House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was parties.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-14, an act to provide borrowing authority for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 1994, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

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10 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec


Marcel Massé Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

10 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec


Marcel Massé Liberalfor the Minister of Finance

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Borrowing Authority Act, 1994-95Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Centre Manitoba


David Walker LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on third reading of Bill C-14, the borrowing authority bill.

The bill has been approved by the House finance committee and it is vitally important that the House proceed with it as quickly as possible. Without borrowing authority in the new fiscal year severe constraints will be placed on the government's financial program, constraints that could prove costly to the government and to Canadian taxpayers. The federal government would be restricted to short term funds. This would expose the government to an additional rate risk and could disrupt the capital market, potentially resulting in higher debt and servicing charges.

We do not put forward this request for borrowing authority lightly. We know there are real costs involved in adding to the country's debt burden. The amount of borrowing authority requested in the bill is directly connected to the financial requirements set out in the 1994 budget. The budget takes concrete responsible action to bring the nation's finances under control.

Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the deficit. Our interim target is to reduce it to 3 per cent of GDP by 1996-97. The budget puts us on a course to meet that target. We will reduce the deficit to $39.7 billion in the coming fiscal year, to $32.7 billion in 1995-96, and, with only a moderate growth, to $25 billion in 1996-97. Our financial requirements are lower: $30.2 billion in 1994-95 and $22.7 billion in 1995-96.

Let me be very clear. No future action is required for us to meet our three-year deficit target. This will happen as a direct result of the actions contained in the 1994 budget in and of themselves.

To achieve this we have proposed the most substantial saving reductions by a government in the last 10 years. Debt expenditure cuts will total $17 billion over the next three years. Over that period there are $5 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenue.

Some people have expressed disappointment that the deficit for the first year is not lower. The government shares that disappointment. However the reasons for this are quite straightforward.

First, there is a lag time before the full effects of spending cuts show up in the nation's books, for example with unemployment insurance a change in legislation is required.

Second, we have carried through on all of our election commitments including a major national infrastructure program, and they are paid for up front.

There is a third reason the deficit is not lower for the first year. We have scrapped many of the practices of the past. In previous years, governments would set targets based on rosy economic projections. Our budget is based on very prudent assumptions.

First, there is a lag time before the full effects of spending cuts show up in the nation's books; for example, with unemployment insurance where a change in legislation is required.

Second, we have carried through on all of our election commitments, including a major national infrastructure program, and they are paid up front.

There is a third reason why the deficit is not lower for the first year. We have scrapped many of the practices of the past. In previous years, governments would set targets based on rosy economic projections. Our budget is based on very prudent assumptions.

Moreover the budget provides full accounting for all new program costs. Nothing is hidden. We have built in substantial reserves so that we can respond to unforeseen contingencies without altering our fiscal targets.

Finally, we have not offloaded the federal deficit on to Canada's provinces. We firmly believe that the two levels of government must approach their respective challenges through co-operation.

Now let me return to Bill C-14. Like borrowing bills in previous years the bill contains three basic elements. I would like to touch briefly on each one of these elements.

First, the bill provides for $30.2 billion of authority to cover anticipated borrowing requirements to meet the net financial requirements set out in the budget.

Second, there is provision in the bill to cover $1.1 billion of exchange fund account earnings. These earnings give rise to additional borrowing requirements because these earnings, although reported as budgetary revenues, are retained in the exchange fund account. They are not available to finance ongoing government expenditures.

Third, there is a $3 billion borrowing reserve, the same amount requested in borrowing bills in the last six years. This reserve provides for unforeseen contingencies such as foreign exchange transactions, seasonal swings and borrowing requirements, and delays in passing the future year borrowing authority legislation.

The bill also contains a provision for an additional borrowing authority of $3 billion to provide for borrowing conducted in the fiscal year under section 47 of the Financial Administration Act.

In summary borrowing authority is a normal part of government operations and the bill contains no unusual provisions. All the information needed to deal with it is before the House in the budget, the main estimates and related documents.

I therefore urge the House to proceed today with the legislation so that the government's regular borrowing program can proceed as the fiscal year begins and the risk of hard debt servicing charges can be avoided.

