House of Commons Hansard #55 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-4, an act to amend the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick


Fernand Robichaud Liberalfor the Minister of Justice

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

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario


Mac Harb LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise today to participate in the third reading debate on this bill, an act to amend the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act.

This legislation ensures that trade sanctions cannot be taken against Canada under the North American free trade agreement on environmental co-operation or the North American agreement on labour co-operation.

Bill C-4 is the only legislative measure necessary for Canada to fulfil our obligations under these agreements.

These agreements improve the NAFTA provisions on the environment and labour. They guarantee that our objective to increase trade is not achieved at the expense of our environment and our workers.

If adopted, this legislation would guarantee that trade sanctions cannot be taken against Canada in connection with environmental or labour matters covered by NAFTA.

Thanks to this bill, any potential fines made against Canada by a panel will be enforced by our own domestic courts.

If Canada, the United States or Mexico fail to enforce their environmental and labour laws, the agreements contain an effective dispute settlement mechanism. It allows for the establishment of a panel to investigate and make a determination.

If a panel determines a country has demonstrated a persistent pattern of failure to enforce its law, it may require the offending country to adopt an action plan to correct the problems. If the country fails to do so, the panel could also impose a fine or what the agreement terms a monetary enforcement assessment.

The legislation before us today will permit the Federal Court of Canada to enforce any panel determination which may be made against Canada if, and only if we persistently fail to effectively enforce our environmental and labour laws. Of course that is not something we expect to ever happen.

If a dispute settlement panel levies fines against the United States or Mexico for failure to correct their enforcement problems, those countries will face a suspension of NAFTA benefit or trade sanctions equivalent to the size of the unpaid penalty.

Canada views such trade sanctions would constitute barriers of the very kind that the NAFTA was designed to eliminate.

These agreements protect Canada's environmental and labour interests in relation to the North American free trade agreement. They effectively strengthen and expand important commitments made by Canada, the United States and Mexico.

We are committed to helping to promote environmentally sustainable growth and to promoting workers' rights throughout North America.

Through the North American agreement on environmental co-operation we have created a commission to effect close and ongoing co-operation. For example, on March 23 the Minister of the Environment participated in the inaugural meeting of the commission in Vancouver with her counterparts from the United States and Mexico.

The ministers at that time approved a process to establish the commission and the co-operative work program for the first year. They agreed that the commission's activities will be conducted in an open and transparent manner.

The environment ministers from Canada, the United States and Mexico will oversee the work of the commission to ensure it meets its goals; to promote sustainable development, to develop and enforce environmental regulations and to resolve disputes if laws are not upheld.

The commission will promote a work plan based on areas of priority. They include limits on specific pollutants, assessments of projects with transboundary implications and reciprocal court access. As well, the commission will work with the free trade commission to achieve the environmental goals of the NAFTA agreement.

Steady progress has been made on the establishment of the labour commission formed under the North American agreement on labour co-operation. Also on March 21 in Washington the Minister of Human Resources Development met with his American and Mexican counterparts to establish the co-operative work plan of the labour commission.

The ministers discussed how they intend to achieve the objectives of the labour agreement and reviewed a number of practical measures related to the establishment of the commission's organizational structure. At that time they reiterated their commitment to work together on a program of trilateral co-operative activities.

The labour commission will give effect to the promise in the preamble to the North American free trade agreement to "improve conditions and living standards" and as well "to protect, enhance and enforce basic workers' rights". The agreement, founded on close and ongoing co-operation among the three countries, ensures that laws governing health and safety, child labour and minimum wage standards are upheld.

They go well beyond co-operation. They commit each country to the domestic enforcement of domestic environmental and labour laws. This means that no country may use lax enforcement of its laws to gain an unfair arrangement or trade advantage.

I can report that negotiations to work out federal-provincial arrangements on implementing the environment and labour agreements in Canada are proceeding on a co-operative and constructive footing.

These agreements are designed to protect the environment and workers' rights, important issues for the provinces. Canada will submit to its NAFTA partners a list of provinces participating in the agreement when negotiations with the provinces have been completed.

It is my firm belief that the North American free trade agreement has been considerably strengthened and improved as a result of the precedent setting side agreement. The government is satisfied that the NAFTA will advance Canadian trade policy objectives.

As well the agreement will provide a valuable incentive for Canadian producers, exporters and investors to look beyond their traditional backyards to Mexico and the rest of Latin America as well as to the markets of Europe and Asia.

