House of Commons Hansard #147 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was patronage.



10 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I wish to comment on the matter brought to the attention of the House by the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands on December 7 and 8, 1994.

The hon. member explained that a serious omission had been found in a publication entitled "The Prime Ministers of Canada, 1867 to 1994", a document prepared jointly by the House of Commons and the National Archives. Subsequently, other errors and inconsistencies were discovered and communicated to me.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands was justifiably upset by the omission of references to Kingston and the entry for Sir John A. Macdonald and was absolutely correct when he pointed out that all Canadians associate our first Prime Minister with the limestone city, and in case some of you did not know that is Kingston.

All members and their constituents recognize the importance a member's riding and its history play in a member's political identification. Some of the errors and omissions in this publication concerning members' constituencies may be the result of editorial decisions designed to simplify the rather complex evolution of our political and electoral systems.

For example, at times in our history, certain constituencies have returned two members of Parliament in an election, or a member appointed to the ministry would have to resign his seat and seek re-election as a minister. Members were permitted to be candidates in, and be elected in more than one riding at a time, although these members ultimately would have to choose which riding to represent.

Regrettably, other difficulties with this publication seem to have been the result of an apparent misunderstanding between the House and the National Archives when the publication was edited.

An erratum has been prepared for the first edition and will be attached to all remaining copies of the book. A revised second edition is currently under production by the National Archives and members will receive their copies when it is available.

I believe that these measures will rectify the situation and I thank the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 19 petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec


André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table the government's response to the recommendations of the special joint committee reviewing Canadian foreign policy.

Mr. Speaker, the first paper, which is the government's response, will be followed by the policy statement that the government intends to table in this House.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec


André Ouellet LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of rising in the House today to table the government response to the report of the special joint committee reviewing Canadian foreign policy.

My duty as foreign affairs minister has given me many opportunities to observe the role that our country plays in the world. It has been said in some quarters that our privileged position on the world stage would be called into question by the end of the cold war.

On the contrary, I am proud to note that our country continues to play an important role and that the international community's expectations of us have not diminished. Canada occupies a position of leadership among the open advanced countries which are becoming increasingly influential as world power is dispersing and becoming more defined in economic terms.

Canada' geographic location gives it an important advantage as new poles of political and economic powers emerge in the Pacific and Latin America. Canada's cultural heritage gives it privileged access to the anglophone and francophone worlds as well as to the homelands of Canadians drawn from every part of the globe who make up its multicultural personality.

Canada can further its global interests better than any other country through its active membership in key international groupings, for example hosting the G-7 summit this year and the Asia-Pacific economic co-operation forum summit in 1997.

Canada's history as a non-colonizing power, champion of constructive multilateralism and effective international mediator underpins an important and distinctive role among nations as they seek to build a new and better order.

Canada, thus, is in a privileged position to influence change and to benefit from opportunities as we move toward the end of the 20th century. The government will exercise that influence responsibly to protect and promote Canada's values and interests in the world.

The committee faced an enormous task, and I congratulate all of its members, in particular the two co-chairmen, Senator MacEachen and Senator Gauthier, who was then a member of this House and co-chair of this committee.

I think that the government's response had to reflect the depth and quality of the work done by all committee members from both sides of the House.

The government has kept the promise contained in the red book. It has made the development of Canadian foreign policy a democratic process by seeking the participation of Canadians and their members of Parliament. Both the joint committee and the government recognize that changes on the international scene will speed up rather than slow down. Unfortunately, the financial constraints that we face are not likely to go away in a hurry.

A responsible government must thus constantly re-evaluate its strategies openly and clearly, to reflect the interests and concerns of Canadian men and women more effectively.

Canadians are increasingly aware that their actions, both individual and collective, have international consequences. The once-clear distinction between national and international affairs is quickly becoming blurred, forcing us to take a broader view of things. The number of stakeholders in foreign policy continues to grow.

In short, international relations are no longer the concern of governments alone, but of all Canadian men and women who work in non-governmental organizations and play a very important role in representing one aspect of our foreign policy.

The government is committed to continuing consultation and to giving members of Parliament and NGO officials a vital role in developing our foreign policy. Thus, in March 1994, the government invited Canadians from various walks of life to take part in the first national forum on Canada's international relations.

I wish to confirm today that we intend to make this forum an annual event. Since our term of office began, we have held five parliamentary debates on key foreign policy issues. I can assure you that Canadian foreign policy will no longer be developed behind closed doors; all Canadians and especially all members of Parliament will be involved.

With my colleagues, the two Secretaries of State and the Minister for International Trade, I held a series of consultations and round tables across Canada. I can tell you that we will continue these consultations throughout our term of office.

Based on these consultations and the report of the joint committee, and recognizing the need for a flexible and effective foreign policy, the government has identified three key objectives that will guide its activities on the international scene in the years to come.

These objectives are: first, to promote jobs and prosperity; second, to promote our security in a stable international framework; and third, to share our values and our culture. These objectives complement one another and reflect the government's national priorities.

With regard to our first objective, I would like to begin by saying that the government is committed to implementing a foreign policy that promotes access of Canadian goods and services to foreign markets. The objective could not be clearer: to defend and increase Canada's prosperity, and to promote jobs and growth by diversifying our economic and trade relations.

The Government recognizes the growing importance of the major international financial institutions and firmly intends to discuss this with its foreign parthers during the G-7 Summit in Halifax in June. I shall leave the task of providing a more detailed explanation of our objectives in this area to my colleague, the Minister for International Trade.

I shall now discuss the second objective, an equally important aspect or our foreign policy: promoting our security in a stable international framework. The hostile environment of the Cold War kept us from concentrating our efforts on combatting other threats no less real.

While the geopolitical upheavals of recent years have greatly reduced the immediate threats to our security, we must now, paradoxically, expand our definition of this concept.

Today, security is no longer defined in terms of ideologies or boundaries. Environmental deterioration, massive, uncontrolled migrations, international crime, drug trafficking, AIDS, overpopulation and underdevelopment are the names of today's threats. Our security requires a deeper awareness of these new threats. The threat of war and armed conflicts may have diminished, but the modern world is just as threatened by the new problems that face people in every part of the world.