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10:10 a.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the budget was brought down in this House, I have witnessed a great deal of praise being heaped on members on the other side of the House. First, the Prime Minister praised his Minister of Finance as if he held the keys to eternal truth. The other ministers also showered him with praise and thanked him for slashing their own departmental budgets. And to top it all off, the minister even congratulated himself. I have never seen so much flattery before, all designed to mask a flood of useless, futile words.

A number of my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois have denounced this budget, and rightly so. I too would like to join with them in saying that there is nothing in this budget to give some hope back to the least fortunate members of our society. This budget was devised by sons of darkness, whose father is none other than the Prime Minister himself.

A son of darkness is someone who always thinks in terms of his party and his career. Many of my colleagues here in this House hail from rural areas. There are some young Turks on the other side of the House who, outside the chamber, have said: You are right, but we are only starting out in our career and we want to move up. Sometimes, we have to keep quiet. Some other members who have been around longer and who are more adept at expressing themselves say this: Why not protect our career and maybe some day get appointed to the Senate.

A son of darkness is someone who never admits his mistakes. It was announced here in this House that the military college in Saint-Jean, a francophone college, will be closed. Everyone concedes that the government is making a monumental mistake, but the government is not willing to admit it.

A son of darkness is someone who protects the wealthy, family trusts and large corporations, someone who never gives any real answers here in this House. The answer is always maybe, or perhaps, but never anything specific.

A son of darkness is someone who accepts a double standard. The poor are asked to tighten their belts, while a minister can take off and spend $160,000 on a trip.

A son of darkness is someone who exploits the poorest among us and surrounds himself with wealthy friends during election campaigns. He has no problem with spending $1,000 or $3,000 on meals with his friends. He is also someone who is prepared to bleed our senior citizens dry, to tax their income above $24,000 or $25,0000. He is someone who does not put any value on workers and who makes life hell for the unemployed.

I do not have any examples to give you, but I have toured my riding several times and workers as well as the unemployed understand what I am saying. A son of darkness is someone for whom the end justifies the means.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs says one thing in the House, and something quite different outside the chamber. A son of darkness is someone who does not care about the people. We have had some very sincere federalists in Quebec. There was Jean Lesage who coined the expression "masters in our own

house". He sat here in this very House. Did anyone listen to him?

Immediately after him came Premier Daniel Johnson, Sr., who said "equality or independence". Did anyone listen to him, Mr. Speaker? No. His son, now the Premier of Quebec, did not listen. He is even worse than the others.

Then there was René Lévesque who spoke of sovereignty association. At one point, he talked about the "beau risque", the "fine risk". Did anyone listen to him? No.

Mr. Speaker, you will have recognized the people behind the latest budget. Furthermore, I have christened the Prime Minister the father of darkness. Why have I done this? You will recall that the Constitution was patriated unilaterally. Quebec was not there in the London fog. You will recall Meech Lake. Well, the Prime Minister was there in spirit. And finally, you will recall Charlottetown. This episode will help him to write his posthumous memoirs.

There is not a thing in this budget which would give some hope back to the small communities in my riding grappling with serious social and economic problems. If I were forced to live on temporary and seasonal unemployment insurance like most of my fellow citizens, I too would have a strong desire to rise up in protest.

Where are these secure jobs in rural areas and in our small towns? If I had voted for the Liberal Party, I would feel betrayed. What was said during the election campaign, Mr. Speaker? They said, "jobs, jobs, jobs". Where are these jobs? Other than the infrastructure program, where they will be put in place as soon as possible. In Quebec, particularly if there is an election, we will see bulldozers all over the place, to give the impression that jobs are being created, the illusion that temporary jobs are being created, only for that reason.

If I were the mayor of a small rural municipality, I would be convinced that this government has simply let rural people down once again. The nice promises this government made to Canadian voters in the last election campaign on underemployment, unemployment, and housing have all gone up in smoke.

Not only is there nothing in this budget for the least fortunate, but it picks the pockets of the poorest once again. It bleeds dry the old people who built this country. These people have worked hard to save a little money and now they will have to return part of their savings, put together over 50 or 60 years. They will have to give money back to the government, after doing everything to build this country.

