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House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was native.

Topics

Asia Pacific Foundation Of CanadaRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Richmond B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table today, in both official languages, the joint report to Parliament of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages and pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), the government's response to two petitions.

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Richmond B.C.

Liberal

Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I had the honour of participating in the events to mark the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

Standing next to some of the Canadians who sacrificed so much for our freedom I could not help but feel overwhelmed with pride. Because of them and thousands more like them, many of whom sacrificed their lives, our country is a living example to the world of how diversity, tolerance and generosity can build a peaceful, prosperous society. These are the values Canadians fought for in two world wars and these are the values we continue to uphold.

The weekend before last I also took part in an event organized by Canadians to commemorate a group of people who, while not Canadians, nonetheless sacrificed their lives in the hope of achieving the values we in Canada hold so dear. I took part in ceremonies commemorating the fifth anniversary of the tragic events of Tiananmen Square.

I was honoured to have been asked to lay flowers at the monument at the University of British Columbia which was erected by the Alma Mater Society of UBC, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association of UBC, and the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement to commemorate the tragic events in Tiananmen. Respect for human rights was one of the principal reasons I became active in Canadian politics and it is with this philosophy that I am proud to stand as a member of this government.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs outlined in a speech last week, this government has a very clear framework when it comes to the conduct of our bilateral relations with China. This framework is based on four pillars: economic partnership; sustainable development; peace and security; and human rights and the rule of law. We do not sacrifice one at the expense of the other. Indeed they are mutually reinforcing. Today I would like to focus on the human rights pillar.

Respect for human rights is an essential part of Canadian foreign policy. Our relationship with China cannot be reduced or simplified to trade versus human rights arguments. We believe systematic and wide ranging contact will lead to calls within Chinese society for greater openness and freedom.

Surely there is evidence that increased political flexibility is a byproduct of economic liberalization, and governments that have opened their markets to international trade are more sensitive to the views and reactions of other countries.

An inward looking society that depends little on trade and international investment is less likely to respond to concerns raised by foreigners. Trade reduces isolationism. Trade also expands the scope of international law and generates the economic growth required to sustain social change and development. Economic liberalization also leads to the pluralization and the empowering of interest groups in society.

Nevertheless it is imperative that we as a government continue to raise the matter of human rights with those countries we believe to be in violation thereof at every opportunity.

While we respect time honoured traditions and cultures our position has always been that the best guarantee for stability and prosperity is a government that is responsive to its people.

As a matter of policy this government will continue to work with other countries to ensure that China respects its obligations under the United Nations declaration of human rights. This was affirmed in the resolution voted on three weeks ago in my party's policy convention.

On a bilateral basis we have also expressed our concerns on human rights to the Chinese leadership. Indeed, during the visit of Vice Premier Zou Jiahua to Canada I personally voiced my concern about human rights in China and I raised specific cases with the vice premier. This was also done by the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the meetings with Mr. Zou.

At the same time we intend to engage in constructive projects and dialogues with the Chinese government on this question. It is for this reason that our government will be funding joint research projects like the one between the University of Ottawa's human rights centre and Beijing University.

I believe this kind of dialogue and co-operation will help to bring about greater understanding and will be of assistance to the Chinese government in its efforts to reform its legal and judicial structures.

CIDA's China program has contributed to China's economic reforms and gradual opening mainly by creating links between people and institutions, transferring skills, knowledge and technology, and exposing thousands of Chinese to Canada, its values and government.

Canadians expect their elected representatives to abide by the democratic principles on which our society is built. The Liberal Party has always taken an innovative and effective approach to its dealings with China.

It was a Liberal government in 1970 that took the bold and imaginative step of recognizing the People's Republic of China. I believe this helped to create the conditions for China to embark on a process of economic reform and opening to the outside world, a development which has had a tremendous positive impact on millions of ordinary Chinese citizens.

As one who has been actively involved in the democratic movement, I want to assure this House and all Canadians concerned about human rights that dialogue and engagement will best serve Canada's interests and those of the Chinese people. This is the policy of this government and I believe it is the right one.

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this morning and to mark on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois the sad anniversary of the massacres in Tiananmen Square. Thousands were killed there when the repressive Chinese regime crushed the student democracy movement.

In spite of the hopes that had been raised by this vast movement, democracy is still no closer to being a reality five years later. In Shanghai, the 5th anniversary was marked by the arrest of dissident Bao Ge after he had filed papers with the city to register a human rights organization.