It is therefore essential that we, Canadians, in seeking to protect ourselves, do our best to help resolve these problems, in the interest not only of the security of those who are facing them, but also of our own. I think that we can say, and everybody will agree, that Canadians are proud of their country's unique contribution to UN peacekeeping operation. Canada will continue to participate in these missions.

But our decisions will be subject to specific criteria, as the committee recommended. As the UN and the regional security organizations have served us well, Canada will continue to serve them well. But to serve well also means identifying the structural problems, weaknesses and shortcomings of these organisations, and working relentlessly toward correcting them.

As I announced last September, Canada is working diligently toward improving the efficiency of the United Nations. With this in mind, we are preparing, among other things, a study on the rapid reaction capability of the UN, which we will table in September at the next General Assembly in New York.

The third objective of our foreign policy is to promote our values and our culture abroad. A country that isolates itself and fails to project its identity and values beyond its boundaries is doomed to anonymity and loss of influence. Our writers, artists, academics and researchers are the best ambassadors of our identity in all its diversity. They convey the creativity and knowledge essential to the prosperity, development and health of our country.

I can assure you that the restructuring and staff redeployment within the department will emphasize this third major aspect of our foreign policy. Like our entrepreneurs, those involved in the cultural and educational sectors have a product to sell. Like our exporters, they have a market to conquer. And like our business people, they are known for the excellence of their product. For them too, internationalization is essential to success and competitiveness.

The influence of the cultural and educational sectors on our economy is profound, as we can see. These sectors hold a good deal of potential for Canada, a potential that we must use wisely. The Government is committed to defending the competitiveness of our cultural industries and of the educational products and services of our universities and colleges, and to helping our artists penetrate foreign markets. To say that we have limited resources is no excuse for abdicating our responsibilities.

On the contrary, it is an opportunity to consolidate our efforts and work with the departments and agencies concerned, and also with the provinces, to promote our culture and knowledge abroad.

Vitality in our cultural, academic and scientific interchange is essential to our success in the new knowledge based world economy. It is also essential to our growth, prosperity and success nationally.

In order to remain competitive, our institutions of higher learning, our students, our future workers need to adapt to a profoundly and constantly changing international labour market, to expose themselves to the new technologies, and to master new knowledge.

Canadians know that our problems are insignificant compared to the intolerable situation in which too many of the world's people still live. Official development aid is another important and integral part of our foreign policy, for it strikes at the very roots of conflict and of threats to security. Aid reflects the values of Canadians, values of compassion, co-operation and generosity.

In the statement we are tabling today, the government firmly intends to clarify the mandate of the Canadian International Development Agency, in order to give it a solid objective and clear priorities that will dictate the action it takes.

These priorities are six in number: first, to address basic human needs; second, to support the participation of women in sustainable economic development; third, to develop in these countries the infrastructure services essential to a sound economic upswing; fourth, to defend human rights; fifth, to encourage the private sector in these countries, which need to prosper and take their place on the leading edge of the global evolution; and finally, a responsibility from which no one is exempt and which is fundamental to our collective future, and that is to protect our environment.

It is clear that these objectives support the three main principles of foreign policy that I have just announced: first, the promotion of prosperity; second, the promotion of security; and finally, the promotion of our values and our culture.

The government will encourage and help Canadians to participate and to continue to participate in co-operative development and will take measures to improve the effectiveness of the official development aid program.

In closing let me say that our country's foreign policy is a source of pride for all Canadians. Our foreign policy aims to bring people together to dialogue, to build bridges and to form ties. We must involve the people of Canada, including obviously their members of Parliament, non-governmental organizations, universities, provinces, cultural groups and those who are involved in the development of what we believe should be a good, proud, effective foreign policy.

Indeed we ought to meet expectations because it is quite clear as we travel throughout the world that other people expect a lot from Canada. They count on us to be a partner, to be friends and allies in their efforts to strive in a new world of peace and security and prosperity for their populations.

The policy I am presenting today takes this into account. It is innovative in its openness to input from Canadians and from Parliament and it depends on continued support from Canadians to make it an effective foreign policy. It is innovative in its objectives which are more sharply focused than ever before.

Economic and trade factors have a primary place in it. Risks to security are looked at in a broad perspective, something that has never been done before. It has been more or less focused exclusively on military dimensions. For the first time we now have something much wider and which takes into account the reality of today in dealings and in trying to strive for a security policy that corresponds to our objectives and needs, but it is very much in line with the tremendous changes which have occurred in the world in recent years.

Finally, it also clearly sets out the particular importance given to the promotion of Canadian culture and values and the importance of working hard with others to ensure that the freedoms, the democratic system, the respect for human rights, and the promotion of individuals as we know in Canada will continue to make progress in many parts of the world where Canadians are asked to participate and influence the decision making process. Certainly that third dimension which deals with our values will be one on which we will work as hard as we are working on the two other dimensions of our foreign policy.

I conclude by thanking all the members of the joint committee for their excellent work, with the hope that the already well-established dialogue among governments, the people of Canada and Parliament will continue to bear fruit.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.


Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to discuss the policy statement tabled in this House by the government. The numerous upheavals which occurred on the international scene over the last few years have made it more urgent than ever for Canada to review its position and to define what its new role should be.

This morning, the government finally released the new objectives of Canada's foreign policy. Bloc Quebecois members played an active role in the work of the special joint committee reviewing Canadian foreign policy. Canada's participation in UN peacekeeping missions, its development assistance, as well as its efforts to promote human and democratic rights explain to a large extent our country's international reputation.

Bloc Quebecois members hope that this will continue to be the case, and it is with that in mind that they took part in the work of the committee.

However, I wish to remind the minister that the Bloc Quebecois felt it had to express a dissenting opinion regarding certain recommendations contained in the majority report. Indeed, we felt that these recommendations were not likely to promote major changes in Canadian foreign policy. Consequently, we made recommendations to the government, based on what we feel is a more adequate reflection of the notion which Quebecers, among others, have of the world surrounding them.

We sought to propose to the government another foreign policy which would reflect our abilities, serve our real interests, and which would be based on our experience. It is obvious, when you look at the policy statement released today, that the government missed the boat. There is virtually no concrete commitment in that statement, except for a confirmation of the about-face made by the government, which is resolutely turning its back on the promotion of human and democratic rights, thus

relinquishing its historic responsibilities. I will get back to this later on.

