House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.


The House proceeded to the consideration of amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-18, an act to suspend the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

I move:

That the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-18, an act to suspend the operation of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, be concurred in with the exception of amendment 1 in clause 2 to which this House proposes the following amendment:

Strike out "the sixth day of February" and substitute "June 22".

And that a Message be sent to the Senate to acquaint Their Honours therewith.

Madam Speaker, in proposing the motion I wish to take the opportunity to reaffirm the government's intention and desire to have in place an impartial readjustment of electoral boundaries based on the 1991 census for any election to be held at the end of a normal life of a Parliament with a majority government. I am speaking of an election in 1997 or 1998.

We think the original timetable proposed in Bill C-18 would have permitted this to happen. Bill C-18 proposed a two-year suspension of the process while the entire process was itself being reviewed by a parliamentary committee. We did not consider this to be a minimum time for such a review but a maximum time setting an outside limit for completing the review and passing the necessary legislation.

By order of the House, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has been instructed to bring in legislation to update this process, with an ultimate deadline for a report for this purpose of December 16, 1994. This is the date when the House is scheduled to begin its winter adjournment which, under the rules of the House, ends on February 6, 1995.

It would be only after that date that the rest of the legislative process on any bill would be undertaken. I am speaking of a further committee stage, report stage and third reading in the House. Then there would have to be consideration in the Senate.

It was our opinion, given the always unpredictable nature of demands on parliamentary time, that a two-year timetable for new legislation was not unreasonable even though, as I said, we regarded this not as a minimum but a maximum time.

It has since become clear, however, that there is some considerable concern in parts of the country that this maximum would become a minimum and therefore that the provision for a two-year suspension appeared to make it impossible for an election in 1997 or 1998 to be held on the basis of new boundaries.

The amendments proposed by the Senate do attempt to address this concern. The amendments in effect would provide that the suspension of the process would last only until February 6, 1995, and if no change to the process were legislated by that date the existing process would automatically be resumed where it left off.

It is the government's intention to reassure the public of our desire that a general election taking place at the end of the normal term of the present Parliament be held on the basis of the 1991 census. Therefore we are prepared to accept the Senate formulation except on one point, and that is we do not view the date of February 6, 1995 as being appropriate or realistic.

As I have said, this date does not recognize the timetable already ordered by the House for the preparation of new legislation on this matter. It does not recognize the provisions of the rules of the House for an adjournment between December 16, 1994 and February 6, 1995. It represents, it could be said, an inappropriate involvement by the Senate in the right of the House of Commons to set its own agenda. After all, the House ordered on April 19 that a committee prepare legislation no later than December 16 of this year, the date on which as I have said under the rules of the House we will be adjourning until February 6.

It must be emphasized that it is already the stated intention of the House of Commons, expressed by its order, not just the intention of the government, to have the procedure committee bring in legislation to reform and update the process of redistribution.

There are many areas the committee will likely want to consider. Some have been raised already when the bill was before the House at earlier stages of debate. I am sure they will be discussed again in detail in the committee hearings and when the committee reports. However today I do not intend to anticipate what may be in the report or presume to suggest what the committee may have in the report in question.

I intend to conclude by saying that the government concurs in the Senate amendments but asks for one amendment to them, that is that the legislation have a more realistic timetable in it for the completion of the review, a June 22, 1995 date rather than a February 6, 1995 date.

Therefore the government asks the House to accept the Senate amendments subject to the amendment I have put forward to create a more realistic timetable.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:10 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, we find ourselves in a rather unique situation this morning. Only a few months ago, the government introduced a bill in this House to delay the electoral boundaries adjustment process. Bill C-18 called for a two-year postponement of the boundaries review process and for the dismantling of commissions responsible for travelling across Canada to hear the views of citizens about the redrawing of their riding's boundaries.

