House of Commons Hansard #47 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was process.


Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

12:55 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to respond to some of the things that I have been hearing over recent minutes and hours when I see the opposition delaying this bill today.

There is some irony here. People are saying in this House: "This bill is going to delay the process by 24 months. We are against delay", but they are delaying the bill, ensuring that the 24 months will happen later had they not delayed the bill to start with. Maybe that needs to be said.

What about the fact that the Reform Party wanted this delay to be 24 months when the government initially asked for 18 months? Whose fault is that? Could it be that there is a little duplicity going on, that we are not hearing the facts exactly as they are?

We heard in the speech today that the electors of the hon. member's province are going to be unhappy if the redistribution as presently planned does not take place. Mr. Speaker, I am sure with your being a fond reader of the Globe and Mail you will know of the story of some weeks ago which outlined perfectly well how B.C. and Ontario were being short-changed by the redistribution that is going to take place now unless we amend it, that true rep by pop does not exist in Canada at the present time, that it should be restored, that the whole debate about that needs to take place and the process we have now has been there for 30 or 40 years unamended. What about the 1986 amendment that was done by the Conservative government? That amendment made it such that no province should lose seats even if it loses population.

Which provinces are the victims of that? B.C. and Ontario are, and that is the process that the member wants us to proceed with. Then he says to top it all off that we need to elect our senators. This is coming from a bunch of people who voted against the Charlottetown accord and who campaigned against it.

Mr. Speaker, I must admit that I fail to see the logic in the hon. member telling us that the 24 month suspension is unacceptable, when in fact he himself, or at least his party, requested it. We proposed a period of 18 months, and now he wants to reduce this to 12. Well, what is it going to be? Make up your mind. What do you want? Twelve, eighteen or twenty-four months? Convene a caucus meeting, discuss the dress code?

Discuss suits. Do something. Discuss it privately and then come back to the House and make up your mind whether it is 12, 18 or 24 that members want I say to my colleagues across the way. We need to review this whole system of redistribution. At second reading the Bloc members across the way voted in favour of the bill if I remember correctly.

Of course they are filibustering a little bit today, but perhaps that will change over the next few minutes or at least we are hoping. If we are serious about not wanting any more delay let the bill proceed so that we can go ahead with this review. If we are serious about not having unnecessary delay, I say to the Reform Party that it cannot have it both ways. It cannot ask to lengthen the delay and say that it is against the delay after it did just that. I say that to the members across the way.

Members must realize that the redistribution as presently planned in the law is most unfair to British Columbia and Ontario according to all independent observers. Rep by pop exists the least in those two provinces because of the structure there now and in particular as a result of the 1976 amendment proposed with the previous government that made it such that no province lost seats.

I call upon my colleagues, if they are serious, forthright and honest about wanting no delay, to proceed with the bill. Let us get the process started. Let us do things and let us do them quickly so that we can have good and proper redistribution to give fair representation to all Canadians.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1 p.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, following up on what my hon. colleague from Richelieu just said, I would like to participate in this debate and speak about institutions. Not the kind of institution he referred to, namely the other House, the Senate, or the House of Commons, but existing institutions that ensure the development of our local communities. I am referring here to the riding, an institution in itself.

I would also like to say a few words about RCMs, an institution which took root in Quebec in the mid seventies, and about economic development institutions which have a considerable impact on each of our ridings. Of course, I will tie all of this in with the electoral boundaries reform process.

In principle, everyone agree that the objective must be greater equity in the allocation of the number of voters by riding so as to ensure that one riding does not carry more weight than another. Obviously, everyone works toward the attainment of this objective. When the time comes to undertake the process, specific guidelines and criteria must be followed. Above all, demographic measurements must not be the sole consideration. The criteria must reflect the makeup of our communities and respect the will of the people.

Over the past 20 or 25 years in Quebec, a sense of attachment has emerged as a result of a process which was and still is known as joint action. I recall taking part in the early 1970s in the Lac Mégantic region in consultations carried out by the regional development council of the eastern townships. This was the start of the process of pooling the needs of the entire population of the eastern townships. This sense of regional attachment which I alluded to earlier developed over a period of many years and led to tremendous economic and social development over a period of some years.

The process was further cemented by the establishment of regional county municipalities in the mid seventies, as I mentioned. The first task undertaken by the RCMs was to put on the table a development plan to be voted on by all elected officials in a given region or sub-region. In the development plan, the municipalities in each sub-region specified what kind of com-

munity facility they needed and where these facilities would be located.

Subsequently, a complete network of economic institutions and industrial commissions was developed. These operated in various fields, not just in the industrial sector, but in the business and community sectors as well. As a result, our various regions, and I refer more specifically to the eastern townships, developed their own personality and were at last in a position to convince the authorities that economic and social development should be adapted to their needs and the needs of people who live there. When the time comes to readjust the boundaries of electoral districts, these boundaries must take into account a process that has evolved during the past twenty or so years.

The proposed changes, as I said earlier, will have a disastrous impact on much of my riding, especially on the Granit RCM located in the beautiful Lake Mégantic area, which I am sure you will visit one of these days, Mr. Speaker, since I understand you are a fan of Quebec.