Let me take a few moments to discuss the key objectives which, from now on, will guide the government on the international scene. The hon. member for Verchères will deal more specifically with the government's first objective, which is to promote prosperity and employment, while I will mainly discuss the second and third ones, which are the promotion of security and of Canadian values and culture.

First, as regards the issue of security, it is clear that the intentions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs are not supported by concrete action. Indeed, in spite of his being in favour of UN reform, which the minister feels is a pressing issue, he has no immediate steps to propose. Instead of immediately announcing the gist of the reforms this government will propose on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the UN, the minister has indicated he will wait until then to announce Canada's position on possible reforms.

Meanwhile, the UN remains incapable of taking effective action in the field, to prevent tragedies like those we have witnessed in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, the Sudan, and the list goes on. The minister does not seem to realize that reforms are urgently needed at the UN. The minister has been musing about this for more than fifteen months, but when will we see some concrete decisions? In fact, the minister is postponing decisions that should be made today.

What the minister had to say about some very important matters like the Arctic and non-proliferation of nuclear arms also merits careful scrutiny. The Arctic, the scene of constantly escalating militarism during the Cold War, should be given more serious consideration than what transpired from the minister's proposals. Instead of coming out in favour of a military withdrawal, pure and simple, from this territory, the minister proposes a plan for sustainable development to be implemented by the countries that share this immense territory.

What is the use of supporting this kind of scheme, attractive though it may be, if it is not supported by a firm Canadian position on the demilitarization of the area? Canada's firm position is reflected in a decision to spend $1 billion on submarines, as provided in the latest white paper on Canada's defence policy. Is that what the minister means by sustainable development in the Arctic? Would it not be preferable to start discussions on this very worthwhile objective now with our partners the United States, Russia and the Scandinavian countries?

The non-proliferation of nuclear arms is another case of the government not practising what it preaches. How can we expect Canada to have any credibility, when our position is in no way reflected in concrete policies? Would the minister not have done better to make exercising real control over our exports of nuclear products part of the government's trade policy?

As a world leader in the production of these strategic commodities, Canada undeniably has sufficient clout among the nations that buy our products. Here again, the minister prefers to take refuge in comments that seldom have much more than a cosmetic impact. It is really too bad the Minister of Foreign Affairs obviously was not listening to the many recommendations made by a host of witnesses who appeared before the joint committees on foreign affairs and defence.

Since it was elected, this government has constantly used consultations as an excuse, consultations that, unfortunately, are useless since the government lacks the political will to defend the convictions shared by Canadians and Quebecers.

With respect to the government's third objective, culture, the spearhead of Canadian foreign policy, I would like to point out right off that, once again, the Government of Canada is refusing to acknowledge and to address the problem of Canada's two constituent nations.

In their dissenting report, Bloc Quebecois members acknowledged that Canada needed anchoring against the overpowering culture of the United States. The government's approach in cultural matters, however, is based on the false premise that this is one nation with a single culture, a so-called Canadian culture. What is this Canadian culture, exactly?

Clearly Canada is having great difficulty defining itself. Its existential problem is that it is being torn apart by a double identity. The government's only response to this difficulty was to introduce the policy of multiculturalism. The minister is doubtless aware, as a Quebecer, that this policy is based not so much on a sociological analysis of the place of ethnic groups within Canada as on a desire to impose a single and common vision of Canada.

In our opinion, however, any policy intended to project the image of a homogeneous and unified Canada abroad can only lead to a denial of Quebec's culture. What the federal government is trying to do, in fact, is to use culture as a tool abroad to further marginalize and downplay Quebec's identity. Quebecers see through its scheme.

Before broaching the subject of international aid, I would like to consider for a few moments the issue of human rights. In his policy statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs indicated, and I quote, "Human rights will remain a priority in the area of international aid". And later on, "The government will give priority to supporting democracy throughout the world in the years to come". In fact there is nothing concrete to support this wishful thinking on the part of the government.

What aspect of the policy statement released today establishes democracy and human rights as fundamental elements of Canada's foreign policy? Could the minister tell us this? What are the fundamental elements of foreign policy? The government simply dismissed this role, which suits its purposes, all the while refusing to truly entrench it as one of the basic principles of its foreign policy. It does nevertheless include some of the values shared by Canadians and Quebecers as a whole.

Canada's foreign policy should instead demonstrate unfailing consistency and openness in this regard if it wishes to maintain the wealth of respect and prestige acquired by Canada and which a sovereign Quebec nation would like to perpetuate.

The government quite simply lacked the will to ensure that the key elements of its foreign policy in respect of democracy and human rights be made into guidelines by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and by CIDA. The government could have done this with the collaboration of non-governmental agencies and commercial corporations.

Such guidelines might have included a compulsory schedule for analyzing situations involving systematic and flagrant violations of human rights and could have been developed quickly. Instead, the government is satisfied with a statement that is meaningless since it suggests no concrete action.

Regarding international aid, the government has once again missed the opportunity to be innovative in the renewal of its foreign policy. While, as we know, CIDA is being submitted to all kinds of pressures, preventing the agency from meeting its main objectives, the government failed to give it a constituent act clearly defining its powers and mandate. Currently, too many commercial considerations enter into some of the projets funded by CIDA.

From now on, international aid will have to serve Canadian commercial interests first and foremost. The government made itself very clear on that. We believe, on the contrary, that the main objective of aid should be to provide the poorest nations of the world with the tools necessary to develop at a sustainable pace.

What kind of mechanism is the government putting in place to ensure that public aid to development is only used to this end? No matter how hard we look, we cannot find any. Instead, the fact that priority will be given to commercial interests will result in cancelling the benefits of the Canadian public program of aid to development and contribute to widening the gap between rich and poor nations. The Quebec association of international co-operation agencies had also pointed this out to the governement.

As far as enhancing the role of NGOs in the delivery of aid programs, the government is saying no. The Bloc Quebecois' dissenting report and the committee's majority report agreed, however, on this issue: NGOs should have been granted a larger percentage of official development assistance.

In conclusion, I am inclined to say that the Minister of Foreign Affairs would have benefitted from attentively reading and taking into consideration the recommendations made by the official opposition in its dissenting report.

