House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cbc.


Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Not one.

Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Not a single one. The best CBC programs barely reach a figure of 10 or 12 per cent of viewers. In round figures, in very very generous terms, this means some 2 million viewers. We are therefore definitely not talking about the same order of magnitude, other than to say that a lot of people watch television, and if we had the same resources as the CBC, even the anglophones would probably start watching the SRC, because they would find it interesting.

Does my colleague not think that we have reason to worry about the present situation, since we are told that the information highway is the answer which, in a way, is like saying that we will solve the question of the CBC in 20 years? But what about this year or next? It seems logical that we should worry about keeping a general interest television network since, according to statistics given at the heritage committee, there are places in the West, for example, where rural populations can get only one TV network, the CBC. The same is true for some parts of Quebec.

Then would it not make sense to try to find a way to reach that market? I have nothing against helping private enterprise, but should we not also try to maintain a general interest television network for the whole Canadian community, French speaking as well as English speaking? What does he think about that?

Government Orders

1:15 p.m.


Monte Solberg Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the hon member's question. She talked about several things but I would like to comment on what kind of service should be provided to people in remote areas.

It is a legitimate responsibility of the CBC to provide service in remote areas. I completely accept that. However, there is a larger question and one I posed in my talk which is, does it always need to be the CBC? Is it really important that it be a particular institution, or is it the service itself that is important?

Sometimes that service can be better provided by a private sector broadcaster. When talking about news and current affairs, there is no doubt in my mind that the private sector can and has produced shows which are as good as those on the CBC.

I would argue that people in some of those communities should have the choice of bringing in either a private sector broadcaster or the CBC. It should be ultimately driven by them.

While it is a legitimate role for the CBC, it does beg the bigger question: Is it really the institution we want there, or is it a certain type of programming? That is probably what people

really want. At the end of the day it should be up to them to decide what kind of service they want brought in.

If it is something they cannot get otherwise, then it is something the government should provide for them. That is probably a good use for the CBC northern service. In talking about TV broadcasting, if people in a community would rather have CTV than CBC and it requires building a transmitter, then personally I do not see a problem with bringing that service in instead of CBC.

Government Orders

1:20 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I have great interest in taking part in this debate today.

It is seemingly unusual that only yesterday I was in the House arguing and defending the budget program of the government. At that time my hon. colleagues in the Bloc were saying: "Cut more. You need to cut more. You have not done enough. The province of Quebec is sitting in a sinking ship and we are not doing enough". Today, they are speaking the reverse argument. "You are doing too much. You are hurting us. Do not do that any more". What is it going to be?

It is clear to most people in Canada that the status quo is not good enough. As we approach the 21st century we have to change. We have to change as a government, as a country and as a people. The status quo which is being defended by the Bloc Quebecois is not satisfactory.

While talking about the status quo, it is interesting to note the problems we are having with our rail industry today. That is part of the same argument in some ways because some of these contractual agreements have matters in them that go back almost a century.

I was surprised to learn that blacksmithing is a job description which is still available in the CN. One has to be a blacksmith to get certain types of jobs. This is the kind of thing the Bloc Quebecois is defending, blacksmithing, as we approach the 21st century. I do not think that is good enough.

I can say that the people of my riding in which General Motors is a major feature are not at all impressed by the ability to manage this economy that the Bloc Quebecois has shown so clearly. We try to manage and people are stopping us from doing that.

We share the North American continent with our tremendously large neighbour to the south. This neighbour has tremendous resources, huge programming and cultural diversity. It is exporting its culture all over the world. Programs come easily across the border. Indeed as we go to better telecommunications devices it is going to be almost impossible to avoid that kind of culture penetrating the North American milieu. That affects our culture, both English and French.

I have always been a supporter of the CBC. I have always believed it is necessary to foster Canadian culture. What we have to do is to foster it in an affordable way.

