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House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was process.

Topics

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the three speakers from the Reform Party and their rationale for wanting to abort the process we are proposing in the House of Commons. I am somewhat shocked at some of the things I heard. Here is a party that purports to want to save taxpayers' money. They are talking about increasing by six the numbers of representation in the House of Commons. We know it costs at least a million dollars a year for every member of the House. I have great difficulty in how they rationalize that.

I would like to get back to the previous speaker concerning the fact that there has not been any public input into this matter. I wonder how much public input there was into the electoral commission. If I could use the example of the province of Newfoundland, it has had a population increase in the last 10 years of something like 600 people. Yet the boundaries of every riding in the province of Newfoundland have been redistributed at great cost to the Canadian taxpayer. I wonder how much consultation there was with the people of Newfoundland.

There is no doubt in my mind that British Columbia needs a redistribution of its boundaries so that the ones with the heavily populated areas are shifting some over to the less populated areas. My colleagues in the city of Toronto will probably have by the next election 300,000 electors in their ridings. That is an incredible burden for those members of Parliament.

If we look at the ridings in the national capital region how can we justify this shifting? They are not increasing anything. They are not doing anything. They are just shifting and creating additional costs.

How can the previous speaker, as a member of the Reform Party who is constantly and consistently preaching restraint to this side of the House, talk about expending millions and millions and millions of taxpayers' dollars because of recommendations by a commission that never consulted in the first place?

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's question, she is accusing us of aborting the process. Bill C-18 is designed to abort the process that has been in place and has worked for the last 30 years. I find it quite incredible that the hon. member would accuse us of trying to abort the process when the bill is designed to do exactly that.

Then the member made the point about the extra costs of more MPs. We are saying let us cap it. We have more than enough today. Let us put in motion a serious commitment from the House saying that 300 members are surely enough to get an informed debate in the House. That would be quite sufficient.

I address her last point about how the commissions are redrawing the boundaries even though there has been no increase in population. These people had the 1991 census figures to work from. Those are exactly the same figures the government would work from if it proposed to go ahead with Bill C-18. There may have been a population shift from one end of a city to another. I do not know, but that is what we paid these people to determine.

In her final point she mentioned the public hearing process. The public hearing process was about to start. They cut it right off before the public had an opportunity to say that it seemed a bit strange to redefine boundaries strictly for the sake of redefining them. Let us give the public the opportunity to say that. Maybe it will say that the recommendation by the commission is wonderful. If that is the case then let the public say it. Let us hear what the public has to say. That is the whole purpose of public hearings.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have an opportunity to say a few words regarding Bill C-18. I want to acknowledge the co-operation of our friends in the Reform Party for providing this opportunity.

I must say I come at this matter with some mixed feelings. On the one hand I have to ask what motivated this particular Bill C-18. I remember an effort a few days ago when I suspect all of us were trying to get some understanding of what the parliamentary agenda would be for the next number of days. We asked what the legislative program was and Bill C-18 was not mentioned. Then some time last week the formal indication from the government was that Bill C-18 was considered to be a priority and ideally would have to be dealt with expeditiously and with all-party agreement to move it through all stages in one day.

Perhaps two weeks ago, before the electoral boundary maps for British Columbia were made public, rumours about Parliament Hill had it that the government was contemplating this initiative. At that time I was curious about what motivated it, where it came from, what was behind the suggestion. It was new to me. I have been here for many years and I had not heard there was a serious concern regarding the legislation as it was presented.

Like everyone else in my constituency I received the maps of changes to the electoral boundaries in British Columbia. I must say that on looking at the maps of the new boundaries I was totally mystified. As a professional geographer who has some background in cartography, map making, map reading and constructing maps, I was told that the mapped boundaries

regarding new constituencies were to recognize geography, were to recognize history, were to acknowledge the flows of commerce, and were to represent social realities that existed on the landscape of Canada.

I studied all of them and I could find no correlation between an interest in geography and the boundaries on the maps. Historically the boundaries made no sense. As a matter of fact I can only assume it was some sort of creative artistry on behalf of the commissioners who decided on the boundaries in the central interior of British Columbia. I can only assume that whoever they were, and I say this with all due respect, they must have visualised the interior mountains of British Columbia as a flat plain with no topographical variation at all because the reaction was immediate.

The next morning, after Canada Post had delivered all of these proposals, there was a hue and cry that went up in the communities around Kamloops. People who normally would never say anything positive about their member of Parliament because of their political affiliation rose up and said that they must rally around their member of Parliament and stop this process before this lunacy continues any further.