The government preferred not to respond to the observations and recommendations made by the official opposition in its dissenting report; this did not enhance democracy. Unfortunately, the policy statement issued by the minister this morning gives very few specifics. It is incoherent and short-sighted and is another demonstration of the federal government's inability to respond to the vision that Quebecers have of the world that surrounds them.

It is more important than ever that Quebec finally be able to be fully active on the international scene, to express its own hopes and to defend its own interests.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:40 a.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to address the government's response to the report of the special joint committee reviewing Canada's foreign affairs. This review and the work with the committee was certainly rewarding and enjoyable for the most part, but when it comes to the minister's response I am somewhat disappointed.

I was very interested in looking at the government's response to the Reform Party's dissenting opinion in the final report. In this dissenting opinion Reform raised many important issues and areas of concern. We also made several constructive recommendations specifically intended to assist the minister in developing his program review. In other words, the Reform members of the special joint committee participated actively through eight months of meetings in the hope the minister would care about what we had to say.

Our dissenting report represented the issues and ideas we felt had to be addressed by the government, but to my very great surprise the government report has no section on our concerns. In short, our views were totally ignored.

When the final report was released we were suspicious when our dissenting paper and that of the BQ were included in a separate volume along with the lowly appendices. The government vehemently denied it was trying to marginalize our views and it claimed it was simply easier to include our paper in a second document because it was cheaper and easier to print two small documents rather than one large one.

What seemed to be a lame excuse at the time now seems somewhat more sinister. Clearly our views were not important enough for the government to consider and this document proves it.

Realizing there was no section on Reform's views specifically, I checked to see how the government was dealing with the recommendations we believed to be of particular importance. Again we were very disappointed.

In the area of fiscal responsibility, which was our number one priority, I could not find a single spending cut or suggestion of cuts. While there was some acknowledgement that Canada faces tough economic times, there were simply no cuts, period. Even worse, there was a commitment to eventually increase our aid budget to 0.7 per cent of GNP, although the Liberals do not say when. This is misleading to NGOs, foreign governments and Canadians, and just impossible to achieve so why say it. If we were to do this today it would mean spending a couple of additional billions of dollars of borrowed money each year to finance this scheme. As Canada's economy grows and our GNP gets bigger, the target will only continue to get higher and higher as the years pass. Clearly this is not a realistic goal given Canada's $40 billion deficit and $550 billion federal debt. The taxpayers expect more accountability from the government than ever before.

Another issue Reform very much hoped to see addressed involves CIDA. Reform and many Canadians want to give CIDA a true legislative mandate to increase its efficiency, accountability and transparency. A definite selling job has to be done to the Canadian public if we are going to continue to promote the ideas of CIDA. Unfortunately the government report rejects even the watered down recommendation in the special joint committee's report.

The main problem with the true legislative mandate is that the government would no longer be able to use CIDA's $2 billion budget as a slush fund into which the minister or Prime Minister can dip their fingers when it is time to dole out goodies to the international community. Heaven forbid that the minister should go to a country in Africa, Latin America or the Middle East without having some multimillion dollar gift from the Canadian taxpayer to herald his arrival. That apparently is one diplomatic tradition the government is intent on keeping.

In the government's response to the chapter on culture we were again surprised that the government, in a time of fiscal restraint, was willing to dole out cultural export subsidies to promote Canada's culture abroad. I guess this should not have come as too big a surprise, considering some of the recent grants doled out by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

It strikes me as highly ironic that a government which has, to its credit, pursued freer trade world-wide and called for the reduction of other types of subsidies, would then go on to support cultural subsidies. Not to mention that when we are cutting back on social programs here, does it really make sense to be spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to, for example, send the National Arts Centre orchestra to Europe so that, to quote the minister: "European audiences will again have an opportunity to experience the creativity and quality of its music". It does not seem to make sense.

Reform would have much preferred to see a creative, modern partnership develop between the business community and the arts, facilitated by the government. In this way the strength of Canadian culture could be promoted to the fullest. How much better this would have been than the Liberal solution of big government.

As an aside, if the government does as good a job of promoting Canadian culture as it has done with our economy, then the musicians and artists of Canada had been look out.

Last, the government report makes a lot of hay about how great its consultation process has been. It claims to want to have real consultation with Parliament and parliamentary committees. What does the record show? I remember in the fall when parliamentarians were called for a special parliamentary debate on peacekeeping in Haiti. The government wanted to know what to do. Or did it really want to know what to do?

The main problem with the government's consultation was that I had already read the government's firm plans in the morning paper. So much for the consultation process. We can go through the former Yugoslavian debate, through peacekeeping. The announcements are made prior to us even debating in the House, so what validity do they have?

The report also goes on to indicate that the government will have future forums to help Canada's foreign policy to continually evolve, once again through consultation. While this sounds very nice on the surface, the Reform Party's concern is that only university professors, the friends of the Liberal Party and other elite will ever get invited to these. While we would love to be proven wrong, we will wait and see what happens to ordinary Canadians.

I suppose the way this whole process started is an indication of that. If we take a look at who was at the Congress Centre, I think it proves my point. If the government is really serious about continuing the consultation process, then I hope it will invite the Canadian grassroots. Maybe then it would find out what the people really want. If it did this then maybe it will also consider drafting a new government report, one that address the specific concerns of ordinary Canadians, a report that is up front about what will be funded and what will be cut.

I feel the government is as out of touch as it was in 1992 with the referendum and with many other issues that occur today. The report should give specific plans which the government will implement in a timely manner, not when economic conditions permit or any other such nonsense. Finally, the report should deal with the issues of greater efficiency, accountability and transparency for the good of all Canadians.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

A point of order, Madam Speaker. I wonder if I might seek the consent of the House to respond briefly on behalf of the New Democratic Party to the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members


Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

I am sorry we do not have unanimous consent. I recognize the Minister for International Trade.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

10:50 a.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario


Roy MacLaren LiberalMinister for International Trade

Madam Speaker, a year ago I rose in the House during the debate that launched the foreign policy review. Today we conclude the first and most important cycle on what must be an ongoing, continuing process of creative adjustment to a trading world always on the move.

Yet at least one element remains constant. A year ago I began my speech by quoting from Lester Pearson's 1957 Nobel Peace Prize speech in which he wisely focused on the central role of free trade in achieving the intimately connected objectives of peace and prosperity. Today, one year later, the results of the foreign policy review reaffirm the enduring strength of that vision.