What I heard in this House on February 22 is what I fought against during the last election campaign in my riding. It is urgent that we in this country understand once and for all that we will not solve the deficit problem by going after the poorest and the elderly. It is a funny way to thank these people who worked hard and put their health on the line to build Quebec and Canada.

This government must begin, and this is urgent, creating long-term jobs, not temporary jobs, not pre-electoral jobs, not sporadic jobs, not jobs that will make the party look good, but jobs for people who want to work. The Minister says he is counting on private enterprise to create jobs, and I agree with him.

Development depends to a large extent on small and medium-sized business-I am sure of that-which represent about 99 per cent of all Canadian businesses, great! However, small and medium-sized businesses are facing new problems that prevent them from effectively playing the role of job creators under the impulsion of the economic recovery.

Small and medium-sized businesses are having trouble getting the money to fund their development from financial institutions. Administrative requirements from the different levels of government are unnecessary burdens that take up the energy needed for production activities.

Small and medium-sized businesses complain about their tax burden and see the need for squandering and duplication to be eliminated in governmental programs and services. Is this government prepared to identify and reduce tax, administrative, social, economic and other barriers to small business starting up and remaining in operation? This is a clear, precise message from over 75 per cent of business leaders in this country.

Unemployment insurance reform, to be initiated in the near future, parliamentary committee on alternatives to the GST and a task force on the economic situation, which will take a timid look at what could be done to facilitate access to conventional financing and explore new funding sources at the local and community level. In other words, studies and more studies. But studies do not create jobs, except perhaps for a few civil servants and especially for some consultant friends of the Liberals.

Mr. Speaker, you will argue, and rightly so, that man does not live on bread alone. Maybe so, but man does need bread. In my riding, the good courageous parents who cannot afford to buy food could not care less for study committees. When a single mother has no money to pay rent at the end of the month, she too could not care less for committees. What does the other side suggest? Let us strike committees to solve the problems. That is not what people are asking for in my riding. There are urgent needs that have to be met. When an unemployed individual, one of the many in my riding, sends out 200 resumes and does not get one single response, he too does not care for committees. I am using polite language out of respect for this place, but that is

not the language they use when talking to me. Cuss words are flying these days.

When the great minds of our region, in Matapédia-Matane, have to migrate to find work, they could not care less for study committees. I met former constituents of mine in Vancouver who told me: "It is not that Vancouver is not friendly, welcoming and all, on the contrary, but we did not move here with a light heart. We did not have a choice. There are no jobs back home".

What measures does the Minister of Finance intend to put in place to help businesses, the small and medium-sized businesses, create jobs? Help is urgently needed. Is this minister or any other prepared to help the Business Development Centre, BDC for short, invest more in share capital and venture capital? So far, most BDCs have been granting 80 per cent loans. They are almost like the banks and credit unions. That is not what I am asking from the minister. I am asking the ministers to take some risks. That is what they are there for. Now we hear that BDCs must become profitable. Of course, but not by ruining people in the process. Some businesses do need support.

Is this government prepared to invest more in the forestry industry? You are probably aware of the major role played by forestry in Canada's economy and trade. Listen to this! One job out of every 17 created directly or indirectly in Canada is in forestry. That is 729,000 jobs. But the minister never said a word about natural resources, not a word, at least not so far. That is really sad. In Quebec, forestry creates one job in 13. Still, not a word from the minister.

Furthermore -and I find it somewhat insulting that this fact has gone unnoticed- natural resources are the key element of the trade balance, with $19 billion a year. Yet, they seem to be relegated to the second, tenth or twentieth position. That is incredible!

Figures from 39 joint management groups show the impact the economic activity of small and medium-sized businesses in that area has had on the economy in 1992-93. In source deductions and taxes alone, these groups have paid back close to half the funds received. Governments have recovered in part the seed capital provided, all the while helping enhance capacity, creating thousands of jobs and supporting a regional and provincial economic activity.

Budget cuts in that area will not only result in job loss. The companies that woodlot owners have struggled to set up over the past 20 years, going as far as pooling resources and forming co-operatives to create jobs by allowing individuals who did not own lots to work them, are threatened. They have made huge sacrifices. I could give you a list of examples a mile long.

