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House of Commons Hansard #236 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-64.

Topics

Maitland, Nova ScotiaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my sincere congratulations to the citizens of the village of Maitland in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants.

At a ceremony last July Maitland was designated as Nova Scotia's first heritage conservation district. This past Saturday Maitland was again recognized, this time as the recipient of the Elaine Burke award, an honour which recognizes community achievement in active living and environmental citizenship.

The citizens of Maitland have shown both pride in their heritage and a desire to build on their rich history in a positive and healthy fashion. I believe this pride in community is representative of the attitudes of people throughout my riding and indeed the province of Nova Scotia.

I would ask all members to join me in congratulating the village of Maitland on this well-deserved recognition.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

October 3rd, 1995 / 2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today it was reported in La Presse that a secret document was sent last March to the Privy Council's Operation Unity centre. It seems that Industry Canada made a list of Quebec companies, sector by sector, in anticipation of the referendum debate. Ottawa identifies the levers-that is the word they used-it intends to use to urge business people to campaign for the No side, referring to various federal subsidies and contracts, especially in the aerospace and defence sectors.

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Does he approve of the fact that a federal department, at the request of Operation Unity, made a list of the heads of large corporation in Quebec for the obvious purpose of blackmailing them and enrolling them on the No side in the referendum campaign?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think it is entirely normal that government officials should be able to inform ministers and the government of economic activities in Quebec that receive assistance from the Canadian government. That is all part of the basic argument. The purpose is not to blackmail anyone at all, in fact quite the opposite. It is so we can tell people that they can get ahead in Canada and that many industries in Quebec need the central government, to access its funding programs as well as to find markets abroad.

I think it is perfectly normal that the Minister of Industry should know what is going on in the industrial sector in the province of Quebec at a time when a referendum is to be held, so that he can tell the Prime Minister, the ministers, members of Parliament and the public what the Canadian government is doing for Quebecers.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the government forgot to mention that these documents include analyses of the political positions of certain heads of corporations in connection with the current debate, hence the importance of the use of the term "levers" in connection with the way they will behave during the referendum debate.

Does the Prime Minister not think there is something indecent about the fact that, when making this list of Quebec businesses, his government referred not only to subsidies that had already been paid under federal contracts but also to future subsidies that are now being negotiated?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think it only makes sense for a minister to want to know what is going on in his department. Members rise in the House every day to ask questions, and if a minister has the misfortune to say he does not know exactly what is going on in his department, he is accused of incompetence. I am not going to rise in the House now and tell my Minister of Industry that he is incompetent, when he is making sure that we have all the information relevant to the referendum debate in Quebec.

Quebecers ought to know that what we can offer them now is something concrete, but the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois are trying to make people believe in a hypothetical situation it will be impossible to realize. We are telling Quebecers in concrete terms what we are doing for them, and they are very glad to know about it.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what connection is there between a minister's jurisdiction and the political opinions of the business people with whom he has dealings? And why this excuse we are hearing today, that the minister has to know what is going on in his department, when he is much more concerned about the political views of the heads of Quebec companies? I think it is pretty obvious that this is an exercise in twisting the arms of business people in Quebec.

I ask the Prime Minister to admit that with this list, his government has a tool to blackmail Quebec business leaders who, as long as they are under the present federal system, will depend on contracts and subsidies from Ottawa.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am of course glad to see the Leader of the Opposition has conceded that the No side will win and the Yes side will lose. If he felt confident, he would have said that all this did not matter and that on October 30 they would no longer have dealings with the Canadian government and businessmen would no longer have to deal with the Canadian government. I wonder why he is so scared; is it because he realizes he will lose?

However, I think it is rather surprising that the leader of the Bloc Quebecois should criticize us, when his leader, the leader of the Parti Quebecois, fired every single official representing the Quebec government abroad who did not swear an oath of allegiance to the cause of separation.

When we see the kind of threats they make against people who are now speaking out in favour of the No side, as in the case of the chief executive of an insurance company who has been told he may lose his contracts because he is a federalist, I think the Leader of the Opposition is hardly in a position to criticize us for trying to find out who receives subsidies and in what sector, so that members and people on the No side can go to the ridings and explain to people that the Canadian government provides a good service to all Quebecers.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were well aware of how strongly allergic the Prime Minister was to the competitive bidding process in the Power DirecTv case involving his son-in-law. It will be remembered that he appeared to be extremely allergic in that instance. But it is completely normal for the government of Quebec to use a competitive bidding process.