The arguments which were put forward by government representatives, by Liberal Party members, and which were supported by the official opposition were based on two points: first, since the members of the 35th Parliament were elected on October 25, 1993, the next elections would not, in all likelihood, be held until sometime in 1997 or 1998.

Therefore, there was no rush to redraw electoral boundaries. During the debate, the government said it could take all the time it needed to ensure that certain criteria were taken into account during this process, criteria such as the number of voters, of course, and also attachment to a particular region. Therefore, let me say again that the government, supported by the official opposition, agreed to vote in favour of this bill to postpone the process for the next two years.

A few weeks later, the leader of the Conservative Party and the hon. member for Sherbrooke, a great democrat if ever there was one, joined forces with the Conservative majority in the Senate and together, they decided to take on the mantle of defenders of democracy. They decided to propose some amendments to Bill C-18, claiming, I say again, to be the defenders of democracy.

Let me point out several inconsistencies in this position. During the last election campaign, the member for Sherbrooke and leader of the Conservative Party, at least what remains of it, claimed in his ads running several times a day in Quebec that to be effective in the House of Commons, one needed to be part of the government.

The hon. member for Sherbrooke and leader of the Conservative Party argued, unlike the Bloc Quebecois candidates, that the real power was not in opposition, but on the government side because, to his mind, that is where decisions about the running of the country were made, not in the opposition ranks.

The member for Sherbrooke and leader of the Conservative Party also said that the opposition operates behind the scenes and that opposition members have no real power in the House of Commons. This was what the leader of the Conservative Party and member for Sherbrooke claimed and this debate is eloquent proof indeed of what he meant.

Since he views the role of the opposition as that of lobbyists, like he indicated during the election campaign, he immediately set to work, hardly ever participating in the regular business of the House, preferring to lobby senators into embarrassing the government. I do not mean to ascribe intentions to him, but he may have had in mind the days when, with a Liberal majority, the Senate manoeuvred to create difficulties for the Conservative government in passing significant legislation like the GST or free trade. We all remember those days.

But the Senate is now comprised mostly of Conservative senators, although it may be more appropriate to call it purple than blue, because several of these senators side now with the Liberals, now with the Conservatives. If you mix blue and red, you get purple.

The leader of the Conservative Party and member for Sherbrooke, no doubt a fervent defender of democracy, persuaded the Conservative senators that amendments had to be made to Bill C-18 to ensure that the Upper House could impose its agenda on the government.

The inconsistency is striking here. During the election campaign, the Conservative leader said that the real power was on the side of the government. Yet, the first thing he did in opposition, aside from not attending any of the debates in this House, was precisely to get busy in the wings, to use the Senate, and its Conservative majority, to interfere with the intentions of

the government and the House of Commons. In my mind, that is miscarriage of democracy.

Now that masks have been shed, we can see what the Conservative leader and member for Sherbrooke is really after. Amazingly, the Liberal government goes along with him. We really need to be clear on what is going on. I will come back in a moment to the role of the Senate. When Bill C-18 was introduced in this House, as the Solicitor General said just a moment ago, both the government and the Official Opposition intended to ensure time was taken to do serious work on this bill, instead of proceeding hastily at the risk of finding ourselves in impossible situations later on.

Several government members and several members of the Official Opposition spoke in this debate to explain the tragic, disastrous effects the changes proposed by the electoral boundaries readjustment commission will have on people's lives. I for one described the problems affecting my riding of Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead in this House. The commission planned to literally turn the riding of Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead upside down in the most incredibly thoughtless fashion, attaching one part of the riding to another riding with which it had no ties, either sociologically or in terms of business communications, and also communications between constituents and their elected representatives, or in terms their dealings with the government.

Many examples were given. I would say that just about every hon. member spoke of adverse effects the proposed changes would have on their ridings. Never, on the side of the Official Opposition, did we want or intend to interfere with the electoral boundaries readjustment process by preventing the commission from making any changes before the next election.

