House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was deal.


Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, what a strange situation we find ourselves in today, debating whether or not to pass a bill which might control the amount of compensation which can be paid as a result of the cancellation of the Pearson airport privatization deal.

Under normal commercial circumstances in the private sector cancellation of a contract usually means a negotiated or litigated settlement which takes into account the lost opportunities and the lost profits.

Admittedly these private sector negotiations can sometimes take years to complete. It is often only the lawyers who make money out of the whole exercise. However an entity in the private sector does not have the luxury of legislating itself to be exempt from the obligation to compensate another party when it breaks an agreement.

Generally speaking there is something unattractive in the idea that a government can do what the private enterprise cannot do by exempting itself from the need to compensate a group and to also exempt itself from the ability of someone to start litigation against it.

I must admit I feel somewhat uncomfortable about the reality of the bill, the fact that the government could introduce such a bill to protect itself. I know this Liberal government has a large proportion of lawyers in its ranks whereas within the Reform caucus we only have one lawyer.

Perhaps it is this abundance of lawyers in the Liberal Party that has driven the introduction of the bill. Perhaps they are celebrating what must be every lawyer's dream, the ability to control the outcome of a case. Why would one need a judge and jury when one can simply legislate the outcome of the event with no recourse?

I admit feeling somewhat uncomfortable about this situation although I also admit that the circumstances in this situation are rather unique. It was August 1993 when the then Minister of Transport announced that a general agreement had been reached with the Pearson Development Corporation to redevelop terminals 1 and 2.

The minister indicated that the agreement would be finalized in the fall with a legal document for the long term management operation and redevelopment of the terminals. What an impressive list of players there were involved. Included were Donald Matthew, a former Tory president and fundraiser; Otto Jelinek, a former Tory cabinet minister; Bill Neville, formerly a Tory chief of staff and part of the transition team for the previous Prime Minister. There was a Quebec multimillionaire, Charles Bronf-

man. There were also some well known Liberals, a certain senator, Herb Metcalfe, and Bob Wright, a Liberal fundraiser.

It is the involvement of these high profile Liberals that caused me to use the word might in my opening sentence when I said the bill might control the amount of compensation. Could it be that clause 10 of the bill will allow the Minister of Transport to look after Liberal friends while shutting others out?

The portion of the bill in question reads: "If the minister considers it appropriate to do so, the minister may with the approval of the Governor in Council enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty to provide for the payment of such amounts as the minister considers appropriate".

The question I have is whether appropriate compensation for a Liberal supporter will be different from appropriate compensation for someone else. One wonders aloud. Despite all this, there is one aspect to the circumstances surrounding the signing and subsequent cancellation of the Pearson deal that provides a powerful argument for supporting Bill C-22.

It comes from the natural sense of justice that a person feels when having warned someone that there will be consequences of an action, that person defies the warning, goes ahead with the action and subsequently does indeed suffer the consequences.

Just nine days after the Pearson agreement announcement of August 30, 1993, the previous Prime Minister called the election. Prior to the conclusion of the legal agreement on Pearson, the then Leader of the Opposition, now Prime Minister, clearly stated that parties taking part in the agreement did so at their own risk because a Liberal government would not hesitate to pass legislation to block the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 if the transaction was not in the private interest.

The chief negotiator for the government at the time took the statement so seriously that he asked for written instructions about whether to complete the transaction. On October 7, 1993 in the final days of her government, the previous Prime Minister gave her written instructions to complete the deal and the same day the agreement was made.

Subsequent events, starting October 28, 1993 with the appointment of Robert Nixon to review the deal, have resulted in its cancellation. Although the idea that a government can exempt itself from responsibility for compensation bothers me, on balance I would tend to support the bill because all parties to the agreement were clearly warned of the consequences. Perhaps some of them even believed that the deal would be cancelled but took a gamble that compensation would be paid in the normal manner after cancellation. Quite a gamble.

I doubt that any party to the agreement could claim that there was not an awareness of the stand of the present Prime Minister on the issue when he was in opposition back in October 1993. There was plenty of publicity and plenty of reason to believe that the deal would indeed be cancelled if the Liberals took power. At the time the polls certainly showed that to be a possibility.

Incidentally I have often wondered why those same pollsters who so confidently predicted a win for the Liberals never realized that Reform would get 52 seats. I wonder whether they really knew and suppressed the information or whether they did not conduct a reasonable poll.

I will continue to listen to the debate on Bill C-22 and will continue to take input from my constituents who have been writing me letters and making occasional phone calls on the issue. I would urge all other members to do the same: listen to the debate and receive input from their constituents before they make the final decision on whether to support Bill C-22.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to speak in favour of Bill C-22. I will start by identifying what we are talking about, specifically looking at Toronto area airport issues.