Mr. Bao Ge, who had been under permanent police surveillance, was one of the few human rights activists who had not been detained or forced to leave the big cities.

In Beijing where particularly repressive security measures have been put in place, the police, terrified by the idea of public demonstrations, ringed the square where the tragedy occurred.

Memories of the crushing defeat of the democracy movement during the night of June 3 and 4, 1989, are still vivid. According to dissidents and foreign observers, thousands were massacred.

The first image that automatically springs to mind is that of the student facing down the tanks which literally crushed the uprising. One would think that here in Canada, the federal government would have decided to mark this event by making radical changes to its human rights policy, a policy which the secretary of state is defending this morning with great conviction.

Indeed, a great deal of courage and conviction is required to defend this government's 180 degree turn. From now on, human rights will apparently take a back seat to this government's commercial interests.

As the Leader of the Opposition stated in a question to the Prime Minister: "Canada is relinquishing its historic responsibility, since the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that polite comments behind closed doors will have no impact on foreign leaders who systematically violate human rights". Would you care to hear the Prime Minister's answer, Mr. Speaker? He answered to the effect that China would laugh in his face if he adopted a hard-line position.

I think we are the ones who are being laughed at now. If we want respect, we must have a conscience and that conscience is what has earned Canada the worldwide admiration it currently enjoys.

We have heard the ministers of this government take turns telling us that human rights are no longer tied to trade and market logic.

As my hon. colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve stated before this this House on March 22 last, and I quote: "The Liberals had promised a more 'we'll go it alone' Canadian foreign policy, one more in line with Lester B. Pearson's vision. Let the naive think again! The Liberal government is trashing a long-standing tradition of defending human rights, reducing

Canada to the condition of petty trading nation without any vision, or heart or soul".

This morning, the secretary of state reaffirmed the very clear framework of bilateral relations with China recently described by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. There is clearly a double standard regarding human rights violations, with Canada applying a very harsh policy in the case of poor countries-let us just think of Haiti-but a lenient one, one of turning a blind eye, as far as rich countries are concerned.

I listened carefully as the secretary of state praised the four pillars on which the government has decided to base the conduct of its relations with China.

Allow me to reply to some of his remarks. The secretary of state said, and I quote: "We believe systematic and wide-ranging contact will lead to calls within Chinese society for greater openness and freedom".

The problem is not so much prompting Chinese society to call for more freedom as having the courage to pressure the Chinese government to stop repressive action against all those who do call for this freedom.

The secretary of state also indicated, and I quote: "-during the visit of Vice Premier Zou Jiahua to Canada, I personally voiced concern about human rights in China and I raised specific cases with the Vice Premier".

We believe that the Chinese are expecting much more from Canada than a mere expression of concern. Why not have voiced outrage? Why not have voiced it publicly? Why not have condemned the ongoing repression? God forbid that the government jeopardize its relations with China and prejudice any contract by daring to be insistent in any way!

The secretary of state told us about no specific multilateral action that the government intends to take to make up for its lack of leadership in bilateral relations. I challenge the secretary of state when he tells us that the Liberal Party has always taken an innovative and effective approach in its dealings with China. The Liberal Party is certainly not innovating today; if anything, it is going backwards.

I will remind him that an extremely significant step was taken at the Francophone Summit in Dakar in 1989, when Canada led the 42-country Francophonie in adopting a resolution making protection of human rights a "fundamental objective" of the international community.

It also mentioned that not only Canada but also the other leading nations had to take account of the behaviour of the receiving countries-

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I hope that the hon. member will excuse me, but it is a principle of equality and parity. You do not have more time than the minister.

Is there unanimous consent to allow the hon. member to continue for a few minutes?

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Perhaps I should make the point again. There is an understanding that if a minister goes, for example, 15 minutes, the spokespeople for the two other parties can go as long as he or she does, but not longer.

ChinaRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to stand in front of the House and honour the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives in Tiananmen Square five years ago.

Like the minister, I often think about the huge square standing in front of the forbidden city, with its overpowering picture of Chairman Mao overlooking what has happened through history in that square.

It was mentioned by one of my colleagues that looking back in history we can often learn some things. Certainly one of the things that might take us back to the thirties was listening to the commentary regarding the rise of the Nazis and what happened in Germany. It only emphasizes the difficult decision we have to make today, whether we isolate or do we get involved.