We said that this two-year timeframe-as, may I remind you, the Solicitor General just reiterated-can be seen as the maximum amount of time needed to make intelligent changes, to take into account the number of voters per riding and to ensure that in the next election campaign-in which we in the Official Opposition do not wish to participate-riding redistribution will be based on data from the 1991 census rather than the 1981 census.

Everyone agreed. And everyone still agrees today that we have all the time we need to ensure that intelligent public hearings will be held in Quebec and throughout Canada, that the proposed amendments will be tabled in this House, and that a bill can be passed in time for these changes to be in place before the next election.

I want to look at an argument that was used not only by columnists and Liberal Party faithful during their last convention but also by our friends from the Reform Party and others, namely that delaying the process would forestall any changes and that we in the Official Opposition act as though we do not want to take the number criterion into account. We do think that this criterion is important. There must be a kind of balance, of equity in the demographic weight of the various ridings.

That is not the only criterion to be considered, however. That is another reason why we in the Official Opposition support postponing the review process. We wanted to ask the House committee to review these criteria and we will do so in a few weeks. At the beginning of July, hearings will be held by the parliamentary committee to review the criteria used by the commission to redraw the electoral map.

Agreeing to review these criteria is one more argument in favour of deferring the process. If we accept the fact that the current redistribution criteria must be revised, we should, I think, immediately admit that we must suspend the review process, wait for the decisions on these new criteria and then go out and consult the people throughout Quebec and Canada, to ensure that the proposed changes respect the will of the people and the new criteria that will be adopted.

After hearing the government position that the Solicitor General has just outlined, we must come to the conclusion that, under pressure from the senators and from Liberal militants at their last convention, the government has decided to go back on its word and to ensure that the process will be shorter than the two years set out in Bill C-18. Strangely, as I mentioned earlier, it shows that the process initiated by the leader of the Conservative Party was right. We must keep this in mind. Madam Speaker, this means that the leader of the Conservative Party, with a caucus of two members in this House, is the one leading the government. Our friends opposite must realize that they are being led by the leader of a party that has almost no members left in this House. Is that democracy? I doubt it. I see democracy differently.

We must also realize that this political game, because that is what it is, is supported by individuals who were never elected anywhere, and I refer to the senators. As we know, they are appointed by the government for all sorts of reasons, but especially for their political connections. It has been well known for a long time. Since our institutions were created, the senators' role has been to look after very important issues on occasion, I agree, but more often than not, to look after the affairs of their party, be it Conservative or Liberal.

The unelected senators are teaching a lesson in democracy to us, members of Parliament who have been democratically elected by all the voters in our ridings. So what legitimacy does the Senate have to act in an issue like this? It is totally ridiculous. Just being here in the House today dealing with

Senate amendments on the redrawing of electoral boundaries, which lies at the very heart of our democratic system, is absurd.

Unelected senators, some of whom are there simply to ensure that the traditional parties have enough money in their election fund, are telling us elected members: "You did your job badly. You are undemocratic. You do not represent the will of the people and we in our ivory tower know what the people need. We know what you must do and we are imposing it on you".

Madam Speaker, I just cannot get over it. We must remember this date, June 3, 1994, when unelected people were able to impose their agenda on the government which was elected barely six months ago. I would also like to point out that for many years, Quebec has been represented in the House of Commons in proportion to its share of the population; that is, about 25 per cent of the members of the House of Commons come from Quebec, which is the same as Quebec's share of the population.

Among the changes proposed by the commission, a certain number of ridings are to be added. In fact, two ridings would be added in British Columbia and four in Ontario, for a total of six, raising the number of members sitting in the House of Commons from 295 to 301. For one thing, this would lower Quebec's share of the representation in this House and of course, something not to be overlooked, it would increase government spending, because six more members would cost the taxpayers of Canada and Quebec more money.

