House of Commons Hansard #89 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was patriotes.


Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.


John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, at second reading of this bill the member opposite who followed me said that he was surprised that there was not unanimous consent for the bill. At the time I was not surprised at his comment because it seemed to me that the government solution for dealing with this crisis has simply been to throw more money at the problem. It has not dealt with the core of the problem which is fewer opportunities or lack of opportunities and alternate employment in eastern Canada. That really is the core of the problem.

The solution that the government has proposed simply creates a dependency rather than independence among people in eastern Canada. It destroys families rather than saving them. It does not address the needs of Atlantic Canadians in so far as it is a band-aid for a gaping wound. What is needed in Atlantic Canada are jobs, jobs, jobs. Economic diversification is the only way to answer that need.

The government solution it seems has been to create a need for early retirement. That early retirement package has many things wrong with it. It is destructive to the social fabric. We are saying to unemployed workers in eastern Canada: "Here is $750 or $1,000 a month. Take the money, go away and don't bother us". It is saying that you as the breadwinner for your family will not be able to provide so the government will provide. The children who are left at home view their father or their mother, the wage earner, simply as someone who goes to the post office once a month to pick up the cheque, not as someone who is contributing. That is not helpful to the family and it is not helpful to us as a nation to create that sort of dependency in one region of the country.

Another problem that the government does not seem to be able to face is the problem that it must in fact encourage development in Atlantic Canada. I find very curious for example the spending of millions of dollars to keep the port of Montreal open year round in an attempt to make it a year-round port when in fact we have year-round ports in eastern Canada in Halifax and Saint John which could do very well with the business.

We have rail lines that are withering in eastern Canada because there is a lack of use, yet those rail lines and the employment that goes with them could be part of the resurgence of the economy of eastern Canada. Somehow we got it mixed up and think that we have to spend this money to keep one port open while at least two others die. All that does is add to the cost, adds to the tax burden and makes it much more difficult for businessmen across this nation to stay in business.

At second reading I raised the issue of a need for clear legislative authority for all parts of the TAGS program. I appreciate that the auditor general and the public accounts committee have already given some consideration to those parts of TAGS coming under the authority of the Department of

Human Resources Development. Bill C-30 responds to one of the recommendations of the Auditor General in his last report to Parliament when he considered the previous Atlantic groundfish strategy:

"The government implemented a program for which in our view no clear satisfactory authority had existed. At no time did it go to Parliament to seek proper substantive authority for its actions. Parliament was thereby denied the proper opportunity to review and debate the government's proposed program as part of the normal legislative process, to decide on its objectives and to approve expenditures to achieve those objectives".

The auditor general wisely went on to caution that if action were not taken the same thing might happen with a successor program: "The government should present to Parliament legislation that will provide the proper authority for this program and any future program of a similar nature".

The minister of human resources is to be congratulated for the introduction of Bill C-30 as was recommended by the auditor general, but where is the rest of the TAGS legislation? Bill C-30 is a minor bit of housekeeping legislation. It does not give the opportunity to debate the program's objectives.

Again on third reading I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lay before Parliament a bill to provide legislative authority for those parts of TAGS that DFO is delivering. DFO will be attempting to retire fishermen, their licences and to create industrial renewal boards.

This part of the TAGS program or what some call Tobin's Atlantic groundfish strategy is without legislative authority. I call on the government to bring in the remainder of the required legislative authority.

We are told that the minister intends to use the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring Act as his authority. The Auditor General has already ruled that the Atlantic Groundfish Restructuring Act is not adequate legislative authority. That act, the Auditor General noted, was passed in the mid-1980s to permit the then Liberal fisheries ministers to implement the Kirby commission's recommendations.

It is worth remembering that the Kirby report and the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring Act were founded on the expectation of a doubling of the groundfish harvest. The Kirby report saw the problem of the fishery as one of finding ways to market the growing supply of fish, the oversupply and not the lack of fish.

