This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #265 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was institutions.

Topics

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, we wanted the referendum to be over and done with through a strong no vote. It did not happen because of who was in charge over there.

Let me remind the Prime Minister that on October 25, in a speech broadcast to the entire nation, he said:

All governments, federal and provincial, must respond to the desire of Canadians everywhere for greater decentralization.

That was a promise, not just to Quebecers, but to all Canadians. Since the referendum, however, the government has done nothing but backpedal on its promises.

When will the Prime Minister keep his promise to introduce concrete measures to transfer many powers to the provinces, which is their normal jurisdiction anyway?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to underscore how sad we are that the Reform Party missed a real opportunity to work for Canada during the referendum.

I also remind the hon. member that despite the backroom manipulations of her party, we actually won the referendum. As a government we intend to govern for the betterment of all Canadians.

The Prime Minister made promises in Verdun. He has every intention of keeping those promises. He will not be able to count on the support of the leader of the third party because when the time came, in a private meeting when the Prime Minister asked the leader of the third party to fight for Canada in the way that the leader of the Conservative Party did, the leader of the third party was not there to fight for Canada.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, we have been and will continue to fight for a new Canada, not this old rehash, out of date Canada that they keeping talking about.

I seem to hear from the other side decentralization, if necessary, but not necessarily decentralization. Mackenzie King's dog would have been proud of that line. He could not have said it any better.

Canadians inside and outside of Quebec want real change. They do not want just cosmetic changes and the ivory tower thinking that we are going to hear on Wednesday from the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Is that it? Is that all this bankrupt Liberal government has to offer, recycled centralist policies again and again and botched unity strategies? Does the government have any clue whatsoever, or is the Prime Minister just making it up as he goes along?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the saddest thing about the configuration of the current Parliament is the fact that in the opposition every day basically we see two sides of the same coin. We see a Bloc Quebecois that is fighting to separate Quebec from Canada and a Reform Party that is fighting to separate Canada from Quebec.

The member talks about the rehash of Canada. I remind her that despite our differences and despite our flaws, we have been chosen for several years in a row as the best country in the world in which to live. Yes, there is room for improvement, but if the Reform Party suggests that Canada is a rehash, it should call itself the regress party.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to either the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs or the Deputy Prime Minister.

Yesterday, Daniel Johnson repeated what he, his party and all other Quebecers had heard and understood, namely that the Prime Minister had undertaken to make constitutional changes in line with Quebec's aspirations. That is why Mr. Johnson urged Ottawa to act quickly on its referendum promises.

Will the Prime Minister, his deputy or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs admit that setting up a phoney committee to save Canada is only a tactic to water down the Prime Minister's commitments, but a tactic that fools no one, not even former allies of the no side like Daniel Johnson and Liza Frulla, who are now asking him to deliver the goods quickly?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again, I think that the official opposition is hard of hearing. The Prime Minister made promises and he will honour them.

This past week-end, the special convention of the Liberal Party passed a number of resolutions, which we will do our best to help implement. The unity committee that was struck and that I chair is to look not only at how the Prime Minister's promises can be fulfilled, but also at possible corrective measures to make Canada an even better place.

I wish that the official opposition would do its job, which is to help make Canada a better place, instead of systematically attempting to destroy the country.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

In this regard, Mr. Speaker, are we to understand that the Prime Minister intends to take the advice of the Globe and Mail , which was suggesting that, to save face, all he would have to do is to offer Quebecers a symbolic recognition of the distinct society and a so-called right of veto?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, again, we must bear in mind that the Prime Minister made promises concerning the distinct society and the right of veto and that he will keep his promises.

But at the same time we must not forget that the Leader of the Official Opposition very clearly stated that he would reject any constitutional proposal and refuse to consider any offer made by the federal government. So, in this instance, the Prime Minister is the one who is trying to go ahead and give something to Quebecers, but his efforts are being thwarted by the inflexible and hard line approach taken by the official opposition and its leader.

PeacekeepingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, every time this government holds a debate on peacekeeping it is a total sham. The decisions are already made and there is no free vote.

Last week I sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting that he respect the will of Parliament and allow a free vote on a clear peacekeeping proposal. Now that the government has had time to think about it, I would like an answer. Does Parliament get a free vote, yes or no?

PeacekeepingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

As he knows, while the peace accord was signed, from the Dayton, Ohio discussions it appears it will be some time before the accord is actually ratified. He would be aware that there are a lot of perturbations going on in Bosnia with respect to the details of the accord itself, such things as the width of the corridor in northeastern Bosnia, the disposition of war criminals potential and also the difficulty with the management of the Sarajevo situation.

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the ministers of defence and foreign affairs, I can guarantee the hon. member that there will be a debate. The opposition parties will have their input. But I cannot say when this debate will take place. I hope it will be soon, but it cannot take place until the accord is actually agreed to.

PeacekeepingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I guess I missed the yes or no in that answer. I am sure it was there somewhere.

In my letter to the Prime Minister I asked him for a genuine debate on peacekeeping. In order to have that debate, we require details. We need to know the budget, the maximum duration, the mandate. The government has not even told us the size or the role of the Canadian contingent.

When is the government going to provide these details? Is it just planning to keep Parliament in the dark as usual?

PeacekeepingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in response to the hon. member's questions, they are very valid.

The standing committee on defence, with the input of the third party, has agreed to a set of criteria in the white paper. I can assure him that these criteria will be looked at. They were developed basically by all parties in the House. We will try to provide

reasonable and responsible answers to these questions when the debate takes place.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

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

Yesterday, the president of the no committee, Daniel Johnson, asked this government to decentralize federal powers, starting with those in the manpower training sector.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister pledge that the social security reform, which her party intends to table in the House this week, will be an example of decentralization and that, consequently, Quebec will have sole authority over manpower training?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York North Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we will shortly be tabling a new Unemployment Insurance Act here in Canada in response to what we heard from hundreds of thousands of Canadians who want basically a modern system, a system that is sustainable, and a system that will provide Canadians with a set of tools to get back to work quickly.

Part and parcel of what Canadians are calling for is greater decentralization and empowerment of local communities to make the decisions that best suit their local realities. The objectives that Canadians have set will be of course honoured in the new employment bill.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is for the Deputy Prime Minister. This week, we will discuss a concrete issue, namely vocational training, and we are anxious to see how the government will decentralize powers.

Are we to understand that, by refusing to make the social security reform an example of decentralization, the government is clearly showing that the commitments made by the Prime Minister in Verdun were just a smoke screen?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

York North Ontario

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member gets the impression that we are not willing to reform Canada's social security system. Just as a reminder, it was the federal government that embarked on this very important legislative process to modernize Canada's social security system.

I want to tell the hon. member, who is extremely concerned about the role of the provinces in this particular case, that the provinces will be brought in as very effective partners, along with local stakeholders, to make sure that the type of training Canadians need is in tune with the times and will get Canadians back to work very quickly.

PrisonsOral Question Period

November 27th, 1995 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, it was recently reported that the 1994-95 cable TV bill for providing cable services to prisoners at the Mountain and Kent institutions totalled nearly $60,000. That is for one year.

Criminals should be punished for their crimes. Yet we have murderers, thieves, rapists, and drug dealers being treated to such luxury as cable TV, compliments of the taxpayer.

My question is for the solicitor general. Why is he wasting taxpayers' money to provide prisoners with cable TV when many of our law-abiding citizens and seniors cannot even afford to keep it?

PrisonsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. friend is mistaken in his allegations. If my recollection is correct, the system is being switched so that the cost of cable TV is being paid for by the prisoners themselves. I think that is something he should be happy to support.

PrisonsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Solicitor General should get his facts straight. The salaries the prisoners make in prison are paid for by the taxpayers. It is still taxpayers' money.

Federal prisoners in federal institutions are sitting on their duffs watching cable TV to the tune of $1 million a year. Whatever happened to hard time?

Will the minister show some strength of character and announce immediately that all TVs will be removed from federal prisons, yes or no?

PrisonsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when prisoners get paid it is basically for work they do or programming they are involved with in prisons. It is part of the process so that when they get out they do not offend again, which I hope is something the hon. member will support.

I repeat, the cost of TV in prisons is being borne by prisoners themselves. I do not understand why the hon. member is more concerned about this than matters of jobs or Canadian unity, but if he wants to be, I am happy to answer his questions.

EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of the Environment surely knows that her colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources will, as early as mid-December, fob off on the private sector a site located in Quebec which could be contaminated by nuclear waste. Indeed, a public servant involved in the sale wrote that: "If the site is contaminated, we may be forced to decontaminate it, even after the sale".

Is that the kind of practice to which the minister was alluding when she recently said, with great pomp: "We do our best to turn environmental challenges into economic opportunities"?

EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I must confess that I am not sure I understand the hon. member's question. If she is referring to the sale of part of some 2,500 acres owned by AECL in the province of Quebec, AECL will be selling 250 acres of that site. The contractual negotiations are ongoing at this time.

EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister, who prides herself on implementing the principle whereby the polluter must pay, give the example by pledging to decontaminate that potentially contaminated site before its final sale? I think my question is clear, Mr. Speaker.

EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, environmental assessment of the land is a matter for discussion and negotiation between the seller and the prospective buyer. Those discussions are going on now as part of the negotiations for the sale. I do not understand what the hon. member's concern is.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

Now that the report of the special commission on restructuring of the reserves has been tabled, can the minister advise the House and my Carleton-Charlotte constituents the timeframe that can be expected for the new review and possible implementation of the commission's recommendations and the result of same?