It is also important for Quebecers to know the true colours of the federal government right before making a decision. The Privy Council's Operation Unity centre has taken the trouble to collect information on Quebec businesses, their directors, their past and future contracts and grants, so as to be able to pressure them to be on the No side of the referendum. We know that a number of federal government bodies and departments possess confidential information on a number of Canadians and Canadian organizations.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Can he tell us whether some of the information in the hands of other federal bodies or departments has been acquired by the Operation Unity centre to create other files to be used for the same purposes as the first?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, the allegations of the hon. member for Roberval are unfounded. The document produced examines the industrial sectors in the province of Quebec, sector by sector. There are 20 or 21 in all. In each, we look at the economic situation and the effect of federal government funding.

It also looks at what effect separation would have on each of the industrial sectors in the province of Quebec, and in each case the conclusion is clear: separation would have harmful economic effects on the economic sectors of the province of Quebec.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister's conclusion and the conclusions of his document are not even the same. He has not read it. True, this document was requested by the Prime Minister.

When the minister states that these are unfounded allegations, I would like him to explain, to us and to all Quebecers, the following. While the Operation Unity centre was literally collecting secret information contained in Department of Industry documents for the purposes of bringing pressure to bear during the referendum, why would it have deprived itself of information held by other organizations and departments other than Industry on thousands of Quebecers and Quebec organizations? Why would it not have done so when it has collected similar information from Industry in such a shameful manner?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Roberval continues to make unfounded allegations which are not justified by the document. I shall send him copies of the report on the various industrial sectors in which the conclusion is that separation would be harmful for Quebec. He will then see that this is the case in the majority of sectors.

When he says these are unnecessary documents, that is totally ridiculous, and I do not hesitate to say so, because the conclusions of the report clearly indicate the effects of separation on major industrial sectors in Quebec, essential information for the referendum. It comes as no surprise to me that the opposition has not read it, because it does not fall in line with their conclusions, but it is unfortunately the truth. Separation would be extremely costly for most industrial sectors of Quebec.

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Canadians learned that not only had officials at the Department of National Defence been falsifying documents but that former Airborne Commander Peter Kenward ordered videotape evidence destroyed.

Shortly after the destruction of the videotapes, Kenward was promoted to full colonel. The minister has already admitted that the chief of defence staff would not consider his reservations about this promotion and he did not interfere because he says that the promotion was a responsibility of the chief.

I want the minister to clarify his position. When did he learn that Colonel Kenward had ordered the destruction of evidence? Was it before or after the promotion?

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as a former member of the armed forces, I am sure the hon. member will be aware that following passage of the 1952 National Defence Act an order in council was passed.

It is now found in Queen's Regulations and Orders 11.01(2). It states:

The promotion of a member to any rank lower than that of brigadier-general requires the approval of the Chief of Defence Staff.

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister knew that the evidence had been destroyed. Therefore he is "complicit" in concealing that fact from the Canadian people.

The minister knew of this cover-up. He knew of the promotion, yet he did nothing. How can he justify this gross error of judgment?

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, from time to time you caution hon. members about the language they use in the House. I would caution the hon. member. If he said this outside the House, it might be actionable.

Second, because of the reservations the chief of defence staff had about the promotion and its delay pending certain investigations, out of courtesy he brought it to my attention. When he brought it to my attention, I expressed reservations that the promotion should go ahead. I reminded the chief of the defence staff that it was his responsibility to deal with these promotions and that it was up to him to decide whether or not to proceed.

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is not the prerogative of anyone within the military to impede an investigation and to destroy evidence.

Canadians are gravely concerned that the minister, who is ultimately responsible, has allowed tampering with evidence as an acceptable tool for office management at the senior levels of the national defence department.

These revelations undermine public confidence in the military and they destroy any shred of credibility still clinging to the minister. My question does not touch on the Somalia inquiry but goes right to the heart of the minister's mismanagement. Given that the minister acknowledges to the Canadian people that his department is out of control, will he do the honourable thing and resign?