Clearly the CBC has been a vanguard of supporting culture both in English Canada and French Canada. I note that Canada is an exporter of French programming and clearly therefore, it has been a success. It has been a success not only of the CBC but also of our federal system which has recognized the need to foster these industries, to get them going and let them flourish.

As we approach the 21st century, it is clear we have to change the way we conduct our government and the way we do business. It is clear that governments want to withdraw from direct management of different types of industry, whether they are cultural or direct industries like CN Rail and let others do that for them. It does not mean the government wants to abdicate Canadian culture, far from it. The object of the exercise is to find a better and more efficient way to deliver the same thing.

The CRTC has a mandate which does just that. New licences have just been issued. The basis of that licensing program was to foster and assist Canadian culture.

I remember not too many years ago when the finance department brought in an incentive to support both the French and English Canadian film industry. I was a little pessimistic at first. I am always pessimistic about tax driven investments. However it was very successful both for the French and English people in Canada who developed a movie industry. Once again, Canada was an exporter of French language programming to the world.

We have now slowly moved out of the tax incentives for that. Once we get a child going, it is no different from a family. If we think about it, when our children reach a certain age it is time for them to go out on their own. It is time for them to do their own thing. That is really what we are saying about the CBC.

Even after these cutbacks the CBC will still have funding of $1.4 billion. We can hardly consider that a small amount of money in support of cultural broadcasting in Canada regardless of what language it is in.

We are not saying to the CBC that it has to cut a lot of jobs, which possibly it will. We are saying that it has to redefine where it is going in this country. It has to define the things it can do well and rethink some of the things that perhaps it should not be doing any more.

I had a discussion with some journalists one day. They thought it was unusual that the CBC could have journalists in just about every town in this country whereas other private broadcasters had to rationalize that and make it more efficient. This is what we are asking the CBC to do, to become more efficient so it can be slowly weaned off the public payroll.

The motion very clearly is talking about the concern of the reduction in funding. I ask my colleagues in the Bloc, what would the alternative be? Would the alternative in meeting our deficit targets be to transfer this tax on the poor, the needy, the unemployed? Those are the alternatives. We have to get our deficits in order. That is the commitment we have made to the Canadian people. I can say that the Canadian people are very happy about the leadership we have taken in these areas.

I know there are many new broadcasting ventures. My colleague from the Reform Party mentioned CITY-TV in Toronto which has a tremendous array of new broadcasting programs. In other words it is not necessary to have publicly funded broadcasting companies simply carrying on with this type of production.

The bottom line is that it is necessary. The taxpayers are saying we have to get our economic house in order. The taxpayers are on the hook even after all of this is over for $1.4 billion. Taxpayers want to be able to see what they are getting for that money. In some ways they are getting valued service for that.

Most people in Canada will continue to support cultural funding for broadcasting, but at a significantly reduced level. That is only reasonable. We have to focus on the things which possibly are missing, those things that perhaps need a bit of help right now, but those other areas which can stand on their own, we can let them fly.

In conclusion, it upsets me very much to see that members of the Bloc Quebecois simply want to carry on with the old systems of the past. They do not want to be flexible in seeing how we can change government financing. More important, they do not want to assist their cultural industries from the infancy stage to fruition.

Government Orders

1:30 p.m.


Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak on the motion of the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata. I am a supporter of the CBC, of its domestic and international services, in both official languages.

I was shocked to see that the motion states that an ominous threat looms over the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and, in particular, the CBC French language network. In no way is the government threatening our public broadcaster. Far from it. The government has acted in a responsible fashion to balance the need of all Canadians to continue to receive high quality radio and television services in both official languages with the requirement to take immediate steps to put its fiscal affairs in order.

In addressing this motion, it would be extremely useful to compare the Canadian broadcasting model with examples of similar efforts in other countries. Canada is not alone in its search to develop answers to the questions facing public broadcasting. All around the world countries and public broadcasters have been grappling with changing environments, changing technology and changing viewer patterns.