The agreement as strengthened and improved illustrates that international trade agreements can be multifaceted and more attuned to the realities of the 1990s.

It is in Canada's best interests to proceed with the passage of this bill. Not only will it protect Canada's international trade interest but also our environmental goals and the rights of our workers.

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-4, an act to amend the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act. Notwithstanding its vague and somewhat misleading title, this is a relatively simple bill. It refers to the so-called side agreements to the North American free trade agreement.

On March 15, in the debate on the Canadian foreign policy review process, I commented as follows, and I quote:

It is important to point out that this globalization is an inescapable phenomenon. It is a tendency which affects the economy of all countries, whether they are G-7 members or developing nations. To try to escape this reality would be like ignoring the emergence of new means of communication and production; in other words, it would be tantamount to ignoring the changes that have occurred in our economic environment.

I also stated the following:

-trade liberalization and market globalization seem to be a trend, an irreversible phenomenon. The prosperity of nations will depend more and more on international trade. It is a fact that will be part of Canada's economic reality from now on.

It is therefore not surprising that developments took us so quickly from the initial signing of the free trade agreement between Canada and the United States to the signing of the North American free trade agreement.

I was in Washington yesterday with several Canadian colleagues to meet members of the U.S. steel caucus and to discuss the need for our governments to provide formal recognition of the fact that the North American steel market is already well on its way to being integrated.

We also had an opportunity to meet representatives of the Canadian and U.S. steel industry who shared with us their concerns and expectations.

Representatives of the American Iron and Steel Institute, which includes most Canadian, American and Mexican steel mills, gave us, for our information, a press release published on July 8, 1992, in which the North American Steel Council, which is a member of the American Iron and Steel Institute, explained its position on NAFTA.

One paragraph of this press release was about the concerns shared by all members of the American Iron and Steel Institute, and I would like to read this very briefly, if I may, Mr. Speaker.

"On the interplay between the NAFTA and the environment the NASC's Canadian, Mexican and U.S. members share common concerns. We support continued parallel talks by our governments on environmental standards and enforcement levels, as well as on other so-called social issues as worker health and safety standards".

Reflecting the concerns shared by a substantial part of the U.S. public, U.S. President Bill Clinton made a commitment to negotiate and conclude side agreements on these two items before NAFTA was passed by Congress. After hasty negotiations, the three partners on September 14, 1993, signed two parallel agreements to NAFTA: the North American agreement on environmental co-operation between the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico, and the North American agreement on labor co-operation, between the same three governments.

These side agreements gave rise to two new international institutions, namely the commission for environmental co-operation and the commission for labor co-operation.

Incidentally, several days ago, the government announced that the NAFTA commission for environmental co-operation would be established in Montreal. The English-language media and some other interested parties immediately criticized the government's choice, although it was quite logical and justified.

Need we repeat that Quebec is the only Canadian province which has promised to endorse the parallel accords on labour and the environment-but only, I wish to point out-after serious negotiations between Quebec and Ottawa?

The reasons that Quebec wants so much to be at the leading edge of international trade practices could not be more obvious: Quebec exports almost 16 per cent of its $160 billion GDP and these exports account for 30 per cent of our jobs. Furthermore, 76 per cent of Quebec's exports go to the United States.

Establishing the commission in a place that is hostile to its purpose would certainly not make for efficient operation. In addition, the government's choice is justified because Montreal is an international city which is already home to some 30 international organizations, including ICAO and IATA. The various levels of government have made great efforts to attract international organizations to Montreal.

Finally, Montreal is a cosmopolitan city which has the infrastructure needed for such organizations. It has a large English-speaking community and Spanish is increasingly spoken there every day by a rapidly growing Hispanic community.

For all these reasons and many more, Quebec's business community and politicians were right to lobby hard to have the commission for environmental co-operation located in Montreal.

That said, I do not intend to say any more on the commission for environmental co-operation and the commission for labor co-operation than Bill C-4 itself does.

To see what this bill is all about, it is first of all necessary to put it in perspective. It then becomes apparent that it partially meets some very worthy overall objectives, since it ultimately seeks to protect the rights of our working people as well as our natural sites and our environment.

As I said earlier, Bill C-4 seeks to make effective in Canada the provisions contained in the parallel accords concluded by the three NAFTA signatory countries on labour and the environment. As a document prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade says, these parallel accords encourage cooperation between Canada, the United States and Mexico on the environment and labour; commit the parties to promote compliance with and enforcement of their environmental and labour laws and regulations; and advocate higher standards in these two areas.

