House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sport.


Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, listening to the analysis presented by our colleague opposite, it appears to be a black and white issue. His view of history betrays prejudices which have no room in our world.

Sure, if you look at our history, you will find that not everything was perfect, but an analysis such as yours is bordering on slander. I wonder where you found all those data to reach such a negative conclusion. It is unfair. There are two sides to every story and you must take it into consideration when analyzing situations like this one, especially going all the way back to 1840.

Would you be willing to consider the benefits of our confederation, one of the best in the world? It will be difficult to convince you that, were it not for the Canadian federation, you would not have been able to maintain a second official language. It would have been impossible anywhere else but in Canada. We are the only living proof of that in the world.

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3:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Before recognizing the member, I would like once again to ask you to address your remarks to the Chair. It lowers the chances of friction.

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3:30 p.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, most of the data I quoted in my speech come from reports published by Transport Canada. To compare the situation at the Quebec City Airport with that of airports in other capitals, be it in the provinces or the Northwest Territories, I relied mainly on statistics from Transport Canada. To compare the increased frequency of flights between those airports, I used Transport Canada data. To compare air traffic, again I used Transport Canada data.

Mr. Speaker, Quebecers have studied history. We may not have had the same history books as our colleagues opposite, however, I can assure you that, in the next few months, we will be prepared for the upcoming debate on nationhood for Quebec. Rest assured that the system has given us all the arguments we need to prove what I just started demonstrating. It is only a matter of time. We only have to read the official reports published by the federal government and Statistics Canada, to find the necessary data. We will make them public and circulate

them among Quebecers, who will, no doubt, come to the proper conclusion.

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3:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I inform the House that, after five hours of debate, we will now proceed to the ten-minute allotted time period for speeches without questions or comments. The member for Chicoutimi.

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3:30 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the amendment to Bill C-22.

First of all, I would like to briefly review the sequence of events. In 1989, Paxport Inc. spontaneously submitted a proposal for the privatization of Terminals 1 and 2. The government of the day nixed the idea. That was in 1989. However, in October of 1990, the government invited the private sector to submit proposals for the redevelopment of Terminals 1 and 2. In 1991, Terminal 3 opened for business under the management of Claridge Holdings Inc. On March 11, 1992, the government formally issued requests for proposals for the privatization of Terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson. This preceded the decision on the proposed expansion of the runway system at the airport. Only a one-phase process was called for, involving no prequalification, whereas the bidding for the privatization of Terminal 3 involved a two-stage process, initially soliciting interested parties and selecting a short list of bidders, and then encouraging detailed submissions.

As for the competition process itself, the Nixon report states the following on page 2, and I quote: "The Request for Proposals did not set out many of the fundamental aspects of the proposed development, but left these to bidders to define for themselves". Therefore, it was left to bidders to make projections on passenger traffic at the airport. Yet, data on passenger traffic is critical to determining the pace and scope of the redevelopment. With a project of this magnitude, how could it have been left to the bidders to define such crucial parameters?

Moreover, only 90 days were provided for responses. This is an unusually short deadline, considering that we are dealing with a highly complex, long-term contract covering a period of 57 years. What reason could there be for setting such a tight deadline if not to give an advantage to certain companies, such as Paxport which had submitted an earlier privatization plan in 1989, and Claridge which was already managing Terminal 3 at Pearson? In the end, the government received only two bids, one from Claridge and one from Paxport.

On December 7, 1992, the Paxport proposal was selected as the best of the two bids. The company was required to demonstrate by February 15, 1993 that its proposal was financially viable.

As it could not do so nor, according to its president, obtain the necessary capital from other sources, Paxport and Claridge established T1 T2 Limited Partnership less than two months later. In fact, Paxport created a joint venture with its only competitor.

Why did the government then in office award a 57-year contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a financially-troubled company that was also close to the party? All interested parties in the Toronto region knew at the time that Paxport was in financial difficulty. The government cannot claim it acted in good faith.

As you may recall, one of the reasons Paxport was chosen was to encourage healthy competition between the manager of Terminals 1 and 2 and the manager of Terminal 3.

On August 30, 1993, the Minister of Transport announced a general agreement between the two parties. He promised that a final agreement would be signed in the fall.

On September 8, 1993, the Government of Canada called an election. The Nixon report summarizes the events as follows: "Prior to the conclusion of the legal agreement the Leader of the Opposition (now the Prime Minister) indicated clearly that parties proceeding to conclude this transaction did so at their own risk and that a new government"-that is, the people opposite-"would not hesitate to pass legislation to block the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 if the transaction was not in the public interest". The legal agreement was signed nevertheless.

Under the pressure of public opinion, the government ordered a review of this highly controversial deal and the Nixon report was published on November 29, 1993. On December 3, 1993, the Prime Minister announced the cancellation of the agreement.

The Nixon report outlines the process and argues that it strongly favoured one of the proposals since Paxport had already submitted a privatization proposal.

The report itself describes in plain language the abuses that were committed in this deal: "Other management and construction firms not having been involved in the maneuvering preceding the RFP had no chance to come up to speed and submit a bid in the short time permitted".

Other companies should have been invited to bid and should have been given a reasonable deadline. No prequalification financial analysis was required in this request for proposals.

Finally, the Conservative government signed the contract in the final stretch of an election campaign. Allow me to quote from the report. "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". The report concludes that the privatization process was far from promoting the interest of the public to the fullest.

We demand a royal commission of inquiry. The Nixon investigation was conducted in private. In the red book, the Liberals say that people are irritated because key parts of public business are conducted behind closed door.

The government keeps harping on about transparency. Here is a chance to show us they believe in their principles and can apply them responsibly.

A government that preaches transparency has to shed some light on this whole issue. Taxpayers have the right to know and to be provided with inside information on these transactions. The government cancelled the privatization plan, yet this bill provides for compensation, although the parties were aware of a possible contract cancellation.

The Crown does not have to compensate investors for miscalculations. Clause 10, paragraph 2, reads as follows:

No amount is payable under an agreement entered into under this section in relation to ( a ) any loss of profit, or ( b ) any fee paid for the purpose of lobbying a public office holder, within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Lobbyists Registration Act , in connection with any agreement.

It has to be stronger than that. Public funds are at stake.

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3:40 p.m.


Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to denounce the doings of some politicians in this country. More particularly, I intend to denounce the almost incestuous practices which are part of the culture of some people who try every day to influence government decisions, using all the means at their disposal, from childhood friendships to services rendered, including election organizing and political party financing.

These people try to change the normal course of events, to trade the public interest for private gain and, sadly, to relegate to the background parliamentarians' role as their constituents' elected representatives. I therefore speak on this bitter taste left by Bill C-22, the uncertainties surrounding the privatization of Pearson Airport in which lobbyists, politicians, former senior civil servants and friends of the government seem to be involved.

The Pearson Airport issue is worth considering, beyond Bill C-22. The government is wrong in refusing to clear up the whole matter. By simply clamping a lid on it while clause 10 would pay generous compensation set in secret and at its discretion, without consulting parliamentarians, the government is showing the people of Quebec and Canada its true colours, while its red book talked about a code of ethics for lobbying.

Has the powerful lobby around it made the government change its mind? If not, as I hope, the government has the ideal issue before it to show its good will, to set a new path in the conduct of affairs of state and to give back to our fellow citizens a minimum of trust in their political leaders.

At a time when polls and all opinion surveys agree that the people mistrust and doubt their political leaders and hold them in low esteem, is it not worth confronting the old demons which haunt the halls and corridors of government and giving the people what they want: honesty, openness and the plain simple truth? The Pearson Airport issue is perfect for this exercise and I am convinced that, in a free vote, parliamentarians would listen to their conscience and go for transparency, legitimacy and restraint.

The government has the duty to hold a public inquiry on the privatization of that airport. By refusing to do so and not following the suggestion made by the Bloc Quebecois, the government would not fulfil its responsibilities; it would renege on its election promises, and it would in fact endorse methods used by Conservatives. The government would merely replace a few beneficiaries.

As Mr. Nixon mentioned in his report, the privatization of Pearson Airport is an obvious example of political interference, irregularities and maneuvering. This is why, if the government has nothing to hide or to protect, the issue must be thoroughly examined and must stand as an example to ensure that such a situation does not occur again.

In 1987, when the federal government implemented a new management policy regarding Canadian airports, it did so mainly to involve local authorities in the development of airport sites. This was the case for Vancouver and Montreal, among others, where non-profit corporations manage airport facilities. In Toronto, the situation was very different, perhaps because Pearson Airport was the most profitable in Canada. In a context of freer trade, which is a sacred cow, the thinking goes like this: Why should the government keep a profitable venture when it can look after so many non-profitable ones?

Far from promoting public interest, the transaction took place in the midst of an election campaign, for the benefit of the only two bidders, former competitors now united to reap the profits. Paxport Inc., whose bid had been approved by the government without any prior financial analysis, was not able to come up with the funds necessary to conclude the transaction involving terminals 1 and 2. Paxport joins forces with Claridge Inc., which already controls terminal 3 via Pearson Development Corporation.