The sweeping changes affecting public broadcasting began in the 1980s. That decade was marked by a large increase in new terrestrial, satellite and cable channels. These new channels provided the public with an unprecedented range of options in their viewing choices. In Europe alone the number of terrestrial commercial channels increased from four in 1982 to 58 ten years later in 1992. In the 1990s the global broadcasting community began to come to terms with the arrival of new direct to home broadcast satellites. These new satellites have further explosive growth potential in the development of new television channels.

Let us be clear on one thing today. The world is not sounding the death knell of public broadcasting. Countries around the world are rethinking the role of public broadcasting and are seeking to adapt these broadcasting systems to meet the challenges created by the changing environments. In fact, we see few reasons to believe that the changing broadcasting landscape will mean that public broadcasting will be frozen from our televisions and our radios any time in the near future.

In the United States the organization representing public television stations recently issued a report summarizing its concerns surrounding the role of public broadcasting in the information age. According to the conclusions of this report, public television's strength in the multi-channel universe will derive from its position as an integrated production and distribution network for special interest programming. As in Canada, U.S. public television seeks to serve American audiences through high quality and informative programming which cannot be obtained elsewhere.

Clearly a role will remain for public broadcasting. Defining that specialized role will be the key for policy makers, like members of the House, in countries around the world. The new realities of the multi-channel universe have forced many of the world's public broadcasters, such as the BBC and Japan's NHK, to undertake comprehensive reviews of their activities.

In July 1994 a very comprehensive white paper on broadcasting was completed in Great Britain. This widely discussed document examined the many challenges facing one of the world's most venerable public broadcasters, the BBC. Like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC must confront increasing competition because of new technology and services. Like the CBC, the BBC must attempt to face these new challenges in an era of limited resources.

The British government and the select committee studying the matter both agreed that the BBC in its present form cannot go on forever. But within that recognition for the need for change at

the BBC was a very real affirmation of the vital role of the British public broadcaster.

In the British government's view, a key objective for the BBC will be reflecting the national identity of the U.K., enriching the country's national heritage. Furthermore, the BBC is committed to providing diversity and choice in high quality programming which informs, entertains and educates the public it serves.

Japan has also recognized the worldwide challenges facing public broadcasters as a result of the expansion of broadcasting competition and technologies. The Japanese public broadcaster NHK has undergone an internal discussion concerning its role and responsibility as a public broadcaster. This review culminated in the publication in 1993 of NHK's "Future Framework" document which addressed the new challenges and prospects of broadcasting such as multi-media, multi-channel access, high definition television and satellite broadcasting services.

This report also reaffirmed NHK's commitment to quality journalism and to the provision of first rate information services. Furthermore, the Japanese public broadcaster has adapted to the growing globalization of the broadcasting industry by increasing its involvement in international co-productions and other initiatives.

NHK now has agreements with organizations in over 30 countries. In addition, NHK broke with its tradition of producing its programming almost exclusively in-house and began commissioning work from outside production firms.

Public broadcasters around the world are striving to fulfil their public mandates. In most instances they are fulfilling a unique purpose in their broadcasting environment, a purpose that the private sector will not necessarily ever feel the need to fill. This is because private broadcasters have entirely different goals from those of public broadcasters. Private broadcasters respond not only to the preferences of their audiences but to the expectations of their advertisers.

The Government of Canada will not stand by and let Canada's rich tradition of public broadcasting, in both official languages, stagnate or be overtaken by technological advances or other changes in the audio-visual environment.

The government has taken notice of the international precedence and finds the lessons learned by others highly instructive. But more than just watching how other countries are coping with change, the government has demonstrated its leadership by putting into place a forward looking strategy to find Canadian solutions to the challenges facing our distinctive, dual language public broadcasting system.

