House of Commons Hansard #182 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.


Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should designate the period from April 20 to 27 of each year as the week in which we commemorate the issue of man's inhumanity to his fellow man to remind Canadians that the use of genocide and violence as an instrument of national policy by any nation or group at any time is a crime against all mankind which must be condemned and not forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to present my motion to the House. The motion calls for designating the week of April 20 to 27 to commemorate the issue of man's inhumanity to his follow man.

I chose April 20 to 27 because April 19 and 20, 1939 was the beginning of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis against the Jewish population. April 27 was the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa which gave the South African population the right to vote; the one man, one vote concept.

I want to present to the House the definition of crimes against humanity. The first time this term was used was in the London Charter of 1945, the structure and basis for prosecution of major war crimes before the international tribunal at Nurnberg. Crime against humanity presents a distinct category of international crimes. Article 6(c) of the charter defines crimes against humanity as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population before or during the war; or persecution on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of all in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the tribunal whether or not in violation of the domestic laws of the country where the crime was perpetrated.

I have personal experience with violence, genocide, deportation and the beginning of a new life. On many occasions, Mr. Speaker, you have spoken on this crime. I invited you down when I was working for the Armenian community in my home town of Toronto.

I will tell the House about my experience this year in July when I went to the Middle East for the first time since 1967 when I left. It was my intention to visit Der-zor where documentation shows that hundreds of thousands of people were deported from their ancestral homelands and driven to Der-zor and left there to die or were killed by the Ottoman Turkish soldiers at the time.

Even today when one goes there and puts a hand in the sand one has to go down only six inches to pick up the bones and remains of human beings. The river running through Der-zor is a very historical scene to Canadians of Armenian origin and many other Armenians living throughout the world because in that river we saw bodies floating in the same way we saw bodies floating last year in Rwanda. I saw that river, I walked in that river and I remember the past, 1915.

My personal experience with the holocaust of Armenian origin was in 1965 when I was only 17. I knew the extent of the holocaust that my ancestors went through. Since then and before that many other people went through the same crimes against humanity.

I regret to say that so far humanity has never brought a single person to justice. Even with what we saw last year in Rwanda, today there is not one single person accused of crimes against humanity. When will we take charge and outlaw this crime and punish them so they will not be able to repeat the crime and then enjoy the fruits of their crimes against humanity?

As I mentioned, April 24 was the beginning of the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman empire in 1915. On that day 300,000 intellectuals were rounded up from their houses and taken into the desert. The leadership of the community was taken so there would not be resistance to this crime that was to be carried on for the next eight to twelve months.

As a result of the holocaust 1.5 million people were murdered and another 500,000 were deported from their homelands. As of now the crime remains unpunished.

My motion calls for this not to be forgotten, but it never says not to be forgiven. Forgiveness has to come when those who committed the crime ask for forgiveness. They also should be ready to be forgiven because forgiveness is the nature of human

beings. We cannot forget because if we forget we are condemned to repeat it.

We all know very well what happened to the Jewish population in World War II beginning in 1939. Adolf Hitler had many excuses, but as far as I am concerned there is no good reason to commit violence or genocide in any shape or form. This cannot be comprehended by an ordinary person. There is no reason to commit, especially in this case, crimes against humanity.

The world was silent. It stood silent while six million Jews were slaughtered. Nobody said a word until the war was over. Why did we have to wait until the number reached six million before we spoke up? Why did we have to wait until the numbers reached 1.5 million before we spoke up? Why can we not make our position known to everybody that this will not be tolerated?

In 1975 in Cambodia in a city of three million, two million were wiped out. We did not say a single word. The UN did not act in any way. Is this the way to treat criminals? We cannot tolerate this forever.

Today in Yugoslavia UNHCR estimates that more than 100,000 Bosnians were massacred and 300,000 were deported. Again, there is not a single international tribunal to punish those who commit these crimes so they will not be repeated.

I spoke earlier about Rwanda. We had discussions about whether to send our troops to Rwanda for peacekeeping. I stated in response to a member of the opposition that we should have discussed this issue further.

In two weeks half a million people were killed. Technology has advanced so much that half a million people can be killed in two weeks and yet we in this country and other countries sit back and ask what to do next. I propose we do something about it now. Let us declare the week of April 20-27 the week of man's inhumanity to his fellow man so we can educate the younger generation that crimes against humanity must be punished. There is no escape when a crime is committed, be it a small or a large crime.

Even today violence is taking place in the Middle East. Yesterday a three-year old child was killed for no reason. Who will stand up and condemn this violence against innocent people?

In 1939 when Adolf Hitler was giving his orders to SS units to slaughter the Jewish population, he said: "Who remembers the extermination of the Armenian people today?" That was on August 9, 1939. Today is April 3, 1995 and I hope and pray the House will remember the message of Adolf Hitler was wrong in 1939. A continuation of this cannot be tolerated.

Many ministers of the government and members of Parliament spoke against genocide in the past. I quote three of them. The hon. member for York West on April 24, 1985 in the House said: "Today the Armenian militia commemoration serves to remind us all in a profound way of the importance of fulfilling our commitment to human and minority rights".

The Deputy Prime Minister said: "It is not simply a question of a problem over there in a far away country. It is a question of human rights, not only for the Armenian community but for all communities".

For the last 25 years on April 24, I have demonstrated in front of the Parliament buildings along with many thousands of people. I and many members of the House have spoken against genocide. We should continue to do that because it is very important to remember. We have to ask ourselves what has happened over the last 25 years of protest, of demonstration and condemnation. The House was silent.

I call on the House to recognize these crimes against humanity and to make sure we know Hitler was wrong, that the world remembers and the House remembers.

Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the Chair and this House, I would like this motion to be a votable item if possible.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member could bring it up at the last minute or two and ask that by unanimous consent it be made a votable item or he could do it now if he wishes. Which is his preference?

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

I will wait because there is going to be an amendment made to the motion.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Michel Daviault Bloc Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Don Valley North for tabling this motion to designate a week to commemorate the victims of genocide. I also commend the hon. member for Saint-Denis.

The hon. member for Don Valley North is very involved in his community. In fact, he is the first member of the House of Commons of Armenian origin and, as such, like all the members of his community, is very concerned about the issue of genocide and the suffering of its victims.

Since I am in favour of recognition by the Government of Canada of the genocide of the Armenian people, I welcome the opportunity to speak to this motion today. Because I also feel very close to this community, on February 1st this year, I wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to condemn a decision by the Armenian president to prohibit temporarily the FRA Dachnaktsoution Party, in December 1994.

The motion, therefore, proposes that, to ensure that this crime against humanity is condemned and we remember the genocides of the past, the Canadian government designate the period

between April 20 to 27 of each year as the week to commemorate the victims of genocide.

I must point out that the suggested date coincides with the sad anniversary of the first great genocide of the twentieth century, that of the Armenian people in April 1915, when more than one million people were killed. In fact, the purpose of the amendment I will move later on will be to express what is implicit in this motion.

I would like to quote what was said by a survivor of this genocide, Aram P. Aivazian, who wrote an important book entitled: Armenia usurped by genocide and treachery . This book describes the horror of this crime against humanity and subsequent government denials. Mr. Aivazian wrote:

"As a survivor in Canada, I am left with a daily echo of these memories, the brutally ignored and shamelessly denied tragedy of the Armenian holocaust. The rest of humankind have their own places in the sun, but not my fellow exiled Armenians who lived under foreign flags, deported by brute force and massacred with no option to return to their enslaved homeland".

Mr. Speaker, these words could apply to all who have been exiled or deported from their homeland. The steadfast refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide, this first holocaust of the twentieth century, is an attitude we must condemn, because denying that it exists is the ultimate step in the process and constitutes a form of indirect support. Silence is a form of consent.

This Liberal government, when it was in the opposition, supported recognition. Now that it is in power, it should, with the opposition's support, specifically condemn the Armenian genocide. However, this government now subordinates human rights to political and economic interests, which goes against traditional Canadian values.

I want to remind my colleagues in this House that many political figures in Canada have come out in favour of recognizing the Armenian genocide. The hon. Marcel Prud'homme, now sitting as an independent in the Senate and former Liberal member for Saint-Denis, intervened twice in 1990 and 1993, to ask the Conservative government to recognize the Armenian genocide.

In March and April 1980, the Ontario Legislature and the Quebec National Assembly passed a resolution asking the Government of Canada to recognize and officially condemn this genocide and the atrocities committed by the Turkish government against the Armenian people.

On May 11, 1984, the Hon. Sinclair Stevens rose in the House to recognize the existence of this genocide and to say that action was necessary. On May 27 and 28 1984, the hon. members for Edmonton Southeast and Willowdale, members of the present government, spoke to this House on the subject of the Armenian genocide.

I shall, if I may, quote what was said by the hon. member for Edmonton Southeast:

"But the Armenian slaughter is an act of history and we cannot wipe clean for the Armenian descendants by pretending it never happened".