This merger produces T1 T2 Partnership. And there you have it! Pearson, which is a very profitable airport, is completely privatized for the benefit of a single group. The financial details of the deal are kept secret, but when reviewed by Robert Nixon and other Ontario investigators, they do not seem to be compatible with public policy. How many millions of dollars are we

talking about? We have to know in order to determine how much we are ready to pay to show our appreciation to government supporters. It is in the best interest of Canadians to know these things, because it is their money the government is squandering and wasting away on such schemes.

It is also in the interest of the public to find out who took part in those deals and how they managed to come up with such irregular and intricate deals. This information will only come out of an in-depth inquiry, which the government must set up.

Right now, we only know who the lead actors in the Pearson deal were and notice that they all are closely linked either to the Conservative Party or the Liberal Party. For instance, Claridge Properties Inc., belongs to Charles Bronfman, who is well-known for his ties to the Liberal Party of Canada. Senator Léo Kolber sat on the board of directors of Claridge when the deal was signed and, during the election campaign, he held a party at $1,000 a plate, which Mr. Bronfman and the current Prime Minister, among others, attended.

Herb Metcalf, a lobbyist for Claridge, is a former political organizer for Mr. Chrétien, while Ramsey Withers, deputy minister of Transport at the time of the request for proposals process concerning Terminal 3, is another lobbyist well-known for his close ties to the current prime minister.

At Claridge, to strike a balance between red and blue, there were also Conservative lobbyists involved in this deal: Pat MacAdam, a college friend of Brian Mulroney, Bill Fox, former press secretary to and personal friend of Brian Mulroney, and finally Harry Near, a long-time party activist.

Paxport Inc. also has some Conservative friends even though it reportedly also maintains close ties with the Liberal Party of Canada. There is Don Matthew, former chairman of Brian Mulroney's leadership campaign, former chairman of the Conservative Party and of the party's fund-raising campaign. Another former chief of staff of Brian Mulroney, Fred Doucet, acted as a Conservative lobbyist for Paxport while the consortium with Claridge was being planned. Other lobbyists, like Bill Neville, Hugh Riopelle and John Legate, are all known to have easy access to Brian Mulroney Cabinet members.

Given this information and all the disturbing matters raised in the Nixon report, the government simply cannot brush aside this issue, as it is trying to do with Bill C-22.

In his report, Mr. Nixon talks about political manipulation, which is a serious allegation. Will we encourage this by handing to the minister, under the cover of section 10, a blank cheque for the payment of compensations as he sees fit? The Nixon Report indicates that financiers and lobbyists tried to put one over on us, the taxpayers of Canada and of Quebec, with this project. Will we help them to con us even more?

The answer is no, and I will conclude with this. Taxpayers have already paid too much, and they need to know why. Thus, we must reject Bill C-22 and soon proceed with a royal commission of inquiry.

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3:50 p.m.


Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, lobbying has evolved considerably over the last few years. The real transformation came about in the early 70s. Before then, Canadians thought that lobbying was virtually non-existent and this subject was seldom discussed. However, in the early 80s, lobbying became part of the federal decision-making process.

In its famous red book, the Liberal Party talks about making government more transparent in order to restore public confidence. However, it is mentioned in the Nixon report that some politicians showed an enormous interest in the Pearson Airport transaction. In his report, Robert Nixon states, and I quote: "My review has left me with 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 will now summarize the evolution of lobbying before telling you about the real players in the Pearson Airport deal.

In view of the recent death of Richard Nixon, I do not need to remind members of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, a scandal which shook the confidence of our neighbours to the south in their political system. Need I remind members also of the Canadian Pacific scandal in the 1870s, one of the first political scandals to take place in Canada. That scandal was about making donations to the election fund. In fact, Sir Alexander Mackenzie had made honesty the theme of his Liberal election campaign, and in the process brought down the government of Sir John A. Macdonald.

Later on, under the Conservative government, draftsmen began to work on a bill stating the basic principles of a lobbyists registration system. Its foundation was Bill C-82, now entitled "Lobbyists Registration Act", afterward referred to as R.S., 1985, c. 44, assented to September 13, 1988 and in force September 30, 1989. That act was subsequently amended by Bill C-76, passed February 22, 1993.

Let us ask ourselves: What is really a lobbyist? A lobbyist can be defined as an individual or a corporation which, for payment or other compensation, makes representations for a client to ministers or officials. The basic principles can be summed up

this way: public access to government; transparency of dealings with governments; simplicity of the system's administration.

The Ninth Report to the House of Commons by the Standing Committee on Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Government Operations, tabled in 1993, stated and I quote: "When lobbying is conducted away from public view, there is a greater opportunity for decisions that undermine the public interest".

Thus, lobbyists are required to file returns with registrars. There are now different categories of lobbyists.

First, there are professional lobbyists who, for payment and on behalf of a client, undertake to arrange a meeting with a public office holder in an attempt to influence him or her on legislative proposals, on the passage or defeat of a bill or on the awarding of monetary grants or government contracts. These lobbyists are subject to very strict regulations.

And then, there are the other lobbyists. They are employees who, as a significant part of their duties, communicate with public office holders. Let us note that the registry of lobbyists may be consulted by the public. This second category of lobbyists is a problem because they are not subject to the same disclosure procedures.

In 1993, the standing committee recommended the elimination of distinctions between different categories concerning mandatory disclosure. It is crucial that we support those recommendations by the standing committee, since many lobbyists do not abide by the law. An anti-avoidance rule is needed. Obviously, staunch opposition is to be expected from many lobbyists.

The concept of openness should also apply to the financing of political parties. Incidentally, on March 13, my colleague, the hon. member for Richelieu, introduced a motion to restrict donations by individuals to $5,000 a year and to eliminate all corporate contributions.

That motion reminded us that the real bosses are the voters and not the big backers.

The hon. member for Richelieu went on to say: "Although the proportion has changed, the amount provided is still significant and a potential source of conflict. Since the reform of 1974 and the ensuing evolution of fundraising, small contributions from private individuals account for a larger share of the financing of political parties. Such democratization is very much due to the institution of a federal tax credit on political contributions, which was adopted in 1974".

Mr. Speaker, some people may think the current legislation is an adequate means to limit influence peddling and that there is no need to impose a ceiling on donations. However, the accusations of influence peddling made in the last ten years against members of the Senate or the House of Commons tend to prove otherwise.

More and more, Canadians and Quebecers are demanding openness. This disproportionate influence must stop and the people must regain control over our electoral system. Quebec's legislation is a model for all aspects of the electoral system. Popular financing and the requirement to disclose the source and amount of contributions are an integral part of Quebecers' customs.

The last point I want to mention is the recommendation of a code of ethics for elected representative and senior managers, which would allow for more transparency in the registration of lobbyists. This recommendation leads me to the Pearson Airport affair.

Many players are involved and the two principal political parties were largely implicated in this scheming. We find the following companies: Claridge Properties Inc., Paxport Inc., Pearson Development Corporation, and names like Peter Coughlin, Senator Leo Kolber, Herb Metcalfe, Ray Hession, Don Matthews, Otto Jelinek and Fred Doucet, to name only a few.

So it is not without reason that Robert Nixon, Jean Chrétien's investigator, recommended cancelling the contract last November. Having named all these players, we have to conclude that a code of ethics for elected representatives and senior managers is essential.

Given all the disturbing facts of the Pearson Airport affair, it is of the utmost importance to ask the Prime Minister to appoint a royal commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of the dealings of those involved. Transparency must prevail if Canadian democracy is to regain its true meaning.

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4 p.m.


Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, today's debate challenges all our political morals, our habits, our customs out of this Chamber, our relations behind the political scene and the influence peddling that usually remain hidden from the public. The study of Bill C-22 provides a unique opportunity to ask ourselves about the interaction that may exist between the political authority of a government and the economic power of large corporations.

We have before us a holding which resorted to the most extreme schemes to acquire terminals 1 and 2 of Pearson Airport in Toronto. The report by Robert Nixon, who was responsible for examining the deal, is very critical in that regard. Corporate transactions, transfers of senior departmental officers, exceptional tendering procedures, no requirement for a prior financial analysis, clauses benefitting the airport at the expense of others, everything led the investigator to believe that such an inadequate contract signed in such an irregular way was unacceptable.

One can understand Airport Development Corporation, Claridge Holdings Inc., Paxport Inc. and their consortium T1 T2 Limited Partnership. Pearson Airport was a jewel for developers in the air transport industry. With 20 million passengers each year, an area covering 1 792 hectares, three terminals, 15 000 employees, and 800 airplanes landing or taking off every day for

300 destinations in 60 countries, Pearson airport is the hub of air transport in Canada.

According to a Transport Canada study dating from 1987, Pearson airport has direct economic spin-offs amounting to $4 billion for the Ontario economy and it employs 56 000 people. Yet, not long ago, it was Montreal that was the hub of air traffic.

The federal government is responsible for major changes that have affected the location of the poles of economic activity. Quebec has long been suffering from federal interventionism within its economy. Pearson airport is benefitting from the side effects of one of these federal interventions, namely the building of Mirabel International Airport.

The Mirabel decision had horrible consequences for Quebec in several regards. Initially, the idea was to meet a demand that Dorval airport could no longer satisfy. Why not stick to consolidating Dorval infrastructures into one modern efficient airport that would have confirmed Montreal as the hub for the next 50 years? No. Politicians at the time agreed to build a second airport in Mirabel, 40 kilometres from Montreal and about a hundred kilometres from Ottawa, at a spot Highway 13 has not even reached yet.