The Granit RCM has always been part of the Eastern Townships. In fact, as I said earlier, about 25 years ago I was involved in the consultation process to set up regional development councils. The Lake Mégantic region was part of the economic and social development process in the eastern townships and established contacts with most of the authorities involved, including not only local and regional authorities but also authorities at the provincial and federal levels. Mr. Speaker, you have been in government for a number of years, as I have, and you know it is not easy for the average citizen to find his way through the maze of institutions and governments.

When people have had a development model for a number of years, they are very concerned about the consequences of getting rid of this model overnight. And that is exactly what will happen as a result of boundary changes in this particular part of my riding. The Lake Mégantic region would be added to the riding that includes the Thetford mines region, the centre for asbestos, and thus included in the economic region of Quebec City, which is a very nice area, I will grant you that. Just because we want to stay in the Eastern Townships does not mean we have anything against people in another riding.

I think it should be obvious to anyone who is the least bit involved in this process that people should be consulted on any changes being planned.

I heard the hon. member for the Reform Party say earlier that it was necessary for the electoral boundaries readjustment process to be politically neutral. I disagree. Since we are elected representatives and the people have given us a mandate, it is our responsibility and in fact our duty to be involved in any process that would affect the future of our constituents. If I am not mistaken, two-thirds of the members of this House-more than 200 came here for the first time five or six months ago. My point is that most members of this House are serving their first term. This means that during the past few months they attended many meetings and read all kinds of documentation to get to know their riding, their region, their constituents and the needs of these constituents. They must be involved in these consultations. And we cannot do this in a hurry. We need enough time.

In my own riding, I have started consulting the municipalities, and I can say that with 67 municipalities-yes, 67-it takes weeks before we can get a clear picture of what people want. We need time to consult our constituents and ensure that any changes that are made will reflect the institutions in place.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:10 p.m.


Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time I rise on electoral reform. First I would like to apologize to our friends the interpreters for not bringing them my speech, as I usually do. Unfortunately, if the people listening to us could see the wilderness in which we are preaching today, they would understand that sometimes we must be ready to respond quickly.

So this is the second time I rise on electoral reform. I did so as chairman of the Montreal Island caucus. I questioned my Bloc colleagues and tried to gather information on this reform, and today we are discussing the amendments proposed after the report was tabled. The main amendment-the first one-would reduce from 24 to 12 months the suspension period for electoral boundary readjustment. The second and third amendments are a logical consequence of the first one and would let the readjustment proceed while the committee drafts its report so that the commission can do its job.

When I spoke-I will come back to my first speech on this-it was important to me, and many of my regional colleagues spoke of the importance of representing the socio-economic, socio-political communities in their ridings; in the regions, they talk a lot about regional county municipalities, while in the Montreal area, they talk about districts. It is important for members to represent these communities, to have a political representation as integrated as possible at the provincial, federal, municipal, or school level.

In fact, I think that when we talk about the opportunity for politicians to act with the increasingly scarce or limited resources at their disposal, such actions must be better co-ordinated at every level of government. In this respect, there are administrative units that must be represented.

In my first speech I spoke about a fuzzy mathematical logic because, in my opinion, the proposed reform has nothing to do with real life. I told you about problems in the eastern part of Montreal, in Mercier, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Papineau-Saint-Michel, the riding of the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs, that will disappear, the riding of Saint-Léonard that will expand considerably, as well as the riding of Saint-Denis and my own riding of Ahuntsic. By the way, "Ahuntsic" is an Indian word that dates back to the beginning of the colony. Mr. Ahuntsic was a young ferryman with the first settlers and it is

the Iroquois who gave him this nickname. So, that name goes back to the very beginning of the colony.

I re-examined the map and discovered another problem with the riding of Bourassa-Anjou-Rivières-des-Prairies, which seems to me quite significant when you consider only the figures.

The riding of Bourassa encompasses the city of Montreal North, a developing area facing hard times and trying to regroup its community organizations as well as its political demography. The area is pretty well integrated.

Given the proposed readjustments, from a mathematical point of view only, we will add to this riding, which encompasses a whole city, about ten streets taken from the riding of Anjou-Rivières-des-Prairies. Now, Rivières-des-Prairies is a neighbourhood in the city of Montreal. In other words, we will be adding to a politically and economically homogenous entity a tiny area, made up of ten streets, only to respect some mathematical criteria. I will come back later to the spreads, because there are some things which are totally absurd.

I thought I would address the issue of "juggling" figures, and since our friends, the translators, do not have copy of my speech, I am looking forward to seeing how they will translate this nice Quebec French expression, zigonnage , which says exactly what I mean.

In my hands, I have a map which I want to show you. I want to talk about the population spreads. In Quebec, there are about 91,500 constituents for every seat and the ridings are drawn according to this average ratio.

If you look at the previous map, in the area of Montreal made up of 23 ridings, 11 ridings were below the average ratio. Now, on the new map, we have 17 ridings which are 5 per cent over the average ratio. So, we went from a minimum scale which we were not following to another scale which we are still not following, since the variations are very large.

In fact, on the former map, the spread was of 20 per cent in three ridings and 10 per cent in four other ridings. With the new map, the spread in 17 ridings on the island of Montreal is over 5 per cent. We even have some pretty obscure spreads, some incredible turnabouts. In Laurier-Sainte-Marie, the spread went from minus 13 to plus 4, for a difference of 17. In Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, we went from minus 14 to plus 10, a difference of 24 between the two maps. In Rosemont, it varied from minus 5 to plus 12, a difference of 17. The two champions in this respect are Anjou-Rivière-des-Prairies, which changes from +20 to -0.54, a spread of 21, and the riding of Vaudreuil, which will go from +20 to -8, a spread of 28.

