House of Commons Hansard #97 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.


The House resumed from May 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-206, an Act to provide for the relocation and protection of witnesses, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, before I speak to Bill C-206, I would like to remind this House that this is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the death of Daniel Johnson senior, the premier of Quebec, whose politics transcended partisanship and who left a valuable legacy for the Quebec we know today.

I have read Bill C-206, introduced by my colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough West, to whom I have listened attentively, both during his presentation before the Sub-Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, when he so eloquently argued to have his bill put to a vote in this House, and when he reached a stage not many reach, because many are called but few are chosen. The hon. member for Scarborough West may congratulate himself on having raised the awareness of the Sub-Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and that of this House regarding the protection and relocation of witnesses.

The hon. member's concern for this particular issue is to his credit and will advance law in Canada, because, as we would have to agree, we have lagged behind our neighbours to the south, who have already, for close to 25 years now, had legislation in 50 states of the union with respect to witness protection that is known to the public and that sets out their rights.

Here in Canada we have, of course, certain more or less well-known provisions for the protection and relocation of witnesses, which are applied in turn, piecemeal and sporadically by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police or the Sûreté du Québec.

However, I do not believe that in a democratic state we should be satisfied with piecemeal measures and decisions taken arbitrarily by those who are called upon to make such decisions, often behind closed doors. I think that the idea of having legislation that will apply throughout Canada is one that will improve the situation of witnesses, particularly in a criminal context and especially with respect to serious crimes. I therefore think that we can put an end to a sort of bona fide application of procedures, which could be sequential, without controls and without witnesses really being informed of the applicable policies.

As I said earlier, a standard procedure must be established. The public must know what the future standards will be and how to have access to the protection and relocation program.

How will it work? Should the judiciary be involved in the protection of witnesses? The hon. member for Scarborough West suggests it should not be involved, to prevent excessive media coverage, but perhaps a parliamentary committee could be an alternative. This is an excellent idea, to have a sub-committee such as the justice sub-committee look, as discreetly as possible, at how witnesses are being protected. I think this is a fine job for the justice sub-committee which is already looking into allegation concerning the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This new responsibility could be added to the mandate of the sub-committee.

In the case of serious crimes like drug trafficking or organized crime, the very survival of the witnesses is often at stake. But in our legal system, the entire case for the Crown usually rests much more on witnesses than on the admission of guilt on the part of the accused, which puts the Crown in a precarious position when introducing evidence. Crown attorneys never know, throughout the bail hearing, the preliminary investigation and finally the trial per se-a three-stage process that can stretch over several months-if their witnesses will see them through. They often wonder: can I be sure I will still have witnesses to call by the time we go to trial? And when I call them to the stand, will I be able to ask them the questions and, more importantly, get the honest answers I have every right to expect from them?

At present, there certainly is no guarantee, because witnesses often have failing memories in such cases. The hon. members who were in legal practice or even watched movies about certain trials or television broadcasts of trials have noticed witnesses who cannot recall anything at the time of the trial. Their

memories fail them. I think we must provide assistance to these witnesses who need our help.

Help is required both before the trial and, of course, after it. Before the trial, we must ensure their physical safety, which involves providing them with some form of protection. At times, this will mean literally hiding them for their own protection, and with their consent I hope, so that they can give adequate evidence to enable a court of law to appreciate the value of the evidence and determine whether the Crown has proven its case beyond any reasonable doubt. Bear in mind that, in our legal system, an enormous onus rests with the Crown and the slightest error in that area will automatically lead to an acquittal. With regard to foul crimes-I mentioned drug trafficking and organized crime-the simple fact that witnesses vanished could be enough to raise a reasonable doubt because the jury or the judge, if the accused has asked for a trial without jury, will not have the benefit of their testimonies.

But there is also the aftermath, them time after the trial, after the sentencing. Sometimes, the presumption of innocence-which I in no way question-and its offshoot, the reasonable doubt principle, can also lead to an acquittal and a witness can be in grave danger. We must therefore provide for the social reintegration of a witness who had someone put way or may even have failed to do so on the assessment of the evidence.

What this generally means is getting a new identity, new papers and often a new job for the witness. In extreme cases of course, the State must be able to provide replacement income to witnesses who have put their lives on the line for the law of the land to prevail.

In that sense, I fully agree with the principle of the bill introduced by the hon. member for Scarborough West. In short, based on what was said in the comprehensive speeches made so far on the subject, let me just indicate that at the time of the vote, scheduled for later on, or in a deferred vote, I will gladly support the bill put forward by the hon. member.

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

September 26th, 1994 / 11:10 a.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in support of this private member's bill and the initiative taken by the hon. member. One of the most amazing things to me is having had the opportunity now to take a look at this, I would suggest to all members that they probably have a number of people currently in their constituencies falling through the cracks relative to this issue.

Most of us are involved with people in our society who are supposedly the law-abiding people, the upstanding citizens, the people we never hear about in the courts. Certainly we never read about them in the paper. As we are all aware with criminal justice there are situations in our constituencies that require the attention of the police and the courts and of course all of us want to see justice done correctly.

Part of the justice system are the witnesses who come before the courts. They are a very important part, at the risk of stating the obvious, to getting the convictions we would like to have in our criminal justice system for those who are guilty of a crime.

The information these witnesses provide is absolutely invaluable to crack the case. Unfortunately, however, it is very obvious that we would end up in a situation of tremendous fear on the part of some individuals when they are confronted with a situation of facing the accused in a court or coming forward with information. They have tremendous fear and very understandable fear.

I happened to notice in the Edmonton Journal this last weekend that there was a case of an individual who on September 6, 1988 got four months in custody for uttering threats, carrying a concealed weapon, failing to comply. On February 10, 1989 this person was sentenced for six months open custody for forcible confinement and assault with a weapon. On September 20, 1989 this person was sentenced for two months open custody for solicitation, and on and on. There are four more cases on top of the first three I have outlined. Then on September 9, 1992 this person was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $400 for uttering threats against a woman police believed might implicate this person in a murder.

We have seen particularly in western Canada very successful so-called crime stopper programs in which crimes are brought forward on television. People are encouraged to come forward and act as witnesses but the difficulty is that even if they come forward in confidence, even if they come forward in secrecy, even if they provide the information in such a way that it will result in a conviction, it is not infrequent that mistakes will occur in the investigation or mistakes can occur in the court where the name of that person who has come forward as a good responsible Canadian citizen suddenly is applied in court. Then the accused person at that point, particularly if it leads to a conviction, is fully aware of where the information came from. Fear is an absolute factor in this equation.

Right at the moment this is a police responsibility, and as the member from Quebec stated, this leads to a patchwork, very spasmodic kind of a system. It leads to inconsistency from jurisdiction to jurisdiction because there will be different attitudes on the part of different police departments even throughout our constituencies. There will also be different budget constraints and respective police forces will have different attitudes toward the issue of budgets.

Another problem that currently exists is what I call the 97 per cent factor. I have been led to believe on the basis of research I did before speaking to this issue that 97 per cent of the people who would be protected by the witness protection act are people who were involved in some kind of criminal activity with respect to the issue that would be before the court.