All of us look forward to the day when China joins other countries that respect freedom and democracy for its people, respect and accept the human rights standards that exist for all countries of the world. In the interests of security in Asia it is vital that we work with these people and that we work from within as the minister has suggested.

We too would agree that the interests of China's people will best be served in the long run by our participation in China. The only real choice the people of China have for more humanitarian and democratic treatment is for us to help them become less economically dependent on the Government of China and with a vision of what is really happening in the world outside.

I cannot help but think of the first time I visited China 15 years ago. It is unbelievable the changes that have occurred within that country in a relatively short time. It stands as some proof of exactly what happens when the western society gets involved. China has made changes and the people have achieved more freedom. It is not perfect but at least they do have a better quality of life.

While we would like to have a perfect world, that just is not possible. All we can hope is that we can have influence and that over time things will change. This is our opportunity to play a leadership role based on our early recognition of China and our continued dealings with China over the years.

We must become more aggressive in our approach to China and be certain that we take every diplomatic opportunity open to us to press for more human rights. We look forward to the day we can stand in the House and truly congratulate the Chinese people on having achieved true and complete democracy.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development regarding the conservation of the Porcupine caribou herd.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 the committee requests that the government table a response to this report within 150 days.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Bill C-31, an act to amend the Canadian Film Development Corporation Act, without amendment.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member on a point of order. The member I think appreciates he will have to have unanimous consent for this.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find there is unanimous consent to waive the 48-hour requirement for introduction of this bill.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal For United Nations Peacekeeping ActRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-258, an act respecting the establishment and award of the Canadian volunteer service medal and clasp for United Nations peacekeeping to Canadians serving with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is introduced to correct an oversight that occurs at the moment. At this time the United Nations issues medals to Canadians who serve on peacekeeping activities. At some time after the issue of that United Nations medal, the Governor General declares that medal to be a Canadian medal. Many of our peacekeepers feel that this is not truly a Canadian recognition and therefore there is a desire among them to be recognized by the issue of a Canadian medal.

Also included in this bill is the clasp which would provide visual recognition of the great honour that was bestowed on Canada by our peacekeepers when they won the Nobel peace award on September 30, 1988. This bill would provide a clasp on the medal which would show those people who had earned that award.

All Canadians are justifiably proud of our contribution to peacekeeping and it is fit and proper that we provide pure Canadian recognition of their contribution to our world esteem.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

I move, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1):

That, commencing on June 10 and concluding on June 23, 1994, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m. for the purpose of considering Government Orders, provided that proceedings pursuant to Standing Order 38 shall, when applicable, be taken up between 10 p.m. and 10.30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, in proposing this motion I would first like to thank the House for its generally co-operative approach to the legislation that has been put before it.

I must say I have been assisted greatly in my work by the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, the hon. member for Beauséjour, and my parliamentary secretary, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands. I should also like to thank the chief government whip, the hon. member for Saint-Léonard, and the deputy whip, the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, for their similar efforts.

I have other thanks to offer. I want to say I would be quite remiss if I were to fail to indicate as well the important roles played by the House leaders of the opposition parties. I refer to the hon. member for Roberval and the hon. member for Kindersley-Lloydminster. They have both demonstrated the important parliamentary skill of combining tough and vigorous partisan-

ship with a civil and courteous approach as well as an understanding of the public's expectation that the House carry out its business in a reasonable fashion.

Although we have had a number of significant philosophical and policy differences, we have been able, most of the time, to overcome these differences in order to work together to organize the business of the House in a more orderly manner than I have seen in much of my own career in Parliament.

I say this not to seek praise for myself as the leader of the government in the House, but to demonstrate that at least part of the message of the election of last October 25 has been heard and understood here in this House. Canadians, regardless of their political inclinations, want Parliament to function in a more civil and open manner and, at the same time, to be a place of vigorous debate and exchange of ideas.

It was with this in mind that the government has sought to restore the importance of this House of Commons as the central institution of Canadian government through its program of reform of the rules of the House. These were implemented with all party co-operation right after the throne speech debate earlier this year.

One objective of this was to give the House of Commons and its members a greater role in the initial stages of policy development.

For this reason major studies by committees of our foreign policy, our defence policy, our social policy and the goods and services tax are presently under way. In addition, the House has had a number of general debates, on the initiative of the government, using time set aside for government business, in order to give the government a sense of where members of Parliament stand on such matters as peacekeeping, cruise weapons testing and on agriculture before the cabinet makes decisions in these matters.