To contribute to the management of their forests, these owners have taken risks. They have taken risks for forests now threatened with disappearance. Joint management groups are seriously concerned. RESAM, which represents 39 groups, struggles along from one year to the next, while all it would need is a little boost. We do not even have the-generosity is not the word- the heart to say that it is the government's job to create jobs. Why not do it?

It would seem that natural resources are not valued in this House. Forestry alone brings in $19 billion, more than agriculture, fisheries, industry and energy. But here, in this House, it apparently has no importance whatsoever.

I hope that my colleagues from rural areas will set party politics aside for a moment and say: "Let us do it for rural Canada".

There are many ministers from big cities, but the rural areas do not have a voice, and I would like to be that voice for the voiceless, the spokesman for those who go unheard. Of course, if I am alone, it is not a partisan issue, I can do very little.

I come back to these small forestry businesses, which as you know, Mr. Speaker, are scattered all across Quebec and Canada. They are real tools for regional development. Without them, what would become of our resource regions? What would become of the forest industry? What would become of this country's positive trade balance?

This year, development corporations in my riding are asking for more aid to operate. They are simply asking the Canadian government to invest, because it is an investment; it is not a loan or a grant but an investment that they request, and they very often are turned down. I hope that this year your government will not refuse. For the government, it is a long-term investment that will pay off.

I ask this government to respond positively as soon as possible, because the Société des Monts, which prepared a very large brief-last year, the forestry workers and the employees of that outfit, led by the company president, Mr. Malenfant, had their salaries cut 10 per cent so that the company could survive and create and maintain those jobs. If you earn $20,000 a year, a 10 per cent pay cut means taking bread and butter from your children. When the school year begins, you cannot pay your children's back-to-school expenses, and we know what that costs, especially if you have three or four children.

The Société des Monts, the Société de la Vallée and the Scierie Métis sawmill must plan their work as soon as possible. I know hundreds of forestry workers who in early March-I do not want to dramatize-are getting stomach ulcers because they do not know if they will start to work. They do not know. We are waiting while the whole cumbersome government bureaucracy takes one or two or three months to answer. That is easy for

someone who is not thinking of the people, the parents who have nothing or almost nothing to feed their children.

Maybe you have not seen that but I have. I come from a poor community, one of the poorest ridings in Canada. People talk about the east end of Montreal; yes, it has tragic problems too. Our cities also have tragic problems. But in my area, it is even worse. I am not speaking on my behalf; I am speaking for those who voted for me and those who voted against me. It makes no difference to me; those people have a right to work and do not have a job, and for some reasons that are hard to identify, they are insecure every year.

The people of Matapédia-Matane are fed up with seeing their wood leave with only basic processing. We used to be called drawers of water. I say that today we are bearers or even eaters, a more apt description, of sawdust.

There is only sawdust left in our yards. That is all there is left. Our wood is being taken away; trucks carry it everywhere, and we cannot even process it at home.

Let me give you an example. Back home, there are many mills that make wood laths. We wanted to build lobster crates, but I was told that it was not possible because transportation costs were too high. And we just learned this week that the CN might no longer provide a service to our area, because there is not enough freight to transport. It seems to me that the state should help regions such as ours and give them a chance. If the train keeps serving our area, it will not cost any more and it will enable us to send out finished products.

People in my riding want to work; they want to give an added value to the forest resources which would help develop their region.

We need a little help, but not in three years. We need just a little bit of help because our people are resourceful. That is all they need. If you give them that little break, you will see a series of new, dynamic and job-creating small businesses emerge.

But for that to take place, there must be a firm political will to apply technology to natural resources. The Eastern Quebec Development Plan must be maintained beyond 1995. It must be improved and adjusted. We must invest even more. All those involved agree on that.

In my region, the per capita income is 25 per cent lower than the Quebec average. That is right: 25 per cent. At the same time, the Minister of Finance is going after unemployment insurance benefits and old age pensions. People in my riding would like nothing more than to work. As I said earlier, the job market must provide stable employment.