Pearson International Airport is Canada's premier airport. Thirty per cent of all air passengers in Canada go through Pearson; 20 million passengers in 1992. It is among the top 30 airports internationally, the third largest gateway to North America after JFK airport and the Miami airport. It is a critical hub for many smaller cities in Ontario and indeed Canada.

It has 15,000 employees on site. It creates 56,000 jobs in Ontario and accounts for over $4 billion of annual economic activity. That is the reason why the Pearson airport issue is so important.

We have before us Bill C-22 to deal specifically with matters pertaining to Pearson. I would like to give some background events leading up to the legal agreements which Bill C-22 deals with.

In 1989 the Matthews Group of companies submitted an unsolicited proposal to the federal government to privatize terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson. The government did not accept that proposal, but the following year it did announce that it would proceed with a request for proposals to obtain private sector participation in the modernization of the two terminals at Pearson.

The request for proposals for the privatization and the redevelopment of terminals 1 and 2 was issued by the federal government in March 1992 and the bidders were given 90 days to respond. Two bids were submitted: one by Paxport Inc., controlled by the Matthews Group, and the other by Claridge Holdings Inc.

In December 1992 the Paxport proposal was declared to be more acceptable and the company was given until mid-February 1993 to satisfy the government that it was a financially viable proposal. When Paxport could not demonstrate this or raise the necessary capital, it sought assistance from Claridge. The private sector participants then formed the Pearson Development Corporation, referred to as PDC, and T1 T2 Limited Partnership for the purposes of carrying out the project.

In August 1993 the federal government and PDC announced that they had reached an agreement to redevelop and operate terminals 1 and 2. Legal agreements were to be finalized in the autumn of 1993.

A federal election was called on September 8, 1993. During the election campaign the Leader of the Opposition, now the Prime Minister, declared that the new government under his leadership would cancel any deal to privatize terminals 1 and 2 if the transaction was deemed not to be in the public interest. The chief negotiator for the government sought written instructions on whether to complete the transactions and on October 7, 1993 received written direction that it was Prime Minister Campbell's wish to complete the deal on that date. The legal agreements were therefore finalized on October 7.

Subsequent to the election one of the first actions of the government was to review the Pearson deal. As many members have alluded to, the government engaged Mr. Robert Nixon to do an independent review. I would like to read the conclusion from his report: "My review has left me with but one conclusion, to leave in place an inadequate contract, arrived at with such a flawed process and under the shadow of possible political manipulation, is unacceptable. I recommend to you that the contract be cancelled".

I then went on to look further because obviously a bald statement like that does require some substantive support to be able to indicate the so-called flawed process. In looking at Mr. Nixon's report, page 8, subparagraph 3, I would like to read into the record some extracts to give Canadians an idea of some of the things that were of concern to Mr. Nixon in preparing his report:

"The request for proposals having as it did only a single stage and requiring proponents to engage in project definition as well as proposal submission and all within a 90 day timeframe created in my view an enormous advantage to a proponent that had previously submitted a proposal for privatizing and developing T1 and T2. Other management and construction firms not having been involved in the manoeuvring preceding the RFP had no chance to come up to speed and submit a bid in a short time period".

At this point Mr. Nixon noted that there are some timing irregularities and probably some improprieties, at least in appearance:

"With little construction and developing occurring others should have been sought out and given reasonable time to participate. Further, it is significant that no financial prequalification was required in this competition. For a project of this magnitude the selection of the best overall acceptable proposal without complete assurance of financial viability seems to me to have been highly unusual and unwise".

Finally Mr. Nixon states: "The concluding of this transaction at Prime Ministerial direction in the midst of an election campaign where this issue was controversial in my view flies in the face of normal and honourable democratic practice. It is a well known and carefully observed tradition that when governments dissolve Parliament they must accept a restricted power of decision during the election period. Certainly the closing of a transaction of significant financial importance sealing for 57 years the privatization of a major public asset should not have been entered into during an election campaign".

I have to reiterate that the government said very clearly during the election campaign that the Pearson agreement should not proceed and that if it did the government's intention was to review the deal and to cancel the deal if indeed it was not deemed to be in the public interest. It chose to proceed and in fact the government did honour its promise to the Canadian people.

We have heard a lot of speakers today discussing the process and how it is seriously flawed, that the substance was similarly flawed and that we really need a transportation vision for Canada, a comprehensive strategy for our transportation system.

During the election campaign it was very clear to me that Canadians were saying political credibility is zero. I think one of the things that all members know and have learned very well is that political credibility demands fiscal responsibility. That fiscal responsibility will result in hopefully the restored confidence of Canadians in our legislative process and indeed in the integrity and credibility of people in political life. The Pearson deal, as many have suggested, did not do justice to the Canadian people. It was the right thing to do.

