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House of Commons Hansard #240 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-64.

Topics

Health CareOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have established a forum on that. We have experts operating under my leadership on how to reform medicare. We have a problem with that in Canada. I recognize that. We included in our red book that it was to be reviewed. We have formed a committee of experts listening to the views of Canadians.

However in the meantime, and we said it very clearly, we have to reduce the cost of medicare from what it is today, 10 per cent of GDP, to around 9 per cent. It will be done although it will not be easy.

The provincial governments are also doing their share. They are cutting and we have to benefit a bit from their cuts because the federal government has deficit problems. Some provinces cut $500 million so we must have the right to cut in relative terms if we want a balanced situation in Canada. We are having ongoing discussions with the provinces on this. I am happy to know that the Reform Party does not want us to spend more money on it.

Referendum CampaignOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the No side shows how desperate it is when it distorts, the way it just did, the comments I made on Saturday, by claiming they were sexist.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he would agree, as I said on Saturday, that the government must provide the right socio-economic conditions so that couples who want children and have none because they cannot afford it, would be able to have them?

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he would agree that we must create the right socio-economic conditions so that couples who want children can afford to have them? I want to ask him whether he would agree that we must give them that option by creating conditions that will help them develop both their own and their children's potential?

Referendum CampaignOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition is trying to do some damage control, considering the terrible blunder he made when he implied that since we are in Quebec, we are white. He then implied that Quebec-

You know, what is disturbing about the comments of the Leader of the Opposition is that to be a good Quebecer, it is better to be white than coloured and it is certainly better to speak French than English. If you are a separatist, you are a good Quebecer; if you are a federalist, you are not. If you happen to be a woman, maybe you should have more children.

This is a matter of personal choice for every woman. We may be in favour of certain policies in this respect but they should not be connected with race and with relationships that deny the equal status of men and women in society.

Referendum CampaignOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is simply appalling that a Prime Minister should stoop to distorting comments to such an extraordinary degree. This is intolerable. Everybody knows there is a problem with the birth rate in Quebec and that it concerns all governments. Everyone knows that in Quebec many couples, and we all know people like that, would like to have children but cannot afford to.

So I want to ask him whether he does not realize that we will have to introduce appropriate measures for financial support, measures to make daycare available to everyone, and I want to ask him whether he realizes that by threatening to cut social programs as he has started to do and will continue to do more and more after the No, he ignores the needs and interests of women and married couples?

Referendum CampaignOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since I am being accused of misquoting the Leader of the Opposition, I will read to you what he said: "Do you think it makes sense that we have so few children in Quebec? We are one of the white races that has the least children. That does not make sense". Are Quebecers members of the white race? There are Quebecers of every colour and every religion.

Is the decision to have children the responsibility of the government and women themselves? That is where the Leader of the Opposition made a blunder, and he made it clear where he is coming from when he talks about these problems.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence have said that they want to get to the bottom of the events in Somalia. They have pledged to act after the commission of inquiry submits its report.

However, section 69 of the National Defence Act requires that a trial for most services offences must begin within three years of the alleged offence. Because the commission is not scheduled to report until June 1996, it seems that discipline and leadership failings of late 1992 and early 1993 will go untried.

Was the minister aware of this limitation when he called the inquiry? How exactly does he plan to get to the bottom of events if charges cannot even be laid?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the government is fully aware of the provisions of the National Defence Act with respect to the statute of limitations on non-indictable offences. I am sure the commission on Somalia is also well aware of it.

With respect to the question on charges, we do not presume that further charges are to be laid, but we do not preclude it either. I would ask the hon. member and his party to let the commission do its job and we will do our job in government. Then we will have justice served.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government took a year to announce a public inquiry. It was almost another full year before the inquiry began to hear witnesses.

Last November I asked the minister to suspend the courts martial and proceed immediately with the inquiry. He refused. How can this minister explain to the Canadian public that because of his delays justice will be denied by a technicality?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, unlike the Reform Party, we have a profound respect for the justice system in this country.

The hon. member is fully aware that we were precluded from calling the inquiry because there were courts martial in process and then subsequently there were appeals. Until we had the Westray mine decision of the supreme court in May of this year, we could not have started a commission without risking having the charges quashed of people currently on trial.

If I had done what the hon. member advocated we do and people who have subsequently been charged and convicted were then not subject to the justice system, he would be the first one yelling and screaming in the House of Commons that somehow the government was responsible for the denial of justice.

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, a common thread runs through the Prime Minister's entire political career. Every time Quebec wanted to assert itself, he has stood in its way. We just learned that Elections Canada has initiated the whole process required for holding a Canada-wide referendum. This is probably not a spontaneous initiative by Elections Canada.

Are we to understand that the Prime Minister is refusing to recognize Quebecers' verdict in the referendum and getting ready to hold a Canada-wide referendum in order to overturn the democratic decision of Quebecers?

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I did not speak to the Chief Electoral Officer. If he has decided to set the whole machinery in motion, an election will certainly be held within two or three years. For the moment, my only goal is the one we all share: winning the referendum in two weeks.