The only thing I am convinced of is that, in my region as well as in all rural areas, this budget will only generate more hardship and poverty. More people will have to rely on income security. How can you expect people in my region to believe in profitable federalism when this regime leads us to such a state of dependency and poverty? Yet, the budget will perpetuate this situation.

When ministers and government members opposite ask us: You want sovereignty, but how are you going to manage? I have a ready answer: Mr. Speaker, things can never be worse than now.

Development corporations are in serious trouble. Moreover, our population is aging and our young people are leaving. In my riding, there is only one CEGEP and no university. It is not federalism which supported our regions: It is our municipal representatives, our small parishes and our mayors who worked very hard. It is also our entrepreneurs who often risked everything. And it is especially those men and women in the field who worked relentlessly seven days a week. On Friday afternoon, my neighbour in a small village had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital, where the doctor told him he would be all right. Monday morning, he went back to his chain saw-this was a Mr. Morrissette-to work to support his family, because he had to. I want to thank him and the many Mr. Morrissettes in our region. There are hundreds and thousands, and of course I cannot name them all, who are like that.

I also want to thank all the mothers who were prepared to raise their families in a rural community. l want to thank these unsung heroines who are the salt of the earth. I especially want to thank the young people and professionals who came back and accepted a drop in salary, to try to help us. We can use more young people. If this means making a sacrifice, make it, but you will be rewarded by living in a community that has the strength to pull together.

I want to thank the older people. Their grandparents ploughed their fields with ox and horse teams. They worked very hard. Do we have to get rid of all these rural communities? That seems to be the trend. I always say that a village is worth as much as a town. Is the government going to get rid of them? It has no rural policy. It is cutting back on forestry and agriculture and practically everything. Our small businesses are very vulnerable. I know the Minister of Finance said that the government would try to do something, but the infrastructures project means that sewers will be built, plus a few temporary projects, but after

that, what happens? Temporary has been the name of the game for 20 years in my region. The government has created temporary jobs but that does not help. We need a much more vigorous approach to these problems.

Actually, federalism has kept our regions poor, giving the impression that they were only good for producing raw materials to give this country a trade surplus. Just provide the labour, and we will collect the money. Great!

What does this budget have to offer rural areas? There is nothing for agriculture and forestry agreements have been cut. And on top of that, the government increased the number of insurable weeks for unemployment insurance and is not creating jobs. If this government bothered to listen to the needs of rural communities, it could create hundreds of jobs. If it only gave us a chance to process our own raw materials, we could create thousands of jobs. That is a niche in which the Minister of Finance could have invested.

The Minister of Finance and most ministers here in the House are absolutely ignorant of rural needs. Even if he was born in a big city, and good for him, it seems to me he should try to understand the most vulnerable and the poorest members of our society. They are the people, the men and women, who built this world, who built our regions, but at the international level, at the level of this planet, people are prepared to let small communities die. Just shut those six small communities down! Do we have to organize to defend our rights? We had Operation Dignity, and we took to the streets. There was Ralliement populaire, and we took to the streets as well. And both times we had something to show for it. When we took to the streets, we got something. If we do not take to the streets, we get nothing. Will we have to take to the streets again? It is hard work-in fact it is exhausting-but we will if we have to.

Even a minimal investment in our regions would yield major dividends for the state. Rural communities are not asking for charity. Do you know what they want? Their fair share! A dollar invested in forestry operations yields the government $7. Is that charity? One has to be completely cut off from the real world not to realize this.

We do not need all kinds of benefits. We do need start up money, and it is high time the government decided to invest in durable jobs and sensible projects.

I have met a lot of people in my riding. They are very disappointed in this budget. They are also very worried about what will happen to their families. They talked to me about their concerns. I met them not long ago, and their first question was: Will we still have the right to live in this region of lakes and mountains? Matapédia-Matane is one of the most beautiful ridings we have-everybody says so-but you should come and see for yourself.

Their second question was: Can we expect to live out our lives in dignity in this peaceful and tranquil area? What kind of future will our children have in this region? What kind of future can they expect?

During the election campaign, the members opposite, those sons of darkness, had more or less become, Mr. Speaker-

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10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Order, order. I hesitated for some time before interrupting the hon. member from Matapédia-Matane during his speech, which he gave with great eloquence and conviction, but I have some trouble with the terms "sons and father of darkness". This is the third time those expressions crop up.

