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

House of Commons Hansard #172 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Racial DiscriminationStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, in 1966 the United Nations declared March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Since 1988 this date has been officially recognized and celebrated in Canada for this purpose.

While that date has passed, it is important for us all to remember that the purpose of this day is to promote racial tolerance and understanding. There is no place for racism in Canadian society. Prejudice and discrimination are problems that must be acknowledged and addressed. They must be stamped out. As Canadian citizens, we must take individual responsibility in the elimination of racism and racial discrimination.

Our greatest legacy to the world, if we so choose, is to develop a model bilingual and multicultural society where each Canadian is valued, where each and every one of us learns to work and celebrate together in a spirit of harmony and unity.

Tribute To Jackie RobinsonStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in October 1945, Hector Racine, then president of the Montreal Royals, announced that Jackie Robinson was joining his baseball team. This signalled the beginning of the end of racial segregation in American and Canadian professional sport.

Yesterday, as we marked the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Montrealers paid tribute to Jackie Robinson, the first black to play baseball professionally.

Mr. Robinson played one year with the Montreal club, in 1946, before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers for a remarkable professional career.

On behalf of all those who remember Jackie Robinson, I would like to pay tribute once again to this great adopted son of Montreal, who led his team to victory in the international league in 1946.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, a gentleman, a hard working fellow cannot sleep one night. He decides that rather than twist and turn in bed he would get up, go to his jewellery store in a small Ontario town and get a head start on the day's work.

It is dark at 3 a.m. The 81-year old jeweller is quietly working in the back of his shop when suddenly a loud crash startles our law-abiding shop owner. His heart stops as he turns and sees two young, strong vandals coming in through the broken window in the front of his shop.

He is frightened. He worries about physical harm and that his private property will be stolen. The frightened shop owner reaches for the revolver which has been inside his shop for many years. Out of fear for his personal safety he fires it to scare away the vandals.

The next morning the elderly shopkeeper has more to worry about. He is now the criminal. He is now facing charges far worse than those who were attempting to rob or possibly injure him. The law says he has no right to protect himself or his possessions.

Welcome to Canada in the 1990s. Just hope you never have to protect yourself, your family or your property. Nineties justice will say you are the criminal.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, in the budget the government decided to pay western landowners $1.6 billion as a partial offset to the decline in farmland values that will result from the abandonment of the Crow benefit and the Crow rate.

The minister of agriculture has decided in his wisdom to include summer fallow in the calculation for the payment but not the 10 million acres or more of cultivated lands that are seeded to forage crops for hay and seed production. The rationale for this breathtaking leap of logic seems to be that grass seed was not listed in the Crow benefit schedule.

Could the minister explain his version of fairness to one of my constituents who cash rented a half section from an uncle, seeded it to alfalfa and has been producing seed? How does my constituent tell his uncle that his land is not eligible for a payout because his nephew seeded it to alfalfa?

The uncle knows his land will lose just as much value as the land across the fence which is not in alfalfa but there is no compensation for him. How is that fair?

Learning Disabilities MonthStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Learning Disabilities Association for Newfoundland and Labrador, I would like to remind all Canadians that this is Learning Disabilities Month. As a former volunteer with the association in St. John's, I understand and appreciate the work the organization undertakes.

It is estimated that one in ten Canadians suffers from a learning disability ranging from mild to severe. They have trouble receiving information through the senses and transmitting that information accurately to the brain. It is much like a bad telephone connection or a fuzzy photograph.

Students young and old who live with a learning disability are able to achieve if given the right help. When assisted they can become productive and valued members of society. Without assistance, the social costs are high.

I am pleased to be able to take this moment to commend the Learning Disabilities Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and all community organizations for the many hours they have spent to make a difference.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Saturday at a symposium the Quebec Minister of the Environment stated that Quebec's environment would be better protected if the province withdrew from the absurdity of the federal regime.

In 1990, when he was federal environment minister, the leader of the Bloc said: "A sovereign Quebec will not be able to solve its problems alone, any more than Canada could find a solution to the problem of acid rain on its own, without negotiating with the United States. Nationalism has no place in a global issue-".

How does the Leader of the Official Opposition intend to reconcile his earlier position with the statement of the Quebec environment minister?

Rail StrikeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Cowling Liberal Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the rail line system in Canada is the prairie farmer's lifeline. Over the past week we have seen that lifeline severed by strikes and by the stalling tactics of the NDP and the Bloc.

I appeal to those parties to take a long hard look at what they have done to Canadian farmers. They have robbed farmers of $100 million in lost revenues this week. Neither farmers nor the Canadian economy can afford these losses.