Meanwhile, Quebec representatives were thinking about locating that airport in the Montreal-Sherbrooke-Quebec triangle in order to serve adequately the metropolitan area, as well as the old capital, while opening up, through Sherbrooke, to the big market of the East coast, with several million people. The federal government refused to listen and, while Quebec was pursuing its actions and its consultations, the federal government made a unilateral decision on March 27, 1969. Its airport would be located in Mirabel to serve, it was claimed, both the federal capital, Ottawa, and the Montreal metropolis.

The federal government, with our money, was making a poisoned gift to Quebec. What a gift. It was depriving us of 95,856 acres of one of the best farming land. But most of all, Mirabel airport would gradually cause the Montreal area to lose its status as the hub of international air traffic in favour of Pearson airport in Toronto. While Mirabel was being built, the federal government was giving permission to all international airline companies to use the airport in Toronto, which could then provide all these services and keep expanding in one single airport.

A plot to move this economic activity 500 kilometres to the West could not have been more successful. This federal intervention resulted in a significant loss of jobs for Quebec. And who paid the bill? Quebecers themselves, with the taxes they are sending to Ottawa.

This kind of deplorable intervention by the federal against Quebec's interests is not the first and will not be the last, as long as Quebec remains in this federation. Interventionism has also affected all our oil and petro-chemical industry. In 1957, the Diefenbaker government established a Royal Commission on Energy chaired by Henry Borden. Of the six commissioners, Jean-Louis Lévesque, from Montreal, was the only one representing Quebec. The mandate of the Borden Commission was to examine all issues relating to energy, such as size of the domestic market, security of oil supply, the export volume and price.

The commission was anxious to develop this sector of the economy to become less dependent on other countries and at the same time reach the U.S. market. There was more to it, however. A jealous eye was cast on the oil refineries in Montreal, which some people wanted to see transferred to Ontario. The commission heard representations from independent producers who were in favour of building a pipeline from Edmonton to Montreal, so that Alberta crude would displace imported Venezuelan crude being refined in Montreal. However, Ontario was not really interested in this pipeline or western natural gas but in Montreal's major refineries.

Once again, as in so many other cases, the influence of the lobbyists was decisive. The project was opposed by the major oil multinationals. Finally, the commission recommended drawing a demarcation line along the Ottawa Valley. It recommended securing all markets to the west of this line for producers in Alberta. The federal government implemented this recommendation in 1961. Since the pipeline went to Toronto, Sarnia was born. The next step was to extend the pipeline to Montreal, and after taking away our refineries, English Canada was to take over the Montreal market.

We owe the disappearance of an entire petrochemical industry in East Montreal to Canada's national policy initiatives. Richard Séguin, one of our great singers from Quebec-the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry referred to him on February 9 as a great artist-tells us in one of his songs about the incredible human cost of the disappearance of East Montreal's refineries. At the end of his song he says to his father: "J'vais prier pour toi".

Another example, equally important, is the St. Lawrence Seaway. We all know that this access way to the Great Lakes, built with our taxes, sounded the death knell of the Port of Montreal. It contributed substantially towards shifting certain activities towards the West, while destroying Montreal's position as a transit zone for goods, services and people. We could have made Montreal the biggest interior port in the world, a real international hub.

Today, a special committee is considering the future of the Seaway, but we are stuck with it, and it will probably cost too much to undo.

As an economic activity, transportation is central to many other activities. This is why maritime, rail, pipeline and air transportation play a role in the development capabilities of other economic activities. You can sense the appeal of that. This is clearly the reason why big investors, lobbyists and friends of the government are doing their utmost to lay their hands on this sector. Wolves follow their prey, and if we are not vigilant, private interest will prevail over public interest.

I will conclude by saying that for too long our taxes have been used against us in this federation. We no longer want our taxes to be used to enrich the friends of the government, we want them to be used to reduce the debt. The financing of our party, the Bloc Quebecois, is a model to follow. Money comes from individuals, not from large companies or interest groups seeking favours by giving money to the main parties, irrespective of their leanings. We do not owe anyone anything, our hands are not tied.

We are here to defend Quebec's interests, and they include a sound management of public funds. This is why the Bloc Quebecois is asking for a royal commission of inquiry. While waiting for Quebec sovereignty, we will try to improve Canada. Be assured that we are going to try to clean up its act.

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4:10 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, several questions have been raised since yesterday regarding the famous Bill C-22, an Act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

Several questions, to the total amazement of our friends opposite, had escaped them, not all of them though. Some Liberal members are more lucid than others, such as the member for York South-Weston, as demonstrated on page 3539 of yesterday's official report. I quote what he said:

I would submit that it would be unconscionable if they were paid any money whatsoever not only because of what was said during the election campaign, and what happened behind the scenes, but also because of the very clear statement and the request for proposals that was put out in March 1992. At paragraph (8.6.3.), it says this. Again Mr. Bronfman and all those who were participating in this contract were well aware of what was in the request for proposals.

It said: "All costs and expenses incurred by proponents relating to proposals will be borne by the proponents. The government is not liable to pay such costs and expenses or to reimburse or to compensate proponents in any manner whatsoever for such costs and expenses under any circumstances, including the rejection of any or all proposals and the cancellation of the project".

This paragraph shows very clearly that clause 10 of Bill C-22 makes no sense whatsoever, unless the minister, the Minister of Transport in this case, has to, heaven forbid, reward friends of his party.

Liberal members are surprised by our relentless attacks on this bill but what has happened to their commitment to transparency, now that they are six months into their mandate?

Among the promises which filled a whole chapter of the red book, what has happened to the ethics counsellor in charge of advising ministers, MPs and other public officials? The government could really use somebody like that, these days. What progress has been made in the drafting of a code of conduct for Parliament? It seems to me that it has fallen by the wayside.

What has happened to the new rules regarding lobbying? The Liberals will undoubtedly answer that it is a priority for them, but if we were to make a list of the priorities they have been talking about since January 17, I would feel sorry for issues that did not make it in their eyes because, for this government, everything is a priority, or rather, nothing is.

With respect to the new lobbying rules, we learned only yesterday from a report in La Presse that the federal government had decided to extend by one year very lucrative advertising contracts prior to establishing its new lobbying rules.

Clearly, there must be some mistake, Mr. Speaker. And yet, the government is now giving us the impression of taking care of its friends, before passing legislation to protect them, as I just mentioned. Perhaps we are mistaken, but the perception is rather different. And perception is the key to whether or not the public trusts the government. In this particular case, positions are relatively clear.

With your permission, I would like to quote the hon. member for Red Deer who stated the following yesterday, which appears on page 3529 of Hansard. I quote:

-I certainly agree with that. I would agree wholeheartedly with the member's comments that they know better and they obviously should not be expecting any compensation.

As you can see, I have introduced quotes from Liberal and Reform members who agree with our amendments, but none from Bloc members.

It is clear that Bloc members stand solidly behind this amendment, as do Reform members and even a few Liberals. Therefore, they have no business saying that we are being paranoid and that we are nitpicking.

Not so very long ago, in addition to the member for York South-Weston, the Minister of Immigration himself, the President of the Treasury Board and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry spoke out on this agreement. Even the

Minister of Transport said that the federal government was considering setting up a royal commission of inquiry into the privatization of Pearson Airport. This fact was reported in La Presse on November 29 last. The Minister of Transport himself suggested that such a commission be established.

Why then are our colleagues opposite so surprised when barely a few months ago, they shared our position on this issue? Could it be because the members on this side have not changed their minds and are not in the habit of doing so every few months?

Why did we not change our minds? Why are we asking for a royal commission of inquiry to save millions of dollars, perhaps hundreds of millions in the long run, to the taxpayers, but above all to clarify whether the government's hands are clean? That is the whole question.

Why is it that, while the Nixon report, which surprisingly enough took only 30 days to produce, states that there has been wrongdoing in connection with lobbying, it gives no specific example of such practice?

Also, why compensate people for costs incurred in such instances? My mother used to tell me, as a child, that honesty pays. Was she right or not?

Why does the government continue to refuse to release the privatization contract concerning Pearson Airport? There are many unanswered questions, are there not? Many questions that will do nothing to improve the Liberal Party's credibility rating, if it has any credibility left.

The reason we are opposing Bill C-22 and asking the government, for its own good and in the interest of the Canadian population as a whole, to shed light onto these obscure dealings is to get all these questions answered. Of course, that is if the government has nothing to hide; otherwise, its reluctance is understandable.

In closing, let me repeat the amendment moved by the Bloc Quebecois:

"This House declines to give second reading to Bill C-22, An Act respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, because the principle of the Bill is flawed due to the fact that it contains no provisions aimed at making the work done by lobbyists more transparent."

We also support the amendment to amendment moved by the Reform Party to add "in Canada" after the word "lobbyists".

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4:20 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, as my colleagues have been doing for two days, I want to speak on the shady privatization of Pearson Airport. It is obviously a question of money but it is also a matter of principle concerning the very foundation of the federal system, namely the financing of political parties.