It becomes part of the plea bargain or it becomes part of the "if you will give us this evidence in court to lead to this conviction, although you were involved" and this bargaining goes back and forth.

I suggest with police being human beings they would undoubtedly have an attitude problem from time to time with some of the people they would be using in an attempt to gain convictions because the people they are dealing with as far as they are concerned do not fall into the responsible citizen category.

This legislation would lead to a specific protection department. I support it because it would be separate from the police force for the reasons I have just outlined. This protection department for witnesses would also, in my judgment, be best served by getting people who are trained in counselling.

Can we imagine the stress on individuals of coming forward as a witness, particularly in very serious crimes or crimes where there are tremendous numbers of people involved? I see the witness protection department as having counsellors who are trained.

By having a department separate from the police forces, we would not only gain uniformity of application across the country, but it would give us an opportunity to develop some kind of standard policy across Canada.

The Reform Party, of course, is noted for always talking about how much it is going to cost. With the current incarceration and rehabilitation programs for people who are convicted of criminal offences we are currently looking at an expenditure of about $2 billion. In the area of enforcement under federal jurisdiction alone we are looking at a cost, I believe, of about $1.7 billion.

What we should be doing with the $1.7 billion is looking at the cost effectiveness of using dollars where people would have confidence in a witness protection plan to be able to come forward. I cannot help but think that this would have a direct impact on being able to roll back the cost of some investigations, where the investigations would not have to go forward at continuing cost because people would feel comfortable in coming forward.

The relocation of a witness is an issue. Again I suggest that within the $2 billion which we are currently spending on incarceration and rehabilitation, we should be able with some ease to find some dollars for the issue of relocation of witnesses.

In conclusion, the sentence that a criminal receives for his or her criminal activity is measured in months and years. I suggest that the sentence that a witness gets is a life sentence, particularly in situations where the person who is convicted of a crime makes it very clear that he or she is going to continue to pursue the witness. We must set up retraining for these people to get them from the field that they are currently working into another field. This would help to isolate them from their previous situation. We must set up documents, set up protection for the people who we are asking to be witnesses in these criminal cases.

I look forward to the thoughtful support of all members to move this bill forward to committee.

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Under Standing Order 44, the hon. member for Scarborough West will close the debate.

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to stand today to close the debate on my Bill C-206, the protection of witnesses in Canada.

I want to begin by thanking the Parliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada who was kind enough to second my bill when debate began on April 20, 1994.

Throughout the three hours that the bill has been debated, eight of my Liberal colleagues, two members of the Official Opposition and four members of the Reform Party have spoken. Each and every one of them has spoken in favour of the principle of the bill.

Many good points have been raised. Many suggestions have been made. I am the first to acknowledge that the bill, since it was written by me, is certainly not perfect and that it can be improved. Should the House decide to pass the bill at second reading and send it to a committee, I look forward to discussing the suggestions that my colleagues have made to help make this a better bill so that witnesses can be protected and thereby strengthen the justice system.

I am particularly thankful that the Official Opposition has so clearly and unequivocally come out both on April 20 and today and stated that it would support the bill, as have my friends in the Reform Party.

I want to briefly remind everybody in the House and those watching that this is an area which has been left alone, which is quite unusual. In fact there is no legislative basis anywhere in Canada for the protection of witnesses. Although there is no law, there are approximately 21 individual witness protection plans across the country, as we heard from the hon. member for Kootenay East, all being run by various departments under different rules.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police plan, which has no legislative basis, has expanded. In 1986, for example, $569,000 was spent by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for witness protection programs. In 1993, a few years later, $3,800,000 was spent. What for? This is under the rubric of drug enforcement.

Under the rubric of drug enforcement it is clear that over the years it has become useful in the capturing and convicting of criminals to help witnesses who would otherwise fear for their lives to be relocated.

This bill, the protection of witnesses, will help to convict criminals and get them off the street by encouraging people to come forward and testify, knowing that they will not be subject to further reprisal.

There were 1,455 unsolved murders in this country between the years 1980 and 1992, almost 1,500 unsolved murders. I hope that this bill will help to solve some of those tragedies.

I got a call from a number of people in hiding over the course of debate of this bill but one in particular struck me. It was a mother with a number of children who is currently in her third province of residence because of this hodge-podge of protection plans. She was a witness testifying against her husband in a murder trial. As a result of that her husband was convicted. Her husband is looking for her, as are her husband's associates. She was relocated to the province of Ontario with her children, living in fear and hiding.

Unfortunately because of the fact that there is no legislative basis it is not that easy to get new passports. It is not that easy to get a new social insurance number. It is not that easy to invent a new identity. Her husband's associates, even though he is in prison, have been able to trace her in two provinces and now she is running to her third. We do not want to see that happen to families and to victims. I hope this bill will help to alleviate that.

In closing, I want to remind the House that should members be of the view that this bill merits passage at this time, it means the principle of the bill is accepted and the matter proceeds to committee where it will be studied carefully. There we will be able to look at the experience in the United States. We know that our friends in Australia have just this year introduced a very similar bill to this one. They are struggling with that as well.

I am sure the committee will be able to carefully examine the good points made in the debate and to examine the experiences in the United States and Australia. We should able to come up with a plan that will protect victims and their families, witnesses and their families, and will help to convict those who deserve to be convicted.

I thank everybody in the House and I ask for thoughtful consideration in the passage of my bill at this time.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

I rise on a point of order. I would like to ask the House to suspend the proceedings until noon.

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the wish of the House to suspend the sitting to the call of the bell?

Witness Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members


(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11.27 a.m.)

The House resumed at 11.59 a.m.

Department Of Industry ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Saint-Léonard Québec


Alfonso Gagliano Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved that Bill C-46, an act to establish the Department of Industry and to amend and repeal certain other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Department Of Industry ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Broadview—Greenwood Ontario


Dennis Mills LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Industry I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the occasion of second reading of the legislation that gives official recognition to the Department of Industry.

I will begin by explaining to Canadians that this legislation provides a streamlined, organized and comprehensive approach to all those various instruments the government has had spread over several departments. It is an effort to bring them all under one ministerial roof.

Under this bill the minister is responsible in Canada for industry and technology, trade and commerce, science, consumer affairs, corporations and securities, competition and restraint of trade including mergers and monopolies, bankruptcy and insolvency, patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, and integrated circuit topographies.

Also included in the minister's responsibilities are standards of identity, packaging and performance in relation to consumer products and services, except in relation to the safety of consumer goods; legal metrology; telecommunications, except in relation to the planning and co-ordination of telecommunications services for departments, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada; and broadcasting, other than in relation to spectrum management and the technical aspects of broadcast-

ing; the development and utilization generally of communications undertakings, facilities, systems and services for Canada; investment; small business; and tourism.

Never before has there been such a comprehensive revamping. As I mentioned earlier we have put four departments into one. The purpose is to allow the government and all members of the House of Commons to work at creating a very tight focus. This will create an environment for stimulating entrepreneurs and thus will get people back to work.