Quite frankly, I hesitated because I was not sure I grasped the significance of these terms, because if I understand correctly, "sons of darkness" means "sons of hell". I certainly do not wish to impugn the eloquence and conviction of the hon. member's speech, but I would ask him to consider whether he wishes to use those terms, which I find rather extreme.

We are now over forty minutes. Perhaps the hon. member could give the Chair some indication of when he will to finish his speech, and the Chair could ask for unanimous consent to let him continue, because four or five minutes from now, we will have to start Question Period.

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10:50 a.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, when I say "sons of darkness", I mean "sons in darkness", which is to say who cannot see clearly. That is what I meant.

I hope that is in order, because obviously what was meant is a lack of clarity, and I do not think that was insulting to my colleagues.

Today, aside from the infrastructures project, there is nothing for rural communities. The people in my riding and other Quebec ridings no longer believe in federalism. Conservative and Liberal governments are always hand in glove with the multinationals. They will never go along with the principle of individual political donations, so there is always a quid pro quo : I contribute to the party's coffers and you invest in my company.

To hell with rural communities! To hell with planning corporations! To hell, or almost, with the plan for Eastern Quebec! To hell with the poor! Hurray for the rich! And above all, do not touch family trusts. Do not touch the multinationals. Many do not pay taxes. Many companies manage to avoid paying taxes.

Friends are friends. The Minister of Finance has the nerve to tell us to wait till 1996-97 to see any benefits as a result of his budget. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you this: people do not have time to sit there waiting for the dreams of a Minister of Finance to materialize.

When in my riding and other ridings, farms are auctioned off, and there are farms for sale practically every week, do you know what happens afterwards? The forest starts taking over. Rural communities die off gradually. Our farm workers are earning less than they did ten years ago. I have a lot of people in my riding, who are earning less than they did back then. The middle class is becoming the under class, and the poor in my riding are going to the local soup kitchen. All this is heartbreaking.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel, no political will, no social vision; there are no enlightened solutions. Rural communities are worried, and they are concerned.

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10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

It being 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

Small BusinessStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak today about access to capital by small business.

From 1979 to 1989, small business created 87 per cent of the new jobs in the country. Small business is the key to future job creation. In order for existing small businesses to grow and new businesses to develop, we need to ensure that they have adequate access to capital.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry is holding hearings to determine what government can do to increase the flow of capital to small business. We will be looking at what role the banks play in small business financing as well as new sources of financing.

I salute all small business owners throughout the country. There is a tremendous sense of goodwill by all parties on our committee to find solutions. I encourage all Canadians who wish to contribute to come forward and make their views known to our committee. I am confident and encouraged by these initiatives and I know that the needs of small business will be met.

Canadian Jewish CongressStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to rise in the House today to mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Jewish Congress. This organization is well-known among Quebecers and Canadians; it is a pillar of our Jewish community.

Founded in Montreal after World War I, the Canadian Jewish Congress has participated in all major political and social debates in Quebec and Canada. Its fight for religious freedom and against all forms of discrimination was then taken up by all Quebecers and Canadians.

On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, I would like to thank the Jewish Congress for its important contribution to our society and to wish it a long life.

Rogers CommunicationsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking today about the proposed takeover of Maclean-Hunter by Rogers Communications Inc.

I am here to speak neither for nor against such a move because in my party we encourage the entrepreneurial spirit which built this great country.

When this matter goes before the CRTC for approval I submit it is important that this commission take into consideration the effect this deal may have on small town Canada.

In my riding of Mission-Coquitlam there is a labour dispute at the local Rogers Cablevision outlet. This dispute has hurt families that are involved in a lockout and inconvenienced many who do not cross lawful picket lines. It is my belief that the interests of small town and rural Canada must always be front and centre when we consider the effects of corporate manoeuvring.

A large percentage of Canadians have little choice concerning the source of the news they receive. Let us be cautious when we are put in a position of limiting these choices even further.

Oath Of AllegianceStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Last Monday, I presented my bill requiring all members elected to the House of Commons to swear allegiance to Canada and the Constitution.