We must send a clear message since Bill C-18, as was also agreed during the negotiations surrounding Meech, protects Quebec's relative weight, that is a representation equivalent to 25 per cent of the total in the House of Commons. In our future decisions, we should always keep in mind-and I say this for the benefit of government and Reform Party members-that Quebecers represent approximately one quarter of the Canadian population. As long as Quebec remains part of Canada, this proportion should be reflected here in the House of Commons.

As for the addition of new members, we are not in a position right now to increase government spending. Everyone in the House agrees on that. I think the government, the Official Opposition and the Reform Party are unanimous to say that, at least, government spending should not increase. We, as well as our friends from the Reform Party, even hope for a review of all expenditures and budget items, in an effort to reduce government spending.

So, why create new jobs for additional MPs? I think there are more important issues to solve than to find jobs in this House for a few more individuals. During the election campaign, the Prime Minister used to say, and he still says, that the Liberals' main priority was jobs, jobs, and jobs. I do hope that what he had in mind was not to create jobs here in this House but, rather, in ridings across Canada, where people suffer from the current economic situation.

Again, this issue does not require urgent action. To delay the process for 24 months, as was originally proposed, does not, as far as we are concerned, jeopardize in any way the review process which will have to take place before the next election.

In 24 months means early 1996, unless the Prime Minister, after deciding that he can no longer run the country, is anxious to yield to the Conservative leader and chooses to act quickly, which I think is unlikely, so we can expect an election to be held in the fall of 1997 or even in 1998, which leaves us enough time to readjust electoral boundaries.

Another point is that there is absolutely no reason why we should increase the number of members in this House. None at all. There is no objection to readjusting electoral boundaries to ensure that the voter population is more evenly distributed. But there is no justification at all for increasing the number of members in this House.

Clarity is of the essence. The government must send a clear signal to the public that its objective is not to create jobs here, at taxpayers' expense, but jobs out there for the unemployed who are waiting for answers from the government.

I also want to point out that the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Commission has continued its work, which consists in conducting public hearings across the country to listen to what individuals and groups have to say about the proposed amendments. My point is that the Commission, despite the very clear message sent by the government when it tabled C-18 in this House, could not care less about the government's plans and that is why it has proceeded to conduct hearings across Canada, or at least in Quebec.

What impact will this have on the readjustment process? As soon as those concerned, including the municipal authorities in our electoral districts, realized that the government intended to postpone the electoral boundaries readjustment process for two years, people thought it was not worth appearing before the commission to make their presentations. They said to themselves: They will have to come back later, so we will go as soon as there is an official process duly approved by the government.

The commission simply ignored the government's plans. As the Solicitor General said a moment ago, the commission is a quasi-judicial body that can make decisions as it sees fit, and so it decided to go ahead anyway. As a result, in many locations, in the Eastern Townships for instance, only three groups appeared before the commission, while dozens of groups and municipalities would have done so if there had been a clearly established and clearly identified process.

The same happened in the Lower St. Lawrence district and other regions in Quebec, where many citizens and representatives of local authorities, especially municipalities, decided against appearing before the commission because they realized the process would be repeated in a year and a half or two years.

If we approve the amendments before the House, the commission's work will not be terminated but merely suspended for five or six months, after which, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Commission will resume its work. Does this mean that where public hearings were held, the commission will not go back to listen to members of the public and representatives of our municipalities? If so, there would be some justification for wondering whether the process is democratic.

That is why the commission, which was aware of the government's plans when the bill was tabled, should have stopped the process including the hearings, and waited until the government decided whether or not to extend the process. This is one more reason for repeating the entire process. Therefore, we should wait for the results regarding the criteria to be used by the commissions.

I said earlier, and other members also mentioned it, that the number of voters is one of the criteria, but there are others which should be taken into consideration. We should not forget the weight of regions within a province; we have to be careful not to strip regions of their representation because their young people, unable to find jobs in their area, had to move out, hopefully to a job in Montreal or maybe to join the ranks of those unemployed or on welfare in Montreal, Quebec City or elsewhere.