It was interesting. The talk shows and the editorials were not only negative, but viciously negative about who would be perpetuating these changes on behalf of the constituents of central British Columbia, suggesting that the whole process was extremely undemocratic, that it had no relationship with the real world in which people lived.

That was the first clue that something was up. Very quickly I understood why these changes were being contemplated. It was because members of Parliament were obviously going to be quite upset. As my friend in the Reform Party indicated earlier, we perhaps do take some ownership of these constituencies. We find that this particular change of boundaries would certainly not represent in any way, shape or form the democratic future of the electors of the Kamloops constituency, to say nothing about all of the surrounding constituencies as well. I am sure that my colleagues who represent those constituencies will be participating in this debate later.

Therein lies a dilemma. On the one hand to proceed with these changes would be folly. I know there are changes made from time to time by the electoral commission. In my experience I have never seen any. I have been involved in this process over the years and have argued in favour of changes and there has been virtual unanimity by all of the interveners that a particular part of the boundary should change or shift and so on to represent the reality of that area, but I have yet to see any changes ever made. However, I will assume that some are. Again, I think there almost is this impression that these borders are written in stone. By the time the public process begins it is perhaps at best a time for some tinkering or some minor alternations. Essentially the parameters of the boundaries remain.

When looking at the process today, I think to most Canadians this comes as a shock. They receive the map, which is probably the first they have ever heard of this process, and they are surprised. They have had absolutely no input. Members of Parliament and others who are interested in electoral boundaries also have had absolutely no input up to that point. The rationale itself in terms of creating the boundaries can differ from one area of the country to another. While cultural relations, social patterns or commercial flows might influence the boundaries in one part of Canada, perhaps only geography would influence them in another part.

The whole process seems a little odd. If we are serious about changing the boundaries of federal constituencies to reflect the electoral and demographic realities of the country, this seems to be a rather outmoded process to do it in a positive way. Therefore, I suggest that there is some need for change.

On the other hand I question the motive at this point. What is behind this? I listened with interest to the government House leader who indicated that the government would study the operations in terms of how the act is utilized. The government will examine whether it will increase the members as we automatically do now after each census. It will examine how the members of the commission are selected and review how the public and perhaps members of Parliament and others ought to be involved in the process.

This sounds laudable, but surely the most fundamental question that has been side-stepped or perhaps almost ignored is the number of members of Parliament. There is probably a fairly clear indication that the people of Canada do not want these Chambers just to continue to mushroom census after census until we get-I do not know what the limit would be-hundreds and hundreds of members of Parliament.

The question would be what size of a constituency can a single member of Parliament serve well. Of course that would largely be determined on the resources made available to that individual.

I recall a few years ago discussing with a member of Parliament from India at the Lok Sabha the size of constituency they had. She replied that she was not really certain but it was something in the neighbourhood of four million to five million in the constituency.

I thought that if we have problems, they certainly have theirs as well in terms of communicating with their constituents. We do not have two million or three million but again, the numbers of 85,000 or 95,000 are not necessarily written in stone. I suspect that if one looks at other jurisdictions one would find

areas with smaller constituencies in terms of numbers and others with larger.

Perhaps we ought to consider seriously whether there should be any increases in the number of members of Parliament at this point. We have all heard from our constituents that this at best would be something that we would move on very cautiously and perhaps we ought not to move on it at all other than simply cap it with the present levels for now.

We have to look carefully at why we are doing this. One of the ways that we have protected ourselves in the past is to have a process as a result of section 51 of the Constitution and associated with the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act first introduced in 1964.

It is very appropriate for us to remember that this process was set up as an arm's length process away from members of Parliament. The assumption presumably was that MPs might have a vested interest in how the boundaries might be reallocated in their area of the country.

Therefore an independent process, a commission, was set up that would proceed and make these recommendations quite apart from the House of Commons or from the Parliament of Canada but at least providing input at the last stage of the process, which we have just been notified of recently.

We ought to move very cautiously now. The government has indicated that it has concerns about these maps as do I. Because it has concerns about these maps and because it has concerns about the boundaries, we should now curtail this arm's length process, this independent process, stop it in its tracks and send the whole matter to the appropriate parliamentary committee for discussion.

We have to be very cautious of this. I have been here through a number of governments. I know that because the government has the large majority in the House that it is going to do what it decides to do anyway. Our purpose as members of the opposition is to point out some of the concerns that exist if the government is to proceed this way.

The government is saying that it does not like the way this independent commission is working. Therefore it is going to change the rules. If necessary, it will even change the Constitution of Canada to get its way.

We must be careful. When we start indicating a possible change to the Constitution, when we start involving ourselves in what is a very independent process from Parliament because the government in this case does not like the process, what problems does this open up? What problems could this present?