All Bloc Quebecois members refused the unanimous consent needed to hold a vote.

What are Bloc Quebecois members afraid of? What are they doing in the Parliament of Canada if they refuse to swear to look after the interests of all, repeat all, Canadian citizens?

North American Commission For Environmental Co-OperationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government will soon determine the site for the headquarters of the North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation.

Winnipeg would be the most appropriate location as the city is already home to the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Secretariat for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

Aside from the certain benefits that will result from the proximity of these offices with closely related functions, Winnipeg provides easy access to transportation.

Winnipeg's rails run through the United States to Mexico and it is linked directly to Mexico via the most heavily used trucking route into that country.

As well, there are a number of direct and frequent air flights to Ottawa, Washington, D.C., and Mexico, the three capitals of the three signatories to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

I urge the government to choose Winnipeg, which has long stood at the forefront of promoting sustainable development, as the natural site for the North American Commission for Environmental Co-Operation.

Carleton North High SchoolStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate two coaches from the Carleton North High School who are being honoured in my Carleton-Charlotte constituency.

Mr. Iain Dunlop and Mr. Darrell Turnbull are being recognized by the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association for their superior contribution to basketball.

Both men had to meet six requirements including team success as well as player-coach relationships to qualify for their respective awards.

On March 27 Iain Dunlop will be presented with the Dave MacPherson Award for outstanding contribution in the male division and at the same time Darrell Turnbull will receive the Peg McAleenan Award for his work in the female sector.

On behalf of this House of Commons I extend congratulations to Iain Dunlop and Darrell Turnbull for their commitment to athletics, the community and the youth of Carleton North High School.

Social Program ReformStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, we saw last night how the Prime Minister was welcomed to New Brunswick.

To thank the people of Beauséjour for re-electing him in 1990, the Prime Minister in effect gave them a nice poisoned gift: a reform of the unemployment insurance program that cuts deeply into the benefits of thousands of recipients in New Brunswick, as everywhere else in Canada.

Quebecers and Canadians have no intention of bearing the brunt of a strategy that tries to solve the deficit problem at the expense of the unemployed and of low-income people.

The people of New Brunswick, through their hostile reaction, are saying no to the proposed reform of social programs, just like the people in Toronto who said the same thing to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

It is obvious that the government must thoroughly review how it intends to reform social programs.

Veterans AffairsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has a proud tradition of honouring our war veterans. There is a fast dwindling group of veterans, however, who have been poorly treated by us. I speak of the merchant navy vets who were held prisoners of war for as long as five years. They had to contend with terrible conditions and treatment at the hands of their captors. Yet we currently compensate them for only 30 months of incarceration.

We have many programs that are less urgent than fair treatment for those few vets whose numbers are dwindling because of their age. This is not a request for the government to spend more money but to get its priorities straight.

Some distinguished members of this House defend the current cash for life MP pension plan. Instead, I call on those members to support fair treatment of these vets by paying the debt we owe them for up to the 50 months they suffered in defence of Canada.

The BudgetStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to compliment the Minister of Finance for his commendable efforts in attempting to restore fiscal responsibility to the public finances of Canada. I acknowledge that the solution to the fiscal challenge

confronting our country will not be without pain and that all segments of our country have been asked to share the burden.

I would point out, however, that the announcement in the budget of a two year legislated extension of the existing three year salary freeze for the public service as well as a two year suspension of pay increments within grade has adversely impacted on our loyal, industrious, dedicated public sector workforce.

I would ask the government to closely monitor the savings secured by these initiatives with a view to shortening or lifting these freezes as soon as possible.

Our commitment to collective bargaining must be honoured.

Corporate And Bankruptcy LawsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the corporate and bankruptcy laws of Canada is to stimulate initiative and investment in our economy while avoiding the possibility of total personal financial ruin.

It is unfortunate when business ventures fail through no fault of the individuals concerned, but it is outrageous when business failures are used as a means of defrauding creditors, investors, employees and governments.

I would, therefore, propose that Parliament amend the corporate and bankruptcy laws of Canada so that any individual who is convicted of an offence under those laws, or of fraud, or who has had a decision of a civil court against him or her with regard to any bankruptcy cannot be an incorporator, director, officer, shareholder or creditor of any corporation for a period of five years from the date of the final decision of the court.

