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House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Federal Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

In view of the alarming predictions made by the Public Service Commission regarding the numbers of jobs that could be cut in the public sector and, consequently, in the private sector, can the minister tell us what kind of measures he intends to take in order to minimize the impact the re-organization of the public service will have on the national capital area?

Federal Public ServiceOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the assumptions made in the study released by the union are very questionable. The numbers it projects are very much an extreme case. I would caution anyone with respect to looking at that study.

May I say, as I said in the House the other day, that we want to treat people who will be departing because of downsizing in a fair and reasonable fashion. There will be various parts to the departure packages that will help people to re-establish themselves in the private sector.

I met with the mayor of Ottawa this morning to discuss ways in which we could work with the municipal governments to ensure that we minimize the impact on the region. I do note, I might add, that the region within the last year has increased jobs by some 16,000 in number, despite the decline in the federal public service. There is a lot of opportunity now with four out of five jobs in the national capital region being in the private sector to help people move into new opportunities. Certainly we are committed to doing everything we can to help them do that.

JusticeOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General.

Once again members of my party have brought to the attention of the House and the minister cases of dangerous sexual offenders who have been released into society only to reoffend, or in the tragic case of Melanie Carpenter to claim the life of an innocent victim.

One such individual, Mr. Harold Irving Banks, was recently transferred to a halfway house in Victoria right next to one of his victims, then transferred to a halfway house in Abbotsford three blocks away from his terrified daughter.

Is it the policy of the government to have dangerous sexual offenders released into communities where their victims reside? Will he take immediate action to have Mr. Banks moved far away from his victims?

JusticeOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is not the policy to operate in that way as far as I am aware. I will look into this case immediately and I thank my hon. friend for bringing it to my attention.

JusticeOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Solicitor General for looking into the matter.

I have a question for the Minister of Justice. I am glad that he reiterated his commitment to having the safety of Canadian society as his single highest priority.

I have a very simple question. Will the minister immediately bring forth legislation to incarcerate violent sexual offenders beyond their original sentence if they are deemed to pose a risk to society just before their release?

JusticeOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, part XXIV of the Criminal Code already provides that a person who represents a high risk and can be called a dangerous offender within the meaning of that term in the code can be kept in prison indefinitely.

It is up to the provinces to lay those charges in appropriate cases and to see that any such persons are kept in jail indefinitely. That is already on the books.

In addition, we discussed in Victoria and will be introducing changes to the code to add a category of long term offenders who may not be dangerous as in the meaning of that section, but who pose a threat to reoffend which endangers the public. The court will be enabled in such a case to impose as long as 10 years'

supervision after their release from jail for the safety of the public.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

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

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal People finally produced its report on suicide among young natives. The situation is disastrous. Young natives commit suicide at a rate eight times higher than young non-natives. The Pikangikum and Davis Inlet reserves are tragic examples of this.

Does the minister recognize the seriousness of the problem and what drastic measures does he intend to take to deal with this problem?

[English]

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has brought to the attention of the House a very tragic situation that is of great concern to the Ministry of Health and to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The situation of mental health and suicides as is pointed out in the report has been well-known and is an issue of major concern to our department. Last fall we quadrupled our funding for community mental health efforts among aboriginal communities.

The issues are complex. They not only deal with health, they deal with social problems, housing and economic development. We are going to respond to the report as soon as we meet with stakeholders that understand the issues so we can take the right steps to prevent it.

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard the same speech in the House a year ago.

How can we trust the minister when, a year ago, he had pledged to take positive steps to improve the dreadful conditions of natives in Davis Inlet, and he did not deliver on his promises?

Indian AffairsOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as is shown in the report, the issue is extraordinarily complex. It crosses a lot of boundaries. There are spiritual issues, housing issues, economic development issues and social issues.

Issues that have gone on for a long time cannot be dealt with in one day. We want to do the right things. That is why we are studying the issue, working with the communities to make the changes necessary.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

February 10th, 1995 / 11:45 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, there are serious reports from the Stony Reserve in Alberta of logging activity which is illegal and harming the environment. The reports also state that a few are getting wealthy, tax free, as a result.

Will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development ensure that violations of the Indian timber regulations in the Indian Act are quickly dealt with and the legislation and departmental policy strengthened to prevent a repeat occurrence?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question. We are aware, as is everyone in that area, of what is going on at the reserve. Logs are being taken illegally, without permits either from the First Nation band or from DIAND.

We have asked the RCMP-we cannot direct them-to go in and bring the situation under control. I understand it has stopped. We have asked them to seize the logs and any inventory that is being used illegally.

The negotiations are ongoing with the three Stony chiefs to reach agreement on a viable plan for management of the First Nations' inventory.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has been an ongoing problem. It only ceased this week. This is happening because DIAND has abdicated its responsibility with its policy of devolving authority to band control.

In this case the Indian timber regulations are the legislation that control the forestry activity. This is giving loggers, taxpayers, the band and the department a black eye.

Will the minister ensure this legislation is enforced?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is utter nonsense, showing how ill-informed he is.