Why do we have these wide swings? I do not know where the riding of Vaudreuil will be on the next maps, because it will no longer be part of Montreal Island.

In my first presentation, I assumed that the riding of NDG no longer existed, which is not the case. NDG is now Lachine-NDG. The riding of Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis is now Pointe-Claire-Dollard; Pierrefonds-Dollard will be Pierrefonds- Beaconsfield and Saint-Henri-Westmount will be Westmount-Ville-Marie. Ridings that ran east-west will now run north-south, which creates a juxtaposition of small towns on the West Island, which consists of medium-sized towns. It takes two to make a federal riding, but instead of the usual east-west twinning, they now run north-south.

It is rather messy, and I think we are just perpetuating a system that did not make sense to start with. We have had the same system for the past 30 years, and it led to an incongruous situation that to us in Montreal was really incredible, and I am referring to the riding of Laval-des-Rapides which straddled the Rivière-des-Prairies, being half on the Island of Laval and half on Montreal Island. When you realize, as I do, that the people of Ahuntsic often wish the metro would be extended to Laval, so that the people of Laval could leave their cars at home instead of polluting our neighbourhoods, I find it hard to understand why we should group two communities that so often disagree on major political issues.

So far, four ridings in the region have not been affected: the three ridings of Laval, where Laval Centre is at +11.52, Laval East at +12 and Laval West at +18. A subsequent readjustment would normally create a fourth riding on the Island of Laval. However, considering existing figures and population growth, we can assume that for the next census, a fourth riding would have to include more than just the north shore, on Île Jésus.

Are we to assume, after seeing what it means to have a riding straddling two islands, that according to the same system, we will get another incongruous situation when the next readjustment creates another riding straddling the shores of two islands?

That sounds rather far-fetched, but in any case, I would like to point out that the riding of Saint-Laurent-Cartierville will not change. This is the only riding out of 23 on the Island that will not be affected in any way. Therefore, if we can presume the member is thinking in electoral terms when she talks about the map, we can certainly presume that our hon. colleague, the Acting Speaker, will have no partisan motivation whatsoever when she votes.

This brings us to the amendments. I see myself having to defend this in front of the commission simply because we could not meet the deadline, because here in the House we follow a very peculiar kind of procedure to say the least. To the commission I will say: According to the present rules, you should do this for my riding and according to other rules, you should do that.

It is somewhat incongruous when you think that, whatever happens, this whole process will and must disappear because it is not logical for me to defend bits of Montreal districts that will be taken away to be added to another riding for socio-demographic reasons. One thing is sure: if I win, my neighbour will lose; according to demographic and mathematical criteria, someone somewhere has to lose.

On that point, I agree with the bill and I disagree with the amendments because 12 months will not be enough. I agree with the member for Beauséjour that we need 24 months and that, after the committee has tabled its report, we will need time to come back to the question and analyze it thoroughly and not in a rush as I have to do it today; we will need to take the time to study the issue properly.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:20 p.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised. First of all, I would like to invite you to visit the beautiful riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve with your wife and children. You know that the Olympic Stadium is in that riding, along with other tourist attractions which you will certainly enjoy.

On a more relevant point, I am quite surprised by the amendment proposed by our friends in the Reform Party. Surprised, because this does not seem consistent with what they were advocating in the past.

You cannot say that what is good for the goose in not good for the gander. If one has proposals, a strategy regarding public finances, as they claim to have, I say with due respect that one has to be consistent.

I would like to make two points. The first one is that they are trying, clumsily, to make us believe that there is a crisis, an imminent democratic peril. This rather unsavoury hotchpotch is unfocused. It is presented as if the fact that electoral boundaries will not be revised in the near future is going to deprive Canadians of their right to vote and vitiate the democratic process.

A short while ago, I found rather humorous the reference to fair representation. There was one occasion in the history of this country when fair representation was really threatened, and that was in 1840, at the time of the union of Upper and Lower Canada. One cannot say that by not supporting the amendment proposed by the Reform Party we put democracy in peril.

This is my first point and I find questionable, to say the least, this attempt to take us into a process which may involve the spending of public money. I admit that 40 or 50 years ago, when Canadian and Quebec society was evolving rapidly, readjustment of electoral boundaries had to be done without undue delay. Universal suffrage had to be fully established, since entire sectors of society were still disfranchised. It was also a time when rural life was making way for urban life.

I do not think that, at the present time, we are in a position to use this kind of argument. I think that we can live with a moratorium, provided that it is not forever-nobody wants the status quo to last forever-but we think that in view of our present financial situation and given the current political agenda, there are other priorities and urgent problems the Canadian government should deal with, before we undertake such an exercise.

I could mention some of these problems, as we have done previously. There is of course, among others, the question of unemployment. In terms of a democratic emergency, I am much more concerned about the 50,000 unemployed workers who might be excluded from UI in certain areas of Quebec because of the proposed reform. When it comes to democracy, I am much more concerned by this kind of legislation than by the redrawing of the electoral map.

Speaking of democratic emergency, and I discussed it with colleagues from the Reform Party, I think that the real emergency is to initiate an in-depth review of the subject matter of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which we on this side, together with other Canadian and Quebec groups, have been calling for. That is a real emergency.

