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House of Commons Hansard #257 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.

Topics

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, are the accusations by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the government's phoney committee whose establishment was announced yesterday not simply delaying tactics aimed at keeping a lid on the profound division not only in the Liberal caucus, but in cabinet, where a number of members are still under the influence of Pierre Elliott Trudeau?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I made no accusations and I based each of my statements on remarks made by the leader of the Parti Quebecois and the leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Furthermore, in the committee that was struck, we are going to try to find a solution to the problems the country is facing, one that will help Canadians, including Quebecers. And the Bloc Quebecois is opposing our efforts at finding a solution to the present problems and is opposing the resolution of difficulties in jurisdictional matters, despite the fact that the majority of Quebecers indicated in a democratic decision that they did not want to leave Canada.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. All observers are still wondering what kind of logic prompted the federal government to think it might be helpful to set up a committee of ministers in charge of reviewing the possibility of making constitutional and administrative changes to the Canadian federation. Many people have questions, but few ministers can answer them.

How can we believe that this phoney committee can propose acceptable changes to Quebecers, when the real decision makers, that is, the provincial premiers, are not even on it?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, those who want to find a real solution to the problems met to set up a working group whose mandate is to look at possible changes.

It is clear that the official opposition-whose goal, as its leader indicated, is to break up the country-has no interest whatsoever in co-operating or in finding something positive to say about the working group we have set up. Yet, this working group is clearly needed to make a list of the changes required to reconcile all Canadians.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on Radio-Canada's Téléjournal , the Deputy Prime Minister made this short statement: ``We are now trying to make it possible to fulfil the promises made by the Prime Minister''. Let us be frank.

Is the creation of this phoney committee not simply a federal trick to allow the Prime Minister to save face, since he is unable to deliver the goods and to meet his commitments?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, during the campaign, the Prime Minister made promises with respect to distinct society and the right of veto. The Prime Minister said he would keep these promises. Our Prime Minister is a man who has kept his promises in the past, and people believe in his integrity.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, for months before the Quebec referendum the government went to sleep on the national unity issue, failing to provide a strong federalist vision of strategy to counter the separatist dreams and strategy. Then the government got the mother of all wake up calls on October 30 and the Prime Minister belatedly decided to act on the demand for change inside and outside Quebec.

Now, a week later, we find the government going back to sleep. Instead of offering leadership it falls back on a tired, old precedent of appointing a top down, closed door committee to come up with some post-referendum strategy.

My question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. What on earth happened to the sense of urgency that the Prime Minister expressed on October 30? By what date will this cabinet committee have something intelligent to report to the House?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is curious to hear the Reform Party complain about the unity task force.

Who wrote the 20 points in the Reform constitutional plan? Was it the committee or was it a submission by one of the Reform members? Did their leader agree without consultation with the party and without consultation with the people?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the constitutional proposals in Reform's new confederation package have been under discussion with the Canadian public for five years. It came from the bottom up, not the bottom down.

The fact remains that the only government response to the Quebec referendum thus far has been to start down the same rocky road that led to the failures of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords by establishing a top down, closed door committee of cabinet to develop unity proposals without the involvement of Canadian people. This is the process that doomed Meech, doomed Charlottetown and will doom this post-referendum strategy unless the public is involved.

What specifically does the government intend to do to bring the Canadian people, the ones who pulled the no vote out of the fire, into the development of its post-referendum strategy?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the will of the people I think the leader of the

third party should remember that the Charlottetown accord passed in his riding. If he were expressing the will of the people he represents he would be in favour of these negotiations.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Chamber and the National Press Gallery have become dangerously complacent about the failure of government ministers, including this minister, to give direct answers to straight questions. Maybe he can do that on a thousand different subjects and it is considered clever in the Chamber although it is not considered clever outside. If the government fails to directly answer straight questions on the issue of the unity of the country, it is playing with the life of the country and it will earn the just contempt of every Canadian who cares about the unity of the country.

I will ask my question of the minister once again and I will go slowly. What specifically does the government intend to do to bring the Canadian people into the discussion of its national unity proposal?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, if we ask straight questions we get straight answers. If we ask contorted questions unfortunately we get contorted answers.

In this case if the question is what is the mandate of the committee, the mandate of the committee is very clear. The promises the Prime Minister mentioned during the campaign will be kept. At present we are looking at various ways in which governments could be made more effective. This is part of the changes we have carried through with the government in the last two years and this will continue.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. On the government's phoney committee, we have the Minister of Justice, who, last week, was looking for legal means to prevent Quebecers from voting again on their future, the minister of fisheries, who urged thousands of Canadians to act in violation of the Quebec referendum act, the minister of Indian affairs, who raised the possibility of dividing Quebec's territory, and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who will not recognize that Quebecers are a people.