The Tobin strategy expects to reduce the capacity by 50 per cent. The underlying assumptions of TAGS and the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring Act are incompatible. The Kirby report said that one of the bright spots in the fishery was: "The outlook for the harvest is that by 1987 the cod catch should be more than triple the 1976 harvest. The total groundfish catch will have more than doubled".

The act expanded the catch potential and the fish were caught. Now there are none. Liberal governments and their bureaucratic advisers somehow have changed very little in the intervening years. Let us be done with any talk of using the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring Act to deliver any part of TAGS.

Again, I call on the government to bring into this House a comprehensive bill that would outline its objectives and that would give it the necessary authority to carry out the needed changes to the Atlantic groundfish fishery.

Earlier this month when the public accounts committee was again considering the auditor general's report on the previous Atlantic groundfish strategy, the chair of the fisheries committee, sitting as a member of the public accounts committee, allowed that the previous Parliament and in particular the Liberal opposition had acquiesced and never demanded legislation.

He equated the failure of the opposition Liberals to speak up as a kind of parliamentary approval by the opposition of what the government of the day was doing. He said: "I was a member of the opposition when this program came in and I do not recall anybody on my side saying that they have usurped the authority of Parliament. We did not raise those alarms. The reality is that by our lack of action, we agreed".

It seems the Liberals, whether in government or in opposition, have the same respect for the need of parliamentary legislative authority for these Atlantic groundfish strategies, a need that the Auditor General has already addressed. Let it not be said in some future Parliament that no one in the opposition in this Parliament failed to request legislation.

Dwindling stocks caused in part by a failure to manage the fishery created the need for TAGS, turning a blind eye to and even promoting overfishing by Canadians within the 200 mile limit and by foreigners outside it. It is sadly appropriate that the overfishing that followed the Kirby report and the Atlantic Fisheries Restructuring Act must be addressed by another set of Liberal ministers.

Today's Liberal ministers are better at shooting missiles over the horizon at so-called pirate boats from third world nations than maintaining effective surveillance and enforcement programs within our 200-mile limit.

When the government is spending some $2 billion on TAGS due to this failure to manage and protect the fish stock we have the minister of fisheries and the chairman of the fisheries committee rallying to protect recent government misadventures with the fisheries observer program in the Scotia-Fundy region.

In the letting of the observer contract earlier this year for the Scotia-Fundy region, fisheries officials in Halifax did not even follow the basic rules of tendering. The tender requirements were manipulated to give the contract to a company that had no experience with foreign vessels in the offshore.

The winning company has been allowed to use observers without the necessary experience on certification, all that the tender documents required. There has already been overfishing as a result. There have been published reports in sector 3-O of vessels without observers that were catching undersized fish and dumping the unwanted fish at sea.

There have been problems with the Cuban vessels in the silver hake fishery, vessels that by law must have certified observers. The Cubans have fished in Canadian waters this year without experienced observers on board as a result of the new contract.

This makes a mockery of what TAGS is all about. Again, I pick up on the words of the chairman of the fisheries committee recently when he was at public accounts: "This opposition member does not intend to acquiesce to the demands of government on the observer contract". A mistake was made and I call on the government in the name of fisheries protection to act. The fisheries committee has studied the letting of the observer contract and has undertaken to prepare a report for the minister outlining the inadequacies in the letting of that contract and the problems caused as a result.

The report prepared by the fisheries committee and given to me last Wednesday by the committee clerk speaks volumes in the priority this government places on fisheries protection. The report rather than censuring officials for the letting of the contract called on the government to make the observers into public servants.

The fundamental problem given in testimony before the committee was a seriously flawed tendering process. Rather than dealing with this flawed tendering process and the contract brought into existence, the chairman's report unfortunately states that members of Parliament were obliged to accept the opposed view that everything was completely above board and goes on to state: "we appear to have little choice but to accept this interpretation at least in the narrow legalistic sense".

Nowhere were the flaws of the tendering processed outlined. The committee never did receive the legal opinion it requested from the minister even though the minister made an undertaking to give it to committee.