I would like to turn now specifically to Bill C-22, an act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operations of terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, which received first reading on April 13, 1994. I would like to read for the House the explanatory note:

The enactment concerns agreements arising out of the Request for Proposals for the Terminal Development Project at Lester B. Pearson International Airport or the negotiations following that Request. It declares the agreements not to have come into force and to have no legal effect, and bars certain actions or other proceedings against Her Majesty in the right of Canada in relation to the agreements.

The enactment also authorizes the Minister of Transport, with the approval of the Governor in Council, to enter into agreements for the payment of amounts in connection with the coming into force of the enactment.

The bill was presented to the House by the Minister of Industry on behalf of the Minister of Transport. In summary of the legislation it indicates that the proposed legislation-this is for the benefit of those who have not followed the debate so far-will cancel those agreements that were entered into. It will make clear that government is not obligated to compensate the developer and allow the minister to make some payments but not for specifically lobbyist fees or lost profits.

The government's policy has been and remains that it would consider reimbursing out of pocket expenses with the exception of the lobby fees but would not make payments for lost profits.

As I went through many of the documents that were available to us, I found with some interest rhetorical questions which I think probably many Canadians and maybe members have been considering. The first question one might ask is: Are not private sector companies now going to be afraid to do business with the government? I think that is a very fair question and I think the answer is not at all. The government takes its contractual obligations seriously, but this is a different and special case unlikely to arise again.

The Liberal Party made it very clear that we were concerned that the agreement might be contrary to the public interest but the parties risked signed that anyway. It is extremely important that the government gave notice and put the participants on notice. In spite of the clear message that was sent they took the public risk to proceed in any event.

The new government subsequently reviewed the agreement in detail and determined that it was indeed contrary to the public interest and that is precisely what we expect elected officials of governments to do.

The second question of note was why is the government being so hard on Pearson Development Corporation. It sounds like Pearson Development Corporation is going to lose a lot of money for the sin of negotiating a contract with the government of the day. Again that is a very relevant and good question, but we also have to understand that the people who entered into these agreements are responsible and professional business people and that the government wishes to negotiate with them in a fair and reasonable manner.

During the campaign our party made it very clear that we were concerned that the agreement was contrary to the public interest but the parties proceeded anyway. This is extremely important to the essence of the bill.

The government subsequently reviewed the agreement in detail and determined it was indeed contrary to the public interest. However the government stands by its commitments and there will be no payments for the lost profits or lobbying costs.

The final question that was stated was what are the government's future plans for Pearson International Airport. This is probably as important a question as any. I stated earlier in my speech some of the dimensions of the Pearson contribution to Canada, to jobs and to the economy. The Minister of Transport said that he intends to make a decision on airport administrative structure and potential expansion before the end of the year. He is seeking input from a large variety of sources, including his own caucus which will be giving him input with regard to the decisions.

I have a special interest in the Pearson airport issue because it is just north of my riding, a mere 10-minute drive from the east end of my riding. We have had a number of public meetings over the years on many controversial issues, many relating to privatization, some relating to the expansion of the airport, and recently a very emotional debate with regard to expansion of runways, the new north-south runways which were already subject to a major environmental assessment review.

Having had two public meetings, I think the last one was just two weeks ago, the people who have participated in this debate over these many long months have said one thing, that they agree Pearson is an extremely important economic unit to Canada and that the future of Pearson has to be handled in a comprehensive but careful manner to ensure that they will be able to maintain Pearson as the focal airport of Canada.

At this point I do not intend to debate the merits of expansion of the airport, of privatization. All I can say is that the people I represent and who have attended these public meetings are calling out and asking the government to provide the leadership with regard to this important economic unit.

I believe the bill is the next step in the process. Any time is a good time to cancel a bad agreement and to get on with the future of Pearson, which is the undertaking of the government today.

I would like to conclude my comments simply by making a reference to the amendment proposed by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. It basically calls for a public inquiry. It has a lot to do with the fact that the bill does not deal sufficiently with the transparency of activities of Canadian lobbyists, which was the amendment from the Reform.

I have some difficulty understanding why that issue is relevant to this particular bill. There is no question the government has put everyone on notice that the activities of lobbyists are an important issue to this government and that it will be addressing specifically matters related to the lobbyist activity in our country.

Lobbyist activity does not directly relate to the bill. The bill deals with legal agreements and how we have a point of departure to get on with the business of the day to ensure that the future of Pearson is dealt with in a timely fashion.

The amendment appears to be quite inappropriate. I do not understand it. Pearson will continue to be the major airport for Canada. It is my pleasure to have spoken today in favour of Bill C-22.


Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

I have been listening very carefully to the remarks made by the hon. member who just sat down.

Throughout his remarks, he spoke of cancellation: cancellation of contracts, cancellation of agreements. I have some difficulty understanding that Bill C-22 is in fact a piece of legislation which cancels something since, in law, in Quebec as everywhere else in Canada I suppose, nothing leads to nothing. It is clear that if something is null it was nothing to begin with, and cannot lead to something.