Under these circumstances, how can this committee come up with anything that would be acceptable to Quebecers?

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, when official opposition members refer to a phoney committee, it is clear that they are choosing words that have no connection with reality, just to discredit a tool used by the government to try to improve the situation.

Again, this comes as no surprise to me, since the self-appointed role of the official opposition is to destroy this country, which strips it of any credibility when it comes to looking after the interests of Quebecers. We are the ones looking after the interests of Quebecers by respecting the wish of the majority, which is to find, within Canada, ways of making the federation work better.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

This is the whole point, Mr. Speaker. Will the minister admit that, in this committee, the interests of Quebecers will be looked after only by ministers who said repeatedly over the past two years that Quebecers did not want to hear about the Constitution?

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 it is pointless to keep answering questions from the opposition, whose sole goal is to promote the destruction of this country, and not to help Quebecers.

We, on the other hand, have established a commission which has been mandated, in accordance with the wish clearly and democratically expressed by Quebecers in the referendum, to find solutions within the Canadian federation.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

November 8th, 1995 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is an understatement to say that there was a massive breakdown in security at 24 Sussex over the weekend. With every passing day the revelations get more bizarre and Canadians are rightly concerned and angered.

We have just learned that the Mounties guarding 24 Sussex that night were inexperienced, having received only a couple of months' training. At least one of them had been called from the RCMP musical ride.

I ask the Solicitor General of Canada this. What sort of training did these officers receive and who was responsible for putting these people in the position of gatekeepers at 24 Sussex?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 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 have already reported to the House that a full investigation into

the circumstances of the incident and what steps should be taken to make sure it is never repeated is under way.

I expect this investigation will be completed and a report available to me by the end of the week. In light of that I will have a lot more to say about this incident which is certainly something that should never have happened and something I never want to see happen again.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the same night this tragedy happened, in Israel the security force resigned; its members have either been thrown out or they have resigned.

Why can that not happen here when our Prime Minister's life was in great danger that night? Why was the intruder not spotted? Why did it take seven minutes for the RCMP to respond? Why did the RCMP secure the perimeter of the place without securing the Prime Minister?

More amazingly, none of the three senior officers who are on emergency standby duty 24 hours a day with cell telephones answered when Mrs. Chrétien made the emergency call. They were not available. They did not answer their phones even though they were on 24-hour standby emergency duty.

Will these senior officers be held accountable? Can the solicitor general assure the House, without the report having even been tabled, that junior officers will not take the fall for their superiors?

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the important thing is to determine in a factual way all the circumstances and then to put steps in place to make sure the incident is never repeated.

This is what we are doing. This is what is going to happen. I hope to have the support of my hon. friend if she is serious about this.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Yesterday, when asked about the mandate of the cabinet committee, the minister could only say that the committee was going to look at all the possibilities for constitutional and administrative changes in the Canadian federation.

I put my question to the minister in the hope that he will provide an answer. Can the minister tell us if the proposed resolution to recognize Quebec's distinct character, as well as the bill on regional referendums, are among the options which his committee will look at?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, once again, the commitments made by the Prime Minister during the campaign concerning a distinct society clause and a constitutional veto for Quebec will be fulfilled. Our committee will also look at non constitutional measures, so as to not overlook any means to make our federation more effective.

This is what we will do in the coming months. We should not pre-judge the results. We, at least, are working in the best interests of Canadians and Quebecers.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that, if the government gave such a wide and vague mandate to its committee, it is because it wants to keep all the doors open? The government obviously does not know how to fulfill the commitments made to Quebecers by the Prime Minister during the referendum campaign?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the answer is no. The commitments made by the Prime Minister during the campaign will be fulfilled and we will review, with dedication, the changes that could be made to improve the way Canada works.

Again, in establishing this committee, the government shows that it cares for the well-being of Canadians and Quebecers. As for the opposition, it has clearly indicated, through its leader, that it is not interested in negotiating, and that its only goal is to destroy our country.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, as usual I am asking questions concerning the Minister of National Defence's mismanagement of his portfolio.

This morning the military police revealed documents alleging fraud by the chief of the defence staff. Access to information documents show the CDS has misused public funds.

Canadians have serious problems with the defence department's continually having to investigate itself because of the minister's mismanagement.

Has the CDS offered his resignation or has the minister demanded the resignation of the CDS?