Why would the chairman state that DFO's testimony was plagued by confusing and contradictory statements and that they were not convincing, yet find the committee had little choice but to accept the contract as awarded?

Two of the bidders acted on the best information available on past practice and on the tender documents. Unfortunately the requirements for certified and experienced observers were not followed in the award of the contract nor were the time line requirements for the submission of lists of qualified observers.

If the winning bidder does not have to follow the basic requirements of the request for proposal in bid set up dates from DSS the award of the contract is fundamentally flawed. Not surprisingly, we have inexperienced observers now at sea as a result of this contract award.

The report does not address the real problems. The requirements of the request for proposal and bid set up dates were not followed. They were intentionally ignored so as to break the observers union. The company most likely to continue to engage in unionized observers was treated the most harshly in the tender evaluation. The president and general manager of the winning company has refused to meet with the president of the observers union. In a published letter he states: "We see no use in meeting with you at this time. Simply put Mr. Siddall, I do not trust you and you are too late. I will not stand idly by as the Minister of Fisheries and his officials engage in thinly disguised union busting actions against a small independent union". I will not as a member of the fisheries committee participate in the whitewash of this action.

The chairman's recommendations reflect either an attempt to cover up the problem or a failure to understand it. One bid set up date placed in evidence before the committee indicated when the list of 30 certified observers was to be submitted DFO chose a later date. The department did not require the winning bidder to submit the list of 30 names to beat the basic certification and experience required in the tender documents.

Testimony before a committee of DFO officials acknowledged that a substantial number from the list by Biorex had to be retested before they could be certified in any region. The reasoning behind the requirement to submit a list of 30 certified and experienced observers by April 5 was to have the winning bidder use the bulk of existing Scotia-Fundy certified observers, thereby guaranteeing continuity and experience in the program. When these basic requirements were ignored the process largely broke down. We ended up with the bulk of the observers not having the requisite experience and certification.

The tender process, the Scotia-Fundy observer program and the government's ability to protect our fish stocks were compromised. The strength of the observer program is in the knowledge and experience of its members. A recent fisheries journal article on the American observer program makes the same finding:

About half of the first time observers never repeat a trip- Much of the data collected by first time observers is error ridden and takes weeks to correct on their return. Some of it is unusable. But as observers gain experience they evolve into professional field technicians who know fish and the way around a deck.

I would ask that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans take swift action to ensure that experienced observers are at sea in the Scotia-Fundy, observers who are employed by a contractor who has received the contract by following the rules, the rules that everyone else was required to play by.

I am concerned for not only the Scotia-Fundy observers, the fundamental element in the observer program, experienced observers who have been tossed aside because they happen to belong to a small, independent union, but also for the observer program itself, which is Canada's first line of defence against foreign overfishing and probably the cheapest and most accurate source of abundant, scientific data available.

I would recommend the minister strengthen enforcement and enhance coverage levels to effectively conserve fish stocks so we may never need another TAGS program. In speaking to second reading of this bill, I noted that we on this side of the House envision an east coast fishery that is viable, self-sufficient and sustainable.

We believe that the fishery can and should be a cornerstone of a more diversified economy in Atlantic Canada. We are confident that Atlantic Canadians can compete in a world economy. The government would have Atlantic Canadians living dependent on government handouts in a constant state of instability.

It is a desire of reform members to encourage the implementation of a comprehensive program of change which would see the people of Atlantic Canada not only working but working in an environment that is both profitable and satisfying.

I wish that we had seen the last of this type of program, the type of program we are debating today. Unfortunately I fear for the worst. I think we all want to see a more prosperous Atlantic Canada. If the government would introduce a comprehensive bill which would deal with the restructuring of the economy of Atlantic Canada rather than the band-aid solution it has provided to date, we would all do better.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I would like to talk about the government's response to one of the most important challenges facing the Canadian government at the present time. I am referring specifically to the unemployment crisis in eastern Canada.

Bill C-30 is an attempt to deal with this crisis. In every respect this piece of legislation falls terribly short of this goal. At the present time there are 192,000 unemployed in the four eastern provinces.