This strategy includes a fundamental review of the mandate of the CBC, the National Film Board and Telefilm Canada within the context of the entire Canadian audio-visual sector. It is a review that has been made urgent by technological and market changes. It is a review that has been made necessary because of the fiscal realities facing the country.

The Government of Canada is clearly demonstrating its confidence in the future of public broadcasting by examining the mandate of the CBC in the light of the new realities of the country's communications environment.

As I have stated already, our re-examination of public broadcasting is not unique in the world. It is our firm expectation that our approach to the challenges of public broadcasting will serve as a model and a source of inspiration for other public broadcasters and nations around the world.

I have received many letters and phone calls of support for the CBC from people in my riding and others. For example, Orra Henan, Alex Robertson, Floyd Howlett, Ricky Cherney, members of the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, the art gallery, the theatre guild, teachers and students have approached me about the CBC. One of them, Alex Robertson, refers to the CBC as the glue which keeps this nation together. I want to say to all of those people that I appreciate their support. I agree with them about the role of public broadcasting in Canada.

I disagree with the view of the Reform Party which says that its first option would be to put the CBC on the chopping block and sell it to the first comer. The Reform Party has no sense of what a nation is, no sense that we are here to run a nation, not a business. I do not think it has a sense of the role of government. The government should be involved in public broadcasting. I disagree with its point of view.

I also disagree with my colleagues from the Bloc. I do not think the CBC, a corporation which even after the proposed changes will still have a budget of well over $1 billion, should be immune to the changes which face the rest of us in society, which face public servants, the private sector and all of us as citizens.

The CBC is an institution which should be supported. Like our other institutions it should be streamlined to deal with the present financial circumstances so we can have a smaller, more effective organization which contains the seeds or the foundations for future public broadcasting and which will be even stronger when its budgetary situation improves.

Therefore, I intend to vote against the member's motion.

Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for taking the trouble today to speak on the motion I presented this morning. I appreciate it very much.

I would like to ask him a question. You may have heard the numbers I gave earlier, illustrating the funding imbalance between the CBC and Radio-Canada. I will repeat them for the benefit of new viewers and listeners: for an hour of news, the SRC gets $7,000, while the CBC gets $18,000; for an hour of variety programming, the SRC gets $30,000, the CBC, $141,000; for drama, the SRC gets $68,000, and the CBC, $99,000.

Given the success of French TV programs across the board-for the audience to "La Petite Vie" to reach four million, some English speaking viewers must be secretly looking at it, otherwise it would be extremely difficult to find four million francophones who would feel like looking at the same program at the same time-would it not amount to penalizing SRC for its success to arbitrarily apply the same cuts to the French and English networks?

Government Orders

1:40 p.m.


Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, as the member knows, I have followed the debate as well as anyone else here today. When I spoke earlier I stressed the fact-as I will try to do in my remarks now-that I strongly support the CBC, the SRC and its services in both languages. I support that across the country, as I mentioned this morning.

I support the French language service in the north. I support it in the rural areas. I support the English language service in Quebec. I support and I enjoy the fact that the international radio service, Radio-Canada International, is distinct in the fact that we reach out to fellow Canadians when they are abroad and to other people in both official languages. I greatly support the existence of the services in both languages.

To answer her question, I deliberately used the word streamlining rather than downsizing. This really means that we are. We inherited a government which because of debt is functioning at two-thirds of its effective capacity because one-third of our money is spent on interest. We inherited that. I am not pointing the finger or laying blame. That is a fact.

In order to get rid of the debt we undertake a dangerous but very necessary exercise. We have to make the government which is already functioning at two-thirds capacity even smaller in order to get rid of the debt so we can come back as a fully effective national government. I believe that very strongly. All the cuts we make have to be such that they streamline what is left so that in every ministry we leave the seeds for a future ministry which could be more powerful. In every program we leave the seeds, the foundations for a 100 per cent stronger program in the future.