For at least two centuries, workers in Quebec and Canada have fought for laws to protect themselves from abuse by employers and governments. These struggles were hard and at times bitter. Nevertheless, workers succeeded in having their rights entrenched in laws which, in a sense, are now an integral part of life in Quebec and Canada; however, such is not the case in all countries. For social or historic reasons, workers' rights have not advanced at the same rate and in the same way everywhere.

Need we add that this is also true of the environment, where the gains made are even more fragile? Indeed, although the progress made in labour relations is fairly well established, this is certainly not true of environmental protection, where too often and even recently we have seen governments bow to the laws of the market, to the detriment of the laws of nature.

At any rate, at the 1992 earth summit, there was certainly no great show of unfailing willingness on the part of NAFTA partners to work together to solve their environmental problems. Under no circumstances must trade agreements between countries, however substantial they may be, adversely affect either the vested rights of our workers or our environment.

I am convinced however that certain fly-by-night businesses have tried to use the elimination of trade barriers to explain to their workers and the authorities the relaxation of labour and biophysical environment protection standards.

That is why the NAFTA side deals provide for mechanisms ultimately intended, on the one hand, to prevent businesses from taking advantage of legal differences between countries and, on the other hand, to force governments to maintain and enforce existing legislation and, ideally, encourage the various countries to pass legislation that is yet more progressive and stringent. Any downgrading of working conditions and labour standards will not be tolerated by the Bloc Quebecois, nor by the people of Quebec and Canada.

Of course, the temptation is there to restore a number of trade barriers or at least to adopt once again a negative attitude toward free trade as an easy way to solve the problem. And some provincial governments seem to like the idea. However, neither the current federal government nor the Bloc Quebecois, nor the government of Quebec for that matter, consider that approach to be realistic or beneficial.

For now, Bill C-4 appears to be a step toward the ultimate goal of preventing environmental and social "dumping" in cases where trading partners are on a very unequal footing in economic and legislative terms. Note that such an approach has created pitfalls that governments must avoid at all costs, but I will comment on that later on.

Bill C-4 enables a panel, an arbitration panel convened under article 24 of the environmental co-operation agreement or article 29 of the labor co-operation agreement to require either partner to effectively enforce its own environmental or labour laws.

Panel determinations will have the same status as an order of the Federal Court. As indicated in the explanatory notes, the enactment of Bill C-4 "amends the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act so as to permit domestic enforcement by the Federal Court of Canada of any panel determination that is addressed to the Crown in right of Canada", should the latter fail to enforce its environmental or labour legislation.

In other words, Bill C-4 is a step in the right direction in that it prevents the legislative gap between the three NAFTA signatories from widening further. If Canadian businesses decide to set up abroad, it will not be in hope of benefiting from some relaxation of environmental standards or of being able to exploit a poorly protected labour force. The contrary is also possible, but the chances of that happening are much slimmer, believe me.

Mr. Speaker, as you can see, the disparity between our three countries' social and environmental standards is in no way expected to increase as a result of such a measure. On the contrary, under article 3 of each side deal, the three signatory states agree to improve and strengthen existing legislation. In the event of non-compliance, the panel may assess the party in default, through an order of the Federal Court, a fine of up to $20 million US. The United States and Mexico could even have trade sanctions taken against them, while no such sanctions can be taken against Canada or any of its provinces under the agreement.

All in all, however, I would say that the positive aspects of this bill tend to eclipse the less positive ones. The first of these not-so-positive aspects of this middle-of-the-road solution that Canada has given its support to is no doubt the fact that the side deals have achieved no significant reduction in the observable legislative differences between the three NAFTA partners with respect to environment and labour.

This means that businesses could be tempted to take advantage of the fact that, in many cases, our trading partners' standards are more flexible than ours.

Admittedly, all parties expressed their willingness to improve their legislation, but this expression of faith, although noted in the agreement and seemingly sincere, is no guarantee whatsoever that positive changes will in fact occur.

Moreover, we are all becoming better acquainted with the legendary propensity of our neighbours to the South to turn to the courts at the slightest little thing. Following the signing of the free trade agreement, Canadians were surprised indeed to see the Americans rush to the trade tribunals, apparently to tie them up with business as quickly as possible. Since they have not been shy about doing so since the implementation of the free trade agreement, there is reason to think that they will adopt the same course of action, if at all possible, in the case of the NAFTA and its side agreements.