Provincial unemployment rates range from 13 per cent to 21 per cent. Obviously measures should be introduced to ensure the long term viability of the most economically depressed regions of Canada. The question remains why does the government continue to pursue this course of action?

It was mismanagement of fishery resources by past governments which resulted in the economic crisis that Atlantic Canadians are paying for today. Many of the people affected by this crisis have worked at plants for their entire careers. They were capable enough to hold these jobs.

Now, thanks to government short sightedness and poor management, they have seen their source of income all but disappear. However, the solution proposed by Bill C-30 is in my opinion just as short sighted and poorly managed. This program proposes to reduce the technical level of unemployment in Atlantic Canada, not by strengthening the economy or promoting job creation but by encouraging people to drop out of the workforce.

Is this the government's agenda for reducing unemployment? The Reform Party would prefer to see a vigorous plan for the revitalization of Atlantic Canada. Perhaps this is what we should be debating here today. An interesting aspect of this program is the way in which it will be administered.

The government plans to purchase annuities for each of the affected individuals. As most members present will know, an annuity is created when you invest in an asset which will provide you with a future stream of earnings. In this case the government asset will be in the form of a bond.

Like most Canadians the Reform Party prefers to consider the individual as the asset. An individual invests in himself through training, whether it be formal schooling, on the job training or years of experience. The return comes in the form of a stream of pay cheques from a job, not government handouts. In addition, when we invest in ourselves we gain a sense of achievement and self-worth. We gain it from earning the money that we receive and converting our effort into tangible goods and services for ourselves and for our families.

This program provides neither a sense of achievement nor the satisfaction of accomplishment for those it is supposed to help. The long term impact of this decision is to create a cycle of dependency for the very recipients it is supposed to help. The workers being targeted by this program are in a period of their lives when planning for their retirement is most crucial. The recipients are to be between the ages of 50 and 65. At this age the children of many of these parents are leaving home, relieving

their parents of financial obligations. Individuals in this age bracket are typically earning the highest income of their lives.

The obvious impact of higher earnings combined with reduced expenses is increased savings. People between the ages of 50 and 65 contribute to RRSPs and pay down their mortgages. In addition, higher income earners pay higher Canada pension plan rates whic

According to the most recent taxation statistics available, Canadians between the ages of 50 and 64 contribute $23.49 more than the average tax filer to CPP; $113.25 more to registered pension plans and $571.06 more to RRSPs. What this means is that Canadians between the ages of 50 and 65 contribute over $700 more per year toward their retirement, or 54 per cent more than the average taxpayer.

By removing these able bodied individuals from the workforce the government is sentencing these Canadians to a subsistence living made up of this annuity and welfare for the next few years. This will offer these Canadians only a subsistence living in their post-65 retirement years, comprised of guaranteed income supplement and old age security program payments. These people are going to be tomorrow's poor seniors and the government is doing nothing which would prevent this.

We have to ask what can be done to bring about economic prosperity for regionally depressed areas of Atlantic Canada. There are numerous measures the government could take to achieve this. One such measure is a plan for real deficit reduction and tax relief for Canadians. Eliminate marginal or useless government spending. Put money back into the hands of Canadians by not taking it out of their hands in the first place.

In many of the poorer provinces we have seen how a government downturn leads to more government spending and then to increased taxation which saps income from the very people it was intended to assist.

A second measure would be improving the access of Atlantic Canada to the lucrative eastern U.S. market. Canada's economy has always been dependent on trade, and the areas of Canada which have flourished economically have done so as the result of strong links to our trading partners.

A third measure would be a plan for proper management of Atlantic Canada's resources. This would not only include better management of Canada's fishery but better management of human resources. This would ensure that 15 years from now we are not telling another generation of Canadians that its skills are obsolete.

I am not advocating increased government intervention. On the contrary. It was government bureaucracy that was responsible for much of this problem in the first place and government money is not going to bring back fishery jobs.