Trade creates jobs and growth. Trade, investment and technology flows do not comprise a zero sum game that produces as many or more losers than winners. Rather, trade, investment and technology together comprise a creative, dynamic process that encourages innovation and provides opportunities for those wise enough to seize them.

Trade rules, if carefully crafted, do not detract from sovereignty but rather add to it. International trade and investment rules extend abroad the rule of law. Rules inhibit the ability of those countries with the greatest market power to exercise that power unilaterally for their own narrower benefit. Rules provide greater certainty for producers, encouraging greater innovation and longer term planning rather than speculative activity. A rules based system permits a unified Canada to occupy a central place in shaping the outcome of that trade system's continuing evolution.

The foreign policy review which we are discussing today drew on the views of many individual Canadians, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, parliamentarians. In the mid-1990s there is a broad recognition that something fundamental has happened to the global economy. Something is different in our global neighbourhood. There is greater consensus on economic fundamentals; greater competition for market share and quality investment; greater interest in freeing markets through rules based systems, whether regionally or multilaterally; and greater diversity in the partnerships that we can and should use in order to shape the rules to reflect Canadian interests.

The foreign policy review before us identifies two main objectives for Canada's trade policy. First, Canadians expect us to attract long term investments while eliminating barriers to our exports of goods and services. In this regard our objective will be to seek the further liberalization of trade and services and the removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, on a reciprocal basis, for all manufactured and resource based products.

At the same time, we shall work for further liberalization of trade in agricultural products, including the elimination of barriers to our important agricultural exports and a prohibition of export subsidies. The era of the tariff is finally coming to an end. We must increasingly address other, more pressing and difficult issues that distort business decisions about where and how to invest to the detriment of smaller economies such as that of Canada.

Second, Canadians expect us to work closely with business and workers, not only to ensure that the rules we are negotiating underpin growth and job creation, but also to encourage our transformation from being a trading nation into a country that can proudly and fairly portray itself as a nation of traders. The government has re-evaluated in depth its trade development programs with a view to increasing significantly their impact and relevance. I shall return to that point in a moment.

Let me first briefly outline how the government intends to move forward these two objectives: the removal of barriers, the attraction of investment and the further promotion of an export commitment among Canadians.

First, we plan to work with our trading partners to deepen the international rules governing trade, investment and technology, to discipline practices that disadvantage Canada.

Foremost in this regard we must continue to manage effectively the Canada-United States economic relationship. A united Canada has done well in opening the U.S. market while protecting Canadian sensitivities in such areas as cultural industries and agricultural products. The ongoing, effective management of this special relationship requires vigilance and national teamwork to ensure that Canadian interests are defended whenever U.S. regulators or special interest groups attempt to bend the rules of either NAFTA or the new World Trade Organization.

We shall pursue reforms that reduce the possibility of disputes with the United States concerning the issues of subsidies, dumping and the total operation of trade remedy laws. We shall seek better access to U.S. government procurement contracts and greater opportunities to compete with regard to financial services.

Multilaterally, we shall remain in the forefront of the work under way to ensure that the World Trade Organization becomes a dynamic force for extending rule making beyond the level achieved last year in the Uruguay round. The new World Trade Organization has an ambitious agenda of negotiations already under way in such areas as financial services, maritime transport and government procurement. There is also considerable unfinished business with regard to trade distorting agricultural subsidies. These are all important issues for Canada.

Moreover, past and present rule making and the increasing internationalization of markets are continually expanding the scope of domestic practices that require the attention of policy makers internationally to ensure that market access gains are not undermined by the use of new instruments to achieve old protectionist ends.

The new agenda of rule making will encompass such areas as product standards; anti-trust policies and the relationship with anti-dumping reform; the link between environmental and labour standards and trade; and the use of massive subsidies that distort decisions about where companies locate their investments to the detriment of countries such as Canada.

Second, we propose to widen our network of free trade partners to improve market access for Canadian exporters. Over the past year we have encouraged the expansion of NAFTA in order to ensure that this agreement is an outward looking, dynamic instrument.

Last December the first stage of our efforts was crowned with success when the Prime Minister joined the Presidents of United States, Mexico and Chile in announcing the beginning of the process that should see Chile become a full member of NAFTA by late this year or early next year.

Accession to NAFTA requires a consensus among current members. Canada worked hard to achieve that consensus on Chile. We also intend to build on this success to meet the challenge identified in the Miami summit of the Americas, of constructing a western hemisphere free trade area encompassing the whole of the western hemisphere no later than the year 2005.

During last month's visit to South America the Prime Minister launched the process of consultations that will take us farther in that direction by proposing the initiation of discussions with the Mercosur countries, the countries of the southern cone of Latin America, with a view to integrating Mercosur and NAFTA.

We intend to build realistically and vigorously from this starting point. We shall also pursue the widening of free trade through encouraging and participating in negotiations leading to accession to the World Trade Organization by several major economies that currently operate on the margins of the international rules based trading system.

These economies are important players in the global marketplace. They include China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan. Moreover, we shall seek further commitments across the Pacific with our partners in the Asia Pacific economic co-operation forum, or APEC as it is more familiarly known.

These economies provide excellent markets for Canadian exporters. They are the source of much of the dynamism driving world growth today. Yet their commitment to the international trading system as measured by their level of acceptance of the obligations of that system is not yet commensurate with the benefits they derive from it. This must change.

Canada for its part will work actively to encourage the necessary commitment, including pursuing actively the free trade commitment made by APEC's leaders during their summit last November in Indonesia.

Then there is Europe. Although our ties of trade are proportionately somewhat less than a generation ago, they remain of the greatest importance. We also enjoy stronger than ever investment links across the Atlantic.

How then do we re-energize the transatlantic economic relationship, building on progress in regional agreements to maintain the dynamic of global trade liberalization? This is a question well worth pursuing whatever the precise answer or mechanism eventually developed to recharge our European links in the post cold war world.

While I have briefly outlined several of the key elements comprising our government's commitment to widening and deepening our network of rules based freer trade, this effort will have a considerably diminished impact for Canada unless Canadians take full advantage of the access secured through our international negotiations.

Rules help to open the door to prosperity and to keep it open. However, rules do not trade. It is companies that trade. Consequently, the government's third trade related objective is to rationalize and energize our international business development programs in light of the foreign policy review and extensive public consultation with both the private sector and the provinces over the past year.