The results of many of these initiatives will be seen only some months later on. In many cases they will result in legislation and some of the resulting reports no doubt will be quite contentious.

The government has been criticized in some quarters for embarking on some of these studies, but they involve consulting the Canadian people on matters crucial to them before introducing legislation. I hope some of those who have voiced these criticisms will not succumb later on to what we would argue to be contradictory claims, when we bring forward the resulting legislation, by attacking us then for moving too quickly.

Even though this government is a new government I submit it has brought forward a considerable legislative program; some 38 bills to date with another half dozen to be introduced before we adjourn for the summer. We have already passed half of these measures. These include such matters as the federal-provincial fiscal arrangements bill, the budget implementation bill, a number of tax measures coming from the recent budget and from previous budgets and a wide range of other matters from fisheries to railway safety to government re-organization.

I want to thank the House and, I repeat, I want to thank my fellow House leaders for the great co-operation shown in this regard.

We face the crunch now, the run up to the long summer adjournment. Bills that were referred to committees earlier in the spring are beginning to pour back into the House and we must deal with most of them before starting the long summer break.

These bills include Bill C-28 regarding financial assistance to students, Bill C-30 regarding fisheries workers, and Bill C-12 revising and updating the Canada Business Corporations Act.

We must also conclude debate on the two bills pertaining to tobacco, C-11 and C-32. Bill C-32 is particularly important because it authorizes the making of rebates of tobacco excise tax, rebates that have been long awaited by small businesses across this country.

We also need to finish Bill C-22 regarding Pearson airport, Bill C-16 regarding the Sahtu Dene land claim, Bill C-25 concerning petroleum resources, the two environment bills C-23 and C-24, and Bill C-18, legislation which will enable us to update the process of revising electoral boundaries. There is also Bill C-35, the legislation to permit the reorganization of the new Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

We also have to deal with Bill C-33, the Yukon land claims legislation and Bill C-34 regarding native self-government in Yukon. I want to mention that I have been receiving many representations from not only native groups but from the premier of the Yukon saying that these bills represent a consensus in the Yukon territory after some 21 years of effort. They urge, therefore, that we consider and adopt these bills as quickly as possible.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other what you might call smaller items for which we will also seek passage.

In addition, before the House adjourns the government wants to have second reading of Bill C-37, the young offenders legislation. We also want to move into committee Bill C-38 respecting marine transportation security and the lobbyists legislation which will be introduced next week.

This is an extensive list. Of course our precise scheduling is dependent upon the timeliness with which our committees complete their work on the legislation before them. I think however that the proposal before us for additional hours will permit the House to complete all of this business. After all, three and one-half hours each day, Monday through Thursday over two weeks seems to me to be a comparatively easy means to add

what is the equivalent of an additional week of time for government business.

To conclude I again want to thank my colleagues, the Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs, my parliamentary secretary, the member for Kingston and the Islands, the chief government whip, the member for Saint Léonard, and the deputy whip, the member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and at the same time the opposition House leaders and their whips for their co-operative efforts. These have enabled this House to proceed in a manner reflecting the desire of the Canadian public for a more open and active House, one with a co-operative atmosphere, but which at the same time is a place, as I have said, for vigorous debate and exchange of ideas.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to a continued good atmosphere here in the House that will enable this House to complete its agenda. Therefore I ask for the support of members for this motion.

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, after what the hon. Leader of the Government in the House said earlier about the opposition leaders and especially about the Leader of the Official Opposition, I should return the compliment. I also want to underline the leadership the hon. Government House Leader has exercised-in co-operation with the opposition-and his always pleasant dealings with us regarding the agenda of the House. It is easy to understand, when we look at the actions of the Government House Leader, why he has survived a 32-year career in politics.

Now that the compliment has been returned, allow me to have a slightly different vision from that of the hon. Leader of the Government, especially with respect to the business of the House.

We in the Official Opposition were elected on October 25. After the election writs were returned in the following days, we asked that Parliament be summoned immediately because we saw our friends waving the red book and demanding action.

As early as mid-November, we were ready to meet here to consider government policies, initiatives and bills, and to implement the program they were elected on.