However, the government can encourage young Canadians to choose their career paths wisely, assist people in identifying emerging industries in Canada and can help to ensure that Atlantic Canada is prepared to take advantage of future opportunities.

In conclusion, I will not be opposing this bill because it provides laid off fisheries workers with a subsistence living when their unemployment insurance expires. Who could wish to add to the hardship they are already experiencing? Certainly not I and certainly not my Reform colleagues.

However, I will oppose this bill because it fails to provide a path to the long term economic recovery of Atlantic Canada. Bill C-30 fails to provide financial independence to the fish plant workers who have devoted their careers to a traditional industry and wish to continue to earn a living. What these Canadians need is a tool to earn that living.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I listened to the comments of the hon. member from the Reform Party today. If he had spent very much time along those fishing coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, along the shores of Cape Breton Island and throughout Nova Scotia he would see and perhaps have a little more empathy for the dire straits these people find themselves in.

I would ask the hon. member at this time if he so opposes this bill what suggestions might he have to solve this immediate crisis and to have some impact as we take direction for the long term future of these people who have known nothing but the history of the sea, fishing, for over 200 years.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, the difficulty with this bill is it comes in the midst of a lot of nothing. We have had years of the government ignoring the difficulties that the fisheries on the east coast have been experiencing. There is no insight into this bill at all about the long term solution. This is another band-aid being applied, a band-aid which will simply forestall the long term planning that is required.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Madam Speaker, listening to my hon. friend, it is a bit like saying that since we do not have a cure for cancer we will not take any steps to bring you some peace of mind and some effort to resolve your problems in the short run.

While I will be the first to say that this legislation is not the long term solution to the economic plight faced by those people living in Atlantic Canada and on the short end of the stick regarding the collapse of the cod fishery, to say that we should do nothing, to say that we should simply turn our backs on these people and let them fend for themselves at this point is not a Canadian way to respond. Canadians by definition are people with compassion who go out of their way to assist their citizens in troubled times in other parts of the country.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

An hon. member

The Canadian way is not to drive people into the poor house.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

My friends in the Reform Party say that since this is not a perfect solution and it does not have the long term implications economically for Atlantic Canada we are going to cut these tens of thousands of people adrift and simply turn our backs on these people who have lost their livelihoods. That is highly irresponsible.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

An hon. member

Bring in a bill that brings long term as well as short term.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

My hon. friend from the Reform Party says bring in a bill that brings long term. The point is what do you do to those tens of thousands of men and women who today are facing a hopeless situation economically because of the collapse of the cod fishery? Through no fault of their own they find themselves in this position. The Reform Party says cut them loose, turn your backs on these people and ignore their plight. I say that is not the right step to take. That is not the appropriate-

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Department Of Labour ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member will of course have the floor resuming debate after the question period.

It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5) the House will now proceed to Statements by Members pursuant to Standing Order 31.

HighwaysStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of the House the need for an upgraded national highway network. I encourage the government to consider a dedicated fuel tax as one way to cover the federal share of upgrading critical parts of our national highway system.

A safe and efficient highway is key to our national economic health and international competitiveness. The absence of such a system is deterring our economic growth, our competitiveness and our recovery from the recession.

Starting construction now will create more jobs, enhancing employment opportunities created by the launch of our international infrastructure program. It would also provide a very real and long term benefit to Canada's highway infrastructure. Upgrading the national highway system would also lead to considerable financial savings to various sectors of our economy.

Finally a commitment by the government to upgrade Canada's highway system would demonstrate a determination by both national and provincial governments to work for the benefit of Canadians from all regions and sectors.

Governor In Council AppointmentsStatements By Members

June 20th, 1994 / 1:55 p.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, as you will remember, during the last election campaign, the Prime Minister often said that he wanted to put an end to Conservative cronyism in the federal administration. In fact, this is one of the promises made in the red book.

Yet, the daily Le Droit says that a review of 25 order in council appointments for high level and top jobs within the federal administration since last fall shows that only three francophones were appointed. The majority of those positions are held by Ontarians.