This government has clearly demonstrated its commitment to prairie farmers by introducing back to work legislation. I commend the Minister of Labour for the leadership she has shown, for her dedication to ending this strike immediately, for doing everything within her power to get grain moving again. Madam minister, prairie farmers owe you a debt of gratitude.

I urge the NDP and the Bloc to co-operate in the process to let the government end the strike for the benefit of all Canadians who depend on the rail service.

Rail StrikeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I would ask all hon. members to please address the Chair directly.

Senator Pietro RizzutoStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, the promise made by Senator Rizutto, the Prime Minister's election organizer, is still fresh in our minds. He told all the Liberal candidates who were defeated in the last Quebec election: "Do not worry, we will find jobs for you".

Like the Liberals say, a promise is a promise. Céline Hervieux-Payette, who had been a roving candidate for the Liberal Party for over a decade, is now set up in the Senate. Some may argue she is more deserving than the others, having bitten the dust on three occasions-in 1984, 1988 and 1993-in various Montreal ridings.

In her new job, she will have plenty of leisure time to devote to party politics and backstage manoeuvring. One has to find something to do: 20 years in the Senate is a long time.

Senator Rizutto's promise will cost the Canadian taxpayers nearly $2 million if you add up bonuses, incidentals and inflation for the next 20 years. It pays to be defeated when you are a Liberal.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Skeena and I and 13 host MPs completed an aboriginal town hall series in B.C. last week. This included eight communities and attracted over 1,600 people.

We delivered a distinctly different and welcomed point of view to the public. Many British Columbians are concerned that none of the negotiating parties in the process is vigorously representing non-native interests and that the process is secretive. Additionally, the total cost of the settlement based on recent leaks would be at least $8 billion and may exceed $18 billion.

Federal responsibility for treaty Indians is clearly established and there is also a federal obligation to ensure public interest is met. The current process is built on sand and will fail. Fundamental change is needed to create modern treaties that are affordable and lead to native self-sufficiency, finality of negotiations and equality of Canadians.

Rail StrikeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canada's economic recovery is being threatened by a nationwide rail shutdown.

We believe in the process of collective bargaining, however it is clear the negotiations have not worked. Since Monday our government has worked diligently to get the trains moving again, only to be opposed by the official opposition party which is playing self-interested political games which have harmed our national economy.

Now is the time for action. In my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants major companies such as National Gypsum rely on rail transport to ship their products and meet their deadlines. For these companies the rail shutdown has severely harmed business and will threaten many jobs.

For the sake of the commerce of Annapolis Valley-Hants and across the country, I urge parties to support our efforts to bring an immediate end to this dispute.

Rail StrikeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the people of Durham and Oshawa are concerned over the continuation of the rail strike.

I have spoken today with General Motors and understand that both its inbound and outbound production systems are close to being curtailed. This will affect the jobs and the economy of the whole region.

When I see the main reason for the Bloc Quebecois' blocking the passage of this legislation is clause 12 regarding the importance of economic viability and competitiveness, I know it is the party of the status quo. Some of the collective agreements still include blacksmiths.

It is the party that does not want change. It is afraid of the 21st century and wants to cling to the past. It is so rigid that it would force people across this country to lose their jobs and livelihood so that the traditions of the past can be maintained.

This is really where the Bloc wants to go, not into the future but back to the 19th century. The people of Canada do not want to go.

Rail StrikeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the rail dispute is a direct economic threat to the auto, petrochemical and manufacturing industries so important to Canada and particularly to my riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

The NDP and the Bloc are needlessly prolonging this strike, a position that is clearly a threat to the economic recovery now under way. The NDP supports the right to collective misery. The Bloc must not allow its separatist agenda to put a stranglehold on Canada. All Canadians will suffer.

I urge the Bloc and the NDP to end grandstanding and allow the trains to roll.

The Late Claude DucharmeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, we were dismayed to hear about the passing of my friend Claude Ducharme who died yesterday in Paris, where he was attending a union convention. Mr. Ducharme was vice-president of the FTQ, head of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Auto Workers and member of the board of directors of the FTQ's compensation fund.

He espoused the cause of the workers and fought relentlessly for the implementation of decent working conditions. Fernand Daoust said of him that he was a great unionist who helped give the union movement a respectable and credible image.

All the members of the Bloc Quebecois join me in extending their deepest sympathies to Mr. Ducharme's family and thank him for having devoted himself with so much conviction to the well-being of Quebec workers.

Hisaya OkumiyaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of members and all Canadians I would like to express our deepest sympathy to the Okumiya family of Edmonton.