Bill C-22 declares that the agreements are null, and that they are nothing, but on the other hand, the government wants to breathe life into that nothingness, so to speak.

With Section 10, indeed, they want to compensate friends of the government that might have benefitted from this whole scheme. That is my first question.

The hon. member who just sat down said that he does not understand much of what the Bloc Quebecois is saying, that it is using the piece of legislation we are currently considering, to address the issue of lobbying. Since this morning, I have the feeling that the Liberals understand what they want to understand and prefer to ignore what is not convenient for them. There has been some strange goings-on with regard to this whole scheme. We do not say so; it is the Nixon Report that says so. There have been some very unusual dealings in this matter by friends of this government as well as friends of the previous government.

I doubt that any future legislation on lobbying will prevent the sort of thing that happened last fall. Any such new legislation, should the Prime Minister ever introduce it, will hopefully regulate the activities of lobbyists. As for the past, I am surprised by the attitude of the Liberals, who are saying: "We are cancelling all that, we want to do it in a hurry, but we do not want to harm anybody, we do not want to tarnish anybody's reputation". I find such remarks outrageous in the face of a project such as this one on Toronto airport, where just about the whole investment by Canada would have been handed over to some people, if they had been allowed to do as they pleased. That is all I had to say about the matter. I would like the hon. member to tell me, if he can, whether we are dealing with a cancellation or with the legal recognition of a valid contract, the main players of which are about to be compensated?

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I understand the member's concern and his questions.

He dealt with two issues, one being the issue of lobbyists. He also commented with regard to the propriety of the amendment proposed by his leader.

First, the issue of lobbyists is important and it must be dealt with. The government has indicated it will be dealing with the total question of lobbyists. I believe it probably would be appropriate to call a public inquiry, to investigate what happened and why with regard to lobbyist activities, whether it be Pearson or otherwise, just to ensure that we know what happened.

The amendment proposed by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is basically to frustrate the passing of the legislation. The member has not really addressed the real question of whether the legislation which has been proposed should go forward. It is not to say that if this goes forward we cannot look into the aspects of lobby registrations.

The member is asking questions about the bill, whether there is agreement or not, and what we are trying to do. Clearly the government assessed whether it was necessary to bring in the legislation. It made the determination based on the best legal advice it had and counsel it obtained that it was necessary to come forward with legislation to put a stop to the agreements, to declare that they have not come into force. It deems they did not come into force and they have no legal effect. It bars certain actions against the government.

This requires legislation and the government has brought forward the legislation to ensure that the matter can be dealt with finally by the Government of Canada.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, the bill before the House is needed because of the context in which certain agreements were signed concerning the redevelopment and operation of terminals 1 and 2 at the Toronto international airport. The findings of the Nixon report commissioned by the Prime Minister speak for themselves.

"My review has left me with but one conclusion. To leave in place an inadequate contract, arrived at with such flawed process and under the shadow of possible political manipulation, is unacceptable. I recommend to you that the contract be cancelled".

If this bill is needed to cancel all agreements with T1 T2 Limited Partnership, any responsible government must look into the reasons why we are in this dilemma.

Our gracious Majesty had dealings with unknown persons whose identity is still shrouded in mystery. As recommended by the Nixon report, the Crown must unilaterally cancel those agreements because it was misled by her main counsellors and agents at the end of the 34th Parliament. We will try to explain to the House the role played by certain parties. It will then become clear why they want to remain unknown.

The Nixon report is particularly harsh with those responsible for the signing of those agreements. It is not impossible that very influential people wielded that influence improperly and in a way which is detrimental to the Canadian heritage. According to the Nixon report, there was very high level influence peddling.

If this House has reached the point where it is going to ignore the consensual principle and have our dear monarch lose face by unilaterally cancelling an agreement, I think it is because the Crown was very poorly advised.

What was the rush for a clearly moribund government to pass such contracts privatizing the only profitable air terminals in the country, thus binding for a long time, the next 57 years in fact, future Canadian governments, when the then-Leader of the Opposition and present Prime Minister of Canada cautioned the government not to conclude these deals before the election of October 25, 1993, and even warned that he would cancel the whole thing?

Before the deal was finalized, the future Prime Minister said publicly and warned the parties that he would not hesitate to cancel all that. Following this declaration, the government's chief negotiator in this case asked for written instructions before signing the contracts. On October 7, 1993, the then-Prime Minister, through an internal memo, insisted on the signing being done the same day. During the final phase of negotiations, certain top-ranking civil servants involved asked for a transfer because they were not sure that they were acting correctly.

Can we associate this move with the 500 partisan appointments made about the same time of close friends of the regime which was then collapsing? It is not improbable.

Not only a lot of money was lost because of all what had to be spent in this voluminous case, which some of my colleagues will address later, but it dealt a severe blow to the principles of transparency and honesty. I did not invent any of this; it is all in the Nixon report.