If we as parliamentarians and opposition parties are truly concerned about democratic rights, I believe that it is legislation of this kind that we must bring to the attention of the Parliament as a priority.

On the other hand, as the member for Ahuntsic said-you could say he is my neighbour since, in Montreal, we are all more or less neighbours-we have every right to be concerned about the kind of boundaries the commission is proposing. Let us take, for example, the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve which, if we went ahead with the present proposals, would be merged just like that with the town of Saint-Léonard, which is poles apart in social and economic terms.

I do not want to say anything bad about Saint-Léonard because I know that it is a town with many attractive features, a town where things worth mentioning happen. Nevertheless if, as lawmakers, we want to promote coherent environments, I believe that it would be somewhat incongruous to propose the merging of Saint-Léonard with the federal riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve which, as everybody knows, is a working-class area proud of its roots, and where 92 per cent of the population is French speaking. They are, as we know, two

different entities with their own social and economic make-up, and you do not need a Ph.D. in sociology to understand that you cannot ask two dissimilar entities to live in harmony.

If you are a member of Parliament and want to speak in public and represent people, you should at least do so with some consistency. That is real democracy. Real democracy means ensuring that the conditions of representation are such that the member can reflect the social and political interests of his constituents, not to engage in a process that would soon lead to some strange situations which my colleagues have not failed to point out. That is why I cannot understand the amendment proposed by the Reform Party.

We also find in other ridings some anomalies like those we could come up with if the revision process were rushed. Not only did they want to combine the city of Saint-Léonard with Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, but they wanted to take from us, to amputate, dare I say castrate, the Angus Shops, a recent residential development which is the middle class of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and helps us achieve some social balance. The people of the Angus Shops always felt that they belonged to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and always co-operated in the social and community life of the riding. Redrawing the electoral map could cut them off from the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

So I think that we must be careful when dealing with questions like that and certainly not create emergencies where they do not exist. I fully realize that it is useful to revise riding boundaries periodically. Yes, things evolve and people move, but I do not think that we should do so now, under the conditions presented to us.

We should ask whether we do not have better things to do as legislators. Could we not find something better to do with our time than to engage in a debate like that? You know how the Bloc Quebecois was able to identify, on the basis of Quebec's interests-I see some government members nodding; they agree with the excellent work of the Official Opposition and it is a pleasure to know that we could co-operate with them on things like that-the Bloc Quebecois was quick to identify some areas where we think the government must act and make proposals to us, areas which involve the vital democratic interests of Quebe-ckers and Canadians.

I was just talking about the eagerly awaited reform. Many groups in our society long for a reform, which is what Parliament is all about, since it involves the Canadian Human Rights Act. This law was passed in 1977 and has basically never been amended. It is urgent to do so for the sake of democracy. How is that urgency expressed? Just think of the whole issue of employment equity. We know that in his latest report, Commissioner Yalden, who is respected by Canadians as he has been a public servant since 1956, told us that we are far from the goals for employment equity set in the early 1980s. The same goes for recognition of same-sex couples.

All that is to say that we should keep things straight. We think that it is unhealthy to rush this process because we see no urgency for democracy, unlike our friends in the Reform Party. We think that when it comes to redrawing the electoral map, we should take the time to do things right because democracy and issues of representation are at stake. For these reasons, I cannot support the amendment.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:35 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, you have been telling us that you travelled extensively in the province of Quebec, as I am sure you have done right across Canada. But if you have not visited the great region of Charlevoix yet, I invite you to do so because, as you know, this is the region that used to be represented by the former Prime Minister, and he certainly promoted the region, the city of Baie Comeau in particular.

Charlevoix is both a tourist and industrial region on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, a very desirable tourist region that several members from Quebec and Canada would love to represent. Electoral boundaries readjustment could be used to divide to conquer.

As several members indicated, a sense of belonging already exists within regions, ridings, RCMs, municipalities and even school boards. As I understand it, this government's priority is to create jobs, reduce unemployment, keep students from dropping out and provide increased security to low income families as well as seniors.

The time the government will spend redrawing the electoral map, dividing certain regions in Quebec and other Canadian provinces in the process, will undermine the efforts of the men, women and corporations that have been working together. As you know, at one time, if one municipality-and it is the same with regions-if one got a CEGEP, the neighbouring municipality or region wanted one of its own. You ended up with a lot of duplication between regions. White elephants were built in various cities and regions, which the people now have to pay for with their school taxes and their municipal taxes.

I think that more and more, since the last electoral boundaries readjustment, people had thought-and they still do-that the electoral map would remain the same for the next 20 or 25 years. More and more, in socio-economic summits and sectoral round tables, people have been taking charge of prioritizing viable economic initiatives to create employment and this has prompted mayors and councillors in some municipalities to

assume responsibility for themselves and even make compromises so that each region could get its fair share of benefits.

With respect to the infrastructure program developed by the current Liberal government, several municipalities and RCMs have met with the Union des municipalités du Québec or the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, as far as smaller municipalities are concerned, to try to make the program as effective as possible. Also, many small municipalities cannot afford to pay for their share of this tripartite cost-sharing program.