In these times of a very tough fiscal framework, the debts and deficits at all levels of government are very high. It is therefore incumbent upon all members in this House and all public servants across Canada to do their very best to maximize the use of taxpayers' dollars. By undertaking this massive and comprehensive reorganization the Government of Canada is living up to a commitment made during the campaign and which is contained in the red book. Speaking on the red book for a minute, it has become our compass in the past 10 months as a government. I refer members and Canadians to page 47 where we stated:

A Liberal government will focus on small and medium-sized businesses because they can and must be the determining factor in turning around what has so far been a jobless recovery.

Small and medium-sized businesses are primarily Canadian owned. They are found in all sectors of the economy: manufacturing, services, retail, high technology, low technology, fishing, and farming. Supporting small and medium-sized businesses will benefit all Canadians, but particularly certain demographic groups.

This bill will allow us to put a very special focus on that sector of our economy we believe will ultimately pull this country out of its very difficult economic and fiscal framework.

One thing members opposite have been talking constructively about over the last few months is that we have to reduce overlap and duplication. This bill addresses that point which opposition members have made.

Another thing opposition members have put forward from time to time is that by having many departments sometimes the message becomes scattered and the focus is not as tight as it should be. This is a very large department. We are talking about a department with 6,000 employees all across Canada. Of those employees, 2,500 are beyond the national capital region. In terms of public service, we are talking about 140 access points.

It is important that all our public servants be in tune with this new government thrust. It is important that all members get behind this bill because it essentially meets the request, some thoughts and ideas that opposition members have put forward.

Another important point we have to deal with is that because of our very difficult fiscal framework, government no longer has the resources to put money into program support. Funding support is very tight right now.

As a national institution Industry Canada must have a different presence in the community. It must have the type of presence where it will be like a facilitator. We will lever the government's resources and do many more joint ventures with the private sector. We will be funding less in terms of special projects.

Of course the minister has made some very special exceptions in the last few months. Those special cases involve important issues relating to science and technology and research and development. There are a couple that the House and Canadians should be aware of.

The minister made the commitment to the space station. That was a commitment in excess of $2 billion over time but it is an area where Canada has great brain power. By participating in this program with the United States not only will we be partners but we will be allowing the best and brightest in that sector to grow. We also continue to fund the very special centres of excellence, the 10 of them across the country.

We can see that the minister has not in any way shape or form retreated from the government's commitment to research and development. Research and development is an integral component of any national industrial strategy.

Another very important feature of this bill is clause 5(a):

The minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by section 4(1) in a manner that will

(a) strengthen the national economy and promote sustainable development.

This particular clause is something the minister, when an opposition member, fought aggressively to be included in previous legislation but was unable to achieve it. This is a very special feature of the bill. We salute the minister, the drafters and the officials that this is now a part of our national industrial strategy, that this is all going to be done in the light of sustainable development.

In order to make sure there is a discipline on the department we have incorporated the old Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. The interests and protection of Canadian consumers is within the same department. This means that as we are advancing and developing policy we are going to have consumer protection and interest right there in the room during the evolution and debate on this policy. That will go a long way in making sure that the objective of sustainable development is maintained.

I would like to touch on a couple of other very important areas of responsibility within the Department of Industry. Throughout the day many of my colleagues will talk about this bill and how it impacts on their various regions and communities in Canada.

I would like to highlight the commitment of this government to the tourism sector. Those who watched the Prime Minister's address to the Chamber of Commerce last Sunday will have noted that he highlighted tourism as being a sector of our economy to which this government will make a very special

commitment. As that sector is part of Industry Canada I can happily say we are excited that we are going to rebuild Tourism Canada.

I cannot imagine a member of Parliament in this House not supporting that particular sector. In terms of job creation, after the automotive and forestry sectors tourism creates more jobs than any other sector in our economy. Right now there is close to a $7 billion deficit in that sector.

I hope all members of Parliament will support the government's initiatives. The Minister of Industry will be making an announcement in about three weeks' time on how we can rebuild that sector of our economy.

Another area of responsibility within the Department of Industry is the Federal Business Development Bank. We are happy that this particular government instrument is in the Department of Industry and we are especially happy with the support from the opposition parties on the whole issue of access to capital for small business.

The presence of the Federal Business Development Bank will be reinforced. We will put a tighter focus on that institution and its responsibilities to complement existing financial institutions and target small business operators. By doing this we will fire up the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit, especially with businesses that have 50 or fewer employees. The access to capital problem all members of this House hear about from their constituents is something to which the Department of Industry is sensitive.

As a member of the industry committee I can tell Canadians that probably in two or three weeks our all-party study will be tabled in the House. Most of the things we have been working on will address and support this current revamping and restructuring in Industry Canada.

We would like to think that the Department of Industry is not just listening to members of the opposition parties but that in this particular piece of legislation we are showing we are acting on some of those recommendations and following through on some of the commitments that we made in our red book.

There are so many different aspects within the Department of Industry that I could go on all day. I would like to talk about a couple of other areas where the minister has given very special emphasis and energy during the last few months. It is important for Canadians to know about all the work that has been done on reducing interprovincial trade barriers. The interprovincial trade barriers that exist in this country cost industry close to $11 billion a year.

I am happy to report that the Minister of Industry at the end of June successfully reached an agreement that will reduce many of these tariff barriers in about 10 different sectors. This will go a long way in creating a more efficient economy in Canada. We are not saying at this point that the interprovincial trade barrier document is the end of the pathway, it is just the beginning of the pathway. It is a very tough issue which the minister started on early in this mandate and he was able to achieve a good round of successes in phase one. We state clearly that it is only phase one and we have a tremendous amount of work to do yet. We seek the co-operation and ideas of all members of Parliament in that area.

Another area where the minister has given very special focus and attention is the information highway. The information highway will give Canadians an opportunity to re-establish ourselves as the communications country, the communications state par excellence of any country in the world.

Along with the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development we are working not just with the information highway advisory group but we are working in partnership with various community groups, with the private sector, and we are working very hard now in creating an environment in which we can pave the information highway.

Last week I attended on behalf of the minister a demonstration. The Queen's masters of business program began the new master of business program which is on interactive television. Now you can be sitting in the Northwest Territories or some place in B.C., or Toronto or Newfoundland and through the technology that has been developed with various corporations you can now get your MBA without going to Queen's in Kingston. This is the first of its kind in Canada but it is a concrete example of how this information highway is turning from theory into real hard reality. This is the type of thing that will make us a more educated country, and a more educated country is a more competitive country.

The other thing we are doing in the Department of Industry is working very hard to encourage our small and medium size operators to become more export oriented. We are doing this through our advice in policy development with the Federal Business Development Bank. We are doing this through Industry Canada officials who are dedicated to helping small and medium size entrepreneurs to shift their marketing strategies from the North American marketing thrust to the Asian thrust, and other parts of the world.

We are doing our best to move this whole restructuring and streamlining of government forward in a way that we believe will show Canadians that we are serious in eliminating waste, that we are serious in developing a co-ordinated approach, a focused approach that will allow the business community of

Canada to develop a renewed faith in dealing with the Government of Canada.

One of the real frustrations entrepreneurs have in dealing with government is that they will go to a department asking for a particular type of advice. The official will say for this particular part of your program you come to Industry Canada but for this other part you have to go to consumer affairs, for this other part you go to the Federal Business Development Bank.

By the time the entrepreneur is finished with the experience he feels that he would much rather avoid dealing with the government.