When stories such as this still make headlines in 1994, we wonder if democracy has made progress or if we are still facing the dubious tactics of the good old 1940s. Now, my dear friends, Mr. Speaker, I would like to relate to you a story my mother and father told me more than once. My father, an important lumber dealer and a highly-regarded Liberal organizer-back in the 1940s, of course-who raised enormous amounts of money for the Liberal Party, had the opportunity to acquire machinery no longer needed after World War II, such as tracked vehicles and tanks. He leased flat cars from Canadian Pacific in Toronto and he was always telling me what a good deal it was. He told me: "I sold one and all the others were free and clear". He was of course a friend of the government. All his friends in the community tried to buy some but they were all gone, as friends of the government had bought everything they could lay their hands on at ridiculous prices.

Before the last election, I was living quietly in my little community and looking from afar at what politicians with various levels of credibility were trying to do. Sometimes they did well, other times not so well. Political criticisms and analyses always apply to what the media choose to report. We are not so gullible as to believe that newspapers are always unbiased and always report all the facts. Not everything should be taken for granted.

So, the media report horror stories suggesting that the government is not doing its job. We object and say it makes no sense, but, deep down, we wonder what is true. Barring some exceptions, nothing is black or white. For example, there was the Malaroï case, where virtue was pitted against bureaucracy, and where my colleague from Québec-Est spared no effort. Normally, sensationalism is profitable, not subtleties. As to the case before us today, even if we were not in the House when the story first broke, we realize that the more we learn from the media, the less we understand.

Even if all members in the House know the story, I will summarize it briefly as I, the member for Frontenac, see it.

The contract to privatize Pearson Airport was signed on October 7, 1993. As we all remember, that was only 18 days before the defeat of the Conservative government. And in Quebec, like elsewhere, polls were conducted almost every day. And the closer we got to October 25, the lower the Conservatives were in those polls. Time was of the essence; this could not wait until after the election; the Conservatives were no longer in the picture. You remember as well as I do what happened. Two bidders fought hard to get a contract worth several million dollars. To succeed, the two finally merged and got the contract on October 7.

During the last election campaign, the Liberals, and particularly those from the Toronto area, promised to cancel that contract. These same Liberals are now attempting to cancel the contract, but they are also trying to compensate the promoters. It must be pointed out that, under Bill C-22, the government does not have to compensate these people but the legislation authorizes-and this is what I strongly object to-the minister to make certain payments to promoters, at his discretion. Let me remind you that, according to recent polls, politicians are far from being popular.

When I meet people from my region, they say: "You are O.K., but we do not trust the others. Try not to stay in Ottawa too long, otherwise you will turn out like them". My colleague for Terrebonne says that politicians are less popular than used car dealers. We do not give rebates. When such sordid stories are found out, how can you possibly hope to improve the image of politicians in Quebec? When the reputation of one of us is tarnished, we all pay a price.

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that there is no smoke without fire. If everything is honest and transparent in a contract, why be so secretive? Why not appoint a royal commission of inquiry? If the Liberal government opposite does not have anything to hide, such a measure would settle the issue and the Conservatives might be the only ones in hot water. But the Liberal Party is afraid to set up a royal commission of inquiry with the power to question all the players in the Pearson Airport saga.

What seems contradictory at first glance is that a contract signed under suspicious circumstances by the Conservatives is not being denounced by the Liberals, who now form the government and have the necessary tools to shed some light on this transaction. Yet, during the election campaign the Liberals kept referring to the importance of transparency.

When I taught my ecology students the transparency of water, I told them: "It is like when you look down into a lake and you see the bottom". We say that water is transparent when we see through it. Can we say that we see through the Liberal government today? I am asking them.

Yet, in the red book, it is all there in black and white: the government is committed to more transparency. It has been six months and we are still waiting for this same transparency. This would have been the opportunity, I think, to prove that it was the transparency of a notion that was dear to them and not a media show.

Unfortunately, I was able to deliver only one part of my speech. If one of my colleagues would want to take it, I could have it passed on to him or her. I thank you for your patience, Mr. Speaker.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to take my turn in this debate on Bill C-22 respecting certain agreements concerning the redevelopment and operation of Terminals 1 and 2 at Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

I assume that, after listening to all the speeches we have had so far, you have realized that the very serious reservations of the Official Opposition about this bill concern section 10, which reads as follows:

  1. (1) 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 in connection with the coming into force of this Act, subject to the terms and conditions that the Minister considers appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I imagine you have also understood that the opposition approves of cancelling this highly improper contract because there are many reasons for doing so. I became convinced after reading the Nixon report several times from start to finish. I found out why, although Mr. Nixon is as Liberal as they come-a very well connected Liberal who is very close to the circles we are talking about, including the friends of the Prime Minister-why his intellectual honesty and his sense of responsibility forced him to use the word "maneuverings".

After carefully reading his report, one realizes why he had to use this word, which could be translated in French as " magouillage ''. The Petit Robert defines the word magouille'' as follows: Manoeuvres, tractations douteuses ou malhonnêtes ''. The English definition is: ``Maneuverings, questionable practices or shady dealings''. So this is pretty strong language.

I thought I would simply bring to the attention of this House a few passages from the Nixon report which are self-explanatory and which illustrate the murky and shocking aspects of this affair, and as some people are saying, we may need a royal commission of inquiry to determine whether bad faith was involved.

For instance, on page 5, there is a short paragraph that gives us an indication of the maneuvring, and a theme that runs through the entire Nixon report, and I quote:

In the calculation of gross revenue (on which rent will be based), there are 10 deductions which I am advised are unusual in commercial transactions.

Mr. Nixon also said that T1 T2 Limited Partnership, which would manage the airport, is a multi-purpose rather than a sole-purpose corporation.

The lease does not restrict the freedom of T1 T2 Limited Partnership to carry out an undertaking other than the management, operation and maintenance of Terminals 1 and 2. Therefore, the financial health of T1 T2 Limited Partnership could be adversely affected by the financial failure of a venture which has nothing to do with the management, operation and maintenance of Terminals 1 and 2.

The report also says, with respect to air traffic:

The Government of Canada undertakes not to permit development of any airport facility within 75 km of the T1 T2 complex that would reduce passenger traffic at Pearson by more than 1.5 million persons per year, until the volume of passenger traffic at Pearson reaches 33 million people per year. Present projections predict this number to be reached by approximately the year 2005. If the Government of Canada chooses to engage in such proscribed development-

-we can see the manoeuvring, the understanding which exists among people who are close to the government, have undue influence and who may even, and we will see this later on, condition and intimidate senior officials-

-it must either pay economic loss to the Tenant

-we know who that is-

-or provide the Tenant with access to Area 4 at Pearson, an area explicitly excluded from

the RFP.

Another interesting and revealing point.

About the end of September 1993, T1 T2 Limited Partnership represented to the Government that it had entered into 10 contracts with non-arm's length parties-

-in other words, parties connected with and involved in the project-

-prior to October 7, 1993. One of these was said to be a construction management agreement with Matthews Construction. This information was not publicly disclosed.

The point is that Matthews is directly concerned and involved in the whole transaction and was closely connected with the activities of Paxport.

The report also says the following:

After permitting the privatization of Terminal 3 at Pearson, the process to privatize Terminals 1 and 2, the remainder of the largest airport in Canada, is inconsistent-

-this is fundamental-

-with the major thrust of the policy of the Government of Canada announced in 1987.

It was on the basis of this policy that the offer made in 1989-90 by the same parties was turned down by the government. With the passage of time and as a result of intense lobbying, the government became very interested in 1993, and we know what happened.

Another consideration in the Nixon report, a very important one this time, concerns the time frame the parties were allowed to submit their proposals.

The RFP 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 time frame-

-we are talking about an investment of $700 million, and people are being given 90 days to position themselves.

-created, in my view, an enormous advantage to a proponent-


-an enormous advantage-

-this is the maneuvering-

-that had previously submitted a proposal for privatizing and developing T1 and T2.

This was referred to earlier. It was the proposal turned down in 1989.

Other management and construction firms not having been involved in the maneuvering-

-this is Nixon speaking-

-preceding the RFP had no chance to come up to speed and submit a bid in the short time permitted. With little construction and development occurring-

-by honest people-considering the state of the economy in Toronto as well-

-others should have been sought out and given reasonable time to participate.

Further, it is significant that no financial pre-qualification was required in this competition. For a project of this magnitude the selection of a "best overall acceptable proposal"-

-that was the basic criterion-

-without complete assurance of financial viability seems to me to have been highly unusual and unwise.

Finally, 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.

There is no question that a financial deal of this magnitude-$700 million-which would have privatized a public asset for 57 years should not have been signed at that time.

I will end with one of the conclusions of Mr. Nixon, who believed that the process: "to privatize and redevelop Terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson fell far short of maximizing the public interest". Therefore, considering all that surrounded the "negotiation", it is imperative-and one is astonished that the report does not make any recommendation to that effect, and that the Prime minister who preaches openness in the red book has not taken any action in that direction-that we have an inquiry that can get to the bottom of that shocking event that is so damaging to the reputation of Canada, a country known for the quality of its institutions.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.


Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, with clause 10 of Bill C-22, the government is in fact inviting the friends of the system-Conservatives and Liberals united as brothers this time and drooling in anticipation-to grab a piece of Pearson, a particularly juicy pie. Not only is the bill conveniently unclear about the way this pie is to be shared, but it does not explain how Pearson Airport is to be managed and what its place will be in the Canadian network. It is this latter

and no doubt less scandalous, but nevertheless important aspect of the bill that I would like to address today.