By taking lightly the whole development of an industry of the future which cost Canadians a lot of money, the government seemed to the people to be out to grab what it could, and this is serious, coming from what must be the most honest and upright of our democratic institutions.

The government of the 34th Parliament acted like a real scrounger, thus tarnishing the image Canadians had of it. The verdict rendered a few days later leaves no doubt in this regard.

We also learn in the Nixon report that our government even willingly colluded to deprive the Government of Ontario of its right to $10 million under the land transfer law of this province.

A responsible governement cannot afford to have two different sets of laws: one for itself and another for the citizens. In the past, several forceful rulings by the highest court of the land have reminded us of it in no uncertain terms. But we can see now the unbearable consequences of the former government's doings: unilaterally cancelling a contract is almost indecent.

Ordinary citizens cannot resort to what is called in French "dol", that is fraud by deceit, to seek the cancellation of a contract, except in Quebec, of course, where that procedure is allowed under the new Civil Code. Once more our beautiful province has shown her clearsightedness and sense of innovation, as opposed to some provinces that are incapable of changing their traditional vision of this country.

But I digress, Mr. Speaker. I want to come back to Bill C-22 which reflects poorly on the crown from a legal as well as factual point of view.

Common law principles do not allow ordinary citizens to resort to "dol" and case law has not changed in that regard.

To lose face, Mr. Speaker, is not too strong a way of putting it. How could Her gracious Majesty resort to "dol" to cancel that contract, when she is so well advised by the largest firm of legal advisors, the Public Service of Canada?

Her Majesty must surely not be very happy with what is happening right now. If it had not been for her unlimited authority, Her Majesty would have been had. Fortunately, as we were taught during the first term of our BA in law, the only thing the crown cannot do is to change a man into a woman, and I would add "and even that remains to be seen".

The Queen can do no wrong. It is because of this principle of common law, so dear to our fellow citizens across the floor, that this fool's deal can still be cancelled and its effects avoided, thank God.

Earlier, I was wondering how come we had gotten there. I agree that we should cancel for all intents and purposes the agreements concerning terminals 1 and 2 of Pearson airport, but I do not want this to be done at the expense of our public servants. It is understandable that we would want to hold the previous government responsible, as this government always does, but I would advise the Liberals against casting the first stone because the Conservatives just pushed a bit farther the puck that had been put into play by their predecessors.

What does the government intend to do, to avoid further insults of this kind to our beloved sovereign? In its famous red book, the party now in power, rightly criticizing the agreements reached a few days before election day on October 25, had definitely promised Canadian taxpayers to introduce a bill which would have the effect of restricting lobbying activities on Parliament Hill. Did it keep its promise? Not at all.

The present Prime Minister and member from Saint-Maurice had promised us legislation governing lobbyists' activities on Parliament Hill. This legislation has yet to come.

In the daily Le Droit of March 21, David Zussman, in charge of the lobbying issue for the Prime Minister, said regarding the introduction of such legislation that, although the principles were clear, it sometimes takes more time to write the rules than to agree on the principles. He also said that there are so many elements and so many players in all of this that it will require much more time than one could have imagined.

There is reason to be confused, especially when one remembers that the Prime Minister, when given a rough ride in his own riding, said recently that it was all in the red book, that one had only to read between the lines.

Good legislation must be clear, concise, and precise. Its principles must be clear and not be subject to interpretation. Its scope must not be mitigated in any way neither by the number of people concerned nor their political or social status. If such legislation is written on the basis of the corporative interests of all the friends of the government, it can only be legislation difficult to write, evasive, permissive and easy to circumvent. It becomes questionable legislation. Must we understand that this is the kind of difficulty that the government is having with the development of this bill at this time?

The Pearson airport contracts were awarded in its last days by the former government, when it felt the carpet slipping under its feet. What does the government intend to do to protect itself against such a temptation at the end of its present mandate? I trust that such a vision of the future will not dictate that it uses the same self-control as it is using in the development of its code of ethics.

Could the present government, which is as alike as two peas in a pod as its predecessor, not reassure our dear sovereign, Canadians and Quebecers that such absurd actions as those that were perpetrated by the previous government with regard to the Toronto airport will not likely occur again?

Those divine banquets at $3,000 per person, which were attended by the most powerful members of the present government and the Senate, and those brunches at $1,000 per person, that is where the main activities of the most powerful lobbyists are likely to occur, because the Prime Minister's eloquence alone cannot justify such an investment.

Far be it from me to cast aspersions on our Prime Minister. After all, his political longevity is proof positive of his integrity. However, I think we can say the Prime Minister was being a little careless about his image when he appointed Robert Wright, a Liberal fundraiser from away back, to negotiate the cancellation of the agreement on privatization of the air terminals in Toronto, especially when we realize that Mr. Wright, who has many qualifications, was the Prime Minister's fundraiser during his campaign for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 1984.