Finally, in May 1985, in the Quebec National Assembly, Gérald Godin, who is recently deceased and who was, at the time, the Minister of Cultural Communities, reiterated his condemnation of the genocide.

His motion was seconded by Claude Dauphin, the Liberal member for Marquette and by Thérèse Lavoie-Roux, who is now a Conservative senator. At the time, she said that, in international relations, because of economic and other ties Canada has with Turkey, the federal government was known to exercise extreme caution before taking any initiative. She added that the peoples' court, in Paris, had confirmed in a decision on April 16, 1984 that there had indeed been a genocide.

Until people take more positive action to stop it, there will continue to be a sort of conspiracy of silence surrounding the genocide of the Armenian people. It must be brought to light; it must be given international recognition. Le Devoir of May 23, 1984 carried long extracts of a lecture given at McGill University by the former Minister of Justice of Quebec, Herbert Marx. It said, and I quote: ``After giving the background to the tragic events of 1915-16, Mr. Marx expressed his outrage at the fact that the genocide of the Armenian people was never officially recognized because of interventions by the Turkish government at the United Nations''.

On April 20, 1994, I rose in this House, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, to call upon this government yet again to recognize this genocide.

On April 22, 1994, two other members of this House made statements in this regard, including the hon. member for Don Valley North, who not only denounced the Armenian genocide but called on the Government of Canada to recognize it. He said, and I quote: "-I call upon the Government of Canada to recognize and condemn the Armenian genocide and formally request the Turkish government to assume responsibility for this atrocity once and for all, as Germany did for the six million Jews in World War II".

Considering all these expressions of sympathy and declarations, how can we not recognize the existence of the genocide?

On June 18, 1987, the European parliament recognized this genocide, as did the Russian parliament, more recently, on April 22, 1994.

For this reason, the hon. member's motion is so appropriate today. We should not forget such a crime against humanity. Canada should not side with countries which have chosen to forget and which are relying on time to wipe away the memories of it.

On April 23, 1994 I and several other MPs attended a commemorative evening in Montreal, which drew several big political names. The guest speaker, Mr. Hrayr Balian, the permanent representative to the UN in Geneva of an NGO which defends human rights, said that the challenge facing the international community is prevention. The best prevention is ensuring that the persons responsible for past and current genocides be punished for their heinous crimes.

He added that relations between Turkey and the Republic of Armenia cannot be based on ignorance and denial of the past. One of justice's basic goals is that the perpetrators of a crime be held responsible and that the rights of the victims be protected as much as possible. For there to be justice, the truth must be revealed, demonstrated and the guilty parties must admit their guilt.

In this sense, I can only deplore the fact that the motion is not a votable item, and our party will support the petition made by the hon. member for Don Valley North that it be votable. We would also like to reiterate our support for the request that the Government of Canada specifically recognize the Armenian genocide.

In closing, setting aside a week to commemorate victims of genocide is a step towards recognizing the Armenian genocide, and a real step towards preventing the reoccurrence of this kind of crime against humanity. To this end, I move, and the member for Frontenac seconds:

That the motion be amended by adding the phrase "particularly to mark the 80th anniversary of the Armenian genocide", after the word "government" and before the words "should designate".

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak on the motion of my esteemed colleague from Don Valley North. The motion is to recognize April 20 to 27 as a week to remember man's inhumanity to man and to recognize that genocide and violence must be condemned and not forgotten.

Since the close of the cold war, people have expected that the world, liberated from nuclear threat, would be more peaceful. In fact, we expected a peace dividend that could strengthen our own economy and which could be used to bridge the huge chasm that exists between those of this world who have and those who have not. However, as the years have shown, the reality has been much different.

With the collapse of the U.S.S.R., ethnic tensions long suppressed have been unleashed. The rise of the nation states to fight over dwindling and finite resources, the exploding world population especially in developing countries and environmental degradation have all combined to unleash an orgy of violence and bloodshed which affects millions of people every year.

More recently, Rwanda has seen half a million people killed within two months. Burundi has seen 100,000 people killed in one month. In Angola 1,000 people are killed per day. The situation in the former Yugoslavia which blew up and killed so many thousands is yet a tinderbox and can explode at any time. These are the more obvious examples.

There are many more hidden, dirty little conflicts that occurred in the world to which the western world was oblivious, such as the Kurds in northern Iraq. In Sudan for years people have been killed. There was killing in East Timor and Sierra Leone. The list goes on and on. It is an embarrassment to the world community.

If there is one thing the world has demonstrated in the face of this carnage, it is its impotence to deal with these situations and in fact, the precursors of these situations, even when the writing has been on the wall for so many years. The response of the international community has been a succession of collective sighs, groans and handwriting. The world does not get involved and when it does, it is too late for the thousands upon thousands of civilians who were killed.

It is important to realize that it is not those who have arms who bear the brunt in these conflicts; it is the innocent men, women and children who are slaughtered indiscriminately and are defenceless. Once we do get involved, it is costly both in terms of our dollars and in terms of our people who we put in harm's way.

Furthermore, the groundwork for future carnage has been laid, for in these civil conflicts hatreds will be branded into the psyches of generations to come. Children are told by their parents to hate Muslims, to hate Jews, to hate Chechens, to hate Tutsis, to hate Hindus, Tamils, Croats, and the list goes on. They in turn tell their children who tell their children and the cycle repeats itself with deadly efficiency. Memories are long for these carnages and hatred dies a difficult death.

There were in fact over 120 conflicts in the world. In the future we can see the pots boiling over in Burundi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and even in Kenya. Some only with extreme restraint have prevented this from occurring, such as in Tibet. The people there deserve a lot of credit.

If there is not a radical change in the way foreign policy occurs in this world, there will be an increasing number of these conflicts. In fact, peaceful nations will exist as a sea among a river of blood and turmoil.

Why should we get involved? Apart from the obvious humanitarian aspects, perhaps the easiest way to describe it to the people of our country and other countries is to preserve our basic self-interests. What occurs half a world away will wind up on our doorstep. Borders are porous and people migrate. They migrate from areas that have not to those that have, from areas in conflict to those which are peaceful, from areas which are resource depleted to areas which are rich in resources.

People will come here in droves and our current economic situation is ill equipped to deal with it. Furthermore, it will affect our societal and economic situations so that we will not be able to help our own people and we will not be able to help those in have-not areas.

We must have a plan. In short, what we must do is prevent the conflict before it happens. To prevent the problem we must understand it. I think it is wise for us to distil the problem down to its simplest form. We must simplify it down to its common denominator, which is the individual.

All individuals must have their basic needs met. These include food, shelter, water, medical care. I would also add safe, effective birth control, education, good governance and a fair judicial system. When a person has all of these it is very difficult to incite someone to commit violence against other people.

Therefore the world community must recognize the precursors of conflict and have a system to address them. Set up a list of transgressions by offending groups such as genocide, gross transgressions of human rights, the abuse of a country's economy, overt military spending, subjugating a people and trampling on their democratic rights. All of these have to be considered. With this list there should be another list of the consequences that the international community can mete out to these individuals.

Despite all that has been said before, the United Nations is probably the best bet today. Diplomatic initiatives must be put forward: sanctions where necessary, along with decreasing non-humanitarian aid or eliminating it to those belligerents, using the IFI as an economic lever to force belligerents apart so that they have to solve their problems. Rather than solving them at the end of an assault rifle, solve them at the diplomatic table.

I would also add a word of caution. We make a fundamental mistake in diplomacy. We ordinarily assume that those we are dealing with across the table actually represent the best interests of the people. That is not always the case. History has borne that out. Not all people have the best interests of all of their civilians at heart; rather they often have the best interests of their specific tribe, and I use that in the broadest sense, at heart. It is important for us to realize that and to understand it when we go into these discussions.

The world is looking for a leader to do this. It is looking for a middle power, one with an impeccable reputation, one with no history of imperialism or materialism, one with a proven track record and one that is widely respected. I would submit that that country is Canada. We can organize the middle powers to set up a system to influence the world body to prevent these conflicts from occurring, to set up those systems that I have just described of transgressions and penalties that need to be elucidated in no uncertain terms to the international body.

The ultimate power to do this would be the United Nations. I have a few simple suggestions. Expand the security council to be the G-24; decisions on votes need a two-thirds majority; eliminate the power of veto; and, to help with the financial crisis, if you do not pay you do not vote, if you do not vote you do not have any power.

These are some suggestions I have that we can put to the international community to help the United Nations deal with these problems.

International aid must also be revamped to help people to help themselves in a sustainable fashion that is culturally sensitive. We must focus on the basic needs to enable people to provide for themselves if they are not going to go ahead and try to commit atrocities on other individuals and provoke the conflicts that have plagued us throughout our history for so long.

I would also decrease government to government aid and increase the influence of NGOs. This would be in keeping with today's restricted budgets and the necessary cuts that must come from all aspects of government, including ODA.