Therefore, it is vitally important that we make our partners understand that this kind of practice is totally unacceptable. Special groups that hand down binding decisions must not become, quite involuntarily at that, institutions at the service of one NAFTA partner or another.

Another of the problems caused by these side agreements has to do with the unique features of Canadian federalism. Regardless of what this centralist government may believe, labour and environment are largely areas of provincial jurisdiction.

While Ottawa disregarded Quebec's willingness to negotiate agreements in the case of the free trade agreement, it is hardly in a position here to take a similar approach in the case of side agreements. Discussions are in progress right now between federal and Quebec officials. According to the information we have received thus far, these discussions appear to be moving along well.

The same apparently cannot be said for the other provinces. From the very beginning, Ontario and British Columbia have made no secret of their opposition to all side agreements. To show its discontent, Ontario has threatened on several occasions to ask the Supreme Court to declare the government's actions in this matter unconstitutional.

Side agreements which for now apply only in areas of federal jurisdiction are not likely to apply to all provinces equally anytime soon.

If our partners did not understand the nature, or should I say the confused nature, of the Canadian federation, well now is certainly their chance to get a clearer picture of the situation. Although they have expressly stated that they would like the federal government to conclude agreements with the provinces, their wish does not seem to have been universally heard.

Regardless, Mr. Speaker, we will enthusiastically support this bill in view of the arguments presented and the underlying principles which gave rise to it.

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we are taking a last look at Bill C-4 as it gets third reading.

This bill was introduced by the government on January 26 and I spoke to it at length a few days later. At that time I said the Reform Party supported this bill although we did have some concerns about there being fair representation on the panel. We also wondered whether there should be an appeal process. These concerns were addressed to our satisfaction in committee.

I can now say that I and the Reform Party fully support this bill which will bring into Canadian law an enforcement mechanism established under the NAFTA side agreements on environmental and labour co-operation.

In the area of environmental co-operation we will be assured that there will be strengthened environmental co-operation in North America. We will be assured of sustainable development on a continental basis and of effective compliance with domestic and environmental law.

In the area of labour co-operation we look forward to improved working conditions and living standards in Canada, the United States and Mexico, and the protection, enhancement and enforcement of basic workers' rights.

The trade pacts we have signed recently are of crucial importance to Canada since they help us gain better access to foreign markets. The sooner we get these trade pacts implemented the better.

Naturally there will be irritants as these agreements become operational. These will have to be addressed as they come up and I am confident they will do so.

We are doing the right thing by passing the bill quickly and moving on with the implementation of NAFTA. However there is still much work for the government to do to make it possible for business to take advantage of these trade opportunities.

The most important one is to reduce government spending so that we can eventually begin to lower taxes in Canada, which is among the highest taxed countries in the industrial world.

The second one is to eliminate the many interprovincial trade barriers that exist in Canada. I know these trade barriers are being discussed among federal and provincial governments now. I urge these governments to move quickly and without hesitation in these areas.

We are making great strides in securing our prosperity by making trade deals abroad. Let us see whether we have the same resolve to make the same breakthrough at home.

Canada is a trading nation. We support the bill and hope that we will benefit from the many opportunities this trade deal brings to Canadians.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Fernand Robichaud Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I think you will find that there is unanimous consent to suspend the sitting of the House until the Question Period, at eleven o'clock, and then after the Routine Proceedings, to go on directly to Private Members' Business.

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House has heard the motion from the hon. Secretary of State. Is there unanimous consent?

Crown Liability And Proceedings ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


(The sitting of the House was suspended at 10.32 a.m.)

The House resumed at 11 a.m.

Lindsay Kinsmen BandStatements By Members

10:25 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the 40th anniversary of the Lindsay Kinsmen Band. Formed in the spring of 1954 by Lloyd McMullen and Muriel and Earl Kennedy, the band has become part of the history of the town. It has touched the lives of thousands of young men and women who pursued a musical career in the town of Lindsay and formed a lasting tie to the community.

Furthermore, the band has distinguished itself with appearances at various national and international fairs and exhibits, including the Calgary Stampede, the New York World's Fair, Expo 67 and the 1970 Klondike Days in Edmonton. It has been said that at each place it visited it left a lasting impression.

There are now 54 enthusiastic members of this band and they proudly carry on the spirit of past bandmasters, drum majors, teachers and members.

I salute the parents who have spent countless hours of their time with the band. I ask all MPs to wish success and a happy 40th birthday to the Lindsay Kinsmen Band.