So, many have decided to get together to invest in joint projects within a given RCM and buy sanitary landfill equipment or some other piece of equipment, just to take advantage of the program, create jobs and make the system useful and profitable for the region without getting into debt, especially the small municipalities, as in some cases the per capita subsidy could be $15,000. They got together and conceived a major project that would benefit small municipalities. In addition, Mr. Speaker, we hear more and more about high school drop-outs at the Grade 9, 10, 11, and even 12 level. In my riding where there are four school boards, they co-operate to design programs to make primary and secondary schools more cost-effective and interesting and to prevent kids from dropping out of school in every community. I am sure that this is done in Charlevoix and it must be done in every other region.

The Charlevoix region took control of its own destiny in this regard and will do so again in the future to ensure its industrial development. To ensure such development, we must deal with small and medium-sized businesses and other economic issues. For this, we need dialogue and co-operation between municipalities, and that is when some municipalities will give priority to certain issues rather than others.

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Charlevoix includes 42 municipalities on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence forming four regional county municipalities, four chambers of commerce and four school boards.

I think that this government has a lot of work to do to create jobs and improve social security, and that it would be a good thing to defer this bill for at least two years to let the economy recover and allow us to dot the i 's and cross the t 's. I also think, as the member for Charlevoix, that there is a lot to do at home, in every region of Quebec, and mainly in Canada.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, like my colleagues, I too wish to speak on Bill C-18 and express my opinions, which are heavily slanted in favour of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe which I have the pleasure of representing in this House.

First of all, I would like to review some of the events leading up to this debate on Bill C-18. As you know, every time the census rolls around, Canada's chief statistician asks the Chief Electoral Officer to establish electoral boundaries commissions with a view to redrawing the electoral map to keep pace with demographic growth and to ensure more balanced representation in the House.

As a fundamentally democratic party, the Bloc Quebecois is fully aware of the importance of such a process. One of our party's fundamental objectives, in particular with an eye to Quebec independence, is the exercise of democracy in its broadest sense. Mindful of the inherent democratic rights of the citizens of Quebec and Canada, the Bloc Quebecois wishes to support any measure which will bring about a thorough review of legislation which dates back thirty years, namely the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

Therefore, in this regard, and with certain reservations, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-18 which calls for the suspension of the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act for a period of two years and the abolition of the eleven existing electoral boundaries commissions.

The Reform Party has moved three amendments to Bill C-18. The first would shorten the suspension period from 24 months to 12 months, the second would delete the clause providing for the abolition of the commissions and the third would amend the clause which grants the government the authority to abolish the commissions. The Bloc Quebecois does not see the relevance of such amendments and will certainly not support them. The democratic objective pursued by our party leads our members to support an in-depth review of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. However, as I mentioned earlier, the Bloc Quebecois supports Bill C-18 with certain reservations.

First, we believe it is essential to point out the arbitrariness and inconsistency of some boundaries established in the past and, to that effect, we must emphasize the importance of administrative divisions in Quebec.

As some of my colleagues have done, I will illustrate that point by referring to the division of regional development councils. These administrative zones not only have a strategic importance for Quebec: they are also based on fundamental geographic, economic, industrial, and cultural considerations. Consequently, as long as the province remains part of the Canadian Confederation, the federal commissions readjusting electoral boundaries will have to take into consideration regional county municipalities, as well as administrative regions.

We also feel that the decentralization of decision-making authority is an essential component of the regional policy of the year 2000, something which is definitely not a component of the current central government's policy. Indeed, we are well aware of how uncomfortable the federal government is when it comes to delegating powers to regions and to provinces in particular.

Our second reservation regarding Bill C-18 has to do with the total lack of consideration of regional autonomy in the provincial and federal policies of English Canada as a whole. Regarding this aspect, I would like to quote some reactions following the announcement of the proposals made by the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

As soon as the proposals made by the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Quebec were announced, on February 9 of this year, they were criticized by a good number of people representing the political, social and economic sectors in the Eastern Townships. Let us take the example of a municipality which plays an extremely important role in the economy of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe. I am referring to the city of Valcourt, which benefits from the presence of Bombardier, a company playing an extremely strong and powerful role in the development and the economy of the area. The mayor of Valcourt, Mr. Denis Allaire, finds it hard to understand why, under the new boundaries, his municipality would become part of the riding of Drummond, and he intends to voice his opposition to such a change.

It must be understood that the electoral boundaries readjustment is not an opportunity for a mayor or for corporate or ordinary citizens to say that they do not want to become part of a riding: these people are merely reaffirming their sense of belonging to a riding and to an economic and socio-cultural region. It is interesting to note that Mayor André Leclerc of Warwick worried about the opposite situation, which would see his municipality become part of the riding of Richmond-Wolfe. The mayor feels that Warwick would be removed from its natural ties, operations and activities with the region of Victoriaville, in the riding of Lotbinière.

He also felt that this readjustment would disrupt the economic regions.

I would also like to refer to a comment made in La Tribune by the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead, who said: The member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead is not pleased at all to see that part of his constituency will become part of the Thetford Mines region''-this will help illustrate the mistakes which can be made to the detriment of a region's natural development-and he intends to express his discontent loud and clear to the commissioners when they hold their hearings in Sherbrooke.'' It is not that he holds a grudge against the citizens of the asbestos region, but Mr. Bernier maintains that there is no affinity between the two poles. He said he knows the riding very well and he is convinced that people of Mégantic relate first to the Sherbrooke region and only secondly to Saint-Georges-de-Beauce. Therefore, the Mégantic region has no connection whatsoever with the asbestos region. Except for family ties, the people of Mégantic and those of the Thetford Mines region have pratically nothing in common.