Having said all this I will close. Every year we commemorate the Holocaust and World War II and say never again. The reality is that never again occurs again and again and again. This is a tragedy from Angola to Burundi, to Cambodia, to Tibet, to the former Yugoslavia. These tragedies have occurred and frightened all of us.

Mankind has continually demonstrated efficiency in committing atrocities against his fellow man with impugnity. The world has said nothing. We have learned nothing.

I hope as we approach the new millennium that Canada can take it into its heart to realize that part of its grand destiny is to take a leadership role on the world stage to link those parts of the international community and construct a forceful, powerful, peaceful bulwark against those individuals and groups that wish to stir up conflict and stir up animosity.

I hope we will support this motion on man's inhumanity to his fellow man. Also I hope we understand this is not a matter of choice but a matter of necessity.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a genuine honour for me to address the House today in support of this important motion. I commend my colleague, Mr. Assadourian, the member for Don Valley North, on his initiative.

The twentieth century has seen two world wars and numerous historic conflicts, but crimes against humanity are still not relegated to the past, atrocities are still committed daily in too many countries, where civilians are subject to torture, enslavement and mass deportation. Every day, we witness the persecution of minorities because of political beliefs, race or religion. Although the Geneva Convention condemns such actions, they continue to take place.

Motion No. 282, introduced by the hon. member for Don Valley North, will bring Canada, as a member of the international community, one step closer to helping to eradicate from our world these unacceptable acts.

It is essentially a moral question that we ask. Can we continue to be an active member of the international community and allow these atrocities to continue? I think not. We must first be able to internationally acknowledge that atrocities against humanity are unacceptable, then allow for the legislation to follow.

As representatives of a country renowned for its support of human rights, we know that Canadians condemn genocide and the use of violence as an instrument of power. By not recognizing such actions for what they are, we support them as national policy.

It is a sad commentary that the media too often still can look to the horrors of crimes against humanity for their headlines.

A brief historical overview of only a few of these acts will give everyone the proof they need to acknowledge that these acts are criminal and should be condemned.

The Armenian genocide which took place during the first world war is perhaps the most vivid example of genocide as an instrument of national policy by the Ottoman Turks. What makes the Armenian genocide such a particular example is that unlike the genocide of the Jewish people which took place during the second world war, the international community did not try the war criminals or even formally acknowledge the massacre took place.

While several countries such as Italy, France and Israel have passed parliamentary decrees formally recognizing the Armenian genocide, the international community as a whole has not taken the steps necessary to condemn these horrible acts of inhumanity. There are unfortunately many examples of such atrocities, some well known, others such as the Asia Minor catastrophe of 1922, not so well known.

By the end of the first world war there were close to two million Greeks inhabiting the region of Asia Minor on the west coast of present day Turkey. The Greek population has lived in this region for over 3,000 years. In 1922, these people, like the Armenians and other minorities of Turkey, were subjected to the first ethnic cleansing of the 20th century.

During the summer of the tragic year, 600,000 Greeks of Asia Minor were exterminated by the forces of Mustapha Kemal, the father of modern Turkey. Another 1.5 million people were forced to leave their ancestral homes and then dubbed as refugees in Greece. These acts were not sporadic or spontaneous but a cold, calculated policy of the new Turkish state to establish an ethnically pure population. In this orchestrated act of mass murder, the Turkish government also burnt and destroyed thousands of churches, schools, even cities and towns that were identified with the Ioanian Greeks.

These atrocities were witnessed by foreign diplomats, correspondents and thousands of individuals from every walk of life. The international community did nothing to condemn the atrocities taking place.

Although the United States, Britain, France and Italy had ships and troops stationed on the coast of Asia Minor, they refused to intervene. The failure of these countries to condemn the actions of the Turkish government encouraged other states to practise genocide as government policy. The Holocaust of the second world war offers the most graphic example of inhumanity by a modern state.

In 1974, Turkey once again embarked on a course of action that led to the invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus. Once again the cycle of violence and destruction was an integral part of the Turkish policy. Thousands were killed during the invasion and approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forced to abandon their homes and become refugees in their own country.

I had the occasion to visit Cyprus this past January with some of my colleagues. We witnessed firsthand what is the reality of the Cypriots living in Cyprus. Over 1,600 missing persons are still unaccounted for.

Turkey was condemned by the international community but except for peacekeeping, no action was taken to force the Turkish government to withdraw its occupation forces. Instead, the government in Ankara proceeded to establish a puppet

Cypriot-Turkish state and transplant thousands of Anatolian Turks to increase artificially the Turkish population of Cyprus.

In northern Cyprus the Ankara government has made every effort to erase any traces of Cypriot cultural identity. This has not only destroyed the economy of northern Cyprus, it has practically eliminated the cultural heritage of the Greek-Cyriot community, a community that had developed a unique identity among the people of the Middle East and Asia. What was once a prosperous region and home to Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the northern part of the island has become an economic and cultural wasteland.

Unchecked aggression only leads to further acts of barbarism and genocide. That is why we must all lend our support to Motion No. 282. In the last four years, we have witnessed the cataclysm that has befallen the former Yugoslavia. All the warring factions are guilty of mass killings, ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide to varying degrees but the cycle of violence has not stopped. We only need to look at the mass murders that have taken place in Somalia and Rwanda to confirm the fact.

I add that as recently as two weeks ago, Turkey was bombing the Kurdish minorities in the northern part of Turkey. In all of these examples, the killing, destruction and forcible movement of populations have been acts of deliberate policy and not random excesses of rebel or uncontrolled government forces.

By acknowledging these historical examples as crimes against humanity, we are acknowledging that past and present crimes are unacceptable. We must do our part as parliamentarians to encourage the international community to make greater efforts and prevent future crimes against humanity.

By passing this motion, we are one step closer. In addition I ask the hon. members to adopt this motion with the amendment as a votable motion.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Motion M-282 put forward by my colleague, the hon. member for Don Valley North, to designate the period from April 20 to 27 of each year as the week in which to commemorate and pay tribute to the victims of crimes against humanity and to strongly condemn such crimes, in particular the use of genocide and violence.

I congratulate my colleague from Don Valley North for this motion.

I also support the amendment moved by my Bloc colleague for Ahuntsic. As you know, I immigrated from Chile in 1974 following the September 11, 1973 coup d'état. More than 30,000 Chilean men and women were killed or reported missing under General Pinochet's dictatorship. It was a very dark period in Chile's history. Opponents of the military regime fell victim to a kind of genocide. Other dictatorships and civil wars in Latin American countries, including Argentina, El Salvador, Brazil and Uruguay, caused the death or disappearance of thousands of people. International organizations and global public opinion were powerless to stop these gross and flagrant abuses of human rights.

Fortunately, all this is in the past and a wind of democracy is now blowing across Latin America. However, the people have demanded that their new democratic governments enact laws providing for prosecution of those responsible for these terrible crimes and compensation for the families of victims. In Chile, for instance, President Patricio Aylwin apologized on behalf of the government after publicly recognizing that such crimes had indeed been committed.

It must be pointed out, however, that the efforts made to uncover the truth and punish those responsible for these actions have been rather limited so far. There must be no prescription for crimes against humanity. The UN must take more concrete initiatives in this area. Conventions have been signed but are not being enforced. A case in point is the current slaughter in the former Yugoslavia, which we are all powerless to stop or bring under control.

In 1985, following the atrocities committed in several countries of the hemisphere, the Organization of American States adopted the Inter-American Convention Against Torture.

Today, the OAS is more active in the area of human rights violations and tries to promote democracy as a means of preventing such violations in the future. But these efforts need to be stepped up and Canada, which joined the OAS in 1990, can do much more in that regard. The international community cannot and must not tolerate these violations of international law. We must learn from past mistakes and the inhumanity displayed by certain countries, governments and military or police forces.

I rose in this House on numerous occasions to denounce the genocide in Rwanda in 1993 and 1994. On the eve of the 21st century, it is unthinkable and intolerable that such situations continue to occur.

Canada must do its share, following the civil war in Rwanda, notably by taking in refugees. So far, according to my information, ICSI has not processed more than a hundred refugee claims. It is obvious that Canada is not rising to the occasion with respect to Rwanda.

And unless the international community, and the UN in particular, mobilizes, the same thing is bound to happen in Burundi, where thousands have died already and many more are fleeing, mostly women and children.

We must ensure that the same atrocities that were observed in Rwanda are not repeated in Burundi.

Both before and after being elected to this place, I have repeatedly denounced the Armenian genocide of 1915-16, in which more than one million were killed.

I take this opportunity to, once again, show solidarity with the Armenian community in Quebec and Canada, a community of which the hon. member for Don Valley North is a member. I congratulate him on his excellent work on that issue.

Also, I rise in my place to denounce most vigorously the crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews in the Second World War.