It may be a good idea to show this airport's importance with regard to air transport, and in particular in relation to Montreal's two airports.

Pearson and Mirabel-Dorval play a major function in air transportation in Canada. Competition between them can be beneficial, provided they compete on equal terms, which is not the case. The Mirabel-Dorval airport complex has a major handicap. If I wanted to make a case against the government based on assumptions and not facts, I would suspect it of, if not keeping an old wound open, at least painstakingly not helping it heal. Its persistent failure to act on this issue is really incomprehensible. I am referring to the lack of a high-speed link between Mirabel and Dorval as well as the totally inappropriate linkage of the airport complex with the road and railway system. First, a few facts.

Dorval is the point of origin of all regular flights within Canada and to the United States, while Mirabel is the boarding point for all other destinations. A passenger travelling from Quebec City to Paris will have to transfer. That is normal, but what is not quite as normal is the fact that this person has to ride, from Dorval to Mirabel, in a shuttle travelling on Highways 15, 640, and 13 and then on Mirabel Blvd. Commuting time: 40 minutes, plus waiting time. It is absolutely absurd.

To remedy the problem, it was suggested that Mirabel be closed down and all flights shifted to Dorval. What a brilliant idea! You eliminate one of the airports, thereby eliminating the need to connect them. Rather than curing the disease, it would be simpler to get rid of the patient!

A simple solution would be to extend Highway 13 another 25 kilometres to the north. It was agreed a long time ago that the costs-that is to say $78 million in 1988 dollars-were to be shared equally by Ottawa and Quebec, but nothing has been done since. Of course, for a long time, the two governments accused one another of refusing to co-operate, stating that a cheque could be made the following morning if only the other side would stop dragging its feet. I guess that is what you call profitable federalism!

Mr. Speaker, the sad thing is that, since then, cost estimates have risen by $50 million because of the procrastination. This will certainly not help break the impasse. The fact remains that there is a serious need to extend Highway 13 from Boisbriand to Mirabel Airport.

However, what Mirabel needs to become a world class airport is a rail link.

This unacceptable oversight could be corrected while at the same time another problem which is somewhat less frustrating could be solved. As everyone knows, most developed countries already have a high-speed train, an ultramodern means of transportation. In this as in so many other areas, Canada is lagging behind for lack of vision. The Minister of Transport is waiting for another in an endless series of reports on the Quebec City-Windsor HST project before giving consideration to eventually setting up this network. Studies already completed have concluded that an east-west rail link through Quebec and Ontario is feasible, necessary and cost-effective. A total of 120,000 jobs would be created during the construction phase of the project.

All that would need to be done is to add a loop to the main line to connect Montreal's two airports.

Connections between the two airports could thus be made in 18 minutes, instead of the current forty. Furthermore, the two provinces would be linked to Mirabel-Dorval by a high-speed, comfortable rail system, one which would leave foreign passengers with the impression this time of a country in the forefront of new technologies.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the Toronto and Mirabel-Dorval airports can continue to complement one another and to provide services commensurate with the capital invested, steps must be taken to provide Mirabel with the tools mentioned. Failing this, neither Mirabel nor Dorval, for that matter, will be able to ensure appropriate levels of user services. I am talking about extending Highway 13 from Boisbriand to Mirabel and developing a high-speed train in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, along with a loop to provide service to Mirabel and Dorval.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to state my position on Bill C-22, the Pearson International Airport Agreements Act.

The bill declares in particular that the agreements did not come into force, bars any action for damages against the federal government, and authorizes the Minister of Transport to enter into agreements for the payment of amounts in connection with the coming into force of the legislation.

I wish to draw the attention of the House to the last point. I strongly object to Bill C-22, which authorizes the government to pay the compensation it sees fit to private-sector contractors without shedding light on the circumstances that led to the decision to privatize the airport and to the hasty signature of the contract.

When the government privatizes public property, transparency must be paramount, as the government advocates in the Throne Speech delivered at the beginning of this Parliament. Part of this speech reads as follows: "Integrity and public trust in the institutions of government are essential. My ministers"--

it was the Governor General speaking-"will insist upon integrity, honesty and openness on the part of those who exercise power on behalf of Canadians".

The Prime Minister promised to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the negotiations and the agreement to privatize Pearson Airport. Instead, he gives us an internal review behind closed doors. Nevertheless, the study by Robert Nixon, a good Liberal, a former provincial finance minister and a former leader of the Liberal Party of Ontario, underlines the undue influence of lobbyists sympathetic to the current government.

The Nixon report contains a number of comments on the privatization process, its political dimension and the terms of the redevelopment agreements. This same Mr. Nixon says that privatizing terminals 1 and 2 is not in accordance with the government policy that such terminals should be owned and operated by local authorities. He condemns this transaction and talks about the role of patronage and pressure groups.

I would like to make myself clear. We want to shed light on this process of privatization, deals and agreements that are not in the public interest. The review of the Pearson Airport case concludes on page 9 that the role of lobbyists went far beyond the acceptable concept of consulting. "It is clear that the lobbyists played a prominent role in attempting to affect the decisions that were reached".

This is a series of troubling facts that call into question this government's openness and the legitimacy of any decision to compensate the companies involved in the case. Why compensate individuals for charges incurred by people who abused their connections? This decision is contrary to government policies on this subject. Bill C-22 deals with a very controversial development agreement which should be elucidated.

I understand that the government thinks that the bill is a way to undo an agreement that it condemns because the agreement was politically motivated and pushed by lobbyists. I understand the government wanting to avoid long and costly lawsuits if an agreement could not be negotiated.

However, despite the controversy and although the government has announced the end of the contract, why does the government still want to keep this contract secret? Would there be something to hide? Not disclosing the full identity of all parties to this agreement and other major provisions of the contract inevitably arouses public mistrust. When the government makes a decision in a case involving the public interest, I think that it has to be open. The public has a right to know all the details of this agreement and the facts surrounding the government's decision.

In the events leading up to the signing of the contract permitting the privatization of Pearson International Airport the various lobbyists appear to have played a disproportionate role.

I call on the government to enlighten this affair of public interest as mentioned by the Leader of the Official Opposition in this House calling for the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry before the tabling of Bill C-22.

As long as we do not know the roles played by the various players in this matter, how can we determine for sure whether investors are victims or actors in this affair?

Bill C-22 declares that no amount will be payable under this agreement in relation to any loss of profit or any fee paid for the purpose of lobbying a public office holder. Why then will the Minister of Transport with the approval of the Governor in Council make agreements on behalf of the government to provide for the payment of such amounts?

If the government wants to be off the hook, it must authorize an inquiry which will shed light on what might be one of the biggest patronage scandals in the history of Canada.

Initially, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transport himself did not oppose the idea of a public inquiry to find out the details of the circumstances surrounding the Pearson Airport transaction. And the minister even had the support of several of his colleagues regarding such an initiative.

Only after realizing that some of its close friends were involved did the government make an about-face, opting for a simple report prepared behind close doors. The government does not have the right to demand sacrifices from the public to help reduce the deficit, to make cuts in social programs, and to use taxpayers' money to compensate the key players in these dealings, when its own report states that in this case lobbies have largely exceeded the acceptable limits.

Even if lobbying is legal, the public has a negative perception of this activity, especially in a case like this, where the lobbying took place without the public knowing about it, and where the decisions made went against public interest. Greater transparency will enable Canadians to know who is trying to influence who, how, and on what issue.

For the sake of transparency and honesty, an inquiry must be held on the Pearson Airport transaction.

Mr. Speaker, I fully support the government when it is willing to improve Parliament's credibility. I am quite prepared to support the government when it proposes legislation aimed at ensuring greater transparency regarding its dealings with lobbyists.

In this case, the government has no choice but to shed light on this issue. This is why I support the motion of the Leader of the Official Opposition to set up a royal commission of inquiry and find out the details of that unfortunate saga.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity today to speak on Bill C-22.

I would like to point out to my colleagues and all members of Parliament that I had the privilege to sit, for four years, on the Société de promotion des aéroports de Montréal, which is considered, as you know, a local airport authority, according to a 1987 government plan. I want to show you that local airport authorities, or LAA as they are called in the air transport industry, are much less prone to scheming than private companies which take charge of an airport, as was the case at Pearson.

So, I think that we absolutely have to talk about the great openness shown by local airport authorities, and to do so, I want to use Montreal as an example, that is the airport of Montreal and its Société de promotion des aéroports, made up of 21 individuals from the Communauté urbaine de Montréal.

What does a SOPRAM or a promotion company do? First of all, it must get a very good representation within the greater metropolitan area as such. In the case of SOPRAM, there are three electoral colleges which form the 21 members of this promotion company. Of course, what the company will promote are these airports and with only one objective in mind, that is to re-invest the money in the community by doing repair work in these airports. That is far better than favouring a bunch of friends who are mostly interested in capitalizing their funds and ensuring that shareholders get more and more dividends in the end.

In the case of a local airport authority, it is the opposite; the money is directed towards the community and re-invested, and people are put to work in the same community.