We shall for our part redouble our efforts abroad to ensure that all our firms receive timely, relevant, accurate market information, access to foreign decision makers and the effective defence of their interest when authorities in other countries do not comply with their international trade obligations.

Domestically we are committed to extending the Team Canada concept to include a more coherent, integrated approach toward co-operation with the provinces in order to help increase the export readiness of Canadian firms. We are also refocussing federal government assistance to encourage job rich, small and medium size companies to enter export markets while improving their access to export financing by launching greater collaboration between the private banks and by our Export Development Corporation.

To facilitate Canada's full involvement in the global, increasingly knowledge intensive economy the government will also foster the acquisition and development of technology by Canadian businesses, in part through their greater participation in international research and development alliances. We shall also vigorously promote increased awareness among foreign investors of Canada's science and technology strengths.

Finally, we shall also focus more human resources on developing high growth markets in Asia Pacific and Latin America while targeting our efforts in western Europe more sharply on investment technology and strategic alliances.

Widening the reach of our free trade partnerships abroad, deepening the international rules consistent with Canadian interests and renewing and recharging our partnerships with business, large and small, and with the provinces, this is the government's basic trade agenda. It provides the basis for sustaining growth and for job creation at home in Canada.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

11:05 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased today to be involved in the conclusion of a project to which my colleagues and I devoted considerable time in the course of 1994.

To their credit, the Liberal government's policies tabled today differ significantly from those of previous governments and take a somewhat new approach in terms of international trade. The need to tighten spending probably forced the government to make choices in its international trade promotion programs. The policies being presented today, however, are being presented as well thought out and considered.

The government's approach differs from that of its predecessor in that it is proposing diversification of markets outside North America and would appear to be dismissing or even denying the phenomenon of continentalization. Furthermore, it is proposing a vigorous strategy to promote free trade through multilateral organizations such as the WTO, regional organizations such as APEC, the North and South America free trade area and a still theoretical European and American free trade area.

Finally, the minister is initiating a series of measures to try to contain American unilateralism, which is viewed as a threat to Canada's commercial development.

This is, in fact, one of the most striking elements of the speech by the Minister for International Trade and of the statement of policy tabled today. With your permission, I would like to comment briefly on it. I will say right off that we reject the one-dimensional image of our trading partner being painted for us. Once again, the minister has described the United States to us as some sort of elephant to be constrained or a geopolitical and commercial problem to be managed, to use the minister's wording.

Given this analysis of Canadian-American relations, one can see why the minister seems to have had difficulty in developing a strategy consisting of anything more than, in a manner of speaking, aiming to contain, restrict, neutralize and indeed limit our relations with the United States. How can such an attitude be justified in view of the enormous market located just across the border whose influence will make or break our economic prosperity?

The minister translates his vision into policies with a similar perspective on the United States. He does in fact mention "taking a united stand", "protecting" ourselves and "assuming a defensive position". These overly cautious and defensive policies are born of this fearful attitude towards the United States and of a siege mentality.

Some people, I am sure, would tell me that the United States have not always fully respected the principles of free trade. I would gladly agree. In this regard, I would even add that the Bloc Quebecois and I have not hesitated to criticize in no uncertain terms the unspeakable attitude of our neighbours to the south in regard to steel, wheat, timber, beer, uranium and, most recently, agricultural products subject to supply management as well as cultural products.

In fact, that is the reason why we strongly support this government's desire to work towards an international system based on respect of the shared rules of the game by all parties, even commercial giants.

We support the initiatives presented to the World Trade Organization, which must now prove itself and study crucially important issues such as rules on dumping and subsidies.

We also support the government's wish to open NAFTA up to new players and to give us more weight against the United States.

Furthermore, we support the trilateral discussions being held between the United States and Mexico in order to reach an agreement on dumping and subsidies before the end of the year.

We expect a lot from the Prime Minister's campaign promise on this issue. However, this undue wariness, this near mental blocking of the United States troubles us, because it blinds the government to business opportunities and to the huge potential the American market holds, especially for our small and medium size businesses.

Too preoccupied with the relative importance of the United States in our trade structure, the government refuses to see that we still have not exploited all of the potential there. Nevertheless, each year hundreds of small and medium size businesses baptize their export operations by naturally turning to the commercial entity which is geographically closest, where language is not a barrier, the culture is similar and, of course, where free trade rules apply.

In fact, for the vast majority of small and medium size businesses, the United States is the export market of choice.

As a consequence, the government should perceive the action plan for small and medium size businesses on the American market more in terms of development, exploitation and conquest of a new market. Policies on the promotion of international trade and the allotment of resources should take into consideration and reflect this inevitable reality.

Need I remind members that economic growth in Canada is closely linked to our businesses' exports to the United States? One has but to consider the extraordinary increase of 19.8 per cent in Canadian exports to the American market, and the increase of close to 30 per cent for Quebec in 1993. Growth in that area was almost six times greater than growth in our exports to Asia.

For the nine first months of 1994, our exports to the United States increased again, from 19.8 per cent to 21 per cent. These figures clearly show that our post-recession economic growth is not due solely to the new developing markets of Japan, China and other Asian countries, far from it.

Despite what the Liberal government may think or wish, Canada is part of the increasingly integrated North American market. Trying to diversify our markets is one thing, but ignoring Canada's inevitable economic and trade integration with the rest of North America is another.

This analysis brings me to the conclusion that we are now witnessing a re-emergence of the third option favoured by Liberals in the 1970s, namely replacing Europe with Asia as our main market.

This ambitious but rather ineffective, not to say unproductive, policy overshadows once again the government's statements and options, something that we find quite alarming. Government efforts to target geographic markets are generally not effective. Only businesses are in a position to identify their markets of choice, and the government must adjust to their choices. Eighty per cent of Canadian businesses want to do business in the U.S. If some of them feel up to exploring less accessible markets, all the better. We welcome their success, which creates jobs and generates wealth.

However, we cannot agree with efforts to redirect artificially, so to speak, Canadian trade toward other markets by unjustifiably neglecting to look forward with enthusiasm to the development of our full trade potential in the U.S. This would be a major strategic mistake.