All present or future generations must remember the holocaust in which six million Jews were exterminated. In a few weeks, we will be commemorating the anniversary of the Holocaust. I will take part in the ceremonies marking that day and, on behalf of all Bloc Quebecois members, we will, once again, denounce the slaughter of European Jews during the Second World War.

I also take this opportunity to tell the Jewish community how much we appreciate their tremendous contribution to Canadian and Quebec society at every level, whether economic, political, cultural or social.

I hope that the international community will work relentlessly to ensure that no horrible crimes of the sort are ever committed again.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate today. I want to commence my remarks by complimenting my colleague, the hon. member for Don Valley North. His ideas and contributions since he became a member of Parliament, particularly in the area of international human rights, are truly appreciated.

All of the speakers this morning have talked of the horror of genocide. We all know that there is common international condemnation for violations of humanitarian law. Of these violations, genocide is the gravest of all crimes recognized at international law. Indeed, in light of the evidence of the acts of genocide committed by the Nazis in World War II, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was signed by Canada on November 2, 1948 and has been in force since December 2, 1950. Over 100 members of the United Nations are parties to the convention, which creates a binding, legal obligation for contracting parties to punish persons responsible for genocide.

In the convention, genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Canada has long been a leader internationally in the defence of human rights and promotion of humanitarian law. As a signatory to the genocide convention, Canada has undertaken to punish persons for genocidal acts committed in time of peace and in time of war.

Genocide is the worst of crimes. It commonly takes the form of murders, disappearances, torture, arbitrary imprisonment and exile, and often it is committed by governments or rebel groups against its opponents or ethnic and religious minorities. Recent events in the world have demonstrated that genocidal acts are still commonplace.

Most recently, compliance with the obligation to punish persons responsible for genocide has been facilitated by the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, established by the UN Security Council. The international tribunal, though not established in the context of the genocide convention, is an international penal tribunal as contemplated by article VI of the convention. Article IV of the tribunal statute gives its jurisdiction over the crime of genocide committed in the former Yugoslavia.

We are strongly committed to the international tribunal and to ensuring that all those responsible for the atrocities of genocide are brought to justice. We were one of the first countries to call for an international war crimes tribunal and a Canadian is one of the 11 judges elected by the UN last fall. A former member of the National Defence Judge Advocate General's Office is working as the international law adviser to the prosecutor's office, and Canada has contributed over $500,000 to the UN Commission of Experts and to the tribunal. In order to assist the tribunal in its investigations, Canada is in the process of attempting to locate victims and witnesses of war crimes who have resettled in this country.

The United Nations Security Council is also considering establishing a tribunal for Rwanda along the lines of the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This tribunal would be responsible for investigating and prosecuting those persons responsible for the genocide and other atrocities that occurred in Rwanda earlier this year. Again, we support the establishment of this tribunal, which, for the reasons of consistency and administrative convenience, would have links to the Yugoslav tribunal.

In the same spirit, Canada is committed to the creation of a permanent international criminal court that would have jurisdiction for the most serious crimes, including genocide.

The report on the draft statute for the court, submitted by the International Law Commission after receiving comments from many states, including Canada, is being debated at the United Nations sixth committee this fall. In its intervention at the debate, Canada called for the holding of a diplomatic conference next year to establish a treaty, which would create a permanent court with a series of preparatory committees leading up to the conference. Canada intends to fully participate in the conference and provide support for the court once it is established.

At the domestic level we have responded to international obligations by amending domestic laws to give Canadian courts the jurisdiction to try persons charged with committing genocidal acts. Genocidal acts can be prosecuted in Canada using the provisions of the Criminal Code. The definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the code make punishable in Canada many of the acts defined as constituting genocide in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Whether the genocidal acts could be prosecuted as war crimes or crimes against humanity depends on the circumstances of each case.

The Criminal Code can apply to acts committed in the past as long as at the time and place of commission they were considered as international crimes. The criminal courts of Canada have jurisdiction if the accused is found in Canada and where international law would recognize universal jurisdiction by any state over the offence.

The Department of Justice crimes against humanity and war crimes section has the mandate with the RCMP to investigate and prosecute cases of genocide committed and prosecutable in such circumstances.

Therefore, Canada will not be a haven for the architects of genocide and will use all the legal remedies available to it to ensure that those who come to Canada are brought to justice. Not only does the Criminal Code provide for the prosecution of genocidal acts, but it also creates an indictable offence of advocating or promoting genocide, genocide being defined as killing members of any identifiable group or deliberately inflicting on it conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction with intent to destroy in whole or in part that group.

I strongly believe that people of the world should be permitted to live in peace and security, free to speak their language, practise their customs and associate with one another. Those responsible for enormous crimes against groups deserve to be prosecuted and, if convicted, punished to the full extent of the law. In Canada, I am proud to say that we have both the legal framework and the moral and political conviction to do so.

My colleague for Don Valley North wants to designate a week for commemorating genocide. I believe genocide is so horrible that the memory of past genocides will always be with us. We should always be aware of genocides currently being committed and we should always be on the lookout for acts that could lead to more of this horrible crime. The commemoration of past genocides must not distract us from new ones.

For this reason, while I share the member's indignation at the most horrible crime against humankind, I must say that I would be concerned if we were to designate a particular period of time for commemorating genocide. Genocide should be a preoccupation in our daily lives. No particular week should be needed to remind us about the human tragedy of genocide.

In conclusion, I am proud that Canada does have the legal means necessary to deal with this crime both internationally and domestically. While I support the spirit of the hon. member's motion, I must in this case be against it.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There are still approximately three minutes left in the debate. Does anyone else wish to rise to speak on the matter?

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Don Valley North will close the debate.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to thank those who supported my motion. I really feel that this motion was an important one for Canadians and for the people who suffered from crimes against humanity.

However, I especially want to express my sincere appreciation to members of the governing Liberal Party who supported it, the members of the opposition and also members of the Reform Party. He who runs away may live to fight another day.

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Shall we call it twelve noon?

Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Some hon. members


Crimes Against HumanityPrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired.

Pursuant to Standing Order 96(1), the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

The House resumed from March 31, consideration of the motion that Bill C-76, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 1995, be read the second time and referred to a committee; and of the amendment.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

11:55 a.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, first I want to say that I agree with my two colleagues, the hon. member for Ahuntsic and the hon. member for Bourassa. Indeed, we all know Armenians who directly or indirectly experienced the hardship suffered by that nation.

Let us now turn our attention to Bill C-76, which was carefully reviewed by our critic, the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, who knows a great deal about public finances, particularly at the federal level. Bill C-76 seeks to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance. I want to discuss the impact of that budget on the agricultural industry, which is one of the most seriously affected.

The proposed cuts are far from having an equal impact on the various regions of the country. The Liberal government has abdicated its responsibility toward the agricultural sector. It is abandoning one of the most dynamic industries in Canada and in Quebec. The agri-food sector accounts for close to 10 per cent of our GDP, 15 per cent of the total employment, and almost 25 per cent of the surplus of goods. Between 1987-88 and 1994-95, the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food's estimates was reduced by a whopping 33 per cent, and that includes the subsidies provided under the WGTA. We are talking about a 33 per cent reduction in financial resources; this is one third of the total budget over a five-year period.

If you look a little farther down the road, it is estimated that, by 1997-98, the agriculture and agri-food budget will have diminished by 58 per cent. This is ridiculous. This morning, I was looking at a publication called Farm and Country , which is sent to Ontario farmers. The cartoon on the front page showed a beautiful Holstein cow with a farmer sitting on his little stool and trying to milk the cow. But nothing was coming out.

If this government continues to slash in that sector, this could well be the fate of Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry.

As a percentage of total government spending, amounts allocated for agriculture have dropped dramatically. In 1987-88, the total budget for agricultural and agri-food, as a percentage of the budget for all government envelopes, was 3.5 per cent under the Conservative government. In 1994-95, the fiscal year that ended yesterday, it was 1.6 per cent. In 1997-98, it is expected to be only 1.2 per cent.

This government seems to have cut itself off completely from the agricultural sector. We have said so before and we will say it again: it is outrageous to treat the agricultural industry this way.

If we look at the kind of cuts that will be made, it is clear the government does not have its priorities straight. Furthermore, it is not prepared to deal with the problems and consider the long term impact. Bill C-76 repeals the Western Grain Transportation Act, the WGTA. The legislation will be replaced by a series of measures that will continue to regulate grain transportation, despite elimination of the Crow Rate.

Included in this budget is compensation for western producers who are affected by this cut. The government intends to offer $1.6 billion to owners of farm land, to partially offset the drop in land values that will result.

Interestingly, even if a producer did not grow wheat during the past year, he will be entitled to compensation. I see the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi across the way. I am anxious to see whether he will react to this injustice, in a country where we now have two classes of farmers: those who are compensated to the tune of $1.6 billion, not taxable, while dairy producers in his own riding will suffer cuts averaging $4,485 and get absolutely nothing.