It has nothing to do with devolution or dismantling. It has to do with people who are operating illegally. The chiefs do not want it and we do not want it. We will work together constructively in the spirit of dignity and respect to resolve the issue.

Income TaxOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

As we are all aware in the 1980s under Tory rule, the top personal income tax bracket was lowered from 34 to 29 per cent and the corporate tax rate fell from 36 to 28 per cent. While recognizing the confidentiality of the budget, would the minister assure the House that he is fully addressing the lack of fairness inherent in the taxation system we inherited from the Tory government.

Income TaxOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member on his question and on the degree to which he is well informed.

The previous government did lower the rates at the top end. It indicated a preference which we began to clear up in the last budget.

The member will remember that in the last budget we eliminated purchase butterflies. We eliminated the preferential tax rate for larger corporations. We eliminated the $100,000 capital gains tax exemption and we brought in new and tougher rules for foreign affiliates.

I can assure the hon. member that the same spirit of fairness that was shown in the last budget will be shown in this budget. I would like to congratulate the member for his desire to see fairness and equity in the tax system, unlike certain of those opposite.

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, these last few days we learned that the Minister of Justice is appointing Liberal friends as legal agents-in the riding of Brome-Missisquoi for example. However, patronage does not seem to stop there.

According to his own officials, during the first seven months of the Liberal government, the department signed 129 service contracts with a total value of $5 million. Could the Minister of Justice explain to us why Quebec individuals and companies obtained only 6 per cent of the total value of these contracts?

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I will deal with the question concerning legal agents first. When the government took office the process by which legal agents were appointed by the Department of Justice was criticized by the Auditor General.

In the months since the government took office, we have introduced important changes to that process to ensure its fairness, its efficiency and to ensure that we are getting high quality services throughout the country. Those changes are very significant.

In terms of the numbers to which the hon. member refers I am not familiar with his reference. If he provides me with details, I will be happy to look into it and to respond to his question.

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister that the total value of the contracts given to Ontario is eleven times that of contracts given to Quebec.

Does the minister really believe that Quebec individuals and companies have equal opportunity when it comes to offering their services to the Department of Justice?

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said I am not entirely sure what the hon. member's reference is. I will respond when I have the particulars of his question.

If the hon. member is referring to the value of contracts for legal services, they are affected by such things as the size of regional offices. We have a large regional office in Montreal and it may well be, although I do not know, that services that are performed on contract elsewhere in the country are performed through in house lawyers in justice in Montreal.

When I find out what the member's reference is, I will respond in detail to his question.

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, the latest budget rumour among many is that Canadians will be forced to invest all of their RRSP savings in Canada.

If the government wants Canadians to invest money in this country, it has two choices. It can force them through regulations and legislation or it can encourage them by getting its fiscal house in order, which this government should do. That would create some confidence.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Is the minister prepared to force Canadians to invest in Canada or is he going to give them the opportunity to invest freely, as a Canadian should?

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I have said many times that I am not in a position to reveal details of the budget. But I would like to remind the member opposite that we have made it very clear that we are going to get this nation's finances in order.

I would also remind the member opposite that this nation's great resources are not only deep in the ground but they lie in the skills and the talent of those who walk on it. The government will always encourage Canadians to invest in their own country.

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I can certainly appreciate what the minister has said, but what we want in this country is the opportunity to have the freedom to invest without the intervention of government. Less government is what we want.

The minister wants to take all of the credit for the growth of the economy and the improvements in this country, but I think the provinces have something to do with it. For example, Alberta has the lowest taxes at the current time in the country. We have unemployment at 7.2 per cent. We have a surplus budget and we have investor confidence which is something that is necessary for all of Canada.

In his considerations and responsibilities as the Minister of Finance in creating an investment climate, is he considering the Alberta model as one that should be followed?

The BudgetOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance and Minister responsible for the Federal Office of Regional Development -Quebec

Mr. Speaker, I have some difficulty understanding where the member is coming from. His initial question appeared to be a representation on behalf of foreign bankers. His second question appears to be a representation on behalf of the Conservative government of Alberta. I am delighted to see, however, that the twain have now come together.

Certainly I congratulate any province that has succeeded in getting its fiscal house in order. I would extend to the governments of the provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, in fact mostly the Liberal provinces, our congratulations.

However, I would point out one thing. There is criticism of the way in which the Government of Alberta has gone at that in terms of its health system and its education system. One must wonder whether it makes sense to get short term financial results at the expense of the long term human capacity of the country.

Mps' PensionsOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The government is proposing massive cuts to public services, to social services and to health services. These cuts seem to have gone through the Liberal caucus relatively quickly. However, when it comes to something such as MPs' pensions the government seems to be unable to get its act together as indeed the previous government could not get its act together.

I want to ask the Minister of the Treasury Board why inaction on this issue has been allowed to take on a symbolism which I think is both unrealistic and far beyond the reality. To put an end to this will the minister bring in legislation on MPs' pensions before the budget?