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the Prime Minister can see that it is less and less likely that he will win the referendum in Quebec, I ask him again: Does he realize that by staying extremely vague on the Elections Canada manoeuvres, he is raising doubts as to his democratic intentions?

I ask him again: Does the Prime Minister reject the idea of holding a referendum in order to counter the democratic decision Quebecers will make in two weeks?

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Chief Electoral Officer reports directly to the House of Commons. All the hon. member has to do is call and ask him why he is getting ready to hold an election. An election can be called any day. I could get up tomorrow morning and call an election.

That is a prime minister's privilege.

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Elections CanadaOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

You should at least be here for another two weeks because you would not be coming back.

Call the Chief Electoral Officer and ask him. As far as I am concerned, the referendum is what we are working on at this time. We did not need to get rid of the leader of the No side. Mr. Johnson is doing an excellent job. We did not have to change our strategy because we are clearly telling citizens that all statements by the Leader of the Opposition or the so-called structures he might develop by negotiating with God knows whom- We are simply

telling Quebecers that these people are separatists who do not have the courage of their convictions and who are trying to sell them something they do not want to buy.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, last May when the justice minister was attempting to justify the Liberal patronage appointments that his revenue minister wanted for Vancouver Island crown counsel positions, he said that the sole criterion for their appointment was that of competence.

Well, their competence showed up last week when one of the Liberal appointees turned up in a Nanaimo court totally unprepared, incapable of proceeding, and a serious drug case was thrown out. Is this the Liberal justice department's measure of competence?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Cape Breton—The Sydneys Nova Scotia

Liberal

Russell MacLellan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Justice said on these appointments still holds true.

The matter to which the hon. member refers is an incident where perhaps more through an administrative mix-up the new agent was unable to get the files for the court. It had nothing to do with the agent's competence. The matter is being looked into by the Minister of Justice.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, this particular case has been before the court since September 1993, a full two years.

In addition to this case, in Victoria last week another Liberal appointee turned up in the court unable to even qualify with an ordinary argument for law in the court. That case was thrown out.

In a second case in Victoria the crown prosecution witnesses turned up but surprisingly the crown prosecutor did not. That case was thrown out.

When is the justice department going to wake up?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Cape Breton—The Sydneys Nova Scotia

Liberal

Russell MacLellan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if the agent is unable to get the information and unable to get the files then the agent cannot do the job if the agent is not granted a postponement by the court. If this is the case, as I believe it may well be, then certainly there is nothing whatever to discredit the agent.

As I have said, the Minister of Justice is looking into this matter.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

October 16th, 1995 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. His department has speeded up citizenship processing in Quebec since the referendum campaign has begun. Never, in any recent provincial or federal election, had such an extensive operation been undertaken to issue certificates of citizenship. Because of this accelerated process, more than 15,000 new citizens will be able to vote in the upcoming referendum.

How can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration justify this eagerness to expedite the processing of citizenship applications in Quebec, when his own officials have confirmed that never before had such an extensive operation been conducted just before an election anywhere in Canada?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, what is being done with respect to citizenship processing in the province of Quebec leading up to the referendum is nothing different from any lead up to any provincial campaign.

My department has done likewise with the provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Ontario. If we compare the number of citizenship processings with the year of the Ontario election, it is up some 45 per cent.

Is the hon. member suggesting that we should somehow slow down the process? Is the hon. member suggesting that it is not proper to have the persons exercise their democratic right to vote? Exactly what is his point?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my case it took one year to become a citizen, and the minister did not do that before the elections in Ontario and New Brunswick.

Will the minister admit that the explanation for his sudden concern for democracy can be found in the letter he sends all new citizens, asking them to help build a strong and united Canada.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong on both counts.

The government does not assume how newcomers or immigrants will vote. Perhaps the party on the other side is assuming somehow that new immigrants will vote a different way from the intention of their party. That is not my business as minister of citizenship. My business is to ensure that people have the franchise to vote, whether

it is in a referendum, a provincial election or a federal election. We make no apologies for that.

The member of Parliament accuses me of writing wrong letters to all the people who become new citizens. Let me quote from the former secretary of state in the preceding government, who is currently the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. He stated in the letter: "I wish to extend to you my personal congratulations and those of the Prime Minister on the occasion of your becoming a Canadian citizen. Your government is pleased that of all the nations of the world you have chosen Canada as your new home".

Porcupine CaribouOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation to allow oil and gas development in the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd in the Arctic national wildlife refuge in Alaska. An all-party report supported protecting the calving grounds of the herd which migrates between Yukon and Alaska.

Could the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell the House what the Canadian government has done to protect the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd?

Porcupine CaribouOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, Canada has expressed its strong opposition to the congressional proposal. Indeed I wrote to Warren Christopher about the question. My colleague, the environment minister, also wrote to her counterpart. The Prime Minister has spoken to President Clinton.

We certainly hope the congressional proposal will be amended. If not, the president will exercise his veto.