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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

Vancouver Port AuthorityOral Question Period

March 14th, 1994 / 2:40 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

The Vancouver Port Authority recently approved a Las Vegas style casino project even though such for profit casinos are not legal in British Columbia. Could the minister explain why a federal authority is approving tenders for activities that are currently illegal in British Columbia?

Vancouver Port AuthorityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, obviously the proposal that has been taken under consideration by the Vancouver Port Authority is not one that would allow through any measures that authority could undertake for illegal activity.

I do want to answer my friend by saying that one of the policies that we are following in this government, not only with respect to ports but also obviously as we move toward devolution of control for airports, will be to allow for local autonomy. One cannot have it both ways. I am sure that the people on the ground in the greater Vancouver area who have the direct responsibility for management of that area, both the real estate as well as the port, will take into account the best interest not only of that region but of the province of British Columbia and certainly would not be prepared to act in any way that would be contrary to the law.

Vancouver Port AuthorityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. I have a supplementary question.

This project has caused much concern among the people of British Columbia. The federal government clearly has no mandate to develop casino gambling across Canada.

Could the minister explain to the concerned citizens of British Columbia and indeed all Canadians, given the complete absence of public consultation, how and why the federal government decided to approve this casino project?

Vancouver Port AuthorityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, first let me clear up a statement that was made by the member that I am sure he did not intend to mislead the House with and that is that the Government of Canada does not approve that particular situation. There is a local board that is autonomous and is appointed. It is made up of a number of representatives chosen in a very broad selection process.

The question of what will happen with that land, in my view, is far from determined finally because the Government of British Columbia will have a great deal to say about that. As he says, the law does not permit casino activities at this point. I think it is an opportunity for residents of the area to review the matter and make their views known to the Government of Canada, to the Government of British Columbia and obviously to the port authority.

However, there is certainly no final decision on this. I understand the preoccupation of the member as well as many of the people in British Columbia with respect to this particular proposal.

Cable Broadcasting IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I put my question, I would like to say that there should be and there can be transparency when people are aware of current political affairs. This is not always obvious to the other side.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Rogers Communications is poised to take over the Maclean Hunter Group. This blockbuster transaction will create a virtual monopoly in the cable broadcasting industry, a situation which raises some important questions as to the level of competition within this industry.

My question is this: Does the Prime Minister recognize that this takeover will create a monopoly in the field of cable broadcasting and that this situation will adversely affect rates and the variety of information available to consumers?

Cable Broadcasting IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I believe that before any approval is given, a submission must be made to CRTC commissioners. I am not in a position to comment on a ruling by this commission before public hearings are held.

Cable Broadcasting IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, I believe we are here to get some answers.

Does the Prime Minister not recognize that this monopoly in the cable broadcasting industry and Rogers' 32-per-cent ownership of Unitel shares give this company an unfair advantage over its cable and telephone industry competitors in terms of the development of the information highway?

Cable Broadcasting IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this matter does not come under ministerial jurisdiction at this time. The Parliament of Canada established a wholly independent commission to rule on acquisitions of this nature in such areas. The only power we have, and it is quite limited considering Parliament's wish that decisions be made by people outside the executive, is to wait and see what the Commission's ruling on this matter will be. It is not that we do not want to answer the question, it is that we are not in a position to provide an answer.

Cross-Border ShoppingOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

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

The government has extended the hours of several Canada customs ports of entry in Manitoba. Smugglers know to stay away from these ports, but more Manitobans are being encouraged to go south of the border to take advantage of cheap food, liquor and gasoline.

Is the minister aware that the only impact of his actions are Canadian dollars going south and this is hurting Manitoba business people, not smugglers?

Cross-Border ShoppingOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, the extra customs activities at the border are having an effect on smugglers and are beneficial from that point of view.

I do not agree with the hon. member's contention that it is the job of national revenue to make it difficult for Canadians to cross the border, whether they live in Manitoba or in any other place. If Canadians are finding extended hours useful for them in their activities I think that it is something Canada customs would regard as a side benefit from the attempts they are making to curb smuggling.

Cross-Border ShoppingOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that answer.

I would like to point out to the hon. minister that on February 25 Manitoba RCMP arrested two men for smuggling $28,000 worth of liquor and tobacco. The truck had been driven across the border at a point not controlled by Canada customs and was stopped at Elie, approximately 100 miles from the border.

Would the minister consider making one of those tough decisions, close these border points at night and transfer the funds to extra RCMP supervision of these border crossings?

Cross-Border ShoppingOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, among the many measures that were announced with respect to smuggling was the beefing up of patrols by the RCMP. There will be more RCMP officers involved in this than there will be customs officers. This was announced by the Prime Minister, the Solicitor General and myself some weeks ago.

Certainly we do not expect to pick up all smuggled shipments at the border. We do expect to pick them up either in Canada or sometimes in the United States prior to reaching the border, as happened with a large number of semi-automatic weapons quite recently.

I congratulate the member for pointing out the efficiency of the RCMP and the customs service in picking up smuggled goods, but I would point out to him that we do not rely only on the physical proximity to the border to make such seizures.