If I go back to SOPRAM, I was saying earlier that there are three major electoral colleges; there are seven business people who form the executive of the Montreal Airport Administration. They all are business people and their distribution, as you will see, is very well thought out in terms of territorial distribution in the greater Montreal area. We also have seven elected people at the municipal level who are representatives of municipal politicians, and also, people who are responsible for the technology and the administration as such. I was myself part of the technicians and administrators category and I was delegated by the Société montérégienne de développement and the City of Longueuil.

Also on territorial distribution, it was made sure that the whole of the territory would be very well represented. Among others, we have three representatives from the South area, six representatives from the North area and 12 representatives from the island of Montreal. These people are serving their respective interests within a regional solidarity, and it is worth repeating that all the money is re-invested in the greater Montreal area.

My colleagues raised earlier the relevancy of airport duality in Montreal. That is a debate that was just completed-airport of Montreal-and what was agreed to is that both Montreal airports are extremely important. Even a major international panel confirmed it. The international panel told us that having two airports was an extraordinary advantage for us. Unfortunately, at the time of devolution, the government withdrew from its project to link Dorval and Mirabel by a special shuttle so that, today, the cost of it will have to be borne by ADM.

Let us look at the economic impact. As I said, the goal and objective of the development corporation, as far as Montreal airports are concerned is to make sure that money is reinvested in the area. At the present time these two airports bring in about $100 million. After expenses, we manage to keep $30 million which, over the next five years, will be reinvested into the communities through improvements and repairs to the airports. This will create about 1,700 jobs over the next five years. The difference is obvious. Profits are reinvested in the community, they go directly to the workers hired to improve the infrastructures and not to shareholders, as dividends, or to a bunch of friends of the government.

We can also talk of the direct impact. In 1987, it amounted to $109 million for the community of Montreal and, in 1992, it reached $273 million. I repeat, the revenues are around $100 million annually.

According to an HEC study, 42,185 jobs result directly and indirectly from the operation of the two Montreal airports and the reinvestment of profits into the community contributes greatly to job creation. We can see the importance of a local airport authority. This is not the situation at Pearson Airport. Why not?

Clearly, the private sector noticed that there was a ripe plum to be picked, something juicy enough to whet the appetite of shareholders. With the help of lobbyists they pressed the government by saying: "Do not give it to a local airport authority, this is a source of trouble". Squabbles occur in all local airport authorities, and Montreal had its share, but in the end, we agreed in order to protect the interest of the community.

In Toronto, the government said that a local airport authority would not work and that the private sector should have the opportunity to dip into the trough. And that is what happened. The present government, which promised during the election campaign that it would cancel the deal, in now finding that the

people feeding at the trough were not all friends of the Conservatives, there were also friends of the Liberals. This is why the minister has included in the bill provisions that would give him discretionary powers to compensate friends of his party.

We can see all the differences and contradictions that exist between the two systems; on the one hand, Montreal proceeds with a people-minded, democratic approach whereas, on the other hand, people in Toronto manage to get a piece of the action, and put the interests of the shareholders, lobbyists, and friends of the government before those of the community.

To conclude, I am indeed in complete agreement with the amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois because we need a royal commission to review the whole deal. I would even say that, besides a royal commission, the government should allow, without delay, Metropolitan Toronto to take matters into its own hands. I think that there are some very worthwhile people in that city who would be more concerned with the interests of the community than with strictly financial interests. There are people who were there at the time, such as the mayor of Mississauga who was very active and who would probably be willing to carry the torch to make sure that this local airport authority comes into being and that priority is given to the public interest instead of the interests of the government's friends.

To this end, I think that a royal commission is an absolute must. And I repeat that we should take this opportunity to allow Metropolitan Toronto to take matters into its own hands and say to the government's friends: "Sorry, the contract is cancelled and there will be no discretionary compensation". I think that, in this whole matter, we have to look at the government's transparency and set an example so that, from now on, in Canada, there is a clear message that you cannot operate behind the scene and favour your friends at the expense of the public purse. I believe that a royal commission is in order. Let us proceed with a royal commission and discover what is behind all this manoeuvering.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, now that the future of Quebec and of Canada is being debated, we still find ourselves talking about lobbyists. Need we remind members that lobbying is not a new activity? This country, Canada, is the end result of lobbying efforts. Consider the Grand Trunk railroad! The many lobbyists who were involved in the building of the railroad were in fact responsible for building Canada. There more things change, the more they remain the same.

The question is even raised in our history books. I pointed this out to one member, a friend who sits across from me in this House. Lobbyists were the great Canadian promoters and we are still contending with them today, albeit not the same people. However, the spirit of lobbying continues to burn brightly.

Yet, in its red book, the government promised transparency. On looking at the whole Pearson Airport deal, it becomes clear that the one thing lacking is transparency, at the very least. Let me recall a few facts for you.

On December 7, 1992, the federal government decided to go with the bid submitted by Paxport Inc.

Two months later, this company was forced to join forces with its only competitor to form a consortium, T1 T2 Limited Partnership. It is somewhat troubling to realize that the government was planning to award a 57-year contract worth several hundred million dollars to a company in financial difficulty, a company which besides had close ties with the governing party, which at the time, was the Conservative party.

While we could say that T1 T2 was once a Tory entreprise, over time it has become a Grit entreprise. Basically, that is what the red book is all about, Mr. Speaker. It is saying: Count on us, we will put you in the red. And we currently seem to be heading in that direction.

The policy put forward by the Conservative government as early as 1987 regarding airport administration was based first and foremost on local airport authorities of the public type-I am thinking of the Montreal ADM-or else the administration was contracted to certain firms, as was the case in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Privatizing Pearson Airport ran directly counter Transport Canada's policies.

Take also the bidding period, which was only 90 days long. This time limit seems somewhat unusual, in that we cannot talk about standard tendering. This is a 57-year contract, a long-term and very complex contract.

So, why limit the bidding period that much, if not to favour companies that had already expressed an interest in that area? Companies like Paxport, which had already submitted a privatization plan in 1989 or one which was already managing another airport, like Claridge, responsible of Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport.

Wrongdoing on the part of lobbyists was mentioned in the Nixon Report, but without quoting any specific case. Why then compensate people for their expenses if they misused their connections?

As Robert Nixon points out: "It is clear that the lobbyists played a prominent part in attempting to affect the decisions that were reached, going far beyond the acceptable concept of "consulting". That is on page 9 of the report, Mr. Speaker.

Disturbing conduct is also reported on the part of political staff members who have shown too much interest in the transaction, an interest disproportionate to reality as we know it today. That is also on page 9, Mr. Speaker.

In spite of the controversy, in spite of the fact that it has already announced the cancellation of the contract, the government persists in refusing to release the contract in question.

One can wonder why. Does the government have something to hide? Is this a case of the Ginn Publishing syndrome? Because in that case too, they refuse to show us the contract. Are we dealing, for example, with advertising contracts awarded by the minister responsible for government operations with no real tendering process, no clear criteria, basically at the discretion of the minister?

Contracts which, as we find out, are more often than not granted to friends of the system, the kind of people who carry a membership card in the Laurier Club. It is strange that things are not more open, and that there are even no parameters.

In the Quebec legislature, if contracts were awarded in this way, there would be a general outcry. We are a long way from "Vautrin's pants" in the days of Duplessis. We are not talking about a pair of pants but about an airport, Mr. Speaker.

Why was this 57-year contract, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, awarded without financial pre-qualification? On page 8 of his report, Robert Nixon concludes that such a process is highly unusual. At least we hope so. If it were usual to award 57-year contracts worth hundreds of millions without financial pre-qualification, we would be worried and with good reason.

We can however ask, not necessarily for the first time either, why Hibernia project we are now considering was not subjected to a thorough financial review either. We are set to invest another $1 billion in the biggest contract, private or public, in Canada's history, and no serious study was done. We are now being asked to invest another $1 billion with our eyes closed. So no prior financial study was made for Pearson Airport.

As you may recall, the Conservative government signed the contract in the last days of an election campaign. This undemocratic gesture was denounced by our friends opposite. Mr. Chrétien jumped on this opportunity to denounce these undemocratic measures flying in the face of Parliament's supremacy because the government, of course, must honour its predecessors' commitments. But there is a way to get out of it to accommodate current realities, as was the case with the helicopters. They acted, but more openly that time. That was in Quebec, and the government may have fewer friends in Quebec, but it is different in Toronto.

Private developers could not help but know that the Liberals were likely to form the next government. That is why the T1 T2 Partnership is friends with the Liberals and with the Conservatives. As everyone knows, the ranks of lobbyists do not only include Conservatives. They also need Liberals in case a new government is elected. They know how to prepare for change. These people are used to power. The party in power may change, but the ideas remain the same.

The lobbyists knew then that the Liberals would take power; they knew that there was a risk in signing such a contract. They decided to take it. That is the law of the market. They are business people, serious people who are always telling us that we have to take the risk of free competition, we must not be afraid, we must know how to take risks, and they are asking the government to compensate them for the risks they took. They made a mistake, poor things! They must be compensated. These are the same people who usually denounce the unemployed and welfare recipients. Pearson is luxury-class welfare, Mr. Speaker.