Allow me to quote from our dissenting report remarks that appear to be more appropriate than ever:

However, it would be irresponsible to overlook the proximity of Europe and the enormous potential of this continent, particulary where Quebec is concerned. Is the St. Lawrence River not the most direct point of entry of Europe into the North American continent? Nor should we lose sight of the undeniable political advantages that Quebec enjoys because of its French and British roots.

-the European continent, reconciled from West to East, with a population of close to 600 million consumers, flush with capital and cutting edge technological and industrial expertise, is not a player to be dismissed lightly.

As Canada stands poised to redefine its relations with the world, it must rediscover the old continent from which it split and structure its foreign policy on the European axis, the counterpart of the American and Asian axes.

In closing, I would like to touch on a number of concepts that have been incorporated in the governmental strategy before us. First, the government proposes the Team Canada concept. In clear terms, this means an Ottawa-based centralized approach to international trade. It may suit certain provinces, as is apparently the case of Ontario, who signed with the federal government a coordination agreement that could not be imposed upon any other province, especially not Quebec. Quebec has developed an extensive international trade representation network that is proven-I repeat, proven-and that it certainly has no intention of doing away with.

The Team Canada approach ignores the economic and cultural reality of Canadian regions. It would be incorrect to consider this country as one, single, homogenous market. Canada is made up of several regions, each of which has its unique characteristics and its own primary markets, industrial fabric, strong sectors and geographic and cultural ties. Nowhere in this policy does the government take this into account, let alone in this great levelling whole that Team Canada is.

On the other hand, the government tells us in this policy statement that it intends to cut administration expenses and restructure international trade development programs. These good intentions are truly commendable and we are looking forward to seeing what will come of these good intentions, in concrete terms, in the upcoming budget. Moreover, we feel that the government's emphasis on small and medium size businesses is the obvious thing to do, since the current fiscal situation does not leave any other option and that big corporations need government support the least.

We also think that the government's intention to allow federal and provincial civil servants, as well as private sector people, take courses at the Canadian foreign service institute is an excellent idea, as well as a step towards greater utilization of government services.

It is also interesting to see that Canada is reviewing its political approach in Washington, given the new realities, and particularly the emergence of a strong U.S. Congress, more powerful than ever. We hope for concrete steps in support of this new approach.

In conclusion, we will ensure that the government implements the policies and programs which best serve the interests of all Canadians and Quebecers. We will continue to take a hard look at the controlling approach of that government. In order to ensure the prosperity and development of our businesses and communities, the vital importance of the American market must be recognized.

Moreover, that recognition must come before a necessary acceptance of that reality and a strong will to fully develop that potential.

Canadian Foreign PolicyRoutine Proceedings

11:15 a.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, it is gratifying for me to see that a little over a year has just passed and we have had a foreign policy review in Canada and we have had a response to the foreign policy review by this government.

I was a part of that foreign policy review as well as my other colleagues on this side of the House and enjoyed the process very much. I enjoyed getting to meet the members of the standing committee who were involved and hearing the concerns of Canadians about where our foreign policy should be heading in the future. To a large extent this time around I believe foreign policy was driven by economic and trade policy.

It is a pity the government's response to this policy arrived on my desk about 20 minutes before I came into this House at 10 o'clock. It is very difficult for me to have an adequate response. I have to take this government to task for an ongoing series of short notices on these kinds of matters. What is there to hide here? I would have liked to have had adequate time to prepare my response and I simply did not have it. I must say I did get a fax of the minister's speech overnight and I do appreciate that. By necessity then I will be keeping my comments short.

My colleagues and I believe in trade liberalization and we believe in it wholeheartedly. We have viewed with great satisfaction the tremendous transformation as well of the government on this issue. We recall that not too long ago we had a Prime Minister who was denouncing freer trade with the Americans. Now we witness him trotting around the globe promoting trade as the granddaddy of free trade. We welcome that.

I would like to begin my response by taking the trade minister to task on his statement in the report. I quote him in saying that the era of tariffs is finally over. I wish that were true. I find his statement even more ludicrous because he ties it to a desire to eliminate trade barriers to export of our agriculture products.

How can the minister say the era of tariffs is over when we have tariffs of over 300 per cent on our supply managed products? They are coming down at a very slow rate. In fact, they are coming down by an average of 36 per cent over the next six years. However if you take into account that we have a minimum tariff reduction of 15 per cent on all tariffs plus a 51 per cent on minimum access, in fact the true figure would be more like a 16 per cent tariff reduction in supply managed products.

Therefore we will not see any free trade in agriculture products under the supply managed sectors during our time in this Parliament unless something is changed. They are still very high. I believe the government has to take some leadership in this issue of supply management, be honest with Canadian producers and tell them there is a real world out there that they have to adjust to. We have been saying this all along.

We are going to have retaliation from the Americans. It is starting to happen in this area. They are taking exception to our high tariffs in the supply managed sectors. They are looking for ways of retaliating. We have seen retaliation in the area of wheat. We see retaliation in the area of setting high tariffs on sugar products. Of course now we are going to have the cultural industries that are going to be hit.

We have to show leadership in this area and help our producers to make this adjustment. It is our view that the supply managed sectors should be given 10 years to move to zero tariffs so that they do not interfere with other aspects of our trading relationships, particularly with the United States. The government should sit down with this industry and try to work out a plan to make this happen. It should show some leadership.

The minister says that the government "must continue to manage effectively the Canada-U.S. economic relationship". We all know that the Americans are tough negotiators and they have the economic clout to carry through with their threats. I

ask: What is the point of not dealing decisively with these trade irritants that we have caused ourselves?

I will move to a second aspect of the government's response to the foreign policy review. On page three of the response the government states that it rejects the committee's proposal to establish a joint public and private consortium to assist in international business development. I am sorry to see that is the case.

This proposal would not entail any new government expenditures. In fact it would put into private hands some of the functions that government now performs thereby saving the government money. When we have a $40 billion deficit I would expect that we would be looking for ways to do that. Trade promotion is one that could fall well within that category and this recommendation should have been adopted.

I would like to see the government devolve wherever possible tasks to the private sector that it can do better. This is one area I believe there is room to do something in terms of trade promotion.

The final point I would like to make is with a statement that appeared on the very first page of Canada's foreign policy report. The statement reads as follows: "Many witnesses stressed the importance of Canadians getting their own house in order in terms of fiscal management, making the economic adjustments necessary". I could not agree more.