I have very mixed feelings about this initiative. I question the motive behind this initiative. I certainly say that the present process could use some improving. As someone from a province like British Columbia I also have concerns about representation.

I recognize that the proposal would indicate that British Columbia would be allocated two additional seats in the House of Commons. This is under the old formula and would recognize the tremendous population growth that is occurring throughout the province and particularly in some of the urban areas. Obviously there is a need for changes in order to have a better reflection of representation by population.

I cannot go without making two observations. If we are going to be discussing these kinds of changes, is there not some way that we can do this and also examine senatorial reform? There is a need, I think we would all agree, to reform the upper House. Some would suggest that we eliminate the upper House and others would say we should reform it in a variety of ways. There is general agreement that the Senate ought to be reformed and become much more of a democratic institution.

I also have to draw attention to my friend in the Bloc who represented the Bloc Quebecois in its review of this legislation and to indicate as others have that I find it somewhat curious that the Bloc is facilitating or is prepared to facilitate this legislation to redraft and redraw the federal boundaries in the province of Quebec.

I have listened carefully to almost all the speeches the members have made. There is a theme throughout these speeches that within two or three years there will be no need for the Bloc, that the process of change in Canada will occur as per their plan and therefore there is little need to concern themselves as members of the Bloc Quebecois as to how this place will operate two or three years from now.

There is some inconsistency I might say by the suggestion that we need now to examine the new electoral boundaries in the province of Quebec to see if they make sense in time for the next general election, particularly in terms of some of the comments made in the House over the last few weeks.

I want to say with regard to the process proposed by the government, recognizing the need for change and ensuring a more democratic process in the next general election, certainly I have some concerns about the way the boundaries have been drafted particularly in central British Columbia.

I think we have to discuss this very thoroughly and not rush the legislation to ensure that the process being proposed by the government is not by itself undemocratic, that the process being proposed by the government is not behaviour that we saw too often in the past nine years where the government, if it did not

like a particular regulation or law, as important as it was, simply used its overwhelming number in the House of Commons, its muscle in Parliament, to push legislation through.

We can take some comfort that this matter would go before the Senate before changes would be made and again, with the different political relationships in the Senate compared to the House of Commons, there might be some safeguard there.

In closing I want to say that the process is of deep concern. The need for reform is certainly there. Whether this is the most appropriate way however is still a requirement of the debate.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being two o'clock p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to statements by members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

United Nations Convention On Climate ChangeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, today, March 21, the United Nations Convention on Climate Change comes into effect.

This agreement among nations represents the first international step in support of the reduction of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide as we all know is produced when we burn natural gas, oil and coal.

Today we must remind the government and the Minister of Energy to act on the promise to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by the year 2005. Federal, provincial and municipal governments all have a role to play but the Government of Canada has to lead at the national and international levels.

The problem of climate change can only be resolved if every nation pulls its weight.

Semaine Nationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is the Semaine nationale de la Francophonie, which provides francophones all over the world an opportunity to stop and think of the role played by the French language in the development of our communities. This week-long event aimed at making this international forum know will allow us this year to emphasize the key role of Quebec within la Francophonie in North America.

I wish this week will also be a time to develop a certain level of open-mindedness with regard to Quebec's linguistic specificity, reinforce ties between francophones in America and elsewhere, and bridge gaps between linguistic communities in Canada.

I certainly hope that la Francophonie will be celebrated in the workplace, schools and businesses, and by all Quebeckers.

I call upon my colleagues from across Canada to practice this year's theme, which is: "En français, bien sûr", or "In French, of course".

Young Offenders ActStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, a couple living in my riding of Calgary Southeast were victims of a senseless crime. They had their car stolen, taken for a joy ride and then vandalized. These citizens had done their part to protect themselves from crime. They had locked their car. They parked in a lot under a street light.

The police believe that young offenders were responsible for this crime. This is a growing problem not only in Calgary but everywhere. Stealing cars is becoming fun for young offenders. They know they can get away with it. If they are caught they know that the Young Offenders Act will protect them. Young vandals in one instance even spray painted a car with the words: "Thanks, Young Offenders Act".

We have to make young people more accountable for their crimes and protect the rights of victims. Restitution can be a pretty major deterrent if given due consideration.

We need to change the Young Offenders Act to make Canada a safer place; safer for you, Mr. Speaker, safer for people in my riding of Calgary Southeast and safer for all of us who care.

New Brunswick Youth DayStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, today, March 21, is New Brunswick Youth Day.

I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to New Brunswick youth as valuable members of our present communities and an important consideration in all that we decide and do.