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Our red book platform promise was to maintain the Canadian Wheat Board. There are some groups on the prairies, particularly one identifying itself as the alliance which is promoting the idea of a farmer plebiscite on the removal of barley from the sole jurisdiction of the Canadian Wheat Board.

I would ask the minister of agriculture if he has considered the possibility of consulting the farm community about strengthening the power of the board by bringing oats back on to the board and by expanding its jurisdiction to the international market.

Canadian Wheat BoardOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Regina—Wascana Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question and for her interest in the Canadian Wheat Board.

This question and others that have been asked reflect the diversity of opinion in western Canada with respect to the operations and the jurisdiction of the wheat board. I continue to have a great many consultations and discussions with the board and with others, particularly with farmers, about the board's operations and its future direction.

With respect to the matter of a plebiscite, there are many differing views on the question. Indeed some who had argued against a plebiscite a year ago are now arguing in favour of one and vice versa.

In considering the government's position we will keep the hon. member's representations in mind. My objective, and it is the objective of the government, is to obtain the very best possible marketing results for farmers both now and in the long term. Every action of the government will be very much aimed in that direction.

Official ResidencesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works. Last February 16, the Minister of Public Works was not able to tell the opposition what amounts will be spent for the renovation of the official residences of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker of the House, as well as the summer cottage of the Prime Minister at Harrington Lake.

Since the question was asked a month ago already, is the Minister of Public Works in a position now to tell us about the scope of these renovations, or is he still too uncomfortable to justify such spending in times of budget austerity and salary freeze?

Official ResidencesOral Question Period

2:50 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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows quite well that the minister responsible for Canadian heritage whose jurisdiction this matter falls within is away on government business.

I will endeavour to ascertain the information requested. I am certain I can report back to the House and to the hon. member with the specific information requested.

Official ResidencesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will ask my supplementary to the Prime Minister, because there does not seem to be a great deal of communication between him and his minister. Why does the Prime Minister not intervene regarding the money spent on these residences, particularly Stornoway, the residence of the Leader of the Opposition, which is not even being lived in?

Official ResidencesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak on behalf of the commission responsible for these official residences. However, I can tell you that, as regards the residence of the Prime Minister as well as his summer cottage, no renovation of any kind will be made, as everyone knows. I did not buy furniture; instead, I used what was available, in order to limit spending as much as possible. As far as I know, no major renovations are to take place.

It may be that a plumber will have to do some work, but I am not going to throw him out! However, nothing major is scheduled for 24 Sussex, nor for the residence at Harrington Lake. There could always be some technical problem. Unfortunately, I had to answer so many questions today that I did not have time to study my book on how to solve these technical problems.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

On January 27 the minister announced in the House the government's intention to introduce amendments to the Human Rights Act which "will include sexual orientation as a ground upon which discrimination is prohibited".

Could the minister tell the House what is the government's definition of sexual orientation?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that provision is now in the human rights codes or statutes of seven of the ten provinces. It has also been broadly dealt with in the jurisprudence as cases have come before the courts and tribunals with respect to the rights of individuals.

I think that in Canadian law there is no question about the meaning of that term in statutes such as the Canadian Human Rights Act. I commend the decisions of the courts to my friend, the hon. member, if there is any doubt in his mind.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary question is for the Minister of Justice.

Will the minister include a definition of sexual orientation in the legislation he proposes, and will this definition be clear enough to prevent pedophiles from launching successful court challenges of discrimination for acts that are clearly prohibited in the Criminal Code?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in matters involving the law, as in so much else in life, we are governed by that which is reasonable. If I may say so, I do not believe it is reasonable for anybody to interpret the term sexual orientation as it appears in human rights legislation as including pedophiles or others who engage in criminal conduct.

As I mentioned in my response to the hon. member's first question, it is my belief that judgments of courts and tribunals across the country interpreting legislation that is already on the books in many provinces makes the meaning of that term abundantly clear. We have no intention to make that additional provision in the proposed amendments.

Allan Memorial InstituteOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Justice.

During the last election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada promised to compensate the families of victims of the brainwashing experiments using electroshock therapy and drugs, conducted at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal in the fifties and sixties, but the Minister of Justice has just refused to compensate these families.

Could the Minister tell us whether he intends to follow up on his party's promise of financial assistance or are we to understand that the government has reversed its position?

Allan Memorial InstituteOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the role of the Department of Justice in the program that was instituted to compensate those who were victimized by the program in question is to assess each application in terms of the provisions of the order in council which created the fund and to determine whether the applicants meet the criteria established by that legislation.

That is precisely what we have done. In each case, many of which have come to my notice by way of applications for review, we have carefully matched the circumstances of the applicant with the parameters of the order in council. I am satisfied that in each such case we have followed the law to its letter.

The BudgetOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister and was inspired by Annie du la Chevrotiere of Brackendale, British Columbia.

Recently the Minister of Finance stated that his ultimate goal is to eliminate the deficit and balance the national budget. If the Prime Minister agrees with his Minister of Finance, will he commit to making a balanced federal budget a requirement of law?