We are hoping that through this bill, through this streamlining, by putting all of these services-emphasis on the word services-under one roof, we are not only going to become more streamlined but by eliminating duplication we are going to make the experience of business men and women in dealing with their government a much more productive one. That will ultimately rebuild confidence and trust in this institution.

I want to once again say that we are moving quickly in the area of reorganization. We are hoping this bill will receive the support of all members of this House so we can get on with meeting the objective that all of us in this House want, putting Canadians back to work.

Department Of Industry ActGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I will comment on-not to say respond to-the speech by my colleague from Broadview-Greenwood, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, who rose today on behalf of the Minister of Industry to present Bill C-46, an Act to establish the Department of Industry, not to say the new Department of Industry, because it must be said that this bill simply confirms after the fact what was planned by the former government then led by Ms. Campbell. Under this bill, certain institutions such as Investment Canada, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, part of the Department of Communications and Science and Technology will now come under the same concept, the same minister and the same department, namely Industry Canada.

Briefing sessions, to use the federal public service's new terminology, can be very enlightening in that we meet with public servants who can fill us in on the government's approach. That is how we learned, for example, the guidelines behind Bill C-46, which can be found in a government document prepared by the minister's officials. The guidelines are as follows: Bill C-46 is aimed at, among other things, maintaining the status quo between the mandates of the departments affected; preserving the provisions in the old laws as much as possible; and finally, making the minor amendments that are needed but not substantial.

That is characteristic of how this government elected on October 25, 1993 has operated since the beginning of the session on January 19. It is there but not making any headway. It is simply marking time. It holds debates without making any real progress, without promoting advances in science-since we are talking about science and technology.

It is simply marking time, and that is becoming more and more obvious as weeks and months go by without any real savings recorded as a result of their amendments. Three or four structures are combined under one head; they are now headed by one person instead of two or three, but nothing is really saved in the day-to-day running of things; we think it is purely a cosmetic operation, it is grandstanding, it is a way to say that instead of 30 or 32 ministers as before, there are now 20, but with the same responsibilities.

I refer to a government document given out at another briefing session we had for people in the Official Opposition who are concerned with the Department of Industry; it is contrary to the action needed, in their words, to make the machinery of government simpler and more efficient and to provide better services to users. So nothing is being simplified and nothing is more efficient with this change in structure, which is purely cosmetic.

These are not just words; this is the mandate of the minister of the newly structured Department of Industry. It is worth reading it.

My colleague, the parliamentary secretary, read it in English; I shall read it in French: "Powers, Duties and Functions of the Minister. The powers, duties and functions of the Minister extend to and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction, not by law assigned to any other department, board or agency of the Government of Canada, relating to industry and technology in Canada; trade and commerce in Canada; science in Canada; consumer affairs; corporations and corporate securities; competition and restraint of trade, including mergers and monopolies; bankruptcy and insolvency; patents, copyrights, trade-marks, industrial designs and integrated circuit topographies; standards of identity, packaging and performance in relation to consumer products and services, except in relation to the safety of consumer goods; legal metrology; telecommunications, except in relation to the planning and coordination of telecommunication services for departments, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, and broadcasting, other than in relation to spectrum management and the technical aspects of broadcasting; the development and utilization generally of communication undertakings, facilities, systems and services for Canada; investment; small businesses; and tourism."

So, Mr. Speaker, 15 fields of action, 15 fields of responsibility, which make the Department of Industry today a huge giant. We may wonder how one individual, as well supported as he may be by the bureaucracy, can really do an effective job! I for one, anyway, am very sceptical that anyone can really govern with such a broad mandate, when you realize that the industry minister's responsibility, in addition to what I just read, extends from Statistics Canada, for example, to the Canadian Space Agency to the Competition Tribunal and includes the Federal Business Development Bank, to name only these.

So I think that this excessively large field, which on the very face of it leaves us sceptical-

Department Of Industry ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON


Department Of Industry ActGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Superman. Yes, the parliamentary secretary has taken the words out of my mouth. It takes a superman and the voters will have to decide in due course whether the minister is superman.

Mr. Speaker, one aspect of the bill that I read particularly interested me. With respect to the minister's powers, clause 5 says, "The Minister shall exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions assigned by clause 4", as we saw before, "in a manner that will ( a ) strengthen the national economy and promote sustainable development; ( c ) increase''-and this is very important-``the international competitiveness of Canadian industry, goods and services and assist in the adjustment to changing domestic and international conditions.''

When I read this section, I immediately think of two Quebec industries affected by the defence industry conversion which show the government's negligence immediately-and there are certainly more in other parts of Canada. On paper, this government has every power to take action, but it lacks the political will to deal with the very harrowing issue of defence industry conversion, thus letting the situation get worse from week to week.

Take the case of Expro where, in the last few weeks, the situation has become dramatic. Indeed, the workers, the union and the management are faced with the unbearable choice of having to decide who and how many, will be laid off. I can understand why union leaders opposed this measure since there is no alternative.

There is no alternative of course because the global situation is difficult. As we know, now that the cold war is a thing of the past, everything that has to do with military production is being reevaluated. In fact, the military industry worldwide is conducting such an exercise. But what distinguishes Canada is the government's negligence compared, for example, to the American government's initiatives to concretely support that industry and make sure that it will improve. The situation of Expro is getting worse, while MIL Davie, in Lévis, has still not received any support from this totally apathetic government-in spite of strong public and political pressure.

Thankfully, we heard some good news for the Quebec City region when the leader of the Parti Quebecois, who is being sworn in today as the province's new premier, pledged-and we hope that he will have the means and the political will to fulfill that commitment-to find a solution in the case of MIL Davie, with or without the help of the federal government. Mr. Parizeau must be congratulated for displaying this kind of political courage to ensure that the problems of the number one private company in the Quebec City region are resolved-indeed, this is no small venture: it is the largest company in the region. The projects regarding the ferry to the Madgalen islands and the smart ship, which have been the subject of much discussion and which the federal government is very familiar with, should get the green light so as to at least give some time to MIL Davie.

I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all our elected colleagues from the Parti Quebecois, and particularly Mr. Parizeau. I also want to congratulate the PQ members who were elected in my region, namely Mr. Guy Julien and Mr. Rémi Désilets, who will respectively represent Trois-Rivières and Maskinongé at the legislative assembly. Some may find those results strange but the fact is that, for the first time ever, Maskinongé voted for the Parti Quebecois, and so did the riding of Charlevoix if I am not mistaken. This is a sign of the times and it shows how coherent Quebecers have been in their thinking since the failure of Meech. Indeed, Quebecers first said "no"to the Charlottetown accord, then "yes" to the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois, and they will say "yes" to sovereignty in a few months.

We are pleased that the Parti Quebecois is now in office and we were glad to see that Quebec's premier, Mr. Parizeau, wasted no time in announcing at his first press conference a policy which will better anything ever done by the federal government regarding regional housing-even if those federal measures were not necessarily constitutional-by setting up a new structure whereby parliamentary assistants, who will be directly accountable to the premier, will each be responsible for one region of Quebec.