Young New Brunswickers and our young people across Canada are faced with peculiar challenges and need our support. Government services targeted for youth are improving. We need only look to the national youth services corps as an example of the kind of creative, youth specific programming necessary to assist young New Brunswickers and Canadians through tough and changing times. As we attempt to make change we must all realize that young people need to be involved in designing the programs and policies that affect them.

In honour of this special day I salute New Brunswick's youth and remind us all of the valuable contributions made by young people across Canada each and every day.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, today is the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which persists whenever the principle of merit is undermined by prejudice.

We must safeguard against reverse discrimination, the antithesis of the principle being defended, as we work to meet our hiring targets for qualified minorities and tearing down the barriers to their full participation.

Tolerance and respect are put to a greater test during harsh economic times. Witness the views of those who see immigrants as stealing jobs from other Canadians, who see only their difficulties, forgetting that there are others who are worse off.

Today we are challenged to work together to foster economic growth and rededicate ourselves to our nation's reality.

Canadians are a people of many colours and races, all of whom heighten the intellectual, social, cultural and economic standing of Canada in the eyes of the world.

Forum For Young CanadiansStatements By Members

March 21st, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I and many other MPs had the opportunity to have a dinner with a group of youths visiting Parliament last week. The group was here under the Forum for Young Canadians program.

In my opinion the Forum for Young Canadians is a valuable educational program that brings young people from all parts of this great nation together to learn about our political process. The forum allows young people to learn about our political system through participation and workshops, presentations and a mock Parliament. It gives students real, hands-on experience. It is also valuable because it allows friendships to form between the participants from all provinces of Canada, friendships that last a lifetime.

It is programs like the Forum for Young Canadians that we as members of Parliament must continue to support and expand because their benefits are enormous. These youths are the leaders of tomorrow and their individual and collective experience will lead to the development of a greater nation.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned this morning that fewer racial discrimination complaints were received by the Quebec human rights commission last year. We all know that racist behaviour has not been eliminated and that making other cultures known is one of the best ways to stop this behaviour.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the members of the Official Opposition associate themselves with the thousands of Quebeckers and Canadians for whom racial discrimination is a social evil which must be fought at all cost.

We must strive daily to eliminate any form of intolerance toward people with a difference. We must promote a society where nobody feels out of place because of the colour of their skin, their religion or their country of birth. That is the challenge facing us all at the turn of this century.

Calgary NorthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, several of my Calgary North constituents have raised concerns about a member of the other place and his work on behalf of a developer in Calgary.

Since his appointment this individual has acted for the developer in public hearings and has also very actively lobbied city officials to advance the developer's interests.

Calgary North constituents are particularly outraged that someone they are paying to represent Albertans should use his influence in this manner and by the fact that he is doing so at the expense of his attendance in the other place which is now sitting.

I call on the Prime Minister to ask the government leader in the other place to investigate the ethics involved when a member of that place lobbies-

Calgary NorthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. The Chair is having a little bit of difficulty about one member attacking another member in the House. I believe that the tradition has been in the House to extend this to the other House.

Although the hon. member has not mentioned a specific person or a specific riding, I think the hon. member is probably leaving very little leeway for misinterpretation.

I would encourage the hon. member to reconsider and perhaps tomorrow we could have another try at it if it is not quite that specific, if the hon. member would not mind.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, many of our colleagues in the House are wearing the multicoloured bow which was conceived and created in Thunder Bay.

The bow is a symbol for March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

This day was declared by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1966 and in 1988 federal and provincial ministers agreed to commemorate March 21 in Canada.

The multicoloured bow is a visible symbol of our commitment to the elimination of racial discrimination as the poppy is to Remembrance Day.

The red, yellow, black and white ribbons represent the colours of the human race. They also signify the beauty and harmony created when the diverse people of the world unite.

We wear the bow today to show support for the elimination of racism in Canada.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the House briefly about the Canadian Wheat Board.

As some members of the House will know, the Canadian Wheat Board is western Canada's single desk selling agency for the export sale of wheat and barley.

There are some presently advocating that the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board should be fragmented and weakened. This is not the time to weaken the Canadian Wheat Board, our single desk selling agency. Rather it is exactly the right time to strengthen it and expand its role in the international grain market.

The Canadian Wheat Board has served the interests of western Canadian farmers superbly over the years and continues to do so.

Semaine Nationale De La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

The President of the Association canadienne d'éducation de langue française, Mr. Normand Boisvert from my constituency, recently announced the second Semaine nationale de la Francophonie, from March 20 to 26, 1994, under the theme "En français, bien sûr".