Despite repeated requests, we had to wait until January 17 to meet. Of course, we worked in our ridings, met with our constituents and prepared our arguments, but we could not deal with any legislation because the government had decided not to convene the House.

I must say that, when the House first met, it looked like a larger, more visible Spicer Commission. It introduced motions on various issues which we debated, but where was the legislative agenda? Where was the beef then and where is it now?

We then had bills without deep significance which generated little debate because many or all members could easily agree to them. We are now coming to the end of the session and they table a motion to extend sitting hours. It is standard parliamentary procedure. It gives the public, the voters, the people of this country and of both countries, the impression that there is much to be done in the home stretch in this country.

If the parliamentary agenda had been planned differently, if we had started sitting last November, we would not have to extend sitting hours during the last two weeks, so that members will have to work for 12 hours in the House and the committees, respond to their constituents' requests and lead rather hectic lives here.

However, we will do it. The Official Opposition does not at all intend to oppose the motion tabled by the Leader of the Government in the House, but it must be recognized that the planning of our agenda could have been done in such a way that this motion would have been unnecessary, especially since the government is announcing, somewhat hastily and at the very end of the session, bills which have not yet been tabled.

The Government House Leader referred to the Young Offenders Act, an omnibus bill which should be tabled shortly. He also announced legislation on lobbyists, as well as a bill on sentencing. Moreover, the government may want a second reading vote on these bills, some of which are not even on the agenda yet. As you know, it is not always a good thing to take on too much, because you sometimes end up not being able to do everything.

We must dispel the impression that we have to hurry because we have not done anything so far. The opposition is at the mercy of the government's agenda. Every day, we have worked with what the government put before us.

The government, through its House leader, referred earlier to Bill C-18, which we will look at for the last time this afternoon. This legislation on electoral boundaries readjustment and its impact is another example of bad planning. Indeed, Bill C-18 was tabled a bit late, with the result that, in some cases, provincial electoral boundaries commissions had to redo some of their work, while others had to start from scratch. This is an example of the mess we are in.

Mr. Speaker, what really surprised me, in a pleasant way, was to hear the Government House Leader say that he wanted us to have full dress debates, and that this House was the place to have such discussions. I am pleased to hear this from a person who has so much authority, because I was somewhat perplexed

yesterday when I read and heard that the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, who is the Deputy Government Whip under the Government House Leader, was encouraging people to sign petitions to keep us from debating the real issues for the two countries which are to be found in Canada.

I am therefore reassured and pleased to hear the hon. member for Windsor West and Government House Leader say that he has absolutely no intention of setting aside major issues so as to avoid a debate on them.

Mr. Speaker, the Official Opposition will do its job to the very end, and will work the extra hours required to fulfill the mandate given to us by our constituents, in spite of the disruptions to our daily schedule.

Consequently, if there is a vote, we will support the motion tabled by the Government House Leader.

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:45 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the motion before us today. I thank the hon. government House leader for his kind words and the hon. member for Bellechasse for his complimentary words regarding the co-operation House leaders have achieved during the first few months of the 35th Parliament. I also express words of appreciation for the co-operation and goodwill expressed among us.

However I too have some concerns. I rise to speak to the request of the government for an extension of the sitting hours of the House. My party, the Reform Party, has endeavoured to bring a different approach to the opposition benches of the House. The hon. government House leader alluded to it. We did not come to Ottawa to oppose de facto all government policies and motions. Instead it is the goal of my party to offer constructive criticism and even support government bills and motions we deem to be in the best interests of Canadians.

On that basis then we will not oppose the motion to extend the hours. Our hope is that these extended hours will be used profitably for the good of Canadians. I trust this hope is based on reality and not idealism on our part.

However the government's request to extend the hours of sitting of the House brings some questions to my mind. I cannot help but wonder-and I am sure many Canadians have the same questions as I have-why the government feels it needs to extend the hours. There is really only one reason it is necessary for the government to lengthen the time we spend in the House. The reason is that the Liberals have let down Canadians by wasting our time with relatively unimportant housekeeping bills for most of the time we have spent in the House thus far.

Allow me to outline the reasons for my thinking, Mr. Speaker. Since the election last October that elected the Liberal government, 225 days have passed and 82 days have passed since the date of the election and the initial convening of the House. Since then the House has also been sitting for a total of 82 days. During those 82 days we have been presented with 38 bills, with notice having been provided for 11 more.