I think Quebec has scored some major points as far as its future is concerned, and we can only commend the Government of Quebec, and encourage and support it in its new approach to regional development, which is entirely in line with the findings of the Bélanger-Campeau Commission on the concerns of the regions.

Earlier, I read to the House what the department's responsibilities were, but there is more. That was only Part I. The powers, duties and functions of the minister also extend and include all matters over which Parliament has jurisdiction, not by law assigned to any other department, board or agency of the

Government of Canada, relating to regional economic development in Ontario and Quebec. This brings us to the Federal Office of Regional Development which comes under the Department of Industry but, politically, is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.

Incidentally, the office, and this is perhaps something many people were unaware of, was established by order in council, while its counterparts the Department of Western Economic Diversification and ACOA, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency-were legislated into existence. The fact that western Canada has a department, the Maritimes an agency and Quebec an office probably says much about the federal government's perception of Quebec's economic development. It may be symbolic that besides having an office that is the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, we have an order in council instead of legislation.

If we take a closer look at all this, we should realize that the institution itself, which is called the Federal Office of Regional Development, merely duplicates what already exists, even at the federal level. I know what I am talking about. I live in a region where we have regional development, and I can tell you that federally, the office is competing with the NRC, which has its own regional branches staffed by one or two that get in touch with small businesses, inquire about their technological requirements and are then able to meet those requirements, which is not the case with the office. The Federal Office of Regional Development is therefore competing with at least one federal agency and, in Quebec, with the Quebec Department of Industry and Commerce, which promotes regional development for the benefit of small businesses, and with the entire network of industrial commissioners Quebec has established with municipal funding plus the support of the provincial government.

The Federal Office of Regional Development merely creates a lot of overlap and duplication, and that is its sole mandate. When we take a good look at the section on regional economic development, we see in section 8 (c) : ``focus on small and medium-sized enterprises and the development and enhancement of entrepreneurial talent''.

There are already quite a few players in the field. In Quebec; they are talking quite openly about streamlining all this, and now the federal government gets involved, for historical reasons, as we all know. This Parliament has always wanted to do the right thing. It has always wanted to do what is best for Quebec, but Quebecers are pretty smart, and we can expect some action on this issue very shortly. Furthermore, the federal government has made cuts in the Federal Office of Regional Development, so that any potential it had for being effective is about to disappear altogether.

From what I have heard recently throughout my riding and also from other sources, cuts amounting to $70 million over the next three years will make an empty shell out of the Federal Office of Regional Development. It is an empty shell which meets the needs of small and medium-sized businesses only when they are involved in high-tech projects. But unfortunately, this is not often the case-herein lies the problem-and one must remember that, by and large, the office is of very little assistance to small and medium-sized businesses.

As for its involvement in tourism mentioned earlier by the parliamentary secretary, it seems to me that we are talking about provincial jurisdiction and, in this particular case, Quebec jurisdiction. The federal government must thread very carefully if it wants to get involved in this area. We have seen examples of such involvement in remote areas where the federal government stepped in to support projects sometimes turned down by Quebec resulting in a lot of confusion, duplication and overlapping, and a tremendous waste of money and efforts. Unfortunately, this lack of cohesion is too often the rule instead of jointly planned regional development.

We believe that regional development is, first and foremost, a provincial matter and that Quebec should have exclusive authority in this area, especially now that we have the resources and the structure to do it. With the new government, we will be in an even better position to take matters into our own hands. We cannot allow the federal government to continue interfering in such a field of competence, especially since we know that the Quebec government is working in co-operation with the various stakeholders and elected representatives in every municipality and region of the province. Regional municipalities and unified regional municipalities provide Quebec with the appropriate structure to meet people's needs in an increasingly articulated manner.

We cannot support such an empty bill. It is just window-dressing. It comes after the fact to sanction a decision made by this government hopefully with a view to streamlining its operation. It is only skin deep. As a consequence, we cannot support this bill and for this reason I move, seconded by the member for Charlesbourg, the following amendment:

That all the words following "that" be deleted and replaced by:

"this House refuse to give second reading to Bill C-46, an Act to establish the Department of Industry and to amend and repeal certain other Acts, because the principle of the bill does not put an end to duplication and overlapping by not recognizing that Quebec has exclusive authority over regional economic development".

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12:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I will say that since this bill has already been reviewed, this motion which is similar to the previous one is acceptable.

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12:40 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me this morning to enter the debate on Bill C-46. I am particularly pleased to see the minister's parliamentary secretary here but very disappointed the minister himself is not here to enter the debate on Bill C-46.

I wish to enter into the debate by indicating that the bill which apparently is simply to streamline and to create jobs, as has been indicated by the parliamentary secretary, is nothing of the kind.

There was an opportunity in presenting the bill to the House to show some leadership in this vast and extremely powerful economic arm of the government. Based on the content of the bill that leadership opportunity has been ignored. I hope to show that there is a need in Canada as never before for the portfolio of the minister of industry to provide the leadership and direction from which Canada could benefit so much.

In so doing, I wish to draw attention very briefly to the development of the particular department. C. D. Howe ran much of the former department of trade and commerce during the fifties essentially as minister of defence production. Much of the development in the fifties and in his direction to that particular department was as a result of the contacts he had made with various industries during World War II.

Walter Gordon followed C. D. Howe. He wanted to create a department of industry in the early sixties. Eventually he was successful in doing it. Mr. Gordon was an interventionist and a protectionist and he wanted the department of industry to further those goals. His proposal received a rough ride in cabinet at that time and from the existing department of trade and commerce. Eventually the department was established but had no clear direction or vision of what it was supposed to do partly because according to some observers Mr. Gordon really wanted to be the minister of finance and did not want any advice from the Economic Council of Canada which was trying to develop a strategy for the economic development of Canada.

In 1968 industry, trade and commerce was established as a merger of industry and trade and commerce under Jean-Luc Pepin. It is also worthy to note that at that time a parallel development took place, the development of regional economic expansion. These were years of difficulty involved in integrating industry on the one hand, trade and commerce on the other, and DREE on the other side. Organizations and reorganizations occurred within industry over the following decade, always searching for a focus and cohesion that seemed to elude them.

In 1978 the ministry of state for economic development was created, another new name. Out of the government's desire to co-ordinate economic and industrial strategy which had always been eluding it under the efforts of ITC it noticed the only thing that changed was the name. It was the ministry of state for economic development.

In 1982 the industry, trade and commerce department was scrapped under the reorganization of government initiated by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The trade commissioner service was moved to external affairs and the remainder of industry, trade and commerce was merged with DREE, the department of regional economic expansion. Out of that department the new name was generated, the department of regional industrial expansion. The ministry of state for economic development was renamed the ministry of state for regional economic development and was given responsibilities for that area.

Almost all officials involved in the reorganization undertaken under a veil of great secrecy were from the privy council office. Even some of the ministers and deputy ministers directly involved in the reorganization were not involved in the discussions with privy council establishing a new department. Again, confusion and turf wars among the various component entities of DRIE prevailed.

In 1987 the government announced the creation of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and soon after western economic diversification. The rest of DRIE became over the next three years the department of industry, science and technology. During that three-year period the privy council office provided no direction or very little direction for the creation of the mandate for the ISTC and the department was left to find its own direction. While the ministers did attend some of the meetings they did not provide any particular direction.