I would even add that in the Richmond-Wolfe riding, the integration process which affected the municipalities of Rock Forest, Saint-Élie, Deauville, Valcourt, Racine and Richmond, made it so that the majority of the population, involved in the development of a strategic plan for the RCM of Le Val Saint-François associated with another extremely important RCM, Sherbrooke, would see the best part of its discussions, efforts and co-operation go up in smoke, just as the outcome of the plan for joint action on economic, social and cultural development in that region.

Evidently, the people in these communities have developed a sense of responsibility over the years; they were asked to do so- They were always told they should take their future into their own hands and accept responsibility for their own economic, social and cultural development. They were told it was important for them to bring the decision centres closer to their region. In this respect, the readjustment of electoral boundaries goes against all the work that has been done over the years in Quebec in the area of joint action and the establishment of decision centres closer to the people involved and more attuned to their analysis of local problems.

In Quebec, in recent years and more precisely since 1985, regional conferences have given priority to joint action and development projects focusing on municipalities and surrounding regions. Over the years, this process has led to thinking and developing a strategic plan involving the creation of regional county municipalities-or MRCs as they are called in Quebec-which co-ordinate their own plans at a higher level, that of economic development councils or regional development councils. As a result, each region in Quebec signs a general development agreement with the government and the Department of Regional Development.

The exercise of electoral boundaries readjustment demonstrates that Ottawa is not sensitive to that. It does not take regional development into consideration, does not understand it, and sets limits which have nothing in common with natural economic development and, in particular, nothing to do with the fact that local governments are trying to make their own decisions, to do their own analysis of problems, and to implement their own solutions to development problems.

Clearly, we support this review and, if Quebec remains within Confederation, we would like people in charge of preparing new legislation to take notice of these fundamental structures in Quebec. Regionalization and taking charge of one's destiny is something for the 21st century, and the Liberal government, the government in power, will have to understand that some day.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:50 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by denouncing the attitude of Reform Party members to their own amendment. It is curious, not to say strange, that members elected on a platform to reform Parliament let the other opposition party monopolize debate on their own amendment. This is curious.

In my native region of Saguenay, we call that: "Do as I say, not as I do". Like my colleague who just spoke, I am totally against the amendment proposed which would reduce from 24 months to 12 the period allowed to study a new electoral map.

Indeed, I think that we clearly indicated that we would agree with the government position to defer this whole issue by 24 months. Why do we need more time ? First, we think that criteria other than demographics must be considered. It is true that we must have balanced electoral districts with about 70,000 people, but we should also consider other criteria such as the size of the territory.

We know that my riding of Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans entirely encompasses the provincial riding of Montmorency, a part of the provincial riding of Charlevoix and a part of the provincial riding of Beauport-Limoilou. So, a single federal district includes all or part of three provincial ridings. I am sure that it is exactly the same in the other Canadian provinces.

Second, of course, if we have large federal electoral districts, chances are that we will have a very large number of municipalities in that territory, each municipality having different characteristics and different needs.

The third reason or third criterion that leads us to prefer a 24-month deferral is the number of regional county municipalities, entities that are specific to Quebec and that essentially constitute regional self-governments. When we have a large federal riding, it sometimes overlaps more than one RCM, once again with different characteristics, needs and concerns.

Finally, the fourth point that leads me to prefer this deferral is the social and economic components of each of these municipalities.

Since we have an opposition role to play and are not here to praise the government in office, despite what the member for Saint-Boniface is saying, we can blame the Liberals for delaying the bill with the consultations that are getting under way. In this issue, it is as if the arms did not know what the brain is asking for. I leave it up to you to determine who constitutes the arms and who constitutes the brain, but we realize, because of the delay in tabling this bill, that the consultations should never have started.

In our opinion, the reform should have a greater scope. Without calling it by its name, I would be remiss if I forgot that the Bloc Quebecois, and the majority of Quebeckers in general, are asking for the abolition of the other House, knowing how efficient members of that House are and how efficient that institution as such is. We know that in 1993, the other House sat for 41 days, at a cost $43 million to the Canadian treasury. Reform could also encompass out right abolition of the other House.

In concluding, I would like to tell you that, nevertheless, in Quebec, we are convinced that the reform will have a greater scope because, very soon, Quebeckers will have to decide their future in a referendum that will be coming in the new year.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I know that the hon. member has a little time left to speak. If he is not done, he may continue after three o'clock.

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

The Canadian FlagStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, while our country is made up of people from different cultures, backgrounds and histories, we are united under certain symbols we hold close to us.

One of those symbols is our flag. Our flag is displayed throughout the Parliament buildings. I am pleased to see so many members of Parliament displaying the Canadian flag in their offices. While some may also display the provincial flag the Maple Leaf is always prominent.

The flag reminds us that first and foremost we are Canadians. While we represent our individual ridings we do so in this national forum for the good of all Canadians.

The pride we feel when the Maple Leaf is raised during the Olympic Games is a reminder of how important our flag is for all of us. We should never forget how much our flag means to us and what it symbolizes to the world. I encourage every member to display our Canadian flag proudly.

Report Of The Commissionner Of Official LanguagesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, the Commissioner of Official Languages tabled his 1993 annual report.