VolunteersStatements By Members

10:25 a.m.


Bernard St-Laurent Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my speeches, I often compare volunteers to the blood running through our veins: they are everywhere, and they are needed in any well-organized society.

The contribution of these men and women to our society is invaluable. From the most sensitive gestures in the most tragic moments to fanatically determined support in highly committed organizations, volunteers have their place everywhere.

As far back in time as we can go, we see that all major mass movements resulted from the actions of volunteers. Whether we are talking about political action, consumers' associations or humanitarian organizations, we find volunteerism in the background.

Congratulations to all volunteers. What would our world be without you? I wish all volunteers an enjoyable week.

HiberniaStatements By Members

10:25 a.m.


Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, the revelation this morning that the Hibernia project is $1 billion over budget and one year behind schedule comes as no surprise to industry insiders.

The Hibernia project will be typical of economic development projects promoted and financed by government for political reasons rather than economic reasons.

This project has already consumed $1 billion in direct subsidies and almost $2 billion in loan guarantees by Canadian taxpayers, added to which is the taxpayers' $85 million share of the current overrun plus their liability for the 70 per cent share of Petro-Canada. Clearly Gulf Canada made a wise business decision to take its loss and pull out of this project two years ago.

With the proposed start-up date still four years away, how many more tax dollars will be dumped into this misguided effort to promote job creation in Newfoundland?

Canada's SeniorsStatements By Members

10:25 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, Canada's seniors, like all of us, were concerned to hear this week of the need to tap into the Canada Pension Plan surplus.

They would like to be reassured that they will continue to enjoy independent retirement living after paying into the pension system for decades. Perhaps more than any other group, seniors understand the need for sound fiscal management by governments. They do not want their children and grandchildren to inherit a legacy of debt.

That is why seniors associations such as One Voice would like to be part of the government's consultation process on a range of issues from budgetary policy to the renewal of Canada's social security system. Theirs, after all, is the voice of accumulated wisdom.

Now more than ever Parliament stands to benefit from the insight of our nation's seniors as we work to create a Canada rich with opportunity for all generations.

Armenian GenocideStatements By Members

10:25 a.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to remember and pay tribute to 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children who were killed in the first major genocide of the 20th century, planned and executed by the government of Turkey on April 24, 1915 as a brutal final solution to the Armenian question.

My parents were not spared this tremendous suffering the Turkish government inflicted on so many individuals. As a result, like so many thousands of other Armenians, they were eventually forced to flee their homeland, leaving behind all their belongings.

As a citizen of Canada I wish to take this moment and condemn this unforgivable act of human aggression and ethnic cleansing.

Similarly I call upon the Government of Canada to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide and formally request the Turkish government to assume responsibility for this atrocity once and for all as Germany did for the six million Jews in World War II.

In conclusion, I ask all MPs to join their fellow Canadians of Armenian descent at a demonstration on Parliament Hill on Sunday, April 24 at 12.30 p.m.

Armenian GenocideStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, this year, Armenians throughout the world commemorate the 79th anniversary of the painful events of 1915 that took two million of their compatriots.

On this occasion, the Government of Canada extends its sympathy to the Armenian people, and particularly to tens of thousands of our fellow Canadians of Armenian descent, and hopes that the conflict in Karabakh will be resolved in a peaceful, fair and equitable manner as soon as possible.

International TradeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gaston Péloquin Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is concerned about the way trade relations between Canada and the United States are developing, in particular with regard to Canadian exports of durum wheat and barley.

The Bloc Quebecois condemns the intimidation tactics used by the U.S. government to end this dispute and asks the Canadian government to remain firm with its trading partner.

Thousands of Canadian and Quebec producers expect their government to defend their interests with authority, and the Bloc Quebecois will support the federal government's representations as long as it stands up to the unacceptable pressure exerted by the U.S. and does not let itself be led into bargaining at the expense of other agricultural sectors such as dairy products and poultry.

Saint-Maurice ConstituencyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadian taxpayers were angered to awake this morning to find a story in the Montreal Gazette outlining the federal government's intentions to invest $4.8 million of their hard-earned dollars on a theme park in the Prime Minister's home town.

This project, which I suggest they call Jean's World, calls into question the new politics that were promised in the Liberal red book by continuing the tradition of rewarding the Prime Minister's home ridings with useless patronage projects.

I remind the members opposite of how loudly they bleated when Brian Mulroney built the patronage prison in Baie Comeau. In comparison, the reaction from the members opposite regarding the Prime Minister's patronage park is the silence of the lambs.