The election of 1988 and the following free trade agreement negotiations interfered with the further development of the mandate so the department wandered for three years before it was officially created in 1990.

In review, the core of the department of industry has been a long history or succession of organizational changes and name changes. Each has been without focus, lacking in vision or coherent strategy, and producing interior confusion and strife for the various entities. Attempts at meshing the different philosophies have produced a department which attempts to implement mutually exclusive mandates: that of national industrial development on the one hand and that of regional, economic and industrial strategy on the other.

That history continues in the bill. The incompatible strategies of regional and national economic expansion continue without change.

Shortly after the minister took on his portfolio he said that he had four goals he wanted to pursue while he carried out his mandate: small business, tourism, the information highway and the promotion of exports. In his first major piece of legislation the minister does not articulate a clear vision of the department in any of these areas. Neither does he solve the incompatibility between regional and national strategies.

The minister had the opportunity to make a difference, to provide a direction, to determine and clearly set goals for his department, to re-establish confidence in government and politicians which the parliamentary secretary so ably said he was doing and he did not, to provide a fresh new voice for the people fiscally and democratically, and to set out a vision for the department of industry in Bill C-46, an act to establish the department of industry and to amend and repeal certain other acts.

What did the minister do? The minister has missed the opportunity to act, accepted the Tory leadership in re-organization, essentially changed nothing major, accepted their direction, accepted their philosophy and accepted their goals. He changed nothing of consequence. The minister accepted the principles that guided the writing of the act. This represents more of the same. There will probably be no more confidence in the government than there was in the previous one if that is the kind of leadership we are to get.

What are the two big themes the minister could have effected? The first is quality of treatment: treat all the regions the same way with no special considerations for any one part of Canada over another. The second is the intrusion of government: get government out of the economy as much as possible and let the market preside.

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12:50 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

That is what we are doing.

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12:50 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Let me quote clause 13 and members will know how much intervention there is. I am convinced the Liberal idea of leadership is to govern in the truest sense of the word, to make decisions on behalf of everyone but never face the people or listen to them. I want to illustrate clearly that the parliamentary secretary to the minister of state for science and technology is at least making an effort to listen to the public.

How do I show this? Bill C-46 in subclause 13(1) referring to cabinet, the most central part of government, clearly states:

Where the Governor in Council is of the opinion that it is in the national interest to do so, the Minister may, in exercising the powers and performing the duties and functions assigned by subsection 4(1)-

These have been detailed by the parliamentary secretary and my colleague from the Bloc so I will not take time to read them. It continues:

-develop and implement programs and projects of special assistance to industries, particular industrial or commercial establishments, organizations, persons who are members of a particular category of persons defined by order of the Governor in Council or particular persons to aid economic development, whether through the restructuring, adjusting, rationalizing, establishing or re-establishing, modernizing, expanding or contracting of an industry or particular industrial or commercial establishment or organization in Canada, or otherwise.

If that is not intervention in the sense of allowing cabinet rather than the enterprise system or the individuals to make decisions, what is it? As the government intervenes, government decides who wins and who loses. The marketplace is not permitted to function as it should. Of course there should be some guidelines but it is not allowed to function without undue restriction.

The Tories did that. The Liberals before them did that and the Liberals of today say that they will do it too. It is not new. It is not more efficient. It is more of the same. I submit that nothing has changed. If anything, the government is likely to make a bad situation worse.

The bill perpetuates the philosophy that has so debilitated Canada throughout successive governments. If we look at the deficit today we recognize only too clearly that is precisely what happened. Do we remember C. D. Howe's cavalier statement: "What's a million?" That embodies what the department has done throughout its history.

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12:55 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

This saves $26 million.

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12:55 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Yes, $26 million out of a $3 billion budget. I submit it is a minuscule amount. I agree it is the right direction but it is not enough.

There is no leadership. There is empowerment, though. There is entrenchment of bureaucracy through repositioning people and cost centres. They are in different places. There are new people with new titles who make the same decisions under the same philosophy, the same principles and the same policies of those who preceded them, in this case the Conservatives.

To be able to distribute money without accountability or demanding accountability is to encourage dependence, irresponsibility, the possibility of misappropriation of funds, political patronage, the abuse of power and the corruption of officials and politicians.

It is no wonder the people of Canada say that governments come and go, politicians come and go and nothing changes. With the bill we see no plan for change. To administer change is difficult. It requires a goal. It requires a vision. It requires a plan to get there. It requires a strategy and tactics to achieve it. In short it requires leadership. The bill does not provide that.

The bill concentrates on centralized planning, an interventionist strategy and the preference of one region over another. It denies the equality of persons, entrepreneurs and provinces. It is deceptive in its presentation. It purports to be a housekeeping piece of legislation but it displays no leadership or change in direction which the department so desperately needs and which was promised to Canadians in the red book.

Let me become a little more specific. The government is simply following the changes as instituted by the Tories. The Tories did nothing to fix some of the more glaring difficulties with the department as it existed in its previous form. The bill only perpetuates centralized power, more interventionism in the marketplace and in individual lives, and the government knows best attitude: the government will decide what is in the national interest. It divides and subjects.

Regional development in the two largest provinces of the country, Ontario and Quebec, is lumped together and as a consequence separated from the rest of Canada. Under existing law an order in council gives the minister of finance responsibility for FORD-Q, the Federal Office of Regional Development, Quebec. We are told there is about to be the same kind of order in council under the new changes in the new act. Nevertheless the act empowers the minister of industry to be the special minister for the economic development of Ontario and Quebec.

How can the minister of industry have a national overview and responsibility, or the minister of finance for that matter who has the same kind of overview? How can these people exercise their duties as minister for the whole of Canada and balance the special interest? It seems to me there is an obvious conflict of interest when he is responsible for all of Canada and then pays special attention to a particular region of a province. It maintains the inequalities that exist at the present time. There is no attempt at level and fair treatment for all whether individuals, industries or regions.

I submit this is wimpy and kindergarten style tampering with government structure. Very far reaching effects are taking place. They have wasted a lot of time and what has it achieved? We have been told in our briefing sessions that they have reduced by 230 people the staff of 6,000 and they have reduced the $3 billion budget by $26 million. That is in the right direction. I commend the government for that but it is not good enough.

There is no evidence of them realizing the efficiencies necessary in putting together these four government departments.

If that is all that can be done to save $26 million and reduce staff by 230, is it worth the effort, the dislocation, the stresses that will be involved for the people who are going to be relocated?

It was like getting a parcel beautifully wrapped in nice red paper, the colour of the red book. As we unwrapped it we found that this big box had four smaller boxes in it. On the big box one could still see the Tory label in spite of the fact that it had been changed to read Liberal. It is nothing new, just new packaging and a new label. Our hopes were dashed, our expectations frustrated and our anticipation ignored.

Enough of criticism. Do we have any alternatives? Yes, we do. We believe that the Department of Industry like all of government needs a set of guiding principles and policies, a mission statement, if you will. Reform proposes to bring its philosophy and principles to this department as it would to all others. Here are some of those.