We are going to be going through a process within a few weeks in this very House that has to deal very aggressively with Canada's debt problem. That is also causing a lot of problems for Canadian business. The high cost of doing business in this country is not allowing Canadian business the opportunity to take full advantage of the trade deals that have been made. We have the World Trade Organization, we have the signing of the GATT, we have a North American free trade deal and we have the Prime Minister and the trade minister trying to broker some other deals together. I think that is excellent.

What we are missing here is a very important element. That element is that we have to concentrate on lowering the cost of doing business in this country. We have to get rid of internal trade barriers that are inhibiting our businesses, our opportunity to do business better. The concentration for the next while has to be here at home to resolve some of those problems; otherwise we are misleading our Canadian business people about the opportunities that are out there because we will not be able to take advantage of them.

We all know that when we have trade liberalization it is a double edged sword. I would like to see the government take a stronger approach to informing, to making our business people aware of what opportunities are out there, but also what they are going to be facing in terms of competition here at home.

In the past we have had barriers to trade within Canada, such as tariff barriers that have given our Canadian business people an opportunity to have all of the Canadian market or most of the Canadian market to themselves. That is no longer going to be the case. We are going to be facing increased competition at home and it is important that our business people realize that so that they can start to deal with this very important issue.

Only when our companies are competitive at home can we be truly competitive in the international sphere. I believe the trade deals we have signed are going to drag us kicking and screaming into the 21st century but it is a good thing we have done it.

Our party of course has issued a dissenting report the aspects on which it is based are: we have to have fiscal responsibility here at home; we have to tighten up in the area of the cost of doing business to our companies; we have to get our own house in order. We believe that trade promotion should be an aspect of business as well as government. We also believe that the cultural industries should be regarded as businesses in themselves.

We hear that the government in responding to the recommendations that it be involved in promotion, development and distribution of culture wants to pursue that. I believe that is a mistake. We also hear that some American distribution companies will not carry our cultural industries. I believe they are producing a good product. They will be carried in the same way that any other product is carried.

I do not think the government has a role in the area of culture. This should be left to the business sector or those sectors in the cultural industry that can do it for themselves. I believe they can compete very effectively.

With that, I welcome this response. I would like to have an opportunity to finish reading it. I have not had the time to do that with this short notice. I would ask that from here on in we be given ample opportunity to look at these issues with enough time to respond properly.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario


Peter Milliken LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present the fifty-seventh report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of committees.

With leave of the House, I intend to move for concurrence in this report later this day.

Madam Speaker, I think you would find the consent of the House to dispense with the reading of the 57th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

I think you will also find consent for the following motion. I move that the 57th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House earlier this day be concurred in.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

Does the parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members


(Motion agreed to.)

Official ReportRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.

Parkdale—High Park Ontario


Jesse Flis LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked the page for yesterday's Hansard in which I did table petitions and noticed Hansard reads Monday, January 6, 1995. I know the House will correct this Hansard .

Official ReportRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Maheu)


will be corrected. I thank the hon. member.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.


Philip Mayfield Reform Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and present three petitions signed by over 700 people from several communities in the constituency of Cariboo-Chilcotin.

My constituents feel that existing controls on law-abiding, responsible firearms owners are more than enough to ensure public safety and therefore call upon Parliament to support laws which will severely punish all violent criminals who use weapons in the commission of a crime, to support new Criminal Code firearms control provisions which recognize and protect the right of law-abiding citizens to own and use recreational firearms, to support legislation which will repeal or modify existing gun control laws that have not improved public safety or have proven not to be cost effective or have proven to be overly complex so as to be ineffective or unenforceable.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.


John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Madam Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Victoria-Haliburton who are vehemently opposed to the importation of serial killer cards.

This petition adds to the growing list of Canadians who are opposed to the killer cards which glorify serial killers and send a negative, violent message to the youth of our country.

This petition calls upon Parliament to amend the laws of Canada to prohibit the importation, distribution, sale and manufacture of killer cards in law and to advise producers of killer cards that their product, if destined for Canada, will be seized and destroyed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today which have been duly certified by the clerk of petitions.

These two petitions deal with common sense of the common people. The first petition deals with the repeal of section 745 of the Criminal Code which allows persons convicted of murder who were sentenced to life in prison, which is 25 years in this country, the ability to apply for a review after just 15 years of their sentence.

The petitioners are requesting the repeal of section 745; common sense of the common people.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Madam Speaker, the second petition adds to the growing number of Canadians, particularly in my riding of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, concerned about the proposed additional gun legislation.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to oppose further legislation for firearms acquisition and possession and to provide strict guidelines and mandatory sentences for use or possession of a firearm in the commission of a violent crime.

There are 42 names on this petition which, added to the other petitions received in my riding, adds up to 1,314 people. The common sense of the common people is clearly saying they fear a government that will not listen to the people more than they fear a law-abiding citizen with a gun.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:30 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I wish to table a petition signed by more than 90 per cent of the people of Saint-Clément-de-Rivière-du-Loup, in which the undersigned call upon the Parliament of Canada to do what is necessary to ensure that the Canada Post Corporation re-opens the post office in Saint-Clément, which

was closed in December 1992, so that the community will again enjoy the kind of service the crown corporation is supposed to provide.

I would like to remind the House that the Canadian government's moratorium on closing post offices came as a result of the efforts of the people of Saint-Clément and that a number of members here, including the members for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell and Rosemont, went to support the people of Saint-Clément in their struggle. Paradoxically, today we have a situation where many post offices across Canada were saved thanks to the action taken by the people of Saint-Clément. Unfortunately, the people of Saint-Clément were not covered by the moratorium, and now they are asking to have this omission corrected. That is my purpose in tabling their petition.


PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

11:35 a.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to present to Parliament a petition signed by over 400 constituents of my Red Deer riding.

With respect to the petition, the citizens express their concerns that the rights of repeat sex offenders are given precedent over the rights of innocent children as in the case of Sarah Kelly of The Pas, Manitoba.

Therefore, the petitioners humbly pray and request that Parliament enact legislation making the safety of our children a priority and request that changes be made to the Charter or Rights and Freedoms to enable residents to be notified when repeat sex offenders are released in the community.

I concur with this and present this on behalf of my constituents.