When the Conservatives awarded the contract, they knew one thing. Ms. Campbell and Mr. Charest did not seriously think that they would keep power. They knew that, but they did not know that they would be left with only two members.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I just want to make sure that we know that we are supposed to refer to one another by the name of our riding when we sit in the House. I just wanted to bring this to the hon. member's attention.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the member for Sherbrooke and Ms. Campbell-I must name her because she no longer has a riding-did not suspect that their party would be reduced to two seats.

So these people said to themselves, "Before we leave Parliament and our access to government funds, we will ensure that our friends have not invested for nothing," because the names involved in the Pearson affair did not invest only in Pearson. These people invest at least every four years, even every year, with the Grits and with the Tories, with the Tories and with the Grits. Depending on who will be in power, they invest more in one side than the other. I suppose they invested more in the Liberals, who have 177 seats, than in the Conservatives, although each of the two remaining Tories must have got more than the 177 Liberals, on a per capita basis.

So Mr. Nixon says a little farther in his report, and I will close with that-my ten minutes are almost up-that his examination had led him to only one conclusion: to leave in place an inadequate contract, arrived at through such a flawed process and under the shadow of possible political manipulation, is unacceptable.

That is what we say: it is unacceptable. We must get to the bottom of it and have the resources to do so, have the power to compel people to testify, to present documents and to get a good idea of what people opposite would like to keep in semi-obscurity.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I would just add that, as Acting Speaker, I have the duty and the honour and the pleasure to protect the interests and privileges of members of this House.

I do understand that when members are outside the House, they are more vulnerable. However, I know that, whether you are here or not, I must maintain respect for these traditions in the House.

Now to continue the debate, the hon. member for Gaspé.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Gaspé, QC

Mr. Speaker, please excuse my astonishment. I did not expect to rise so soon in the House on this matter.

Never mind, there is so much to say on the subject, that I would be tempted to say: "Let us get on with this, the party is over". That attitude must have prompted the motion from members opposite.

If I understood my colleagues well, and what members opposite did not understand, our main objection to this bill is the fact that in principle it does not allow us to see what the lobbyists involved are doing.

On my opinion, to avoid making the same errors in the future, it is important that we review such measures. Because this is no small matter. We are talking big money here. Moreover, we are dealing with the future of transportation in Canada, which was really the issue here and which they are trying to make us forget. They want us to casually disregard what has happened.

The biggest surprise, and all my colleague agree on that, is that it was only when the election drew near, or during the last week of the campaign, that the new Prime Minister rushed in to announce that an end would be put to that "bargain".

Now, in Parliament, we are told that we must keep silent and that we will not be told what really happened. We call that writing a blank check. I must admit that I find it hard to live with such an arrangement.

What are we to think of all those things which they are trying to hide from us? The things they hide from us tell a lot about the way political parties are financed. We are talking about lobbyists. The Bloc Quebecois has very strict rules regarding party financing, and we must thank Mr. René Lévesque for that.

We must specify who gives us money, and the maximum allowable amount is $5,000. This, Mr. Speaker, is a good example of transparency. You can see who gives us money and whose interests I represent. People may contribute $5, $10 or $100. There are very few in my riding who can make a contribution of $1,000, and this brings me to another issue: the underdevelopment of regions.

Remote regions like mine do not have the monies or incentives which would allow us to be represented by very articulate lobbyists. They are capable of great things, but we are not on a level playing field in that regard. There is one thing though which the public has understood, and I will get back to this when I discuss the underdevelopment of our regions.

The public has the right to know. During the last election campaign, the Bloc Quebecois had limited funds with those $5 and $10 contributions to which I referred earlier. Nevertheless, with these small amounts, it succeeded in getting almost two thirds of the seats in Quebec: 54 out of 75 to be precise.

Personally, I only spent 60 per cent of the amount allowed to me by the returning officer, and that was enough to defeat two powerful organizations, two old parties. Why is that? It is because I talked to people; I did not try to buy their vote with money. In fact, I could not even afford a single page of advertising in newspapers. But I talked to people and journalists, and the public got my message.

The Liberals now have the opportunity to do exactly what the public expects from them, and that is to tell the people what this is all about. The people have to know what went on with this deal. They have to know why such a thing cannot happen ever again. It is very important.

I also want to talk about the economic underdevelopment of some areas. If the current Liberal government cannot show us how to ensure that, from now on, lobbyists will not be able to continue to influence Canadian development and economic policies in any negative way, how can we benefit from the expertise of these lobbyists? This is a good question, since all the Liberals talked about in the red book and during the election campaign was jobs, jobs, jobs. But when will we be able to work with people who know how to get money from the government to put remote areas residents back to work?

I know that I am digressing, and I will come back to the Pearson issue, but I just want to ask how am I supposed to explain to people in my riding, where unemployment is at 27 per cent and the labour force participation rate stands at 42 per cent, that I gave the government a blank cheque to pass over in silence the millions of dollars that were wasted and the nasty trick we were about to play on the Canadian air transport industry. I will never be able to explain the situation to my voters. However, if the minister or the Cabinet wants to play this little game, maybe they can try to explain the whole situation or send lobbyists to develop the remote areas that are currently underdeveloped. We have the resources, but maybe we are not developing them the right way. But we were never given a chance in the past, since each time we came up with a good idea, as many people from the Gaspe Peninsula have noticed, a funny thing happened and the project was always taken away to the city.

This leads us to believe that lobbyists have a lot of clout and that is not acceptable to us. Also it is difficult to understand that only two groups were involved in that deal as there were only two parties-and some criticized us for this. But there is now a third party, which I would call the voice of the Quebec people, that is the Bloc Quebecois. And we do not want to put up with that kind of things.

I agree with everything the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Jean and Leader of the Opposition said the other day in his speech and I would invite every Canadian to reflect on it. We make so many speeches to try to promote awareness among members on the other side. Although they do not belong to our party, our colleagues in the Opposition must also have something to say against this lobby system, which may be responsible for the increase in poverty and a wider development gap between central Canada and the rural or isolated areas like mine.

How can I make the government think? As an hon. member, the only means I have is the opportunity to express my views in this House. I do not have millions of dollars but I represent a riding as equal and as influential as the others.

During my election campaign, I used to say: "Local problems call for local solutions". If ever the federal government must give up its direct control over Pearson Airport, I would understand, as the hon. member who spoke before me said, that it could be transferred to a municipal airport authority. Torontonians would know how to use such a development tool, such an important link in the transportation system. However, I repeat that, before any decision is made, the government will have to clarify the role of the lobbyists in this issue. Pearson must become a reference case so that never again is such a situation imposed on the Canadian taxpayers, especially not during an election.

Pearson International Airport Agreements ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It being 5.30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

National Sport ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

moved that Bill C-212, an act to recognize hockey as the national sport, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Broadview-Greenwood along with my colleague from Regina-Lumsden and many others who formally seconded this bill. I want to acknowledge my assistant, Bill Syrros, for all of the preparatory work he has done to make this a success today.

I will begin my short speech by quoting Bruce Kidd who said in the book Welcome Home by Stuart McLean: ``Hockey is the Canadian metaphor. The rink is a symbol of this country's vast stretches of water and wilderness, its extremes of climate, the player a symbol of our struggle to civilize such a land. Unsure as we are about who we are, we know at least this about ourselves: We are hockey players and we are hockey fans''.

Those words certainly ring very true these days considering what the national pastime is of Canadians from coast to coast to coast nightly.

I do not suppose there are many of us who do not recall that moment of excitement on a Saturday night when the Montreal Canadiens would take to the ice and that soft maritime chant would fill the room: "Good evening ladies and gentlemen and hockey fans from coast to coast. This is Danny Gallivan at the Forum in Montreal". Then Saturday night would be complete and life would be good.

Probably most of us in this House played hockey and skated even before we could tie our own skates. Many of us will remember those great moments when we first learned how to raise a puck, seeing that puck sailing through the air for the first time. Or maybe it was the first time we were able to complete a good slapshot and heard the sound of that puck bashing into the boards.

It is safe to say that hockey matters to all of us, in Quebec and the rest of Canada. It is part of our culture. It is key to the understanding of Canada. It is the perfect game on the perfect Canadian medium in the perfect Canadian season. We are a northern people and hockey is a northern sport. It is certainly fair to say it is much more than a game in our country.

There are few sportsmen in Canada today who on a wintery Saturday night are not seated waiting for those familiar words: "It's hockey night in Canada". The voice of the late Foster Hewitt was embedded in the minds of many Canadians from the inception of CBC radio and television. That voice united Canada from the Atlantic shores of Newfoundland to Vancouver Island and even northward to the Arctic missions.

It has been estimated that over 650,000 Canadians actually take part in some form of organized hockey.

To quote the late Foster Hewitt: "In our country while hockey is usually played for sheer enjoyment, its outdoor rinks and enclosed arenas are meeting places for youths of all origins where race, culture and creed are forgotten. Stewarts, Kellys, Smiths, Beliveaus, Delvecchios, Mahovlichs, the Ullmans and Howes combine for the glory of the team and in the process, Canada gains in unity and strength".

In this day, sport has become a means by which a nation attains international status and recognition. I believe that hockey is Canada's national game and is the main sports preoccupation of our young people.

It is ultimately woven in our Canadian self-image and our mythology. Paul Henderson set the tone for this image in 1972 with his dramatic goal over Russia. Indeed, hockey is more than a national game for its popularity has spread to at least 20 different countries.