We believe in the value of enterprise and initiative and that governments have a responsibility to foster and protect an environment in which initiative and enterprise can be exercised by individuals and groups.

We believe that the creation of wealth and productive jobs for Canadians is best achieved through the operations of a responsible, broadly based free enterprise economy in which private property, freedom of contract and the operations of free markets are encouraged and respected.

We believe that public money should be regarded by government as a sacred trust or of funds held in trust and that government should practice fiscal responsibility, in particular the responsibility to balance expenditures and revenues.

I notice the parliamentary secretary is nodding his head. I certainly hope the Minister of Finance will see that and that the Prime Minister will agree to that and that they will change their goal which says 3 per cent of the GDP will be the deficit in perpetuity or that it will continue. It is time we recognized the principle that we need to balance our budget.

Reform also supports the depoliticizing of economic decision making in Canada through the gradual elimination of grants, subsidies and the pricing policies and all federal taxes direct or indirect on the natural resources of the provinces other than income tax of general application.

Reform also supports the gradual removal of all measures which are designed to insulate industries, businesses, financial institutions, professions and trade unions from domestic and foreign competition.

We support a vigorous measure to ensure the successful operation of the marketplace through such means as promotion of competition and vigorous enforcement of competition and anti-combines legislation with severe penalties for collusion and price fixing.

We support orienting federal government activities toward the maturing of human and physical infrastructure and to support giving greater priority to the development of skills, particularly those that provide future job flexibility.

As well, such training should be made flexible in terms of the type of institutions providing the training. We would encourage co-operative training in industry. To that end my colleagues and I have developed a statement for this department we think we should all observe. The role of the Department of Industry should be to establish and maintain a culture which rewards entrepreneurship, innovation and research and ensures a level, competitive and honest marketplace.

To that end there are many opportunities for improvement in this bill which we would seize on: to curtail the centralized control that is proposed in this bill; to emphasize reducing the ability to interfere in the marketplace; to emphasize improving the ability of the marketplace to self-regulate. Serious intervention in the marketplace should be in emergency or extreme cases only.

The national interest must be clearly defined by the people of Canada through Parliament, not by cabinet; in extraordinary circumstances by referendum. It should not be in the hands of cabinet where it can be made to mean anything it wants it to.

With regard to regional development, some fundamental problems exist with this form of government intervention in the economy. Many scholars and former senior mandarins in this department and other departments of government have noted that a national industrial strategy and regional development strategy are mutually incompatible. They often work at cross purposes to one another and become self-defeating.

We believe that the federal government should treat all regions of this country fairly and as a result should do away with all regional development programs. Fair treatment would eliminate the need for a minister to decide between the national interest on the one hand and the regional interest on the other.

Regional political patronage and, just as important, the temptation to engage in it would be removed to a great extent if the instrument of regional development were done away with. Better efficiency within the department should then be realized and other areas would benefit as well.

I note with satisfaction, as I referred to earlier, the review that is taking place on science and technology policy by the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development. I commend him for that and wish him well. I hope that he will question the presence of the many and varied scientific bureaucracies and funding agencies that fall under his purview. They need to be the subject of rigorous and continuing scrutiny. It appears that much of their work duplicates that being done by universities and various research enterprises. The fewer the hands that research funding passes through the better. I hope his review is complete and thorough.

We need to expand private sector partnerships with direct profitable spinoffs which would strengthen the research and development establishment. We need research and development as never before. In that regard we need to be efficient, cost effective, profitable and domestically and internationally competitive.

In conclusion, when we look at the history of the department and couple it with the proposed reorganization it is clear that the minister has chosen not to exercise the leadership that was his in this instance. He has only chosen to perpetuate the confusion and the lack of solid and visionary direction that have been the hallmark of the industry department throughout all of its history and all of its reincarnations and incarnations since the fifties.

We hope that the minister would have taken this opportunity to enunciate a comprehensive national industrial economic strategy and reorganize his department accordingly. It is clear that is not the case. What we have is a clear demonstration that this government has no vision for Canada's economy, a vision from which it could so clearly benefit.

The opportunity to regain public confidence has been squandered. The government could have done away with the pork barrel of regional development and the odious spectre of its centralized economic planning. It did not. This bill perpetuates the status quo. The system needs to be changed to let the market function freely within a framework and direction that reflect the democratic will of the people.

Because this bill is elitist, centralist and interventionist I cannot support it.

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1:05 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would it be possible to have the opportunity on second reading for me to put a short question to the member of the Reform Party?

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1:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The parliamentary secretary may not be aware of the fact that the first three speakers for the three recognized parties have a 40-minute maximum and there is no

period for questions or comments when each speaker has concluded the first three speeches.

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1:05 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the debate on this bill today is of historical importance for its significance and also because it coincides almost to the day with the seventh anniversary of the presentation of the Brundtland report, Our Common Future , to the United Nations General Assembly where it was extensively discussed and received unanimous support.

The words sustainable development re-emerged as a result of that event. It is very heartening to see that the Minister of Industry has inserted the term sustainable development in clause 5 of his bill. It is also heartening because when the minister was in opposition he urged the government of the day to use the term sustainable development when a bill was introduced at that time for the formation of the previous ministry. Unfortunately those pressures fell on deaf ears.

In this respect the minister has shown that he has carried out in government what he had spoken about while in the opposition. That is very reassuring for anyone who believes that our political system is alive and kicking and in good health.

What does the term sustainable development mean? It is the key phrase in clause 5 of this bill. Does it mean a growth in which the environment and the economy are seen in conflict? Does it mean a philosophy of imposing limits to growth? Does it mean returning the planet to a hypothetical natural state? Evidently the answer to these questions is no.

Sustainable development means integrating the economy with the environment. This is not a relationship of conflict. The environment and the economy are mutually reinforcing. The terminology recognizes this fact.

Sustainable development means learning to recognize and live within the limits of physical impact beyond which degradation of the ecosystems, of resources and of human condition becomes inevitable and progressive.

Some limits are imposed by the impact of existing technologies and social organization and by the size of the planet but many limiting factors can be expanded through technological changes, modes of decision making, changes in domestic and international policies, and through investment in human capital.

Since the 1987 Brundtland report there has been a lively debate over the specific conditions of sustainability. At this point we can say that sustainability is as much a social goal as it is an economic and environmental goal. It resembles other worldly, widely accepted and conceptually difficult social goals such as democracy, justice and public health.

Since the 1992 earth summit in Rio the global community finds itself in a state of transition from unsustainable to the search for sustainable forms of development. With this bill we are now beginning to come around the corner, so to speak. The fact that the Minister of Industry decided to insert sustainable development as a main objective of his department is very heartening. He should be congratulated.

What are the principles that the officials in this new department should adopt in order to reach the objective of sustainable development? One, as I mentioned briefly, it is the fact that the environment and the economy must be integrated in the decision making process. This is probably the most important condition for sustainable development and also the most challenging.

Too often policies are directly against the requirements of sustainability.

The environment is introduced into the decision making only after a problem has developed. At that late date options are usually limited to investments for end of pipe technologies to recapture emissions from waste streams and put them somewhere else.