To answer the question about the CBC, we as a government have made very different cuts in all our ministries. We cut one ministry by 55 per cent. One ministry is growing by a small percentage and in the all the others we have very carefully decided what the cuts should be. That is streamlining.

When we get inside the ministries or inside the programs, I do not believe the House can do it. I believe we have to tell our ministries that with the budget we have given, they should do the same.

My answer to the member's question is the CBC should manage its own affairs and determine itself where the cuts should be made.

Government Orders

1:45 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Richelieu, QC

Madam Speaker, I found it strange to hear the speaker before me say that he is for the CBC and the Société Radio-Canada. He says he is for them, yet he would cut their budgets. This is like a mute person saying to a deaf person: "Watch out, I think a blind person is watching us". This is the kind of thing that the Liberals are saying today.

The issue is more complicated than that, when we reflect on the extremely important motion which the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata tabled regarding the corporation. In fact, the current Liberal Party is behaving exactly as the party always has. That is, the party accedes to power using slogans which are tossed out completely once in office.

Let us quickly touch on the 1970s. One of Trudeau's weapons in his election campaign against Stanfield was the promise that he would never control prices and salaries. Six months after being elected, Prime Minister Trudeau announced price and salary controls. This is the doublespeak party.

A little later, along comes the election of the 1980s, which toppled the Clark government. We remember. They said that they would never raise gas prices. Six months after the election, gas prices were up 65 cents.

The Liberals made three big commitments during the election campaign. One was to reduce the deficit. After the election, the deficit had grown from $13 billion to $38 billion. They also said they would reduce unemployment. One year after the election, there were 1,5 million unemployed, when there were 800,000 before it. The party which says one thing and does another.

They said that they would clamp down on government spending. Within one year of the election, expenditures had risen from $85 million to $110 million.

What about the referendum in the beginning of the 1980s, on May 20. Keep in mind that they said that they were committed to meeting Quebec's traditional aspirations, and that they were willing to risk their seats. Two years later, Quebec was stabbed in the back. Who held the knife? The current leader of the Liberal Party, who has always been behind the post-election changes in tune.

During the referendum, they warned us that the dollar, which was then worth about $1.03 American, would tumble to 80 cents. They published small dollars which had an 80 cent value and a drawing of Bérubé, a Quebec minister at the time. The so-called mighty dollar. But, what happened under the Trudeau government two years later? The dollar fell to 69 cents. With the Liberals, post-election facts always tell a completely different story than pre-election promises.

They also talked about unemployment and about a deficit that they would get under control. They threw all of it, everything they promised us so that we would say yes in the referendum, out the window and said they did not give a darn. Then, they proceeded to do the opposite. That is typical of the Liberals.

Now reconsider the 1993 election. What did they promise in their red book? What did they promise during the election campaign? Think about the free trade issue. They were vehemently against it.

One month after the election, our friend the Prime Minister rolled over and made even greater concessions in signing the free-trade treaty in Ottawa. That is an example of the Liberals' double talk.

They used to stand against patronage and loudly denounce the Conservative Party's political appointments. However, after the election, they had to reward their friends. They had to prove Senator Rizzuto right. What did they do? For example, they gave Michelle Tisseyre, a Liberal candidate who was defeated in a Quebec riding, a nice little six month contract worth $49,000 with the Privy Council. A little private contract equivalent to a $98,000 annual salary. They made Camille Samson responsible for political appointments. They appointed Jacques Saada to a $100,000 a year position with CIDA. What did the rat pack, those Liberals who used to denounce patronage, do while their party was busy rewarding its friends?

Whatever happened to the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell? As was said in a newspaper, the lion has turned into a mouse. He is now applauding and supporting these political appointments. He applauded when Mr. Dion, a so-called constitutional expert, was quietly given a $10,000 contract with the Privy Council. The only reason why we know about this is that a journalist managed to dig it up. Otherwise, we never would have known. Mr. Dion was used to objectively defend federalism on public affairs programs, while in fact he was only a salaried employee of the Prime Minister's Office, paid through the Privy Council.