Many instances of discrimination against francophones were reported again in federal institutions as well as in several provinces. In fact, the commissioner stressed, and I quote: "that the system of providing federal services in both official languages . . .was not yet functioning as it should".

This year again, access to French language education is difficult, if not impossible in certain regions. Also, the issue of school governance by francophones has not yet been settled in several provinces.

The Prime Minister stated recently: "The million francophones outside Quebec, that is my Canada". Unfortunately, this report reveals a huge gap between political rhetoric and reality.

Charter Of Rights And FreedomsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms assures us of security, fair treatment and equality under the law, freedom of thought, belief, opinion, conscience and much more. Most of us know our rights and freedoms, but what about our responsibilities?

Our responsibility to look after ourselves: to protect our health; to gain as much education as we can: to be productive citizens; and, to make the best of our life circumstances?

Our responsibility to family: the foundation on which our children grow; where they are love; learn respect; compassion; and, the difference between right and wrong?

Our responsibility to country: to take pride in our heritage; to attempt to repay what society has given us: to participate in Canadian politics and vote to register our views: to contribute to the future of our nation; and, to be willing to serve in times of need or peril?

We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. What we must add is a charter of responsibilities.

Official LanguagesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have just received the booklet entitled "Official Languages Myths and Realities". I recommend it as reading to every member of Parliament and every senator.

Look at the facts and then share them, share them with Canadians so that we can in fact make sure that there are no longer any unnecessary language conflicts.

Mr. Speaker, this is a wonderful tool to educate, share and get to understand one another better, and I certainly hope that every member of Parliament and every senator will raise these issues and share these facts openly.

Via RailStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, public concern regarding the future of VIA Rail service in the Sarnia-Toronto corridor continues to rise. A number of mayors and municipal councils have expressed concern following the release of certain internal documents attributed to VIA management.

The transport department has done nothing to deny or disavow such information. It is indeed ironic that in this time of heightened emphasis on infrastructure our most elementary public service, that is intercity rail service, is overtly and benignly discouraged by government.

If Canadian National can charge its other customers using rail service at the same rate that VIA pays, CN would have an income of $30 billion per year and not the $3 billion per year it had last year.

I call on the transport department to order Canadian National to charge VIA a rail usage charge based on reality. Indeed VIA receives federal subsidies which flow through to CN because of this unilateral usage charge.

Let us make some sense of VIA by rolling back track rental rates to a realistic number based on real market value numbers.

I call upon the department to make economic and environmental sense and to guarantee passenger rail service to both urban and rural Ontario.

CurlingStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago my home town of Truro, Nova Scotia proudly hosted the `94 Pepsi junior curling championships. At that prestigious national event curling was showcased at its best

as we saw the men's team from Alberta and the women's team from Manitoba emerge as the Canadian junior champions.

From the Truro Nationals, the Alberta men's team led by Colin Davison went directly to Bulgaria for the world championships. Under the women's rules last year's Canadian champions competed in this year's international championships.

In Bulgaria this past week both the Kim Gellard junior women's team from Toronto and the Colin Davison's junior men's rink from Alberta won their respective world junior curling championships.

As a member of Parliament, I am very proud of our young Canadian athletes and congratulate our young men and women as they return home from Bulgaria as world champions of junior curling.

Collège Militaire Royal De Saint-JeanStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the member for Saint-Jean, I am proud to congratulate Isabelle Robitaille, Jacques Lessard, Claude Martel and Éric Dion, four graduating students of the military college in Saint-Jean.

Yesterday they won the Jean Pictet debating competition on international humanitarian law against 19 other teams from Quebec, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

This achievement demonstrates the dynamism and competence of the military college in Saint-Jean. It is, however, overshadowed by the announcement that the college will be closed because the Liberal government has stubbornly refused to review its unjustified decision.

If the government's senseless decision is maintained, these students could be the last to attest to the excellent teaching done at the military college in Saint-Jean.

Teresa MallamStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday one of my constituents, Teresa Mallam of Quesnel, British Columbia, came to Ottawa.

Teresa, B.C. Report magazine's Cariboo correspondent, was here to receive the Canadian Association of Journalists prestigious prize for investigative journalism, an award that Teresa won for an article written in June 1993 about the 1989 brutal murder of Mary Jane Jimmie of Quesnel.

Mary Jane Jimmie's murderer has not been apprehended, but Teresa's persistence in going after the facts and attempting to find out what really happened may now lead to the person responsible being convicted and sent to prison.

I would like to offer my congratulations to Teresa for winning the award and for the high standard of journalism she has brought to the interior of British Columbia.

Elders ConferenceStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, Trent University has the oldest native studies program in Canada.

It recently hosted its 11th annual Elders Conference with 2,000 participants from all over Canada, from the west coast to the east and as far north as Igloolik. The conference was run by more than 200 Trent students. It included exciting workshops and a wide variety of social events. A play by the children from the Kawartha First Nations, a large powwow at Curve Lake and games highlighted the weekend.

The Elders Conference once again received considerable support from the greater Peterborough area. This is gratefully acknowledged by the organizers.

It is truly national events like this one, bringing together native and non-native people, young and old, that demonstrate Canada's strengths. They are evidence that our future lies within the vision of the current Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development of this country rather than within the tunnel vision of some members of the House.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the campaign the hon. leader of the Reform Party made the statement that the government's $2 billion infrastructure program to help kickstart the $700 billion economy would be like using a flashlight battery to start a 747 airplane.