Yesterday, he was in Cowansville, the riding of Brome-Missisquoi, to sing the praises of his government's policies. I assume he did not say a word about the unfair treatment of our Quebec farmers as opposed to western farmers.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:05 p.m.


Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

For shame.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:05 p.m.


Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Yes, for shame, Mr. Speaker.

During his election campaign, he said he would speak out, loud and clear, for Quebec and for the riding of Brome-Missisquoi. However, he has kept a very low profile, not bothering to speak out even once to defend the interests of the farmers in the riding of Brome-Missisquoi, a riding that has so many outstanding farms.

As I said before, not a penny of tax will be collected on those $1.6 billion. And in addition to the $1.6 billion, there is another $300 million, but the government does not even know how it will spend it. Nevertheless, an additional $300 million has been provided, to be included in the budget over the next five years.

Every time we see an example of inequity or injustice, we intend to rise in this House and vigorously condemn the government. And I urge my colleagues from Quebec to avoid a recurrence of what happened last week, when Quebec's entitlement to its fair share of seats in Parliament was attacked and to rise in the House and say no, we will not go below 25 per cent. The hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi rose in the House and

was applauded by his anglophone colleagues when he joined in the attack on his own Quebec.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Halifax Nova Scotia


Mary Clancy LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate today. As I commence my remarks, may I add a special word of congratulations to one of our newest colleagues, the hon. member for Brome-Missisquoi. We are particularly delighted to have him here in the House of Commons to speak so clearly for the people of his riding and for les gens du Québec.

The Liberal government has introduced a budget that reflects what Canadians want. We are aware of the current economic realities and we have made choices. They were tough choices. However, the choices not only get government right, they get the economy right.

We stated our promises in the red book and we have acted on them. The economy is growing. New full time jobs are being created and we continue to move forward without compromising our integrity or our history. We simply will not tear apart the social fabric that keeps us together. That being said, it does not mean that the social fabric does not have to fit a bit tighter and a bit smaller than it used to.

Canadians have said they want less government, fewer personal taxes and more fiscal responsibility. This is a check-list. It is a list that we not only read but implemented in our budget.

The budget takes fundamental action across government programs and operations. It implements a comprehensive examination of departmental spending. Our focus will be on what is essential. What government does best it will continue to do. What government does not do best it will see that there is a way in which the private sector can take over. We will continue to utilize our resources in the most effective and efficient manner.

We are not living in the surplus 1960s. For some of us who had our political beliefs and, to some degree, our characters formed in those surplus 1960s, it has been a difficult adjustment, but it is one we have made. We must operate our programs with accountability and with conscience. We simply cannot afford to have overlap and redundancy within government programs.

However, spending cuts will be made with compassion. They will be made protecting the most vulnerable. Fairness will be the hallmark and it will ensure that all regions of Canada, all Canadians, everyone who lives in this, the greatest country on earth, will share the burden.

Canadians said they were over-burdened by taxes and could not afford another increase. The Liberal government listened. There has been no increase in personal income tax. We can understand the financial burden that Canadians are facing because each one of us in this House faces it as well, and we refuse to increase their load.

The budget incorporates some tough choices, but it does not forgo compassion, nor does it lack vision. The Canadian vision will continue to glow with strength, opportunity and prosperity.

Over the past year and a half we have seen the creation of 433,000 full time jobs. We have seen a decrease in the unemployment rate of 1.7 per cent. We have observed the strongest growth rate in six years, at 4.5 per cent.

This is only the beginning. It can be seen that the Liberal government has listened to Canadians. We have implemented a budget which reflects the economic realities of our time and also offers hope for a prosperous future. I will mention just some of the things this budget has done.

It has cut business subsidies by 60 per cent. It promised a smaller public service with 45,000 fewer positions. That is something of great concern in my own riding of Halifax which is the third largest public service town in Canada.

There have been major reforms of programs such as agriculture and transport. Programs have been merged, consolidated and commercialized. There is increased cost recovery. Again, this is an area about which I am very concerned, that is, in the department of immigration with the new right of landing fee of $975 per adult immigrant.

There is the new Canada social transfer to the provinces in 1996-97. Unemployment insurance reform will be in place by July 1, 1996. There is a course charted for public pension system reform to make it fairer and more sustainable in the long term.

Tax fairness as I mentioned before will be improved. There will be tighter rules for tax deferrals, foreign and family trusts and R and D incentives. New measures to ensure the collection of taxes owed is a measure the hon. Minister of National Revenue has already spoken about quite eloquently.

RRSP contribution limits will be reduced. Retiring allowance rollovers are phased out. Overcontribution allowances are cut. There will be higher taxes for corporations and large banks. There will be dramatic cuts in departmental budgets. Some will be halved in a three year period.

There are $7 in expenditure reductions for every $1 in new tax revenues. There will be a three year savings of $29 billion, $25.3 billion of these from these expenditure cuts.

It is quite clear the government has followed its promises both in the red book and in the speech from the throne. It is quite clear the Minister of Finance listened, as did his cabinet colleagues. They listened to Canadians and they acted upon the consultations.

It is quite clear the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada stand together in supporting a smaller and more efficient government but also a government that will remain fair, true to its roots and true to its history.

I am delighted that I can stand and say without reservation that I think the majority of Canadians support Bill C-73, an act to provide borrowing authority for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 1995. They know their government is working for Canadians and will continue to do so.

These times are not easy. They are not easy for civil servants. They are not easy for workers across this country. They are not easy even perhaps for members of Parliament. But Canada is a country with a huge and tremendous and glowing future provided that we have good stewardship. It is my belief that this government, this Prime Minister, this Minister of Finance and this cabinet provide this kind of stewardship.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I will deal with three aspects of the 1995 Liberal budget and Bill C-76, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget.

First, I will outline the cuts in agriculture spending and make some general comments on the cuts. Second, I will ask some questions on behalf of Canadian farmers about what will follow the WGTA. These questions and many others have been asked over the months since this budget was tabled in the House. Third, I will discuss how the shortcomings in the overall budget might affect farmers and the agri-food industry.

First, how do the cuts in agriculture spending compare to the cuts in other sectors of federal government spending? How do the cuts on payments to farmers compare to cuts in operating costs of the department itself?

Farmers have obviously been asked to shoulder an unfair portion of the spending cuts in this budget. I am not saying the cuts should have been the same percentage in all areas of government spending, but by any measure, agriculture was hit disproportionately hard. Had cuts been made in other sectors in a fair way, this would have produced a balanced budget and all the positives that go along with a balanced budget. To illustrate this point, I will give a brief summary of the cuts in agriculture spending.

In the agriculture department overall spending was cut by about 20 per cent. Total funds available for 1994-95 are $2.1 billion. There was a $445 million cut in spending in this budget to the agriculture department. These cuts came in safety net funding, subsidies to dairy farmers, research, and user pay fees for inspections and those types of things. As well, there were some cuts in the department itself.

There are also cuts in agriculture from the transport department. The Crow rate, $560 million a year, was the largest single cut to farmers and is effective July 31, 1995. The Atlantic Feed Freight Assistance Act and the Maritime Freight Rates Act will be eliminated by July 31, 1995. The cost for this subsidy was $99 million a year.

To summarize, the total cuts in agriculture spending from the transport department are approximately $660 million a year by the end of the third year. Total cuts to agriculture spending from the agriculture department itself are $445 million per year. Total cuts to agriculture spending in this year's budget are approximately $1.1 billion. By any measure, this is disproportionately weighted toward agriculture.

When the cuts in agriculture spending from transport and the agriculture department are combined, the reduced spending to farmers is 40 per cent in this budget. There is almost 50 per cent in cuts in payments when payments to the railways and direct payments to farmers are included.

How do the cuts to farmers outlined in this budget compare to the cuts in the operations of the agriculture department? The cuts in the agriculture department were 20 per cent compared to almost 50 per cent in cuts in the direct payments to farmers and the railways on the farmers' behalf. There is no balance when comparing those cuts.

I am not saying these cuts should not have been made. Rather, there should have been more balance across all sectors of government spending when compared to spending on the operations of the department itself. Later I will talk about the negative effects of the government not going far enough in this budget.

Farmers also needed a transition time to adjust to these cuts. For example, Reform proposed a trade distortion adjustment program nearly five years ago. This would have provided a gradual phase out of the WGTA benefit, putting the payment immediately to farmers so they could provide for the loss in the WGTA payment as was needed. It would have also provided for a fund to compensate farmers against unfair trade practices in other countries.

This transition time was desperately needed by farmers so farmers would have time to make the necessary changes in order to recoup the losses suffered as a result of this budget. Not only is there no transition time, but there are not enough substantial changes to allow farmers and agribusiness to become more efficient.