Priscilla De VilliersStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, many women were honoured during International Women's Week and many more will be celebrated during this the International Year of the Family.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the contribution of one woman who has brought national attention to a very important issue in Canada. Priscilla de Villiers, a woman of vision and courage in the aftermath of losing her daughter in the most painful and unbearable circumstances, found the inner strength to launch a movement aimed at preventing the same pain being experienced by other Canadian families.

She has clearly demonstrated how one person can make a difference. To bring about changes in the justice system she began a petition that has been signed by two and a half million Canadians and founded CAVEAT which promotes the creation of a just, peaceful and safe society.

By turning tragedy into a positive force for change, Priscilla de Villiers can claim to have achieved a unique success which has touched us all. I am pleased to add the name of Priscilla de Villiers to the list of women we honour and whose contribution continues to affect the lives of so many.

Human RightsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the most recent annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, its chief commissioner, Mr. Yalden, was quite blunt. The government urgently needs to change the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Employment Equity Act. It is imperative that the Liberal government take some measures to address the issues of poverty in aboriginal communities, wage disparity between men and women and non-recognition of gay couples.

The Commission has repeatedly called on previous governments to act, and the time has now come for the Liberal government to put its words into action.

Criminal CodeStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, in 1978 Gregory Fischer was convicted of premeditated murder of RCMP constable Brian King. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

He has appealed his sentence under section 745 of the Criminal Code. If he is successful he will be eligible for parole in spite of the restriction imposed by the trial judge.

On January 20 the judge hearing his appeal in Saskatoon declared a mistrial because he felt that the presence in court of the victim's family and a group of police officers created an emotionally charged atmosphere for the jury.

When capital punishment was abolished in Canada the public was led to believe that the minimum time served for first degree murder would be 25 years. Twenty-two first degree murderers who were successful in getting their reviews have been granted parole or day parole. This has been a cruel deception on the families of murder victims.

Section 745 must be removed from the Criminal Code.

The EconomyStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to be the purveyor of good news for all Canadians.

According to Statistics Canada the composite leading indicators continue to show a healthy pace for the second consecutive month in February. Nine of the ten indicators rose and the other stayed on a flat line.

That augurs well for the continued growth pattern in our economy. Certain things do turn up and are very important in the broad based growth. A surge of 60,000 new jobs in February gave an added impetus and we are looking more to that impetus going on through March. New manufacturing orders for durable goods showed a 2.7 per cent increase, the highest since 1988, despite the widespread retooling of the auto plants. Several industries reported growth rates in excess of 10 per cent.

HealthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1985 my constituent, Johanne Decarie, became infected with the HIV virus as a result of a blood transfusion which she received while giving birth to her twin daughters. Mrs. Decarie later infected her husband and a subsequent daughter born to her now has full blown AIDS. My constituent qualified for the federal assistance package and the provincial one as well but her husband and child do not qualify because they are indirect victims.

I call upon our Minister of Health to amend the federal compensation package in order to permit these two victims of the blood scandal to be compensated. At the very least the child born with this disease should qualify and should receive these benefits.

HealthStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, this week we had three events coincide on the blood supply issue.

With the Pittman decision the courts recognized the responsibility to spouses and family members of individuals who received contaminated blood products. The provincial packages expired and all with the exception of Nova Scotia did not recognize their responsibility to family members who contracted HIV indirectly. Finally, the Krever commission continues to raise more questions than it answers about who knew what and when and what action was or was not taken.

I call today on the Minister of Health to reopen the federal compensation package to include family members who contracted HIV indirectly from those who received contaminated blood.

Goods And Services TaxOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. In answer to a question from the opposition, the Prime Minister said that his government did not intend to extend the GST to food, health care and medicine. Questioned as he left the House, the Prime Minister pretended that he misunderstood the question and went back on his statement by refusing to oppose a new tax on health care, medicine and food.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister tell us the government's real position? Is it the categorical no in the House or the Prime Minister's openness to new taxes when he met journalists on leaving the House?