With our unemployment rate being reduced from 11.6 per cent to 10.6 per cent and with the creation of over 114,000 jobs nationwide in the last two months, I think Canadians would like to know what kind of battery the Prime Minister used. I hope he uses the same batteries over and over again to create more jobs.

Northern OntarioStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, northern Ontario boasts a population of 825,000 and is a significant wealth creating and exporting region of the country.

However, due to a multitude of factors northern Ontario has traditionally been a forgotten region of the country. In the coming months we will attempt to rectify this oversight and assert northern Ontario's position within the federation.

Following extensive consultations I hope to bring the region's communities together to set policy priorities, develop an economic vision and establish the regional partnerships required to realize the opportunities set out in the government's red book.

I trust the government will provide our region with the support it needs to attain its goal of greater economic self-reliance.

The people of Northern Ontario are entitled to voice their expectations, to be heard, and to play a more important role in the development of the regional and national policies affecting them.

People Of QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, recently, the Prime Minister of Canada said that one had to get out of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean area to find out what the real world was like.

Similarly, his Minister of Foreign Affairs was glad to see members of the Bloc Quebecois come to Ottawa, because this would get them out of the backwoods and broaden their horizons.

Yesterday, their spiritual father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, made another of his nasty statements when he said, and I quote, "that Quebec students do not know their French and when they become intellectuals, they are intellectuals of the worst kind."

Mr. Speaker, these ghosts from the past should realize that Quebeckers are far too sensible to pay any attention to their contemptuous remarks and that whatever this herd of snorting dinosaurs may claim, Quebec is a modern and open society that looks to the future.

Quebeckers will soon make themselves heard, and out of these so-called backwoods will rise a great French nation in the Americas.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the ultimate tax revolt occurred at the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and the rallying cry behind it was "no taxation without representation".

Did the Americans do wrong in opposing British taxation without representation in the British Parliament?-of course not. Taxation with representation is not only an entrenched concept in our Liberal democracy. It is a fundamental rule of fairness and common sense.

The burden of debt this government is inflicting on our nation will fall on the shoulders of Canadians not yet old enough to vote. They seem to go unrepresented in this government, yet they deserve a say in the spending habits of their parents because they are the ones who will end up paying the bills.

Parliament does not have the luxury of sending mixed signals to money markets, investors and taxpayers, but most especially we need to send a strong, unified message to young Canadians. Let us start treating taxpayers' dollars like funds held in trust.

Report Of Commissioner Of Official LanguagesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier today, the Commissioner of Official Languages tabled his annual report.

As our language rights ombudsman, it is his role and his duty to point out the shortcomings in the system, not to complain about discrimination, as a member of the Bloc Quebecois was saying, but to improve the system by pointing out its defects. He has a role similar to that of an opposition party that reveals what is wrong in the government, to protect the interests of the people.

There is bad news, but there is also good news in this report. For instance, the Commissioner of Official Languages has commended the government for reinstating the Court Challenges Program. He also indicated that the rate of bilingualism among teenagers in Canada has risen in every Canadian province and territory. Furthermore, and this is an important point, the cost of providing bilingual services in Canada was approximately 30 cents per $100 of service provided or 0.2 per cent of the federal budget.

Young Offenders ActStatements By Members

April 12th, 1994 / 2:10 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, two years ago in Courtenay, B.C., six-year old Dawn Shaw was brutally raped and killed.

Her killer, now 17, is Jason Gamache. The biggest surprise to come out of this trial was not that he had done the deed. Jason Gamache was a repeat sex offender who was not allowed to be with children and he was 11 months into therapy when he murdered Dawn Shaw.

Not even the Courtenay RCMP was aware of this young offender's record of sexual assault. Why? It was because the Young Offenders Act prohibits any professional treating a young offender from discussing the case in public.

This case calls for two changes in our justice system: first, major changes in the Young Offenders Act and, second, a public registry of sex offenders. We cannot let Dawn Shaw's death be in vain.

Young Offenders ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House I raised the question of young offenders and pointed out that there was much we had to do in prevention. I would also say as part of that prevention, we must also look at the structural unemployment of young people. Officially we have an unemployment rate of over 17 per cent of young people, whereas in fact it is much higher.

I know the government has a youth corps program. It is a start, but it is not addressing the high unemployment of young people. I urge the government to bring forward a real plan for youth.

We are all concerned about youth crime. We know there were provincial, territorial and federal meetings on the Young Offenders Act. I would like to see similar meetings on the very high rate of youth unemployment.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec


Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister. Today, La Presse published sections of a document prepared by the Department of Human Resources Development for the next federal-provincial conference to be held next week, on income security.

According to the document, the government has excluded any possibility of transfers to Quebec of authority, budgets or officials. This position is a direct contradiction of Quebec's demands as reiterated last Friday by Premier Johnson, who is supported by a strong consensus in Quebec on this issue among the parties involved.

Are we to understand that this document represents the government's official policy on manpower training, and that having rejected all transfers requested by Quebec, the Prime Minister will only allow joint use of the same building, where the wasteful practices we have witnessed for a number of years, which have prevented the unemployed from getting the training they need, would be perpetuated, but now under the same roof?