Some changes were made but they did not go far enough. For example, in branch line abandonment, the reductions that will be allowed are limited and uncertain. In car allocation, the method used will be based on historic allocation. That does not provide well for the changes which are needed to make this system more efficient. The Canadian Wheat Board will still be a government controlled body instead of a farmer controlled body which is what it should be and what farmers want it to be.

Payouts will be made to farmers under this budget. First, in regard to the WGTA there will be a $1.6 billion compensation package. The stated intent is to compensate farmers for a loss in land value which will result from the loss of this $560 million a year subsidy. When we examine this it allows for about a one and a half to a two year transition time for grain farmers. It is too short a transition time. There would also be a $300 million transition fund but we do not know where it will be spent and how it will be used. There is too much uncertainty.

In feed freight assistance the payment is eliminated entirely but there will be a $326 million transportation adjustment program. Again, it will be paid out over five years. The detail beyond that does not exist. The uncertainty is unacceptable.

Governments have talked a lot about trying to help stabilize the agriculture industry. It seems to me that they have caused a lot of uncertainty and instability. That is certainly the case with this budget. More questions have been left unanswered than have been answered.

I want to ask some of the questions which have been asked of me by western Canadian farmers over the past month. They concern the loss of the Crow benefit payment and how the payment will be made. Other questions concern the compensation and transition packages.

The stated purpose of the $1.6 billion WGTA payout is to compensate farmers for a loss in land value resulting from a loss of this benefit. If this is the intent, then why would the payment not be made on all farmland? If grain land loses its value, then would not other land lose its value as well?

Why did the minister call on owners and lenders to pass the payment on to renters and lessees? This seems inconsistent with the government's stated intent which was to compensate for the reduced land value. If the real intent on the other hand is to provide transition funding to grain farmers, then why is this not acknowledged and why is the payment not structured accordingly?

There is a second area of questions I will ask on behalf of farmers. Does the minister have any advice for renters or those leasing land and who are part way through a lease or rental agreement right now? These farmers will be caught paying up to $35 an acre more in freight costs for crops they will be seeding over the next two months. Because of crop rotations and herbicide planning, it will be difficult to make the appropriate adjustments in crop seeding to help reduce the added costs by changing to higher value, lower volume crops or indeed moving more into livestock and growing feed or providing pasture for livestock.

Does the minister feel it is reasonable to make a policy change which will have the magnitude of impact with virtually no transition time and no transition funding? That is the case for lessees and land renters. I am sure there are thousands of farmers renting land, and many in the minister's own riding I would suggest, who are looking for advice on how to deal with this unanticipated extra cost. I doubt very much they will be looking to the minister for this advice.

The third area of questions farmers have asked over the past month since the budget and indeed before it also has to do with the WGTA and the loss of that benefit. I have several questions to ask on behalf of western grain farmers regarding how the payment will be calculated and when the payment or payments will be made.

The budget implementation bill does state that payment will be based on 1994 acres seeded to grains and an adjustment will reflect historic productivity. This leaves many questions unanswered.

For example, how will historic productivity be determined? If the payment is based on 1994 grain acres, those who have been moving acres from forage to grain land in a rotation may be completely missed in terms of a payout. People who read the market signals and who made the appropriate moves could be completely missed by this payment through no fault of their own. The last question is when will farmers receive their payment or payments?

Another area is what measures will be taken to allow the system to become more efficient and to give farmers more flexibility in marketing. I have seen very little evidence this exists.

The Liberal government by not going far enough in the budget will make life for Canadian farmers very difficult. Cuts in agriculture are not matched in any way by cuts in other areas of federal spending. As well, changes which would allow farmers to make up for some of the losses in payments from government, or which would allow farmers to cut costs, are inadequate. Changes that would allow farmers more direct access to markets are non-existent.

The inadequacies in the budget will make the next few years very difficult for farmers. However, there is another overriding factor which if not dealt with quickly will make the future most difficult for farmers, other business people and all Canadians. This overriding factor is the continual increase in interest payments on the debt. Interest payments on the debt have increased from $39 billion a year, when the government took office, to $51 billion with the finance minister's own figures, an unacceptable increase in levels.

What this will mean to farmers is more cutbacks next year and beyond, higher than necessary interest rates, little hope of reducing input costs to help compensate for increased freight costs, losses in government payments and more uncertainty regarding the future of social programs. Farmers will face these extra costs and difficulties because the budget does not set a definite date for eliminating the deficit.

I have provided a summary of the cuts in agriculture. I have asked some of the yet unanswered questions regarding the WGTA payout. I have outlined the major, overriding factor, interest payments on the debt, which threatens farmers in so many ways.

Farmers need some answers in order to provide certainty in their lives. I am asking the government to give some answers which will allow certainty to replace the instability and uncertainty farmers will feel and have felt as a result of the budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

St. Boniface Manitoba


Ronald J. Duhamel LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, this budget was tough, but fair.

Most commentators have indicated that is what the last budget was all about, tough but fair. That is quite a feat when one looks at the country, the extent of the various groups represented. Provinces and the territories believe it has been fair to them overall. The regions are reacting positively in the sense that no region seems to have suffered more than others. Men and women are feeling as if neither one of the two groups has been disadvantaged over the other. There is some sensitivity to those who are both younger and older. There is as well a response in terms of reductions to Canadians at various levels of remuneration.

I am proud that the Liberal Party has never claimed perfection. It wanted a good budget, if possible a very good budget. That is exactly what was accomplished.

To be fair, opposition parties have done what they do best, criticize the budget. That is their role and I respect that role as I believe we all do. However, it would have been quite novel if they had not only criticized but made specific suggestions as to how it could have been improved. There is one exception, which I will speak to in some detail, where the Reform Party put forward a budget. I will share with my colleagues and with Canadians what kind of response it was.

One of the unfortunate realities about budgets and reductions is one cannot reduce or change without affecting people, unfortunately sometimes negatively. We have in the budget attempted to minimize the discomfort, the hurt and the negative impact. I will give a couple of examples with respect to the civil service. There are going to be massive reductions as a result of an analysis of those things the government feels it ought to continue to do to remove the duplication. There will be programs eliminated, some reduced, and some jobs will be lost.

However, if one looks at the early retirement incentive, the early departure incentive, and the other initiatives undertaken by government to attempt to cushion the departures of those particular civil servants, one gets a good sense of how concerned we are to be fair and responsible.

In spite of any number of programs, it is quite clear it does not remove the hurt or the disappointment. That is unfortunate but it is reality. To think one can come forward with a budget that somehow would undertake some significant changes and yet not have any impact whatsoever less than positive would be dreaming in technicolour.

In a recent poll 73 per cent of Reform Party supporters thought the Liberal budget was a move in the right direction. This is really astonishing.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, that 73 per cent of supporters of the Reform Party, which had wanted to go much, much farther than the government, nevertheless felt that the budget was a move in the right direction?

The budget is a result in large part of an analysis of the programs government was involved in and decisions made to either remove those programs or reduce them substantially because we recognize there was significant duplication.

My colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois make frequent reference to overlap and duplication. This budget represents an extraordinary effort to eliminate much of it.

Hundreds of appointments have been reduced as a result of this. We have talked about the reduction to the civil service which is important and extremely difficult. There have been many other reductions and cuts.

Rather than applaud the budget-as a member of the government I would be expected to be supportive-I want to share some of the things said by third parties, people who are not part of the government.

Jayson Myers of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association said he was impressed and applauds the minister for what he has done. Ghislain Dufour, Conseil du patronat, said it is a good budget. Peter Wolford, Retail Council of Canada, said it is a good budget on several fronts. Sherry Cooper, economist with Burns Fry, said it is a terrific budget, there is no smoke and mirrors.

Stephen Von Houten, Canadian Manufacturers' Association, said it is really the first serious attempt at deficit reduction we have seen in this country in a long time. "He has more than met, if not exceeded, the market's expectations", said another observer, a person not part of the government.

I could go on quoting. I will, however, add only two or three more so that the people listening will get an idea of the breadth of the budget's acceptance.

For example, "Serious action was necessary and, remarkably, the government took it. After years of tinkering, making minor adjustments, and across-the-board cuts, the federal government finally had the political courage to tackle the problem in a direct way", Peter Boswell, columnist and political science professor at Memorial University.

"In attacking the deficit by reducing spending, one must take care to take aim only at waste and not at productive government expenditures. Well-targeted cuts, like those in the budget, will not put a brake on growth", editorial comment, La Presse .

I conclude with this quote: "While the opposition parties twist and turn in the wind, Mr. Chrétien quietly and effectively stays the course-the most popular prime minister in many a year, at a time when public mistrust of politicians is epidemic".

So many people have expressed their support for the budget. So many people have said that, for the first time, the budget was heading in the right direction. As I said earlier, this is not a perfect budget. There is no perfection in this world. This is, however, a budget that is moving in the right direction and one that has been accepted by the vast majority of Canadians in the provinces, the territories and the regions.