On March 14 while playing with two friends, 11-year old Hisaya Okumiya fell through the ice of Mill Creek. Emergency personnel and divers were brought in to search for the young boy, without success. The official search was eventually called off.

Determined to find his son, Mr. Okumiya continued his search alone, tirelessly picking away at the ice. His efforts were soon joined by upward of 40 volunteers, police, firefighters and city workers who on their own time helped in the search. On Tuesday morning the body of Hisaya was found.

While there are no words that will ease the grief members of the Okumiya family are feeling today, perhaps they will find some comfort in knowing that the thoughts and prayers of all members and indeed of all Canadians are with them. May I also express our sincere appreciation to the people of Edmonton who pulled together to help the Okumiya family in its time of distress.

Business Studies CompetitionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate seven high school students from my riding who recently were named to represent Ontario at DECA, the premier academic competition in North America for high school business students.

The Markham students who qualified through the provincial competition are Maha Hussain, Julie Ward, Alyson Pownall, Seung-Oh Chung, Ian Tien, Chris Vollmar and Rebecca Habashy. These elite students will now compete for top honours at the North American competition to be held in St. Louis, Missouri from April 28 to May 2.

The competition in St. Louis will feature 10,000 of the best business studies students across America. It is a showcase for student achievement and progress. These Markham students will compete in a series of oral and written examinations in numerous academic areas.

On behalf of all members of the House I wish these students success. I am quite sure these young women and men will represent our country well in the competition.

Presence In The GalleryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I would like to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of the Hon. Janet Reno, Attorney General of the United States of America.

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

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

Conciliation commissioner Hope's report clearly states that the main cause of the rail dispute is the attitude of the railway companies which, throughout the negotiations, refused to give any consideration whatsoever to union demands. It says that, at most bargaining tables, union demands did not receive any consideration, even though it is clear that these demands are serious and have merit.

My question to the Prime Minister is this: Why is the government so intent on rejecting at all cost the official opposition's offer to settle the rail dispute very quickly while respecting the rights of workers, who could not be heard? Why is the government so inflexible toward the workers?

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, Bloc members seem to be overlooking the whole process. Negotiations in this sector have been under way for over a year, first with a conciliator and then with a conciliation commissioner.

We stand before a fait accompli: Railway operations are completely paralyzed. This has a huge economic impact from coast to coast. Even in Quebec, more plants shut down today. I am asking the Bloc Quebecois to be a little more sensitive to Quebec's economy, if they are unable to be sensitive to Canada's economy.

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind the Minister of Labour that if she wants to settle the dispute without trampling on workers, we are ready to co-operate right now.

It is not the official opposition but the conciliation commissioner who said that union demands did not receive any attention. The minister should read his report before opening her mouth.

Does the government's insistence on imposing diminished working conditions on CN workers at all cost mean that its intention to privatize CN is forcing the government to settle the matter of working conditions quickly and at workers' expense, in order to attract potential investors?

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, let us look at the facts. We should try to stay neutral in this dispute-and I think that is what the government is trying to do-and avoid siding with either the unions or the employers. I think it is up to them to negotiate their collective agreements. We want the unions to participate in the collective bargaining process as well.

Let us be realistic: Kruger is closed, while Bécancour, Alcan and Petromont are in the process of shutting down. Let us do something, Mr. Speaker.

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, how can the Minister of Labour say so candidly that we should let the parties negotiate among themselves? That is exactly what our proposal calls for. We should let the employees go back to work and negotiate with their employers. That is what we are asking the minister. Did the minister not understand any of this?

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I wonder who does not understand anything in this case. Negotiations have been under way for over a year in this matter. All the Bloc Quebecois can do is tell me to forget about results, offer to talk some more and ask for mediation.

This government wants to achieve results. We are currently facing a major crisis from coast to coast and the government has a responsibility to take action instead of simply talking and trying to avoid the real problems.

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister. Obviously, the government's commercial and financial interests are directly affected by the CN strike. Indeed, in spite of the Prime Minister's claims, with the rapid imposition of less favourable working conditions, CN's market value is much higher in case of an eventual sale.

If the Prime Minister is serious when he claims that the government's commercial interests do not have priority over the rights of workers, why does he still reject the official opposition's proposal, considering that a negotiated settlement is much better than an imposed agreement?

Rail TransportOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have nothing to add to the comments made by the Minister of Labour. Negotiations went on for months and now there is a strike. Thousands of jobs are affected throughout Canada and that strike causes serious injury to our country's economy. Our government is not concerned about its own economic interests, but about those of Canadians, including manufacturers of goods and agricultural producers, who must ship their products to market. This is our top priority and it will not change.