Let us review the performance of the Liberal government for those 82 sitting days. Unlike other parties, the Reform Party is not adverse to giving credit to the government when credit is due. The government deserves some credit for a few changes it has made so far. Despite some disagreements on the various details of its legislation, the Reform Party is willing to commend the government for some changes proposed to the young offenders and student loans acts; for empowering the committee to make changes to the standing orders; for reviewing policies surrounding social programs, foreign, defence and peacekeeping policies; and for allowing special debates on topics such as agriculture and the situation in Bosnia.

Despite our role in opposition to oppose, the Reform Party is willing to acknowledge that the government is following through on some of its campaign promises, such as the cancellation of the EH-101 helicopter deal and the Pearson International Airport privatization deal.

If nothing else, we congratulate the government for sticking to its word in these areas. The Liberal government appears to have followed through on its promise to reduce the size of budgets of the offices of the Prime Minister and cabinet. Its promise to create a youth job initiative, even though we fear it will be ineffective in light of the jobs it creates at considerable cost to taxpayers, was at least an attempt to keep a promise.

However I must admit that my praise is rather faint. We are disturbed at the amount of time being taken by the government to put its plan in place. How much time does the government need to study and consider important Canadian issues? When will the government admit that the time for talk is over and that the time for action has come?

Two troubling statistics have come out of my examination of the bills introduced by the government. The first is that of the 14 bills left on the Order Paper at the end of the last session under the previous Conservative administration, eight have been recycled or reused with minimal changes. The Liberals said that they were going to be different. Instead they have shown they are an old line party from the same old system of politics of which Canadians have grown tired. In fact it is impossible to see how the government is different from the previous Conservative administration subscribing to Marshall McLuhan's idea that politics is a means by which to offer yesterday's answers to today's problems.

The second troubling statistic is that of the 38 bills introduced thus far, at least 13 have been of a housekeeping nature. We seek not to question the fact that many of these housekeeping details needed to be taken care of. Rather we seek to question why the government has tied up the business of the House with details of lesser importance than the truly great issues facing the majority of Canada. The issues I speak of are the promised Liberal programs dealing with jobs and job creation; the deficit and the

debt crisis; with justice system overhaul; and with reform of the pension plans for MPs.

The Liberals seem to be inclined simply to put on the guise of action. As I have mentioned 38 bills have been introduced of which 16 have been passed, 3 have gone to the other place, one has been returned to the House by the other place, and that was a real government fiasco, 12 are at committee and 5 are at second reading.

To an outside observer this gives the appearance of action. It is like the Liberals have just inherited the family farm but do not want the neighbours to find out that they do not know what to do with it. Instead of putting in a crop they are driving around in their tractors, spinning its wheels, or they are rearranging the equipment in the shed.

The Liberals cannot claim lack of experience. In the campaign they offered a list of star candidates and they even have several old hands from the Trudeau era. Perhaps this lack of ability to introduce substantial legislation is a result of the Liberal government not really wanting to make any changes at all, preferring rather to revere the memory of previously inept Liberal administrations.

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I remind members on the government side that nobody heckled the government House leader when he was giving his speech.

Extension Of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, Liberal Party members cannot blame the neighbours for their lack of advice or input. We know it is just a matter of time before the government comes to realize it needs help in getting its farm up and running. They only need to ask. As the farmer across the road, the Reform Party is willing to help provide the direction required.

Of the 38 bills brought before Parliament only 16 have been passed. Of the 16 bills that have been passed into law the Reform Party has supported 10 of them. Let it not be said that the Reform Party seeks to obstruct the legislative process of the Government of Canada. Rather the Reform Party has sought to be and has become a constructive force and good neighbour in the House of Commons. It is unfortunate, however, that we have not been given the opportunity to deal with very much truly substantive legislation.

The result of the election that brought all of us to Ottawa was an obvious expression of the desire of the Canadian people for change in government. Canadians elected over 200 of the current members of Parliament to the House for the first time. The Liberal government could have taken this past election as an opportunity to make the changes it promised in its so-called red ink book.

While the Reform Party does not support the majority of the policies put forth by the red book, we recognize the democratic voice of Canadians in providing the Liberals with the mandate to make those changes. Instead of representing the change Canadians expected, the government has chosen to waste its time on these housekeeping matters and put off the real decisions seemingly to an indefinite time, preferring to remind us how to do politics in a tired old way. The government has let down all Canadians. It has given Canadians exactly what they voted against: the status quo.