Section 10 of the bill before the House today says that, if the Minister considers it appropriate, he may enter into agreements on behalf of Her Majesty to provide for the payment of such amounts as the Minister considers appropriate in connection with the coming into force of this act. That is what it says.

This provision adds insult to injury. Not only did Her august Majesty get the short end of the stick in these agreements, she will also have to deal with the fall-out that will come as a result of this legislation. Is the government again using Her long suffering Majesty to get several million dollars for its friends?

Far be it from me to cast any doubts on the integrity of the Minister of Transport who, I am sure, is capable of exercising his discretionary powers with the requisite honesty and restraint, but I think this is a truly herculean task which we cannot reasonably ask him to perform.

Those who dealt with the government in this particular matter had been warned by the present Prime Minister that the deal was a dead end and that, if the Liberal Party came to power, the contracts would be cancelled. That is why the government negotiator asked for instructions before proceeding with the signing of the agreements. Those who dealt with the government were aware of all the implications. They gambled, and they lost. Moral turpitude is not a defence.

In any case, the parties to these contracts never lost money in their dealings with the government in power, and for reasons I mentioned earlier, I wonder on what ethical grounds we would owe them anything at all.

Throughout my speech, I consciously and purposely used the terms "Majesty", "Sovereign", "Queen", and the "Crown". The people in this House know that when we refer to Her Majesty, we are talking about the people of this country, which means all Canadians. But do Canadians realize this? Do they realize that they also got the short end of the stick?

Do the citizens of this country realize that the Toronto airport deal is only the tip of the iceberg? For 127 years, for as long as the Canadian federation has existed, the citizens of this country thought they owned this country and were the masters of its destiny. A cold, northern country, very austere, but a country of the strong, the brave and the adventurous. Those who chose it did so out of love, because they had a dream to build a life and were prepared to suffer, to forego sun and heat and make do with very little, but always with a great love for the land.

They were exploited by foreign fur traders, misled by power-hungry or simply money-grubbing politicians, leading a life of few dreams and limited prospects. What are we going to leave our children? Six, seven, eight, nine hundred billion dollars worth of debt!

I am ashamed, Mr. Speaker, ashamed. Why? Because I am part of the generation who made off with the cashbox. I inherited a beautiful, clean country, and in less than 50 years, see what I have done, see what will be left for the next generations: a country burdened with debt, polluted, dirty, torn apart by sorry politicians who cared only for their personal comfort.

This country has been ruined by greed, vandalized by those who feel no loyalty to any country, by mudsucking tadpoles, by well-educated politicians who lack vision and are blinded by their personal ambitions.

A great philosopher once said: it is not the last drop that makes the cup overflow, but the first one. It is true.

The Toronto airport could very well be the last drop. There is too much doubt, too much confusion here, as well as too many mistakes, for us not to start asking questions.

In this whole mess, some senior officials resigned, others asked to be transferred, and others said nothing for fear of retaliation. The operation was so gross that only those few who had absolute authority thought they were untouchable.

The steamroller was in motion. They were marching on against all common sense and advice; greed had no limits, the project was the only purpose and cupidity ruled.

Proud people were made into servants, honest ones were made deceitful and truthful ones turned into liars. Things have to change, this country must regain its dignity, regain respect and redefine its aspirations; most of all, it must re-establish the rule of law. That is why we must immediately, even at the risk of collectively hurting ourselves, revive justice and pride to give hope once again to those who follow; we must take our destiny into our own hands.

Consequently, we must immediately set up a royal commission to inquire into the Pearson Airport deal and we must implement its recommendations. We must put a stop to false bidding and allow Canadians, including Quebecers, to regain their sense of pride and dignity. The nobility of the principles of equality, fraternity and justice must be restored. This way, perhaps we could considerably reduce disputes between Quebec and Ottawa. Perhaps people could understand that Quebecers who choose emancipation have decided to free themselves from this kind of socioeconomic and financial colonialism that holds too many Canadians hostages.

Que bene annat, bene castigat, or "spare the rod and spoil the child". This age-old latin maxim is still valid today. If our Prime Minister is tabling Bill C-22 for honest reasons, if he wants to restore the principles of justice in this country, he must proclaim now the appointment of a royal commission of inquiry on Terminals 1 and 2 in Toronto. The conclusions of the commissioners will allow us to prosecute all those who are at fault, as rich as they may be, under one justice, honourable and righteous, the justice of Canadians.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, toward the end of the hon. member's remarks he sounded as if he had taken the government position.

We as Liberals led by the Prime Minister have fought against the dismantling of the Pearson International Airport. We did that not only when we sat on that side of the House of Commons. During the election campaign when we heard that the then Conservative government was going ahead we said it was not our policy direction. We did not want to privatize Pearson International Airport. We campaigned against it and we acted immediately once the Prime Minister took office.