It is time to recognize hockey for its impact on Canada. It is time to thank the volunteers and all the hockey teams in Canada for their contribution in a number of areas such as charity, education, competition and international co-operation.

It gives me a great deal of pleasure to congratulate Canada's championship women's hockey team for capturing its third consecutive world hockey championship in Lake Placid two weeks ago. It is no wonder that women's hockey is the fastest growing sport in Canada.

When we look at whether or not we should identify a certain sport as our national sport, it is important to look at the origin of the sport, its popularity in the country today, the reputation it has abroad and the value of a number of intangibles.

Many historians have tried to figure out where and when hockey was created in Canada. The cities of Halifax, Kingston and Montreal have all boasted that they are the true birthplace of hockey in Canada. I am sure more theories of hockey's birthplace will arise in the future.

I was interested to hear a comment last month by my hon. Liberal colleague representing the riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants who mentioned that his riding represents the birthplace of hockey.

One theory in support of Kingston mentions that an early historian by the name of Mr. Horsey wrote in his diary of 1847: "Most of the soldier boys were quite at home on skates. Shinny was their first delight where 50 or more players on each side would be in the game".

A committee appointed by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to determine the Canadian origin of hockey concluded: "The first hockey was played by the Royal Canadian Rifles, an imperial unit stationed in Halifax and Kingston in 1855. It is quite possible that English troops stationed in Kingston from 1783 to 1855 played hockey, as there was evidence in old papers, letters and legends".

In Montreal authorities emphatically declared their city is the original home of ice hockey. They felt that the first pure hockey game was played in Montreal at Victoria Skating Rink on March 3, 1875.

Perhaps the true cradle of hockey could have been Acropolis Hill in Greece, as there are remnants of a goal, men with hockey sticks in hand, a ball on the ground between curved blades, and an official about to give the starting signal.

Hockey remains the sport of first choice for the majority of Canadian households. It is already looked upon by Canadians as Canada's national sport. This has been proven in the past but most recently by the great outpouring of support and encouragement for Canada's gold medal national junior hockey team, five medals over the last seven years, and the silver medal efforts of our Olympic team in each of the last two Winter Olympic Games. In a recent newspaper article by the Ottawa Citizen it was mentioned that Canadian fans vastly outnumbered Americans as a sea of red aided the Canadian women's hockey team to a third consecutive world championship in Lake Placid, New York.

A national sport would promote national interest in times of national competition. Hockey is governed by a national organization and millions of fans follow it. National radio and television spend a great deal of money to broadcast hockey games. There is an organized hockey event in virtually every Canadian community, be it a large city or a humble village.

I received a letter of support for this motion from the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. Its membership includes an active volunteer force in excess of 100,000 Canadians and upward of 500,000 on-ice participants.

Canada is recognized worldwide as the nation where the great sport originated. It is unquestionably looked upon as the foremost leader playing a vital role in the evolution of hockey worldwide. By the most recent estimates it extends now to not 20 but actually 51 countries that make up the membership of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

There is nothing more identifiably Canadian to the rest of the world than our game of hockey. Canadian Amateur Hockey Association teams at all levels of play compete regularly and successfully in international tournaments and championships around the world.

In each season the Canadian Hockey Association transfers almost 600 accomplished Canadian players to hockey-playing countries where they assist in the growth of this sport overseas in various emerging federations. All of these players are outstanding ambassadors for our country and our game. They help to sell Canada, its wholesome values and its healthy lifestyles.

In discussing hockey we can never forget the economic impact it has on Canada. A cursory glance indicates that tens of thousands of Canadians are employed directly or indirectly as a result of the game of hockey.

In 1992 Statistics Canada completed a family expenditure survey which concluded that Canadians spent approximately $400 million annually on hockey. This does not include club dues, ice time, travelling expenses or other numerous expenses relating to participation in hockey competition.

Again I cannot mention enough the appreciation for the millions of hours that volunteers contribute to ensure the success of tournaments and the education of youth in this sport.

Women's hockey is the fastest growing women's sport played in Canada today. In the past few years the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association has estimated the number of women participating in minor hockey at approximately 13,000 and that is being very modest. This has grown from the 6,000 recorded in the 1991-92 season. This upsurge has a lot to do with the success of officially sanctioned world championship events.

Women are actively challenging for positions on professional teams throughout Canada and the United States. The success of Canadian Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play hockey in the National Hockey League, also has a lot to do with the surge of female participation in hockey.

Brampton, Ontario hosts a women's hockey tournament every year that attracts over 250 teams, including international teams from countries such as Russia and Finland.

I could go on about how hockey supports charity organizations of all sorts throughout our country. I could talk about the impact of the international Hockey Hall of Fame located in the great city of Toronto. I could talk about the impact hockey has on my hometown of Kamloops where we enthusiastically support the Kamloops Blazers. I wish them well in their competition with our friends from Saskatoon. I could go on but I want to step down to allow ample time for a number of members who have indicated an interest in participating in this debate.

I simply want to say the time has come and the timing is perfect. We are right in the middle of hockey enthusiasm and excitement in this country. It would be a great gesture of this Parliament to agree to declare hockey our national sport. I think Canadians would welcome and applaud that from coast to coast to coast.

National Sport ActPrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Mississauga East Ontario


Albina Guarnieri LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, during the last election campaign there was much rhetoric about how there should be more co-operation in Parliament and how MPs should actually work together to achieve objectives common to all.

We have the opportunity today to prove that co-operation works.

In an effort to include a Canadian sporting tradition that predates Confederation, I have asked the member for Kamloops to support the amendment of his private member's bill to recognize both ice hockey and lacrosse as national sports of Canada.

While many Canadians would certainly view the national sports status of ice hockey as a natural expression of the Canadian reality, the concept has been on ice for decades. Canadians have long recognized the significance of another sport which also originated in Canada and which is played all over the world today.

Our proposed amendment would allow for the inclusion of Canada's long tradition in the sport of lacrosse and would resolve an issue that has been left on the bench since Confederation.

In January 1967 Prime Minister Lester Pearson, a devotee of sports and honorary chair of the Canadian Lacrosse Association, said in this House: "I think we should have a national summer game and a national winter game".

Twenty-seven years later members of this Parliament had the chance to convert a pass from Pearson and remind ourselves of some unique aspects of Canadian culture.

As Americans remember where they were when Neil Armstrong took a great leap for mankind, Canadians remember what they were doing when Paul Henderson sent Canadians to the moon when he scored the winning goal for Canada in 1972.

Canadians can be proud when hockey is played at the Olympic Games in Norway or when the lacrosse championship is held in the United Kingdom.

Not only are Canadians a dominant force in both sports but we have been on top for more than a century. Both these sports are just as symbolic of Canada as the maple leaf or the Bluenose .

Ice hockey as it is played today originated in Canada in 1855, on Christmas Day, when the Royal Canadian Rifles based in Kingston, Ontario decided to remove the snow covering the ice in the harbour. They then attached blades to their boots and started playing with field hockey sticks and a lacrosse ball which they had borrowed.

In the early 1800s the Algonquin Indian tribe of the St. Lawrence Valley in Canada played a sport that is known as lacrosse, the sport that was an important element in the life and culture of First Nations. Today it is just as important in the lives of Canadians of all backgrounds.


Throughout Canadian history, we have had every reason to be proud of our athletes who participate in all kinds of sports.

Our nation's athletes have inspired great pride in Canadians by their world class performance in so many different sports: curling, synchronized swimming, canoeing, rugby, diving, track and field, skiing, skating and biathlon, to name a few. Today we salute Canadian achievement in all sports.

Recognizing that sports are an important element of our culture, I think it is essential that we take responsibility for the future of sports in Canada.

As one of the partners involved in the development of sport, the Government of Canada has a very legitimate and essential role to play in that future. We must focus on building a stronger recognition of sport as an important contributor to the Canadian cultural identity.

Douglas Fisher once said: "Most of our shared experiences and values from Bonavista to Vancouver Island are through politics and sport. We would be a much duller lot without our sporting heritage and sporting present". In short, we must make sure that our athletes are always playing at full strength.

This is one occasion when Parliament should not take one game at a time. Mr. Speaker, I think you will find that there is unanimous consent for this motion. I move:

That Bill C-212 be modified in clause 2 by deleting all the words following "national" and replacing them with the following:

winter sport of Canada and the game commonly known as lacrosse is hereby recognized and declared to be the national summer sport of Canada;

That the title and short title also be amended to include the word "lacrosse"; and

That, at the conclusion of the time provided for Private Members' Business later this day, all questions necessary to dispose of Bill C-212 at all stages be deemed to have been proposed, put and carried, and the bill passed.

National Sport ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is there a point of order? The hon. member for Bellechasse.

National Sport ActPrivate Members' Business

April 27th, 1994 / 5:50 p.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, about the relevancy of the amendment. I respectfully suggest that this amendment should be submitted during consideration by the committee of the whole House, if there is to be a committee of the whole House on this bill, and not at the second reading stage.

National Sport ActPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I thank the hon. member for Bellechasse for his remarks. I will consult with the table officers and I will get back to the House at once, on this matter.

The parliamentary secretary is asking for unanimous consent. If the House gives its unanimous consent, it would be acceptable to proceed in this manner at this stage.

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?