The Liberals have indeed fulfilled one of their promises: They have replaced Conservative cronyism with a new Liberal version.

I want to remind the Prime Minister that order in council appointments should reflect the structure of the Canadian population as a whole, and not just favour members and friends of the Liberal Party.

In the Canada that he envisions, more and more room will be made for one group and less and less for another.

British Columbia Summer GamesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 1994 British Columbia Summer Games will be held right in the heart of the beautiful Okanagan Valley in Kelowna from July 21 to July 24.

Over 4,200 of the best amateur athletes, more than double the number at Lillehammer, Norway, for the Olympics, from all over British Columbia will be competing in more than 30 different sporting events.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the many hundreds of volunteers that have helped already and will continue to help make this event the largest single community event ever held in Kelowna.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite you and all the members of the House, as well as all other Canadians, to come to Kelowna and witness the athletes in action and enjoy a holiday in the spectacularly beautiful Okanagan Valley.

Again my thanks to all those involved in getting Kelowna ready to host the province. Let the games begin.

Parliamentary PagesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members of the House will join me today in thanking an extraordinary group of young men and women, the parliamentary pages.

Often we come into the Chamber in a rush, preoccupied with our busy agendas, but we are always greeted with friendly smiles and cheerful attitudes. It may at times seem we take them for granted, but I wanted to let them know that we appreciate very much the work and assistance they give us while we are in the House. Without them our jobs would be much more difficult.

A couple of days ago I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the pages outside the Chamber. They were charming, intelligent and very much eager to learn about not only the political system but about myself and the people and riding I represent. Their dedication and enthusiasm needs to be greatly commended.

I want to say that the parents and families of the pages can truly be very proud of them and their achievements. I hope their experience here, although somewhat shorter than hoped, was enjoyable. I wish them well in their future lives and careers. I hope the next time they are in Ottawa they will stop in to visit us.

HolidaysStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, two major holidays are coming soon in Canada. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, on June 24, which was first celebrated in Montreal in the 1800s, is the national holiday for francophones across the country, including of course Quebecers.

Then there is Canada Day, on July 1, which is celebrated by all Canadians across the country.

Canada Day will be celebrated from coast to coast to coast.

These two major holidays are opportunities to celebrate with friends what unites us and makes this country one of the best in the world.

It is a wonderful opportunity for all of us as Canadians to celebrate these two great events within the next few days.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the summer recess I cannot help but comment on how proud I am of the work we have accomplished in the eight months that have passed since we were elected.

We are keeping the promise of creating opportunity and hope for Canadians by addressing their needs first and bringing integrity back to public service. Indeed we have all faced many challenges in the Chamber since the House of Commons convened on January 17. However the challenges faced by my colleagues and I in the Chamber pale in comparison to the challenges you have faced in your inaugural session as Speaker of this place.

On occasion the emotion and anxiety displayed in the Chamber have threatened to disrupt the good work of the House of Commons, but you have managed to quench the flames of fiery debate without diminishing its substance. Mr. Speaker, to you and to all my colleagues in the House, have a safe and happy summer with family, friends and constituents.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I was going to cut him off, but I thought I would let him go on.

North KoreaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, it was a relief and very satisfying to hear the encouraging news brought back by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter from his trip to the Korean peninsula.

It seems that his efforts to defuse the situation created by the nuclear crisis involving North Korea were successful, since Pyongyang has agreed to freeze its nuclear program and will allow international inspectors to enter the country. A third round of discussions on the nuclear controversy between Washington and Pyongyang may very well be resumed through diplomatic channels.

We can only applaud this breakthrough created by the former U.S. president, who felt that the crisis seemed to be over. It will no longer be necessary for the UN Security Council to adopt strict sanctions against North Korea, if Pyongyang abides by the agreement obtained by Mr. Carter.

The Official Opposition would like to congratulate the former president on this valuable contribution to the cause of peace, in a tense situation that was deteriorating rapidly.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, both the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General have indicated that they believe the criminal justice system is working well and requires only minor changes.