This is the first time since there have been these kinds of statistics that there are more people in favour of the budget, who see it as a positive measure, than there are against. That is quite an accomplishment.

Subsequent to the budget the Liberals increased their popularity with Canadians to 60 per cent from 55 per cent, while all other political parties decreased in popularity, with the exception of one which increased by 1 per cent.

The Reform Party put out a budget. If one looks at media quotations on that budget, they show quite a contrast. I will not have time to read them all, which disappoints me because some of them are very good.

Shane McCune of the Vancouver Province wrote on February 22, 1995: A 57-page document from the Grumpy and Dopey school of finance-comic in its stupidity and tragic in its meanness''.The proposals are very simplistic and little more than playing with arithmetic,'' said John Bulloch, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. He criticized Reform's detailed plans, particularly its proposal to cut $3.4 billion from UI.

Professor John Loxley said: "The Reform Party's economic analysis is horrendous and completely ignores basic principles of budgeting". An editorial in the Vancouver Province reads: ``It's also vague on details and big on assumptions where it suits Reform. Unfortunately that's the whole problem with the document. It suits Reform, but how about Canada?''

"It would be nice if we could cite just one way in which Reform is helping the country or itself by producing such an incomplete and controversial alternate budget at this time. Alas, we draw blanks", wrote Stewart MacLeod of the Guardian . An editorial in the Vancouver Sun reads: ``Reform's vision represents return to the law of the jungle where it's everyone for himself or herself and the devil take the hindmost''.

The Montreal Gazette : In his zeal to drive a stake through the deficit's heart, leader Preston Manning just may take the country with it. He's taking the easy way out, the lion's share of the cuts as aimed at those who can't fight back''. A further quote reads:Empowerment seems to be a word for whatever a Reform government wants to impose on a group of citizens. Seniors, for example, are to be empowered by reducing pensions''.

Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks by further stressing that, while the budget is clearly not perfect, it is moving in the right direction.

We are already starting to build next year's budget and I invite all of my colleagues to pitch in and make it an even better budget.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:40 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the budget is really heading in the right direction as my colleague

across the way claims, ordinary people have every reason to be very worried, because in reality this budget is two-faced. And when I use this expression, I mean it in the usual sense.

This budget says two different things, depending on the people or groups involved: Quebecers or the rest of Canada.

The government said that the budget promotes flexibility and would satisfy Quebec's desire for decentralization.

However, in some cases, why were the people who had believed the promises of flexibility and decentralization so surprised by Bill C-76, which was supposed to make it possible to implement the promises made in the budget? I will read to you clause 48, which amends what is referred to in my version, the first version of the bill, as the Canada Health and Social Transfer. I will allow myself to dwell on this Canada transfer for a long time.

So, clause 48 says the following:

  1. (1) Subject to this Part, a Canada Health and Social Transfer may be provided to a province for a fiscal year for the purposes of (a) establishing interim arrangements to finance social programs in a manner that will increase provincial flexibility;

This pertains mostly to Quebec.

(b) maintaining the national criteria and conditions in the Canada Health Act-

At this point, the five conditions contained in the Canada Health Act are listed. But, surprisingly, they added extra-billing and user charges, which are mentioned almost as principles.

Then, they add the following, which is the most important and the most surprising to those who were naive enough to believe the ministers who promised that this was going to be a flexible budget:

-maintaining national standards, where appropriate, in the operation of other social programs.

This sentence can be taken in no other way than as an announcement of the federal government's intention not to give greater flexibility or more room to manoeuvre to the provinces regarding the organization of their social programs. The only way to read this sentence is that the federal government intends to become more involved in the development of national standards.

Therefore, on the one hand, they talk about flexibility, but, on the other, we see the truth. The truth is that this is the beginning of a push to centralize more. But, of course, a subclause does stipulate that the Minister of Human Resources Development must meet with his provincial counterparts to seek and secure mutual consent. Nowhere does this subclause state that mutual consent will become par for the course, and what is more, there is nothing guaranteeing, on the contrary, that if no agreement is reached-and the agreement is contingent on the central government in the first place-the government will not impose its own vision for social programs.

This is very serious because, contrary to what the party opposite would have us believe, the budget is not balanced. It contains some less-than-straightforward cuts. Where it hits hard, where they say it will hit hard is among ordinary people. It does this in two ways, by the savings that the federal government will make until 1997-98.

As for the cuts to the central government's cash payments to the provinces, which are calculated according to formulas I will not get into but which are supposed to take each province's respective wealth into consideration, they should save the central government $12.3 billion over three years.

Although lower figures of $2.5 billion and $4.5 billion have been quoted, all transfers should be taken into account. These transfers would have taken place but the cuts, the provinces' shortfall and the central government's savings are all new. The new policy calls for slashing social programs like health care, education and social assistance in order to save $12.3 billion over three years by asking the provinces to decide where to cut.

The central government claims that it is flexible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing better illustrates the meaning of the expression "two-faced". In fact, the central government imposes standards for social assistance. It is removing a number of them but still leaving some. It is toughening health standards and reserves the right to impose additional standards, while forcing savage cuts on the provinces and the most disadvantaged, who are more likely to need these services.

This is a two-faced budget because it does not seem to tackle anything this year whereas next year and especially the year after, there will be, there will have to be drastic cuts to health care, education and social assistance. In two of these three areas, the government is reserving the right to cut transfers if it feels that the provinces are not abiding by national standards. Far from improving access, far from decentralizing, the government is centralizing powers.

What is worse is that, on the one hand, the government is forcing the provinces to cut while, on the other hand, it is using unemployment insurance as a cash cow in order to cushion itself against the next recession, while the provinces will have to bear the brunt of welfare cost increases that will continue to occur as they did during the recent recessions. The government is cushioning itself by transferring more and more costs to the provinces, thus bleeding them dry and putting itself in a position to make them a generous offer to intervene directly in areas of provincial jurisdiction. It is already making such announce-

ments with respect to the long-term unemployed and child poverty.

Who can be against helping the long-term unemployed and poor children? You understand what is happening. Yes, it is a reform of federalism, which had been supporting provincial programs since 1960. They are reducing funds to the provinces, starving them. Instead, with the cushion provided by UI premiums, they will offer the services directly from Ottawa.

The Minister of Human Resources Development and the Prime Minister had both promised us that reforms would be carried out. Reforms are indeed under way but they are unconstitutional, they are grave and they will become even radical in the years to come.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

12:50 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak on Bill C-76, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled on February 27, 1995, and specifically the Bloc amendment thereto.

The 1995 budget was one of the most important in the history of Canada. It was a budget of fundamental reform and national renewal.

On October 18, 1994 the Minister of Finance addressed the finance committee and indeed all Canadians. I would like to quote the finance minister. At that meeting he stated: "We came into government to help build a better Canada, a Canada of jobs and growth. That is our only goal and it is because of that that we must act decisively on the debt challenge today. We must not waste this recovery."

That commitment continues to be met by this budget and it is reflected in the confidence level of the financial markets, of the business community, and indeed of the Canadian people.

The budget incorporated numerous provisions for all sectors. The deficit targets have been met using prudent economic assumptions. The total savings from the budget actions of $29 billion over three years are the largest set of actions since the demobilization of the second world war. The deficit was planned to be cut to 3 per cent of GDP or about $24.3 billion in the 1996-97 year. If the private sector economic forecasts are right, the deficit will likely be lower.

New borrowing from financial markets is down to $13.7 billion in the 1996-97 year or 1.7 per cent of GDP, less than projected for the national government of any other G-7 country. Debt to GDP begins to decline in 1996-97 as the debt grows more slowly than the economy.

The deficit reduction was largely due to expenditure cuts. The budget delivers $25.3 billion of cumulative spending cuts over three years, with $16.9 billion from the top to bottom program review. Almost $7 in expenditure reductions were made for every $1 of new tax revenue over the next three years. As all Canadians know, there is no increase in personal income taxes.

Program spending will decline from $120 billion in 1993-94 to $107.9 billion in 1996-97. This is the lowest program spending in relation to the size of the economy since 1951.

There has also been a dramatic reduction in departmental budgets. Several have been halved over the three years. As all Canadians know, 45,000 public service positions were cut as part of the budget.

In addition, there were structural changes to ensure that we have continued savings. There is a fundamental change in the structure of program spending, which will keep the deficit on a downward track. Major cuts in business subsidies were made. They are down by 60 per cent from $3.8 billion in 1994-95 to $1.5 billion in the 1997-98 year. Many programs have been consolidated, merged or commercialized.

The new Canada social transfer to the provinces in 1996-97 has been created to provide more flexible, sustainable block funding. Unemployment insurance reform is intended to be in place by July 1, 1996. A course has been charted for the reform of our public pension system to make it fairer and more sustainable in the long term.