We have to devise criteria which do not jeopardize the future of these regions. We should take the time to think and to discuss the process, so as to be on solid ground when we finally launch the operation.

Second, when the readjustment process resumes, the government has to make sure that the commission's work is reviewed, and give private citizens and interest groups every opportunity to make their views known about the readjustments.

For all these reasons, and in keeping with our stated views as Official Opposition, we would like to see the schedule which was in Bill C-18 adhered to, while assuring the House, and indeed the people of Quebec and Canada, that what we are seeking is a readjustment which will apply to the next federal elections to be held in 1997-1998 and which will be based on sound criteria.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The speech by the member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead will not stand as a model of rigor.

In his speech, he mentioned something I must object to since I am directly concerned. He referred to the fact that I was not present in the House. There is no need to remind you of the very well known rule which prohibits a member from referring to the presence or the absence of another member. And I would add, if only the parliamentary secretary could keep quiet for a few seconds, that this remark is particularly obnoxious for the following reason: the Bloc did all it could to prevent the 11 independent members from speaking in the House. It is extremely hypocritical on its part to then rise in the House and claim that we were absent during the debate, when it did nothing at all to promote a fundamental element of democracy. After all, we represent more voters than it does.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I am sorry for interrupting, but we were about to start a debate. I was aware of the comments by the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead. I believe it was a slip of the tongue and I shall ask him to withdraw.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I am not sure whether this is a point of order or a question of privilege, or if the member for Sherbrooke was looking for an opportunity to speak in the House. I will concede that he is right in his application of the Standing Orders. I have no problem acknowledging it, but I will point out that, during the election campaign, the member for Sherbrooke was constantly denouncing the Bloc members' absence.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Order! It is also a matter of debate. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Calgary West.

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:50 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Madam Speaker, I am rising today to speak to Bill C-18, which suspends the operation of the electoral boundaries adjustment process and to address specifically the motion that the government has brought forward to accommodate amendments that have come from the Senate study of the bill.

The purpose of Bill C-18 is, I think, to kill the electoral boundaries readjustment process. The Reform Party was opposed to that bill until now. However, I can say that with the amendments proposed by the Senate and those put forward by the government today, we can now support this bill.

As you know, Madam Speaker, we did oppose and have opposed vigorously Bill C-18. We were opposed to it to such an extent that at second reading closure was moved. We still have some concerns with this course of action, but I should begin by saying we can support this bill with the accommodations the government has made today.

Let us review Bill C-18 and some of the original problems that have been addressed. The House will recall that originally there was no demand from the public for this legislation, certainly no mention in the red book of any intention to bring in such legislation and no serious mention of the procedural concerns that had arisen when legislation such as this had been introduced previously in 1973, 1985 and 1992. Yet in late March, early April, the government came out with C-18 as their top legislative priority.

When the bill was rammed through the House with closure, it really did not present a lot of opportunity for meaningful public debate. We had begun to hear, and the Senate later heard, from provincial and territorial governments, from many academics and experts and from many individual Canadians, particularly from British Columbia, all of whom were condemning C-18 as not simply a bad bill and not simply an undemocratic bill, but an unconstitutional bill.

It was apparent that the bill had been prepared without consultation with Elections Canada. Mr. Kingsley, the Chief Electoral Officer, has stated in committee hearings that it has always been the practice of the governments of the day to consult Elections Canada when considering changes to such processes and it is what we would have expected normally on this occasion.

The mechanics of our electoral system are admired around the world and Elections Canada's advice, as we know, is frequently sought by other countries. Recently we played a role in the elections in new democracies in both South Africa and Ukraine.

The electoral process and its outcome affect all Canadians. The interests of all of Canadians must be served, not the interests of politicians, not partisan interests or political self-interest.

