting amendment to the laws regarding killer cards.

I am aware of the difficulties and the possible restriction on the freedom of expression with these petitions, but I believe that because the victims of these crimes are often women and children and these killer cards are in effect glorifying violence against women and children I must support these petitions.

(Questions answered orally are indicated by an asterisk.)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, Question No. Q-2 will be answered today.

Question No. 2-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Who was asked to conduct a review of Canada Post's rural conversion plans, what resources were provided for the review process and what criteria and direction was given to those asked to conduct the review?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

For many years, the government has

heard from concerned Canadians across the country in regard to the closure of rural post offices and, as a result, made the commitment to review the conversion program put forward by Canada Post Corporation.

On November 12, 1993, the government declared a moratorium on the closure of corporate operated rural post offices.

The moratorium, initially set for a period of one month, was extended indefinitely to allow for a comprehensive assessment. During that period, consultations were held with Canada Post, labour leaders and various community groups.

As a result, on February 17, the government placed an indefinite moratorium on future closures of all rural and small town post offices in Canada.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question as enumerated by the parliamentary secretary has been answered.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Shall the remaining questions stand?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to inform the House that, pursuant to Standing Order 33(2)(b), because of the ministerial statement and replies, Government Orders will be extended by eight minutes.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

March 14th, 1994 / 3:20 p.m.

Reform

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Immediately prior to members' statements we had a speech from the hon. Minister of Public Works and Government Services. It was very eloquent although somewhat inflammatory.

I believe that there is still time remaining on the clock and I am wondering if comments on that matter are possible.