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House of Commons Hansard #203 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was milk.

Topics

FisheriesOral Question Period

May 17th, 1995 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

A key recommendation of the Fraser report was that the federal government not expand the native only commercial fishery. In his rush to conclude the AFS agreements by Monday, the minister expanded this native only commercial fishery to include early chinook salmon on the Fraser River.

Can the minister explain why he broke his commitment to follow John Fraser's recommendation not to expand the AFS commercial fishery?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Delta for his question. I know of his interest in the protection of the salmon resource.

However, the member will know that what the Fraser panel reflected on, both in the report and in the press conference which was held, was the need to ensure that early sales agreements were signed in order to ensure that proper management routines were put in place.

I would have thought that the member would have wanted to stand in his place, given his comments on this matter in the past, and reflect out loud on the fact that this year for the first time since sales have been implemented we have agreements in place fully two months earlier than was the case last year. All of these agreements were reached by the May 15 deadline put in place by the federal government. As a consequence of the early agreements, we will have the best managed, best conservation regime in place for salmon this year for the sales programs in British Columbia.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is quite correct. Mr. Fraser recommended the early signing of the native fishing agreements so that workable enforcement and management regimes would be established prior to the opening of the first fishery.

However, by allowing the native commercial fishery to start within days of signing the agreements the advantage of the early signing is lost.

Why are we proceeding at this time? Why is the minister giving up the advantage of the early signing? Why is he ignoring his commitment to implement Mr. Fraser's recommendation?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Brian Tobin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, no objective individual who believes that it is possible for aboriginal people to make and keep agreements in good faith, and who believes it is possible for the people who represent the First Nations and the Government of Canada to sit down and come to reasonable terms on a reasonable sales agreement, would come to the conclusion that having reached agreements two months early, having met the requirements of the Fraser panel report and having negotiated in good faith, is a matter to complain about. That is a matter to celebrate.

I say to the member, let us have some faith in the people who first settled this land, the First Nations people. Let us work with them in good faith and make this agreement work.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

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

Last week, the auditor general reported that the Department of the Environment has not established a program for the disposal the federal government's PCBs, nor has it estimated the total cost of such an operation. The auditor general also confirmed that no funds have been earmarked to cover the cost.

Since the Minister of the Environment has committed herself to disposing of the federal government's PCBs before 1996, will she tell us what the total cost of this operation, which supposedly is already in progress, will be, and where the departments should cut in order to find the necessary funds to meet her objectives?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the federal government decided to put an end to the never ending search for a site precisely because $20 million was spent on the fruitless search for a federal site between 1988 and 1994. I felt that this expenditure related to the green plan was no longer justifiable, and I asked Public Works Canada to resume sending these products to Swan Hills in Alberta from the month of March onwards.

Negotiations are ongoing and, as the former minister of the environment will explain to the hon. member, the cost of disposing of PCBs is not Environment Canada's responsibility. Each department that is responsible for PCBs must pay the cost involved in shipping them to Swan Hills. In addition, under the supervision of Public Works, we are already negotiating with the Department of National Defence, among others, to also ensure that we will not have to absorb the storage costs and to ensure that we will be able to dispose of all of the federal government's PCBs by the end of 1996, as was promised in the green plan.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister is looking for sites, we can show her the ones we found last week.

How does the minister expect us to believe her promises when her colleague from Public Works has said not only has no contract been negotiated with Bovar Inc, the company which will be disposing of the PCBs, but also that it is still much too early to forecast the related costs or the timing of the disposal of the federal government's PCBs?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why I told the House last week that I took the decision at the end of March to stop spending federal money on the search for a site in addition to Swan Hills. I turned to negotiations instead. That is what I explained last week.

The Department of Public Works is in the process of negotiating with each department to find out the quantities of PCBs and where they will be shipped, and I am certain that negotiations have already begun in the Atlantic provinces. The hon. member for London issued a press release in March regarding PCBs and the disposal plan-

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

Maybe you could not care less whether the PCBs will be disposed of. We will dispose of them. They are going to be shipped to Swan Hills, and the federal government will see to it.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Guy Arseneault Liberal Restigouche—Chaleur, NB

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

Brunswick Mining and Smelting is actively considering moving its operations from Dalhousie, New Brunswick.

Can the minister tell the citizens of Dalhousie who will be responsible for the estimated $50 million bill for the environmental restoration of the site and surrounding waters? Can the minister guarantee that she will use all the resources of her department to ensure that the company will be held responsible for the complete restoration of this site?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the points made by the auditor general last week on contaminated sites, it is the view of the government that when a company occupies a site and has a signed leasing arrangement with the

Government of Canada, if ever it vacates the site it will leave the site in the condition in which it was found.

It is our belief that the restoration project could cost in the millions of dollars. We intend to ensure that if any decision is made about a change in location of this operation, all the costs of the rehabilitation of the site will be borne by the company that is responsible for making the mess, not the taxpayers of Canada.

Fur IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, animal rights activists seem to be convincing our trading partners in Europe to ban furs imported from countries which use leg hold traps. In Canada such a ban apparently would affect about 100,000 jobs, including 80,000 trappers of whom about half are native people.

I would like to ask the Minister for International Trade whether it is true that our only strategy in the situation is to seek delays beyond the current proposed deadline of January 1, 1996.