One of the biggest problems with the original bill was the lack of all-party consensus. The government had only the support of the Bloc Quebecois. It was opposed by the Reform Party, and I should add, opposed quite vigorously by the New Democratic Party and by the Progressive Conservative Party, although its opposition comes primarily from the Senate. We heard only within weeks of the passage of the bill that many elements of the Liberal Party were also opposed, as some members found out at their recent convention.

The reason I mention these other parties is that the support of parties, both major and minor, in this type of legislation is important for the operation of the democratic system. The support of the Bloc Quebecois is a different matter and I will address that in my later remarks.

While all this has been going on, the public hearings into the redistribution process have continued. The bulk of the dollars had been spent even before the bill was introduced and now eight out of eleven of the commissions have finished their public hearings; in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick-

Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Suspension Act, 1994Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

You will be given time when we finish question period, but it being 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to statements by members, pursuant to Standing Order 31.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


John Loney Liberal Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, both the environment and the economy are big winners today as the result of two agreements between the federal and Alberta governments. The agreements are an example of federal and provincial governments working co-operatively to administer environmental regulations without sacrificing the quality of the environment or increasing the risk to human health.

The administrative and equivalency agreements are provided for under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. They will lead to a more efficient delivery of the environmental protection and enforcement programs that govern toxic substances by reducing overlap and lightening the paper burden on jointly regulated industries.

This initiative is part of the federal government's overall plan to harmonize federal and provincial legislation and regulations where possible and eliminate unnecessary duplication.

International Civil Aviation OrganizationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the House's attention the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the only United Nations agency to be headquartered in Montreal since its founding in 1944. The ICAO has now become an important component of the worldwide transportation industry.

In 1944, a total of 52 countries signed the convention on international civil aviation. The signing came at a time when 9 million people used airplanes as a mode of transportation. Today, airplanes carry nearly 1.2 billion passengers and are recognized as the safest means of transportation. We have the ICAO to thank in large part for this record because it had the foresight to invite member states to adopt efficient air safety measures.

The success of the ICAO clearly shows what the peoples of the world can accomplish when they work together. Many challenges await the ICAO in the next 50 years, and we wish this organization the best of luck.

Baby Boomers/YouthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, now that school is almost out, young people of this country are thinking more about their future. I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the difference between the younger generation and us baby boomers.

To boomers, McDonald's was a farmer with all the pets you could envision. To the younger generation, McDonald's means burgers and fries mc-ketchuped to death.

To boomers, Mac the Knife was the number one song by Bobby Darrin. Today, Mac the Knife is one of countless young offenders.

The boomers have lived with the benefits of borrowed money. Today the younger generation lives with the results of borrowed money.

Yes, there are differences between the two generations. Will the future be better for the younger generation? It will depend on them, their determination, their creativity, their respect for the environment and their optimism.

Let us hope they have learned from our mistakes.

Infrastructure ProgramStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week in Montreal, the Liberal government followed through on an election promise to pave the way for Canada's future by announcing investments totalling $80.8 million in projects in the city of Montreal. These projects represent phase one of the Canada-Quebec infrastructure program aimed at the refurbishment and construction of municipal infrastructures.

My riding of Saint-Denis will receive $15.53 million, creating over 240 jobs. The federal Liberal government's infrastructure initiative will boost the economy of Saint-Denis, it will boost the economy of Quebec and it will boost the economy of Canada.

This is another example of co-operation between the governments of Quebec and Canada which deserves to be applauded!

Environmental WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, June 5 to 11 is Environmental Week. On the occasion of Environmental Week I extend an invitation to all hon. members and to all Canadians to be good environmental citizens and to take part in this week's activities.

As a result of numerous activities and exhibitions being held nation-wide, Canadians will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with healthy environmental practices.

We as parliamentarians have a great responsibility not only to Canadians and our immediate neighbours but to the whole world to promote environmentally responsible policies and to make sure that the laws that we pass in this House are sustainable.