This leads to the still dominant mentality that a conflict exists between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. It is a false perception of course. We must make both mutually reinforcing, namely a healthy environment with a healthy economy. Integrated decisions have to be made at the front end of the development when goals and policies are being set, not at the end where costs are staggering, as in the case of acid rain abatement and as in the case of a number of other issues. However now is not the proper time or place to list these. Therefore, to conclude this point a fundamental reorganization of economic policies and priorities is needed.

Second, energy. In North America and in most OECD countries conventional energy sources, namely coal, oil, nuclear, gas, attract large subsidies. Total energy subsidies in the United States alone have been estimated at more than $40 billion annually. In Canada the last time we conducted an estimate on this item the figure came close to almost $5 billion in subsidies.

End of pipe technologies to improve the safety and reduce emissions where available cannot even begin to compete with the opposite efforts of these huge and indirect subsidies. Energy is a key policy field in order to achieve sustainable development.

Third, agriculture. Taxpayers and consumers of OECD countries spend well over $250 billion a year on agricultural subsidies. They not only encourage farmers to expend their basic farm capital; namely soil, water, trees, they also promote over production. This gives rise to demands for trade protection and export subsidies to enable those food products to be dumped in developing countries, thus in turn undermining their agriculture

as well. Here again end of pipe measures for soil and water conservation programs are too weak to compete with these subsidies.

Fourth, the nature of production. If high rates of growth are to be achieved and maintained a significant and rapid reduction in the energy and raw materials content of every unit of production is necessary. A healthy economy will no longer be one that uses increasing amounts of energy, materials, and resources to produce more goods, more jobs, more income.

This assumption still dominates policies in energy, agriculture, and other resource sectors unfortunately. It is a leftover from the mass economy of the industrial age marked by a steady expansion in the production of energy, depletion of resources and degradation of the environment.

The link between growth and its impact on the environment can be severed. The sustainable development economy, the new economy, is more efficient, uses less energy, less resources for every unit of production, uses more information, uses more intelligence.

Industry, if driven by the principles of sustainable development, is discovering a number of things. For instance it can redesign industrial processes which require less and more flexible capital plant. It can recycle and reuse by-products. It can invent products that use lighter and more durable materials and that require less energy to produce.

Industry is discovering that with reduced energy and material content, it can save an overall cost per unit of production and reduce environmental emissions and wastes. This is a far more effective way of reducing emissions than expensive end of pipe technologies that serve no other purpose. In addition resource reduction and recycling lead back to the beginning of the production cycle. They result in decreased mining and mining wastes, decreased water consumption and pollution, decreased deforestation and erosion.

Moving from unsustainable to sustainable development requires a shift in the government's agenda, a shift not only in the Department of Industry but also in the Department of Natural Resources, of trade, transport, agriculture, public works, external affairs, in our procurement policies, in the production of energy.

The Minister of Industry is leading in this respect but he cannot do it alone. A clear indication of whether a government is shifting its agenda to address sustainability seriously is its budget.

A budget establishes economic and fiscal incentives, as we all know, and also the disincentives, including forms of taxes within which farmers, consumers and business make their decisions. A budget is the most important environmental policy statement because it determines how the nation's environment will be degraded or enhanced, how its stock of ecological capital will be increased or reduced. Actually the budget should be regarded as an environmental statement.

It was with these considerations in mind, with a clear intent of keeping an election promise, with a commitment to the need to shift to sustainability that in May of this year the committee on the environment and sustainable development recommended to the government the creation of a commissioner of the environment and sustainable development. This individual would report to Parliament. He would report on progress made in the shift from unsustainable to sustainable policies, on programs, on budgets. We did this drawing from chapter IV of the election campaign red book. We were motivated at the same time by the conclusions of the earth summit in Rio, namely the understanding and belief that Canada must move toward a sustainable development agenda for the 21st century.

The minister and his department are off to a good start by making sustainable development the main goal of this new department in clause 5. The minister is saying that economic development is dependent and goes hand in hand with ecological capital; that the depletion of one leads to the weakening and depletion of the other.

The wording in this bill is a milestone toward establishing in law the interdependence between two values of tremendous importance to humanity. Already the recognition of sustainable development has clearly emerged in the policies of the minister of fisheries through the conservation he has introduced. This was somehow imposed on us by circumstances that have developed over the last 20 years.

Another positive development on this road toward sustainable development is the appointment in early July of a task force to study the baseline expenditures of government that may be in conflict with sustainability and environmental protection. This task force will report to the Minister of Finance next November and is keeping a promise made in the campaign red book.

Another positive development came last Thursday when both the Minister of Industry and the Minister of the Environment announced a strategy for the Canadian environmental industry. It is the realization at the political level, the highest level, that there is an enormous potential, enormous scope for the development of a new industry that draws its strength from the realization that we are entering a new phase in growth, a new phase in development and the linking of the two concepts of the economy and the environment being integrated in a rational manner.

Yet to come are the changes in other departments. We still have a long way to go but the beginning is good and promising. I want to applaud the minister for his initiative.

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1:25 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with attention to the hon. member for Davenport, who I see as a man full of fine qualities who spends a great deal of energy protecting the blue planet. I have no doubt that the hon. member for Davenport made his allegations in good faith, but I have serious reservations about his party.

You know, when I look at a government that revels in big words such as sustainable development and plays on people's emotions by talking about global development and mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren, I am puzzled.

When I see, for example, a ship that has been lying at the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for 24 years and that is still leaking part of its cargo every day; when I see a government that leaves thousands of lights on 24 hours a day when the offices are empty; when I see overheated rooms; when I see the lawn in front of the Parliament Buildings being watered right after it rains or a few hours before heavy rains are forecast; when I see the quality of the water in the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes get increasingly worse; when I see that the $5.8 million that was to be spent on cleaning up the St. Lawrence in Phase I of the St. Lawrence Action Plan was actually invested in Miramichi, New Brunswick, several hundreds of kilometres away from the St. Lawrence River, these denunciations raise questions in my mind about the seriousness of the Liberal Party now governing Canada.

The question I could ask the hon. member for Davenport is this: Can you, sir, who show very good judgment particularly on environmental matters, guarantee that the party of which you are an active member will be as serious as yourself in the years to come, when you know as well as I do that time flies and that we are falling behind with regard to sustainable development?

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1:25 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the hon. member for Frontenac that the best guarantee is the fact that the minister has included in Clause 5 of his bill, about his new department's objectives, two very important key words for the first time, and that is a good start, a good promise, if you will.

Of course, the law must be enforced and the purpose of today's debate is, I think, to provide the minister and his department with the guidelines needed to promote the two key words "sustainable development". I hope that, as we are doing today in this House, the new government elected in Quebec City will also pass legislation aimed at promoting sustainable development. I am sure that the hon. member for Frontenac, given his influence with his colleagues in Quebec's National Assembly, will lobby, make representations to his provincial colleagues. The state of the St. Lawrence River is the result of past policies but today here in this House we are discussing the future. We are talking about the new behaviour for the industry of the future.

I am sure that if the Government of Quebec does the same thing, sets the same goal for provincially-regulated industries, we will see considerable changes in the St. Lawrence River and in all other rivers in the country. But we must exert pressure, we must say that solutions exist and we must, of course, finds ways to demonstrate that the economy and the environment can be integrated.