Fur IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke North Ontario

Liberal

Roy MacLaren LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, earlier indications from the European Union had been that the proposed regulation would be delayed beyond January 1, 1996.

Because of the more recent indications of the European Union's likelihood of moving on the issue, we are pursuing on an urgent basis with the European Union, with the United States and Russia, with other countries directly involved in the issue, to design and agree on what is called a more humane trap so that we can resolve the issue during the current calendar year.

However, I acknowledge to the member opposite that time is short. We shall need to consider as a fallback position, if the European Union does act, whether we would seek one of the various forms of trade remedies that are open to us.

Fur IndustryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. I am glad he realizes that time is of the essence.

As a former trapper I can verify that the Conibear trap which kills the animal instantly rather than inflicting the suffering of leg hold traps, has been available for many years.

I ask the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern development what his department is doing to encourage Canada's trappers to change over to non-leg hold traps as soon as possible, in order to avoid a major blow to the local economies which such a ban on Canadian furs would cause?

Fur IndustryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, as well as assisting the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of Foreign Affairs wherever we can in whatever format and whenever we can to get the matter settled because it affects industry, we have put significant amounts of money-I do not have the exact amount-into training and into the development of a more humane trap.

The problem is that we think no matter how humane the trap is there will still be European backlash against animal furs. We are doing our best to overcome it but it is a problem. To say it is not a problem would be misleading the hon. member.

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Surprisingly enough, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. On Monday, the Quebec employment minister announced the unilateral funding of Phase I of a labour adjustment measure in response to the mass layoffs in the clothing industry. The Quebec government would spend close to $7 million to provide assistance to these older workers, while the federal government will not contribute a penny.

How does the minister explain his stubborn refusal to modify the Program for Older Worker Adjustment or POWA, which is now putting Montreal at a disadvantage, by extending it to layoffs involving 20 workers or more instead of 100 as is now the case?

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the Government of Quebec is offering supplementary assistance to older laid off workers in the clothing industry, but it is not correct to say that the federal government is not involved.

Under PATA, as the member knows, we cost share at a level of 70 per cent a major program for older workers in the province of Quebec as we do in all provinces. The province of Quebec agrees to the criteria of that program.

In the last month or so we have provided assistance to seven or eight major factories that laid off older workers in the clothing industry. I would be glad to give the hon. member a full list of joint federal-provincial support for older workers in the Montreal area.

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the minister must know that the federal government is not investing a penny in the program I am referring to.

I will ask my supplementary question slowly to make sure the minister understands. Now that the Quebec employment minister has announced her intention of initiating talks with Ottawa to convince the federal government to make a financial contribution to Phase II, should it be implemented, does the minister promise that he will acquiesce to his Quebec counterpart's request?

Program For Older Worker AdjustmentOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, to make sure that each of us understands what is going on, I point out that under the present program for older workers Montreal has 4 per cent of the Canadian population and receives over 11 per cent of the full support for older workers right across Canada, which I think is a substantial contribution that we are making.

We have put forward as one major element in looking at social reform in the country how we could provide greater assistance to older workers. All we need now is the co-operation of the Quebec government to join us in that enterprise. Then we can jointly arrive at an effective answer.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday I asked the minister of Indian Affairs what he had done about serious allegations regarding the misuse of band assets, capital project funds and housing moneys on the Yellow Quill Reserve.

I am now in receipt of a letter from a band member who says that the Indian affairs department has finally admitted that the $2 million deficit was due to "incompetent bookkeeping".

The band may have a financial management plan in place, but band members want to know what the minister has done to determine where the missing millions went.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I believe I responded to the question last week. I would be pleased to take the member's letter under consideration. Again I emphasize that there are 605 First Nations out there. Over 80 per cent run their affairs well, and I never hear the Reform saying that is good. Some 152 of the remaining 200 have remedial action plans in place and we are working with them.

We are working with the people to make sure they do the things the Reform allegedly wants. I quote the leader of the Reform Party when he said that his goal was to dismantle and decentralize my department's function, funding and responsibility and transfer them to local aboriginal agencies of government.

If the Reformers are complaining, that is good. That is democracy. At least they are showing an interest in what is happening.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the minister will take the letter under consideration, because it is addressed to him.

The minister of Indian affairs cannot continue to ignore band members requesting financial accountability of their chiefs and council. As the minister knows, this is not an isolated case despite what he claims.

To pay for the so-called incompetent bookkeeping band members must forgo much needed capital projects and social programs. They have called on the minister to uphold his fiduciary obligation to them.

My supplementary question is for the same minister. What steps will the minister take to hold chiefs and council financially accountable to all band members and guarantee that abuses like this will never happen again?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, a letter is being drafted, in response to that letter, to the member. A full review is under way in this instance and I wanted to advise the member of it.

I repeat that members of the Reform Party never look at the good side of what is happening out there. They take isolated cases like they did on immigration and on anything else in the House that they oppose, such as the gun laws. I say they should go and talk with the people they represent. I can assure them that most people want to do the honourable and just thing for native people to get true self-government and to bring some dignity into the process rather than single out individuals in the House and come close to defaming them.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Jerry Pickard Liberal Essex—Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

In recent weeks we have read about the projected closures of all agricultural centres across our rural communities. These services provide a very vital service for agriculture in Essex and Kent counties as well as other rural areas.

What will the minister do to maintain agricultural employment services across Canada?