The primary objective of the Semaine nationale de la Francophonie is to heighten Canadians' awareness from every region in the country. The Association emphasizes the following: On top of the benefits flowing from an increased use of French in all lines of activity, it also wants to generate initiatives promoting an interest in reading and writing, improve the quality of the spoken and written language, and also create and maintain opportunities for positive dialogue between francophones, francophiles and other Canadians of good will.

I invite everyone to fully benefit from this second Semaine nationale de la Francophonie.

Canada Expo 1994 Trade FairStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Expo 1994 trade fair opens tomorrow in Mexico City. Over 400 companies and 1,000 business people will participate in this event.

Today, we want to make up for an oversight by the Prime Minister's Office. Indeed, it is unfortunate to see that, in its documentation prepared for the media, the Prime Minister's Office did not mention one single example of successful Quebec company in Mexico, while it does name several companies from elsewhere in Canada.

Consequently, we want to mention the success, in Mexico, of Quebec companies such as Bombardier, Canam-Manac, SNC, Roche and several dozen others.

We also take this opportunity to wish the best of luck to all Quebec companies participating in this important trade fair.

HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I noticed in La Presse that the Minister of Health has indicated the federal government will soon decriminalize the growing of cannabis or hemp for commercial purposes. She has indicated that Parliament will be asked to pass a law to enable her department to issue licences to grow marijuana depending on the level of THC, the hallucinogenic agent in cannabis.

Perhaps the minister sees us as a country in which people will live in houses made of hemp particle board, read hemp newspapers, wear hemp clothing, drive cars powered by hemp based methanol, dine on hemp seed tofu or enjoy THC free marijuana candy bars.

While many Canadians support this initiative, I wonder if the whole issue of hemp cultivation and decriminalization ought not to be referred to the appropriate committee of the House to prepare legislative recommendations for Parliament rather than dealing with this critical issue in such an ad hoc fashion.

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

In 1966 the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in commemoration of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in South Africa.

Since 1989 the Government of Canada has sponsored a national anti-racism public education program. This campaign works with key institutions and organizations to raise awareness of the existence of racial discrimination and to promote effective means to combat racism.

There is no justification for racial discrimination. Any doctrine of racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally reprehensible and socially unjust. We should recognize that prejudice and discrimination are problems that must be acknowledged and addressed.

As individuals in one of the great democracies of the world we must all bear a personal responsibility in the elimination of racism and racial discrimination. Only then will Canadians be able to participate fully and equally in our society.

Hyundai Auto CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, Hyundai Auto Canada has recently made a corporate decision to close its aluminum wheel plant in Newmarket, Ontario. Seventy people in my riding of York-Simcoe will lose their jobs.

I stand here to pressure Hyundai Auto Canada to ensure that these 70 individuals receive all of the benefits and entitlements they are owed.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:10 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Last week, the Minister of Finance took part in the G-7 jobs summit, where he proposed a tax credit for companies that create jobs or that maintain jobs in spite of technological change. Furthermore, the G-7 countries agreed to make employment their priority in 1994.

Now that he is back from the summit, does the minister intend to implement a real job recovery strategy based on concrete measures in order to give back some hope to the million and a half people who are now unemployed in Canada?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:10 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, yes, when we were in Detroit, the issue of a tax credit for hiring workers was raised. A suggestion was made by Mr. Reich, the U.S. Secretary of Labour. It was also a suggestion made in Canada at hearings held by the human resources minister. We are prepared to consider this suggestion along with many others.

But one thing is very clear, and I was delighted to see that the measures we took in our budget-that is, our approach to job creation, lower payroll taxes, unemployment insurance reform-are exactly the same as those recommended by the OECD. That is also the conclusion that was reached at the meeting. We must say that even the G-7 supported us.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if these words are not followed by concrete action, we can only conclude that it was hot air. When the minister boasts that his own proposals were supported, if no action follows, I do not see how he can talk about support.

Mr. Speaker, I think that we must ask him today to tell us clearly if he intends to establish this kind of tax credit for companies that create or maintain jobs. Can we expect a ministerial statement on this and not just hot air?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec

Mr. Speaker, in the budget, we took what is perhaps the most important step, namely the lowering of payroll taxes. Not only was the unemployment insurance premium rate reduced to $3 but we also showed that we intend to continue in the same direction when the minister's reform is completed.

At the same time, we said that we will really look at our whole taxation system to see if there are obstacles to job creation or, better yet, to see what could be done to encourage employment. We clearly intend to do that. It is not hot air but very specific action.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he admits that his budget is going the wrong way on employment by attacking the unemployed rather than unemployment and its structural causes. I would ask him to admit that he will not stimulate employment by reducing 85 per cent of the benefits for unemployed people.