Whatever happened to the rat pack? Where are they now? The new Liberal mice have remained silent. The language changed after the election. They used to talk about unemployment. The Liberal Party critic "rent his clothes" in protest against the Valcourt cuts. Ah! In the first budget tabled a few months after the election, the UI reform proposed by the current Minister of Finance called for ten times more cuts than under former Minister Valcourt, but the hon. members, including the rat pack, who used to shout their disapproval in this House, kept their mouths shut.

What could be said about our defenders of the farming community? What did the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell used to say when defending the farmers in his riding? That he would never accept cuts. Today, he finds it normal when a budget cuts subsidies and guaranteed income by 30 per cent each. He finds it normal. They said before the election that they would defend the public service. What did they do less than a year after the election? They cut 45,000 jobs. This is what the Liberals call normal and they are happy. Such is the Liberal Party. It makes two kinds of speeches: one during the election campaign and another one after.

The same is true when it comes to job creation. The Liberals campaigned by promising jobs, but there is no mention of job creation initiatives in the Minister of Finance's budget. The Liberals also claimed that they were the protectors of French culture outside Quebec. They promised to do everything possible. Now, these same Liberals remain silent when their government reduces by five per cent the operating budget of French-speaking and Acadian associations outside Quebec.

Where are the French-speaking Liberal members who were going to speak up for francophones within their party, so as to ensure that the French fact remains a reality in Canada? Where is the member for Restigouche-Chaleur? The member for Carleton-Gloucester? Why will they not speak up? Why do they remain silent? Where is the member for Nickel Belt? The member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell? The member for Cochrane-Superior? The member for St. Boniface? The member for Cape Breton? The member for Madawaska-Victoria? The member for Beauséjour? The member for Timiskaming-French River? Where are they? What are they saying now that the budget is reduced by five per cent? What about their election promises? Two speeches: one before the election and another one after.

Let us now look at the cultural sector, where the situation is even worse. Take the issue of copyright and the legislation imposed by the Liberals a few months ago. What did the Liberal Party say to the Canada Council? The official commitment made by the Liberals to the Canada Council regarding copyrights was that they would make it a priority to review the Copyright Act, since they understand the importance of copyright. They said that they would reorganize the administrative structure and review the decision made by the Conservatives to split this jurisdiction between two departments. The Liberals made this commitment and then, all of a sudden, they came up with a Copyright Act which was exactly like the Campbell legislation. Again, one speech before the election and another one after.

Then they addressed the cultural issue. What did they have to say about the Canadian Conference of the Arts? What commitment did they make? To representatives of the Canadian Conference of the Arts who asked them: "Does your party recognize the significance of our national cultural institutions, like the CBC, the Canada Council, and so on, and does it guarantee their survival?", the Liberal Party of Canada stated that the Conservatives, by cutting the budget of such national institutions as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canada Council, the National Film Board, and Telefilm Canada, really did hurt these agencies and show that they did not care a lot about our cultural development. A Liberal government, they said, would be keen to provide a stable multi-year budget to our national institutions. Again, we have two languages, one during the election campaign and something completely different once the Liberals were elected and in a position to govern. Two languages from the forked tongue Liberals.

Mr. Speaker, I see that you are indicating that I must stop for now and resume after the question period.

Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, you will be able to resume after question period. It being 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(5), the House will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Racial Discrimination
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, March 31 is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, a day that challenges all people and their governments to take a stand against racism and racial discrimination.

In a pluralistic society such as ours, racism is one of the most destructive forces preventing people of all origins from sharing equally in the country's prosperity.

Canada is a country built on diversity. Young adolescents in my riding have understood this message clearly, and this is why I would like to draw attention to their efforts to promote cross-cultural dynamics. I am speaking of the Multi Media group, which, next Saturday, will present original works, such as poems, drawings, choreographies, photographs and songs reflecting their hope of living in a racism free world.