The burden of the restraint must be shared equitably among all Canadians. Impact of budget actions have been equitably distributed across Canada. For instance, the transfers to the provinces declined 4.4 per cent from 1994-95 to the 1996-97 year compared with a 7.3 per cent cut in other federal programs. It demonstrates that the provinces have been asked to contribute far less than the federal government.

The increased cost recovery in other fees, such as the $975 immigration fee per adult immigrant, also recognizes that social programs must seek to provide self-funding to the greatest extent possible. There have also been new measures to ensure the collection of taxes owed. Tax fairness has been improved with tighter rules for tax deferrals on foreign and family trusts, R and D incentives, and RRSPs. There are also higher taxes for corporations and large banks and, as we know, a small excise tax increase of 1.5 cents per litre to help reduce the deficit.

One of the specific provisions within the budget that is of particular interest to me is the provision that deals with the tax deferral of unincorporated businesses and self-employed businesses. Businesses that are self-employed or unincorporated have the opportunity under the tax act to choose a year end that suits their needs. It does not necessarily have to coincide with the calendar year. That was brought in initially to provide businesses with the opportunity to have the cash flow they would need in those start-up periods so they could continue to establish the business.

The tax deferral of those deferred months is a permanent deferral. Take for example a business that has a year end of January 31. It means that the income from the past 12 months ending January 31, 1995 would not be reported until his or her personal income tax return was filed in 1996, which would not be until April of that year at the latest. Theoretically businesses would have a permanent deferral of up to 11 months. The budget changed the law so that after 1994 all businesses will have to declare income on a calendar year basis.

We understand the treatment involves a catch up of the deferral of reporting that income. To provide the transition period available, the budget proposes that the recouping of those taxes will take place over 10 years, 5 per cent in year one, 10 per cent in years two to nine and the balance of 15 per cent in the 10th year.

In addition, the government has extended the filing date for the tax returns of these taxpayers until June 15, although the taxes otherwise owing have to still be paid by April 30.

Most parliamentarians have made very clear their views on the budget. The most important aspect of the budget reaction is how Canadians feel about it. I would like to very briefly read some of the figures from the latest Angus Reid poll on the budget. First, more than two-thirds or 69 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they believed that the federal government is on the right track with the overall approach they have taken in the budget.

A majority of respondents from all major socio-demographic segments of the population endorse the overall direction of the budget. A clear majority of Canadians in every region support it.

A majority of Canadians, some 57 per cent, say that the budget is better than most federal budgets in the past decade or so. Fifty-six per cent of Canadians also say that they are more confident in the federal government's ability to manage the economy as a result of the budget.

I could go on but I think it is clear to say at this point that Canadians are happy with the work we have done. The biggest debate that has been going on has to do with the size of the debt. There is no question the government is committed to eliminating the deficit and to start paying down our debt. At $550 billion, it represents a substantial expenditure to service that debt.

Canadians, I know, are aware that the government is committed not only to hitting a target of 3 per cent of GDP for the deficit by the end of the third year but to getting it as low as possible as quickly as possible, but in a fair and compassionate manner.

The renewal of Canada's fiscal health must include compassion. That is a very important issue. Canadians must be consulted on the kind of Canada we want. Those who rely continually on government must be weaned off their dependency for social handouts.

The government can no longer afford to subsidize the payrolls of businesses through UI. The system must be restructured to a bona fide system of insurance. Also the government can no longer afford to sustain the same level of social spending. Seventy-five per cent of the people on welfare are employable. We must pursue every opportunity to promote job creation and training for Canadians so they can have meaningful employment.

The Canadian people spoke up very clearly on how they felt about increased taxes and the minister responded in the budget. The job of restoring the fiscal and social well-being of Canada has begun. We have work to do on behalf of all Canadians. It must be done in a fair and compassionate manner.

Budget Implementation Act, 1995Government Orders

1 p.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-76 and the budget.

A saying that comes to mind is that great parties must be ready not only to take advantage of opportunities but to make them. In the case of the Liberal government, we have in dealing with the budget a party that is taking advantage of an opportunity where it can. The advantage it is taking is that for so long, taxpayers have been crying out for governments to balance their books. They knew full well that had to be done. This is not some kind of brilliant idea the Liberals have to balance the budget or to cut costs. It is actually something that has been forced on them.

How did they take advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to them? How did they make opportunity? For instance, I did not see some form of taxpayer protection act, as the Reform Party put forward. I did not see an indication in the budget for legislation that would guarantee balanced budgets. Those are what one makes out of a budget exercise. Those are the opportunities one makes. All they did was react to some extent to public opinion. That is unfortunate because they did not act far enough.

Some of the comments made here today were: "We did what is best. We reflect what Canadians want. We clearly have the majority of support from Canadians". I often wonder where those general sweeping statements come from because in my riding that is just not the case. By and large, the people I talk to-I try to talk to as many as I can-are basically saying the Liberals wimped out in the end.

They went for 3 per cent of gross domestic product. In three years they will overspend by approximately $25 billion a year. Over the life of this Parliament they will accumulate debt in the

amount of one hundred thousand million dollars or better. I hardly think that is anything about which to be standing up in the House claiming to have come up with some wonderful ideas.

Nowhere have I heard of the impact on the young people that are depending on us to balance the books. We keep getting this rhetoric: "Look what we have done. Look how tough we have been". That is not the case.

I work very closely with what we call an advisory group in my community. The 11 people in that group are geographically selected. I sit with them on Saturdays once a month. They provide input from their selective geographic area as well from people they deal with on a business basis. We went through the budget. Not surprisingly, it came out quite similar to many things being said about some things that should be cut.

I want to give the House an idea of what the people in the advisory group had been talking about. They said there should be selective cuts to old age security. Some of these people are seniors themselves. They suggested there should be selective cuts to unemployment insurance, no cuts to veterans' allowances and pensions. There should be selective cuts to universities and colleges, major cuts to CAP-the transfers for welfare payments-major cuts to health and reductions in transfers to have-not provinces.

This is not a group of Reformers but people trying to balance the budget as best they can. Recognizing that the social system has to stay in place, what better way than by balancing the budget first? After all, the larger the debt gets, the more interest payments we have to make and the less operating funds we have to pay toward programs. That makes so much common sense.

Every time we make a speech we should not have to repeat and repeat it. The government knows what it has to do. What it is trying to do is put enough rhetoric forward with the hope the Canadian people are going to buy what it is saying. Just wait until Moody's has a really good look at what is going on and our bond rating starts going downward. It will be asking about the taxpayers' budget the Reform Party put forward. It is only a matter of time.

When I talked to the advisory group in my community its members gave me some suggestions to bring to the House. I want to express them today. These are some of the comments from these folks. "It hurts less to cut with a sharp knife than a dull one". These comments are unsolicited. They are telling the government to get it over with. Balance the budget and get on with the economic and social life that we have planned for our young people and our seniors. We cannot keep going ahead with this umbrella of debt sitting over us in deficits and unbalanced budgets.

They also suggest that we should run government like a business and not a charity. Can anyone imagine talking to the Liberal government about running government like a business and not a charity? That is a strange kind of terminology in 1995, for the Liberals that is.

It was suggested that we run Canada like a household. They have to live within their means. They just cannot go to the bank and borrow and borrow past the ability to pay out of the incomes that are brought into that household. They do not understand how the government can say: "We are doing such a good job because in three years we are only going to overspend by $25 billion". They do not understand that.

To stand here today and say the budget reflects what Canadians want is hogwash. Because the government was elected as a majority government, Liberals should not misunderstand the fact that Canadians wanted to throw out the Conservatives, not necessarily elect the Liberals. Everything the government does here should not be construed by government members as being politically and morally right on behalf of the majority of Canadians. If the government makes that assumption, it will be joining the other party from Jurassic Park.

Canadians have been making more comments. "Continued deficits do not resolve the problem. There is $150 million going to countries heavily in debt. What is Canada?" They do not understand why that is being done. If we seriously look at all the cuts and reductions in expenditures, how come that is still there? They do not understand that if a budget is so tough and strong, why was an increase given to the department of Indian affairs? Why is there such a pot of dollars that nobody is sure where the money is going? All they are asking for is a little accountability. Rather than accounting for the money in that department's budget, more is added to it. One only has to look at the Auditor General's report to see that there is something desperately wrong in that department.

I remember the first several months we sat in the House the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development said: "We are going to do away with the department". What happens in 1995? Money is added to it. Someone can stand in the House and say: "We are only reflecting what Canadians want". Go across the country and ask Canadians if they want more money put into the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. You will get an answer.

Some other comments were made by these folks: "Let people look after themselves and not government". We only have to look as far as the regional development programs to see what they are talking about. It does not take much to see what is wrong with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. It has been giving grants, both by Liberals and Conservatives, to virtually everybody to buy votes.

We convinced the minister in charge of ACOA to drop the granting process within ACOA. What does he do? He said: "We are going to give loans and ask that they be paid back". Last year alone the government wrote off $50 million in loans. What is the difference between $50 million on loans that are written off and a grant?