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I might ask the hon. member if he would refrain from bordering on abusing the privileges of the member of Parliament for Don Valley East and the Minister of National Defence. I believe that is what he has done in his question, when there is a close reading of the question.

I would like to tell him that the chief of defence staff will be making a public statement this afternoon and will deal with all these matters because they are under his purview.

I would like to ask the hon. member whether he expects the Minister of National Defence to have the governor in council rescind an order in council that was passed 43 years ago designed to prevent political interference in the promotion of officers of the armed forces. Does he want to turn the clock back?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

With respect to the aerospace industry, it is clear from the secret document prepared by Industry Canada for the Operation Unity centre that the federal government intends to use the defence industry productivity program to put pressure on this industry in Quebec by withholding funds earmarked for the support of new projects in 1995.

Will the Prime Minister confirm that the federal government is currently negotiating with Bombardier to establish a financial support program to help Bombardier sell regional jets?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada

Mr. Speaker, again, these are unfounded allegations. Clearly, whenever subsidies are granted, the government always considers which industries could use them and for what purpose. The stated objectives are profitability and job creation, and these objectives are those set by the federal government for industrial development in Canada.

Is the opposition suggesting that we not look for ways to stimulate employment in Quebec? The burden of proof rests with opposition members. They are making allegations based on incorrect information and faulty analysis. Instead, they should share

with us the burden of developing Quebec's economy as best we can.

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the minister did not read the document.

Does the Prime Minister not find it odd that information on negotiations between Bombardier and the government can be found in an Operation Unity document designed to put pressure on Quebec businesses to make them vote No?

Industry CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, ever since I became a member of cabinet and even a member of Parliament, the Canadian aerospace industry has always relied on federal assistance for its development.

I myself was Minister of Industry many years ago. When Canadair was shut down by the American company General Dynamics, the Canadian government took it over to put it back on its feet. It has now become Quebec's largest industry and biggest employer. The Canadian government wants to ensure that Canadair can go ahead with its aircraft development project.

The development of regional aircraft by Canadair has been a government concern for many years, and we are trying to help this industry. In fact, in the past twelve months, we had the opportunity to help it start producing this aircraft which I feel is destined to have a great future, thanks to the aeronautics policies put in place by the Canadian government, which does a great deal for workers in that sector of Quebec's economy. That is why they will want to remain in Canada.

PensionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

The minister will not tell us when he will release his long overdue reform of the Canada pension plan but perhaps he will share with us what he is planning to do.

Through access to information we have obtained a briefing note by a senior policy analyst in HRD. She states that the Canada pension plan is financially unsustainable. She recommends that the minister either cut seniors' pensions or raise taxes to pay for the shortfall.

Will the minister promise seniors that he will not cut their pensions? And, will he promise taxpayers that he will not raise their taxes? Yes or no.

PensionsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I will certainly take the hon. member's representation to my colleague, the Minister of Finance, which I know he will be thrilled to receive.

As far as the briefing note is concerned, it is very difficult to keep track of a variety of briefing notes. I repeat to the hon. member that we made it very clear in last year's budget that we have a very strong commitment to maintaining the sustainability of the pension programs for seniors. We recognize, however, as a responsible government that in the future as the demographics of the country change there has to be new financing for the Canada pension plan. The Minister of Finance must meet with his colleagues, the other ministers of finance, later this year to discuss how that refinancing would take place.

That is the reason why it is very important we engage in a serious review of how we can ensure the continued maintenance of a good, effective, sustainable pension program for Canadians.

PensionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the hon. member's response and would like to continue with a supplementary question.

Reform believes that pension reform can be done without cutting seniors' pensions and without raising payroll taxes. In his letter last week the chief actuary for finance recommended that the government either raise taxes or cut benefits in order to save the Canada pension plan.

Will the minister reject the advice of the chief actuary, refuse to cut seniors' pensions and refuse to raise payroll taxes?

PensionsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I would be very interested in receiving a more complete and thorough presentation from the Reform Party on its proposals for the Canada pension plan.

When I looked at the proposals that came forward from the seminar or meeting the Reform Party held a couple of weeks ago in Halifax, I noticed that if we had followed its recommendations there would have been substantial reduced pension benefits for 800,000 disabled Canadians, 600,000 widows and 1.8 million pensioners.

I hope that is not the position of the hon. member.