In no way, shape or form are Canadians confused when it comes to the decision the Prime Minister took. It was decisive and the right thing to do in the long term interests of all Canadians.

This is a strange approach we we have here today. We are trying to act on the decision and put the Pearson file behind us and properly pay those people who unfortunately got into a bad deal with the previous government.

We are trying to put that file behind us so we can rebuild a market in Toronto with a fresh policy start. There are a lot of unemployed people in Toronto. We do not intend to leave Pearson in the state it is forever.

However we would like to do this as a Government of Canada project. As the member so appropriately recognized, this is a Government of Canada asset. It generates profits for the people of Canada. That is part of the reason we did not want to proceed on this deal. It was not a good deal for taxpayers.

To mix the issue of lobbying with the action of the bill today is not the right way to go. Could the member not see this whole issue of reviewing lobbyist activity, and even reviewing the lobbyist activity as it pertains to Pearson International Airport, could be more appropriately handled when we bring forward the lobbyists registration bill which we will not only discuss in the House but in committee as well? In that way we would not be slowing down the whole process and we could put the bill behind us.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I said it before, and I will say it again, the Liberals understand what is grist to their mill and acts in their favour. When they present their bill, their code of ethics, it will not be appropriate to bring up past cases. The member who asked the question is well aware of that. He is trying to ensnare me. He knows that we will not be able to mention the Pearson airport deal when his government finally decides to present its bill.

We will debate the essence of the bill, its strengths and weaknesses, which I expect will be many. But we will not be allowed to talk about the maneuvering that preceded the Toronto airport deal. Being a lot more experienced, he knows that better than me. I cannot understand why the Liberals who, during the election campaign, opposed this deal which was in the process of being completed, are now very sheepish, having realized since October 7, when the contract was signed, that some of their friends were involved in that deal. Does this explain the compensation under clause 10?

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

I rise on a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have been standing for one minute and it is customary, once a member has asked a question to a Bloc Quebecois member, that a member from another party then addresses the previous speaker. I therefore wonder why you are not giving me the floor instead of recognizing the member who just rose.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

The speaker was a Bloc member. Mr. Mills rose for questions and comments. It is customary to then recognize the party opposite. In this case the speaker was a member of the Bloc Quebecois.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like you to consult the clerks and the Standing Orders. It is the member who rises first who has the floor, and should several people rise at the same time, according to tradition, you must alternate between parties. Since I have been standing for one minute, it is obvious that I should have the floor. No other members having risen, I have priority to address the previous speaker. I ask you to consult and give a new ruling.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Madam Speaker, perhaps I could assist in straightening out this confusion. I was about to speak on debate and that is why I rose. When the member from the Bloc suddenly stood, I sat down. There are still a couple of minutes left.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I will come back to the hon. member for Richelieu. It is true that the parliamentary secretary was asking to be recognized, but there was another member behind him. I apologize to the member. I had not forgotten him and I was not ignoring him either. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to respond to a comment made by the member who basically imputed motives. I know the Speaker has often said to members to take due care in terms of imputing motives.

The member indicated the reason the Liberals cancelled the deal was so that they could deal with their own pockets. I find that statement very unsavoury. I would invite the member to read the report of Mr. Nixon to determine whether there was a flawed process, and to make his own decision if it was appropriate to cancel the deal. Do not impute motives to the Liberal Party but rather make a decision on your own. It is a bad deal. It has been cancelled, and the government is acting responsibly.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. It seems that I came in on a pretty warm debate here.

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.

JusticeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, the draft amendments to the Criminal Code and the Customs Tariff Act introduced by the Minister of Justice last week in response to the proliferation of serial killer cards and board games is a clear indication to all Canadians that the justice minister is listening and that he will be acting promptly to bring needed changes to the justice system.

As the justice minister stated, as a society we must protect children and youth from exposure to material which exploits violence, cruelty and horror, while balancing this goal against the important guarantees of freedom of expression contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The government is committed to making our streets, our homes and our communities safer. The threat of violence that pervades our society is intimidating and alarming to most Canadians. By seeking to prohibit the sale or distribution of materials that exploit violence, we do a great service not only to the majority of law abiding citizens, but to the young people who deserve to develop interests and talents free of such negative influences.

South AfricaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is a day that will long be remembered by men and women the world over. Democratic parliamentary institutions are becoming a reality in the political life of South Africa because, as of This morning, for the first time ever, blacks from every town and city in South Africa have begun the process of democratically electing their representatives.

As parliamentarians, we cannot remain indifferent to the words of one elderly South African who said: "I can die now because I have voted for the first time in my life".

Despite the bombings and the violence, despite the numerous obstacles on the road to democracy in South Africa, we are confident that the people of South Africa will triumph.

Kurt BrowningStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, on this past Sunday I attended an event in Caroline, Alberta, in the heart of my constituency of Red Deer. This event truly made me proud to be a Canadian.