Des Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to remind the House that April 17 to 23, 1994 is Action Canada's DES Awareness Week. DES stands for diethylstybestrol.

Between 1941 and 1971 approximately 200,000 to 400,000 pregnant Canadian women were prescribed the synthetic hormone to prevent miscarriage. As a result these mothers and their sons and daughters are at risk of health problems related to DES exposure.

DES Action Canada is a national non-profit consumer health organization that has worked since 1982 to alert Canadians of the potential dangers of DES. Most of the attention to date has focused on DES mothers who are at an increased risk of breast cancer and on daughters who may suffer from infertility or even cancer.

This year DES Action Canada will try to alert as many DES exposed women as possible.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lachine—Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, our First Nations describe the earth as our mother and treat it with the deepest respect and affection. They say that the forest and its wildlife are adornments that make the mother more beautiful. The more beautiful they are, the better the mother feels.

They say that rivers, streams and lakes are like the arteries and the veins in the body of the mother. The cleaner they are, the healthier they are, the healthier the mother is.

Their respect and love for mother earth is profound. Today is Earth Day. I suggest we pledge ourselves to learn from the example and show all the love and respect to mother earth that they do.

Job CreationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Patrick Gagnon Liberal Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, these past few days, I have had the pleasure of taking part in the announcement of the first phase of a $4.5 million infrastructure project in the Kamouraska-Saint-Jean-Port-Joli area. Sixty direct jobs will be created and, better yet, according to the mayor of Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, the program will ensure the survival of a construction company located in his community.

This confirms that our government lives up to its commitment to economic recovery and job creation. With this infrastructure program, we are finally giving Canadians hope in a lasting recovery, instead of fostering political and economic uncertainty across the country, as the members opposite do so well. Canadians want jobs, and we are delivering.

Quebec's Right To Self-DeterminationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the leader of the Reform Party, while visiting Quebec, stated that Canada would accept Quebecers' decision to become sovereign. By recognizing Quebec's right to self-determination, he has come to the obvious conclusion that Quebecers constitute a distinct society.

The recognition of Quebec's right to self-determination is part of a continuum. After the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada, and the New Democratic Party of Canada, the Reform Party confirms that it too would respect the democratic choice of Quebecers, a choice they will be called upon to make in the very near future. I am fully confident that they will move forward towards their historic goal, that is to be masters of their own destiny.

Citizenship WeekStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is of great importance to me as a Reformer and a proud Canadian that as we celebrate Citizenship Week we begin the process of elevating the concept and value of citizenship within our country.

As Canadians we need to restore the value and pride that our citizenship deserves. As legislators we need to question policies that stand in the way of that restoration.

Do present policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism build bridges or walls to our diversities? Do record immigration levels added to our crippled economy and stressed social structures promote tolerance or misunderstanding in our land? Do government policies that weaken families and negate justice bring hope or despair to our people?

Whether we are Canadians by birth or by choice our citizenship must be elevated by the decisions to be made in this House as a privileged opportunity to proudly participate together in the making of a great future of a great country.

General Agreement On Tariffs And TradeStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, the United States will notify the GATT this afternoon that it intends to launch action against Canadian wheat and barley under article XXVIII.

I want to congratulate our minister of agriculture and our Minister for International Trade for not caving in to the Americans on this issue. The American argument is weak as increased sales into their market are a direct result of their own use of the export enhancement program. Fair and open trade cannot continue with these unjust actions.

Canada has a willingness to negotiate but there must be flexibility on both sides. This only goes to help lawyers and bureaucrats on both sides of the border. It does nothing to help farmers.

I call on our government to stay strong on this action and to tell the Americans that we are not prepared to cave in.

Purchase Of Flu VaccineStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to congratulate the members of the joint federal-provincial-territorial committee in charge of purchasing flu vaccine for 1994-95.

In keeping with a truly Canadian tradition, the committee split the contract equally between two companies, BioVac, in Quebec, and Connaught, in Ontario. This decision saves jobs and protects the interests of all parties concerned, including both companies, the federal government and the provinces.

The average price arrived at under the memorandum of agreement is $1.77 per dosage unit, with Connaught getting $1.69 and BioVac $1.85. By awarding this contract to the Quebec company BioVac, the government is saving the jobs of ten workers in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, in Ontario, who would have lost them had it been awarded entirely to Connaught.

As the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, I thank the minister for listening to my grievances and those of my constituents, allowing them to keep their jobs.