The Canadian public also has a responsibility because the laws and the regulations we pass both here and in our provincial legislatures will not work unless there is public involvement.

Environmental Week re-emphasizes the importance of public participation.

The theme of this year's Environmental Week is "This Week Every Week" or en français, "cette semaine et toute l'année" should be underlined. Environmental Week is a fun week and I encourage all members-

Environmental WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please.

D-DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, in remembrance of D-Day and the events leading to the end of the second world war, the Canada Remembrance Program was initiated to encourage events commemorating those who fought and died on land, at sea and in the air so that we as Canadians might enjoy our freedoms that we know today.

This program recognizes the values and strengths that helped Canadians deal successfully with the challenges faced during the second world war, the same values and strengths that make Canada and Canadians respected throughout the world today.

This Saturday hundreds of veterans from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario will gather in Hartland, New Brunswick to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day and Canadian troops who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

I am sure that this House will join with me in extending our sincere thanks to Hartland, New Brunswick Branch 24 of the Royal Canadian Legion for their commemorative ceremony and to all veterans for the freedom we enjoy today.

Canadian EconomyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the prestigious bond rating agency known as Moody's has lowered Canada's foreign currency debt credit rating. Responding to the lowering of the rating, the Minister of Finance stated that the fundamental components of the Canadian economy are sound.

How can the Minister of Finance say that everything is fine when structural unemployment in Canada remains extremely high, when according to the OECD, the debt ratio of the Canadian public sector as a percentage of GDP increased by 82 per cent between 1985 and 1993, contrary to the average increase of only 21 per cent for all OECD countries?

It is not the current political situation in Quebec that is responsible for the repeated moves to lower the federal government's credit rating, but rather the sorry state of the federal government's finances, a situation which will not be resolved by the Liberal budget and one which has foreign investors worried.

Radio StationsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Lethbridge Alberta


Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, private radio stations in my riding and indeed across Canada are worried for their very survival. This industry has lost more than $100 million during the last three years. Today radio stations are facing another threat, a potential change in government policy.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is studying "Neighbouring Rights" which would extend the current music copyrights. If this is done, radio stations will have to pay royalties to producers and performing artists whenever they play a song on the radio.

Such an amendment would cost radio stations across Canada $22 million. Since Canada is a net importer of music, most of the royalties will flow across the Canadian border into the pockets of already wealthy music producers and artists. The struggling Canadian musician will see very little benefit.

The policy could also shut down local radio stations if enacted. It will undoubtedly result in the loss of jobs.

Tiananmen SquareStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the brutal killings of hundreds of innocent students and workers in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.

Let us pay tribute today to the memories and courage of those brave men and women who struggled for human rights and democracy in China and continue to do so today.

Tragically, grave violations of human rights continue in China as documented just this week by Amnesty International. Suppression of the rights of labour, denial of political and religious freedom, torture and widespread capital punishment are all continuing in China.

As well, China continues to ruthlessly suppress the human rights and religious freedoms of the people of Tibet and to supply arms to bloody military regimes such as Burma.

Finally, our government must be just as vigorous and publicly outspoken in defence of the human rights of the people of China and Tibet as they are in pursuit of corporate profits and trade.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to draw attention, as did others, to the weekend that allows all Canadians to remember and thank those brave and valiant Canadian servicemen who participated in the D-Day landing which led to a quick victory in northwest Europe.

I sincerely wish all those Canadians who are participating in these commemorative affairs excellent support from all other Canadians.

I would also like to bring the attention of this House and Canadians to another group of Canadians who are serving their country as part of the United Nations protection force in the former Yugoslavia. These soldiers were observed to have the highest standards of training, patience, diligence and ability to negotiate without bringing arms to bear in the situation. Some of these situations are very trying and some of them are very unnerving. Our sailors, our soldiers and airmen who are serving in Yugoslavia are carrying on the great tradition of patience, forbearance and commitment to duty for this country in the world.