The Liberal Party campaigned on a platform of job creation and economic stimulus. Unfortunately campaign is the only thing it did with most of its promises. The Liberals have shown themselves to be politicians of the old order. The Liberals are politicians who, like their predecessors, promised change and delivered nothing.

The Reform Party does not object to sitting late and working for Canadians. The Reform Party has been co-operative in supporting 10 out of 16 bills passed in this session. It must therefore be the fault of the Liberals that virtually nothing substantive has been put forward by the government. With this in mind we cannot help but wonder what justifies the rush when no hurry has been exhibited by the government to implement its program thus far.

I am the member for the riding of Kindersley-Lloydminister in Saskatchewan. A large part of my riding was devastated by the great depression of the 1930s. The people survived by sticking together in a spirit of teamwork and mutual support. It is with that spirit I offer advice to our Liberal friends on the other side of the House. Perhaps the Liberals can take a few ideas from the common sense suggestions of the Reform Party. Hopefully Liberal egos will not get in the way of common sense.

First and foremost the Reform Party feels the need to remind the Liberals of the massive debt crisis facing the country and specifically future generations of taxpayers. The Liberals may not care about future generations but the Reform Party does.

The young people of Canada are being cheated by the government. Deficit spending is a discriminatory tax on youth. The unrestrained deficit spending of the last two decades has placed a heavy burden on Canadian youth. It is they who will be taxed throughout their lives to make interest payments on the national debt which is now over half a trillion dollars. Growing at over

$1,500 per second, the national debt amounts to over $18,000 per capita. Debt and taxation levels in the country have gone up so fast that the government is soon likely to price Canada right out of the world market. This cannot continue.

Where are the bills to reduce federal spending in every department from every minister? Why is there not balanced budget legislation instead of a budget that increases total government spending by $3.3 billion?

The debt is the most critical problem facing Canadians and their social programs today. The irony is that we can afford our social programs. It is the debt we have accumulated that we cannot afford.

According to the public accounts for the year ending March 31, 1993, the interest on the national debt amounted to some $38.793 billion. In fact government accounts show an operating surplus but for the interest payments being made on the long term debt of the country.

In the absence of debt and the resulting interest payments, we would have a program of expenditure surplus and tax levels could in fact be reduced without any threat to social programs. The government does not seem to care. Last night it refused even the most moderate reductions to the estimates. The Liberal government, along with the Bloc and the NDP, voted against reducing the estimates by only $20,000. What an awful sign that sends from Ottawa.

The government has forecast a deficit in this fiscal year of approximately $40 billion, making no effort to curb the spiralling deterioration of the fiscal situation in Canada. This is why last week Moody's, the investment rating company, downgraded the rating on foreign denominated Canadian bonds. This is also why Reformers feel that the debt and the deficit are the most important issues facing Canadians today and why we would not hesitate, as the Liberals have obviously hesitated, to deal quickly and with conviction regarding the financial problems facing Canada today.

Reformers do not wish financial slavery on their own children or on the future generations of Canadians. Why are there not bills before the House that would restore investor confidence, small business optimism and taxpayer hope for tax relief?

Why did the government scratch out the following words from the Reform Party's motion on national unity? I quote:

-remain federally united as one people, committed to strengthening our economy, balancing the budgets of our governments, sustaining our social services, conserving our environment, preserving our cultural heritage and diversity, protecting our lives and property, further democratizing our institutions and decision making processes, affirming the equality and uniqueness of all our citizens and provinces, and building peaceful and productive relations with other peoples of the world.

Another area of concern to Canadians and to the Reform Party is the extravagance of pensions for members of Parliament. High on the list of suggestions I would offer to our Liberal counterparts is the reform of MPs' pensions. As the member for Calgary Centre mentioned the other day, the pension package for politicians has created a two-tier pension system completely out of line with the private sector. This system must be reformed and brought into line with the pension programs in the private sector.

The government is talking about making changes. It is waiting for studies when no studies are needed and has made no substantive proposals. Could it be that the Liberals are trying to protect the wealth of their pensions for themselves? After all, will they need them when a disillusioned public turfs them out of office after the next election? I doubt they are needy; maybe they are greedy.

Canadians are frustrated by the fact that there are more barriers to trade and commerce in an east-west direction in the country than there are in a north-south direction. For many businesses it is easier to carry on business with companies and customers in the United States than it is to carry on business with other provinces in Canada. These barriers to the free exchange of goods and services within Canada work against economic growth and development of business relations in our country.