The village of Caroline held a barbecue to pay tribute to a truly Canadian role model, Mr. Kurt Browning. People came from all parts of my constituency and from far beyond to honour this world renowned Canadian. Kurt has brought honour not only to the town of Caroline but to Alberta and to all of Canada. His four world championships are an inspiration to all Canadians. Kurt's accomplishments and his real Canadian spirit gives Canadians the sense of pride and national identification that is needed to unite the country.

The pride which glowed from everyone's face is what Canada is all about. Kurt's personality and true love of people and his country is demonstrated again and again. Today I ask the House to salute a true Canadian champion, Mr. Kurt Browning.

Kurt BrowningStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Cultural Learning CentreStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre is a multifaceted facility that has provided services to newcomers to Canada for over 25 years. The centre has evolved into a unique combination of programs and services that are based on cross cultural learning within the community.

To promote global education in the community the centre provides a resource centre and regularly hosts guest speakers, screens films and holds special exhibits. As well the centre collaborates with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and the community to initiate language instruction to new Canadians or LINC.

There is a growing cultural diversity in the community of London-Middlesex. I commend the dedication and commitment of the individuals who have worked to create such a unique cultural learning centre.

TourismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, tourism is a significant part of the economy of Erie riding and indeed of the whole Niagara region.

It is an industry with the potential to employ many more people than it does currently and this in an area of very high unemployment. The tourism industry encompasses small to large companies as well as business people of all backgrounds, including youth and seniors. The needs of these people and the tourism industry must be looked at to help them not just to survive but to prosper and expand.

Tourism is a $28 billion industry in Canada. The vast majority of the 60,000 tourist enterprises are small or medium sized businesses. Tourism tax revenues for all levels of government are estimated to be in the neighbourhood of $11 billion annually. This is an important sector of economy.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I would point out that there was a trade deficit of $8 billion in 1993 with the rest of the world. Approximately $5.5 billion of that deficit was with the United States. We can do better; we must do better.

TradeStatements By Members

April 26th, 1994 / 2:05 p.m.


Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, Thursday CNN reported that because of our low Canadian dollar, Americans were flocking to Canadian border communities to buy new cars. Americans realized they could save thousands of dollars by shopping in Canada.

There is one problem. No, it is not either national government. In fact freer trade laws have enabled these types of sales. Rather it is the big three auto makers forbidding their dealerships to sell cars for export.

The big three have told their dealers that if they sell cars for export they could lose their franchise agreement. This does not sit well with dealers who say that if allowed they could sell hundreds of cars to our American neighbours. It is especially difficult for the dealers since other dealers not associated with the big three have not been curtailed from selling for export.

Businesses have long complained that government is hindering their sales potential with obtrusive trade laws. The government has acted but now apparently big business has stepped in to install greater non-tariff barriers. The Canadian economy has suffered for years from cross-border shopping. Now it is time to reverse that and take advantage of the situation while it is still in our favour.

Canada's Credit RatingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jean Landry Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the president of Moody's, a New York bond rating agency, stated the following: "The Quebec election is not a factor to be analyzed in reviewing Canada's credit rating". The president of Moody's acknowledged that Canada's credit rating was being closely monitored because of the country's financial situation and high debt levels. The outcome of the current review could prove costly in terms of high interest rates.

In fact, since the Liberal government brought down its first budget, the gap between Canadian and American interest rates has widened considerably. The markets are reacting this way because foreign investors are worried about the lack of concrete deficit reduction measures in the first Liberal budget.

These comments from the president of Moody's confirm that the recent volatility of the market is due to the sorry state of public finances, not to the political situation in Canada.

CurlingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride and pleasure that I rise to again honour Canada's curlers.

For the first time all major Canadian curling teams have swept their way to world championships. In both women's and men's senior and women's and men's junior playdowns, Canada's curlers walked off with the gold.

I want to extend special acknowledgement to Saanich-Gulf Islander Elaine Dagg-Jackson who was team leader for the Canadian junior world curling team. Elaine and members of all our teams have proven Canada to be a powerhouse in world curing. Caught between a rock and a hard place they consistently drew to the button.

I know all members of the House join me in applauding these outstanding athletes.

Territorial BilingualismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, a Reform Party member tabled a motion to amend the Official Languages Act so as to reflect the principle of territorial bilingualism, which consists in providing federal services essentially in French in Quebec, and essentially in English in the rest of Canada.

This concept of territorial bilingualism is an aberration which reflects a profound ignorance of the history of our country. Such an idea does not take into account our Canadian national identity, and it more or less promotes intolerance.

There can be no doubt that, after being in effect for over a quarter of a century, the federal official languages policy is an integral part of the Canadian identity.

According to an Angus Reid poll conducted in May 1993, close to 70 per cent of Canadians approve the federal government's promotion of official language minority rights.

It is inconceivable that anyone would suggest taking a step backward!