Members of the government and the media have referred to a recent Statistics Canada poll that indicated the level of crime had not increased over the past five years. However nobody in the government or in the media seems horrified that the poll also showed that one out of every four Canadians is a victim of crime every year.

It is because of this fact that so many Canadians are afraid to walk the streets. It is because of this fact that so many Canadians have their homes and cars wired with alarms. It is because of this fact that our insurance rates and deductibles are going up every year.

If the criminal justice system is indeed working, why are there so many examples of it having gone wrong? Unfortunately flaws in the criminal justice system are all too often fatal flaws.

Canadians do not agree with the ministers. They believe the justice system is crumbling and they are demanding change.

Medals Of BraveryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Russell Snudden and Jason David Srigley, two constituents from my riding of Victoria-Haliburton who received the medal of bravery at a ceremony at Rideau Hall with the Governor General on Friday, June 17.

Both men received the medal for risking their lives attempting to save three people from a burning house in Pontypool, Ontario, on April 27, 1993.

They are volunteer firemen and during that cool spring evening they searched a living room that was completely engulfed in flames. The heat was so intense that their equipment started to melt. These gentlemen are true Canadian heroes who have risked their lives to save others. I ask all members to applaud their heroic act.

Occupational Health And Safety WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to acknowledge that this week is Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Week.

Having worked with injured workers in Ontario for many years, I know of the hardship and suffering caused by workplace

injuries. The sad reality is that every 12 working hours of the year one Canadian worker is killed on the job.

In 1992, 714 workers died in the course of their duties; over 864,000 workers were injured; and more than 19 million working days were lost. This is not only a terrible human waste; it is also an economic waste. When we add up the direct and indirect costs of workplace accidents over $10 billion are wasted annually.

During Occupational Health and Safety Week one message to Canadians will be that increased training, education and information are needed to combat this problem. Another message is that occupational health and safety are directly related to the economic health of Canadian business.

I urge all members of the House to join with business and with labour in ending this tragic and unnecessary waste of human and economic resources.

Folk ArtsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, last month St. Catharines celebrated its 26th Annual Folk Arts Festival.

Some 35 local ethnic organizations participated in the festivities held in the last two weeks of May. The folk arts festival welcomes visitors to see the world from its doorstep. Indeed the organizations that participated in the festival's activities brought the food, the culture and the multitude of ethnic festivities and activities from around the world to the city of St. Catharines.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers of the folk arts festival, the president, Ann Stavina, and all those who participated. Their tireless efforts ensured the success of the festival this year.

Interest RatesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for a number of days the Liberal government has tried in every possible way to divert attention from the real causes that are helping to maintain interest rates at high levels. Government voices keep blaming the uncertainty caused by the question of Quebec's sovereignty. Why was Canada's and not Quebec's credit rating for Canadian debt in foreign currency downgraded by Moody's?

The facts are all there. Canada's finances are in poor shape mainly because of the incompetence of the present government, which did not have the nerve to bring down a budget that generates confidence among foreign investors. Let the federal

government act responsibly, for a change, when handling the financial and economic affairs of this country.

Forest IndustryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the 1993 forest industry in B.C. report Price Waterhouse advised that after several years of losses the British Columbia forest industry earned a profit of $520 million on sales of $14.3 billion and 215 million trees were planted in addition to the 275,000 hectares of land reclassified to satisfactorily restocked.

The forest industry in British Columbia directly and indirectly employs over a quarter of a million people, some 18 per cent of B.C.'s workforce. Across Canada the industry is the mainstay of 346 communities including 116 in British Columbia. Of the 116 several are in my own riding of Cariboo-Chilcotin.

As we enter the 21st century we need Canada to remain a world leader in forestry. This will not happen unless governments and the public take pride in what Canada does best by offering support to forestry workers as well as taking the benefits of what they provide.

Forestry is the main industry in the country. Let us salute all who work in the forest industry providing jobs and financial stability to small-