Whether we are going to live with each other in compassionate understanding and mutual harmony and then in collective prosperity is a matter that will be decided in the future by our actions today.

I urge all members of the House to join with me in carrying this message to the people of Canada.

President Of Canadian National
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Réjean Lefebvre Champlain, QC

The president of Canadian National, Mr. Paul Tellier, said on television this morning that the working conditions enjoyed by CN employees were too generous for the economic context of the 1990s. Mr. Tellier's attitude clearly indicates the bad faith of management in this dispute.

I find astounding that Mr. Tellier would make such a statement, since he amply benefits from Canadian National's generosity. With a salary of $345,000 and an annual allowance of $51,752, and not forgetting an interest free loan of $300,000, Mr. Tellier is in fact the best paid public servant in the entire government machine.

This gentleman is in no position to be talking about the state's so called generosity toward its employees. Rather than make statements on television, he should do what he is paid to do and negotiate in good faith with his employees in order to reach a quick solution to the dispute that is affecting the entire Canadian economy.

Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, after the genocide of last year when over one million people were murdered there exist half a million orphans inside Rwanda and 1.2 million refugees in camps in Zaire and Tanzania.

Of the $22 million which Canada has already given, none has entered Rwanda because of conditions placed by donor countries that no humanitarian aid enter Rwanda until all the ref-

ugees return. However, they cannot return because there is no food in the country. Furthermore, the refugees in the camps are under the boot of armed thugs of the defeated regime. They use aid as leverage to control these helpless refugees to retrain them for another war.

The government in Kigali is equitable and broad based, made up of both Hutus and Tutsis. However, they are receiving no help whatsoever to get up on their feet and produce a peaceful front to those outside the country who would like to restart the carnage.

I implore the government to convince the international community to help the government in Rwanda. To not do this makes a mockery of our justice and lays the groundwork for another genocide.

Rail Transport
Statements By Members

March 21st, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.


Gilles Bernier Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone in Canada is seriously affected by the rail strike. It has already taken its toll on the country's economy, with disastrous repercussions. Production losses in many sectors have been brought to our attention.

It is never desirable for the government to force people back to work with special legislation, but in this case, this exceptional measure is warranted. Let us hope that the major changes which are necessary can be made to rail transportation in a way that helps management reach all of its goals while helping unions protect workers' rights as much as possible.

The government should also update the Labour Code and propose mechanisms which ensure that essential services will always be provided while leaving room for management and workers to work out their differences.

It is certainly possible to negotiate in good faith after back to work legislation, and I encourage the government to introduce its bill as soon as possible.

Racial Discrimination
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, last night in Winnipeg, on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, I attended the 20th annual media human rights awards sponsored by B'Nai Brith Canada. The evening highlighted the vigilant role the media plays in protecting human rights.

Earlier today the 1994 annual report of the Canadian Human Rights Commission was tabled in the House. It states: "However diverse our species may be, all human beings remain worthy of respect".

The issue of human rights is about the integrity of any one person which, if violated, destroys the soul of any nation and the very essence of our humanity. Racial discrimination violates human rights.

Therefore on this day we must renew our national resolve to uphold human rights and eliminate all forms of racial discrimination, thereby ensuring human dignity and peace among all Canadians.

Learning Disabilities
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Pat O'Brien London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is learning disabilities month, I would like to acknowledge the thousands of dedicated Canadian teachers and health care workers who devote themselves to improving the lives of those who face the challenge of a learning disability on a daily basis.

From infancy to old age learning disabilities affect Canadians of all ages in a wide variety of ways. Disabilities range from minor inconveniences to very serious physical, psychological and emotional limitations which must be managed if the affected persons are to maximize their potential and lead full, active and rewarding lives.

Today I salute all Canadians who struggle courageously with any form of learning disability. We thank those who so valiantly assist them in their fight, including my own wife, Evelyn.