National Transportation WeekStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Ian Murray Liberal Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce to the House that today is National Transportation Day in Canada.

Today in Thunder Bay there will be inaugural celebrations for National Transportation Week which runs from June 5 to 11. A wide range of transport related ceremonies, activities and seminars have been planned for major cities from coast to coast to coast.

The theme of National Transportation Week 1994 is "Intermodalism: The Perfect Fit". Intermodalism, which describes the use of two or more modes of transportation in a continuous operation under a single bill of lading, is increasing in this country. This mode of transport is particularly evident in our import-export trade which counts on computer applications and streamlined procedures to get goods to market quickly and at the best possible prices.

Transportation is the life support system for our economy and it is critically important to our ability to compete internationally in the ever evolving global marketplace.

I am very pleased therefore to salute the many men and women who keep our transportation systems running as they should year round.

Northern Living AllowanceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to address the reduction of the northern living allowance. The towns listed in appendix C of the Revenue Canada income tax guide are to endure a gradual reduction of the amounts with total elimination by 1995.

For the Canadians who live in these towns, and specifically my constituents of Dauphin-Swan River, this deduction is not one of convenience but a means of compensating for the burden of having to travel up to 300 kilometres to seek medical attention.

All Canadians are entitled to equal access to health care and government services. Geography and standard of living create barriers to such services. With the emphasis of the Canadian economy focused upon urban centres dotting the 49th parallel it would seem that we are penalizing those who inhabit our northern and rural regions. Large corporations offer their employees isolation pay in order to entice transfer to these locations.

I implore the hon. Minister of Finance within his mandate of fiscal responsibility and reduced spending to explore other avenues of revenue generation other than eliminating the northern living allowance for those towns listed in appendix C.

Francophones In CanadaStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Gaston Péloquin Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois members are pleased to see that their policy regarding francophones in Canada was well received.

As noted in La Presse today, the Leader of the Opposition is indeed a man who has served the cause of francophones well, with more yet to come.

The ACFO president made himself very clear on that subject, stating there had never been a clearer and more concrete and specific commitment to francophones outside Quebec and that over the past eight months, the Bloc Quebecois had risen more often to speak for francophone communities than the Liberals had during the entire Conservative mandate.

We, Bloc Quebecois members, will not stop asking questions until such time as the government takes a stand for equity and respect for the rights of francophones in this country.

Royal Canadian LegionStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week the Royal Canadian Legion has been holding its convention in my city of Calgary.

We have all become aware of this due to the media concentration on the issue of head-dress regulations that arose at the convention. I probably would have voted on that particular issue differently than the legion, but frankly that is not the important issue.

What we should be focusing on is the focus of the convention; the 50th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the unparalleled historic contribution of Canadian veterans to our society through their bravery in those dark days of World War II.

The greatest human rights victory of this century, perhaps of history, was the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the allies of the national socialists. The unbalanced focus of the press and so-called human rights commentaries this week have been quite frankly pathetic and an insult to veterans and veterans' organizations.

Gelas GallantStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Gelas Gallant of

Rustico, Prince Edward Island, on being awarded the Acadian Order of Merit by the Societe Saint-Thomas-D'Aquin. This prestigious award is presented annually to a person who has contributed significantly toward advancing the Acadian culture on Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Gallant has earned this award through his lifelong dedication and involvement in the Acadian community. He is the eighth generation descendant of Michel Haché-Gallant who was the first Acadian to arrive on Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Gallant and his wife Marguerite have 15 children, all of whom have been educated in French and the rich Acadian culture. In fact most of those children live in the community.

Mr. Gallant has been active in farm organizations and still is politically active. When he calls, you listen.

Mr. Gallant is a citizen who best exemplifies Canadianism through his rich involvement in advancing Acadian culture, thus improving the local community and ultimately Canada as a rich multicultural country.