The government promised to work quickly to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers by a date this month. However these barriers to trade within our country still stand and it appears no progress is being made in this area. How long will the government wait to put business in any and all provinces and regions on an equal footing?

Let us talk briefly about justice. A few weeks ago Barb Danelesko, an Edmonton housewife, was murdered in her own home by intruders who turned out to be young offenders. Her death has brought to the national stage the fact that the Liberals have been slow to act on this issue.

The Reform Party believes that the justice system should place the punishment of crime and the protection of law-abiding citizens and their property ahead of other objectives. This principle should apply to the Young Offenders Act.

The current treatment of young offenders still derives from an outdated 19th century idea that youth are morally incapable of criminal wrongdoing. The policy consequences of this idea deny justice to young offenders, to the victims of their offences and to citizenry at large. Reform MPs have illustrated this point with case after case of documented youth offences, but they have not moved the Minister of Justice and his government to introduce responsible legislation.

Recently the Minister of Justice did introduce some changes to the Young Offenders Act. Unfortunately these amendments do not go nearly far enough to provide for the protection of society. Most noticeably, it failed to lower the age at which youth will be held responsible for their actions. It is unfortunate that the House will spend many hours debating inferior legislation like Bill C-37.

Another issue that concerns Canadians is the fact that the traditional representatives they elect to Parliament seem to have become spokespersons of the government to them rather than ambassadors of their electors to the government in Ottawa. It is time that all members of Parliament began to truly represent their constituents.

Reformers want to make it possible for members of Parliament to represent the wishes of their constituents. We believe that the failure of a government measure in the House of Commons should not automatically mean the defeat of the government. Defeat of a government motion should be followed by a formal motion of non-confidence, the passage of which would require either the resignation of the government or the dissolution of the House for a general election.

This practice has been successfully followed in the United Kingdom for over two decades and it could be introduced here. No constitutional or legal change is required, just a declaration on the part of the Prime Minister. He has failed to make this declaration.

This bold act would break open what scholars have called the iron cage of party discipline. Members of Parliament could begin to vote for what their constituents really want instead of what a small cadre of cabinet ministers wants. This would open up the institution of Parliament and revitalize respect for politicians who would have the opportunity to truly serve the people who elected them.

The only substantial parliamentary reform has been to change the standing orders, allowing committee and report stage of bills prior to second reading. However, absolutely no bills have followed or gone this route to date. Why would the government make these changes and then not follow through on using the new procedures? I would like to suggest that this is perhaps a sign of a deeper problem within the Liberal Party. I trust the Liberals will have more use for changes they make in the future.

Therefore, not only does the Reform Party question the government on what it has been trying to pass off as important business during the last session of Parliament, but we have concrete ideas and proposals that we believe would be in the best interests of Canadians. If the government wants to admit that it does not know what to do by dredging up old Tory legislation, the Reform Party will be glad to help point the way.

Let us not waste our time on cursory housekeeping matters but get on with the truly important matters that need to be urgently dealt with. The deficit, justice issues, MPs' pensions and representational matters are issues that affect Canadians to a far greater degree than migratory birds or the National Library.

Right now I feel like the woman from the now famous "where's the beef" commercials. I believe the hon. member for Bellechasse mentioned a similar concern. This government's approach to reform is to talk about it, study it, promise it and quibble over it but when we come to sink our teeth into it, we find there is nothing there. We have missed the point.

It is with reluctance that I support this motion. I support it because Canadians need reforms legislated soon. I do it reluctantly because the government has proposed so little substantive legislation to this point.

In closing, I would like to quote Allan Fotheringham's column in the Ottawa Sun dated June 5, 1994. In it he addresses the Prime Minister with these words: ``Start fulfilling your mandate. You're the Prime Minister. Act it''.

(Motion agreed to.)

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Fernand Robichaud LiberalSecretary of State (Parliamentary Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, Question No. 45 will be answered today.

Question No. 45-

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

With respect to police investigations relating to fraud and misappropriation of funds by the Indian bands, tribal councils and aboriginal/metis organizations, ( a ) how many were conducted during the last five years, ( b ) how many charges were laid, ( c ) how many are currently underway?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not collect statistics in relation to any particular ethnic groups.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Fernand Robichaud Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.