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House of Commons Hansard #217 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was guns.

Topics

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we would really like to know what the question is. They came up in December with a scheme that the people very quickly got wise to. This whole scheme was nothing but smoke and mirrors. They then tried to change directions, so that the December program was already over by March. Quebecers will probably get wise to the new June scheme by October. Everyone will understand that the opposition leader's question is purely hypothetical, because I know that if Quebecers are asked, "Do you want to separate from Canada?", they will always vote to stay in Canada. I am convinced of that.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister uses the word "scheme" to refer to what is the clear and straightforward expression of an economic responsibility initiative in the mutual interest of the people of both Canada and Quebec. He himself will have to take note of that after Quebecers vote Yes to sovereignty.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

I ask the Prime Minister, who is one of the champions of federalism without any ideas, any thoughts or anything else to offer, how he can claim to be addressing Quebecers' desire for change, when he and other federalists have nothing to offer Quebec but the status quo, the federal system that has always been denounced by Quebec federalists, as well as resignation and increasing encroachment on Quebec's areas of jurisdiction?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition rose in the House today to explain to Quebecers: You will vote for sovereignty, but you will keep Canadian citizenship, the Canadian currency, the Canadian passport, the economic and political union with Canada. The only thing missing in his bag of tricks is what I said in Trois-Rivières: "We in the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois will keep the name "Canada". You can find another one for the rest of Canada, because Canada is so great that we want to keep the name Canada for ourselves".

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I will take the next two questions.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

An hon. member

Interesting.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Prime Minister is not interested in what happens to the economic interests of Quebec after sovereignty. I want to ask him whether, if only for the sake of the economic interests of Ontario and the rest of Canada and the need to maintain trade relations between the parties, he would not feel obliged as Prime Minister to sit down and negotiate with Mr. Parizeau who would have a mandate from the people of Quebec?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am willing to meet Mr. Parizeau at any time to discuss the concerns of Quebecers: job creation, economic growth, and improving the situation with regard to public finances. That is what people want to discuss. I only hope that the Leader of the Opposition will tell Quebecers that their proposal is about separation. That is what they want.

They would have Quebecers believe that once they have separated, they will still be part of Canada. This is a mirage, a lot of smoke and mirrors and shows a lack of intellectual honesty.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Let the Leader of the Opposition rise in the House and tell Quebecers and Canadians what he told the Americans: "Please realize I am not a sovereignist, I am a separatist". Let him repeat that to all Quebecers, and he will lose his referendum.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with respect, I deplore the fact that the Prime Minister should dismiss as intellectual dishonesty the wishes of a people that for 300 years has been working towards the culmination of its destiny as a nation and will do so democratically and lawfully.

I want to ask the Prime Minister, when this fall the votes are counted on the evening of the referendum and Quebecers, as I hope they will, vote yes, on the basis of our present mandate, I want to ask him how he sees his responsibilities as custodian of the economic interests of the part of Canada he will still represent?

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my position has been known to all Canadians for a long time. I am a federalist, and I believe in a united Canada where Quebec will feel at home.

I am not the one who has to do some virage to try to find words to hide the truth from the people who will be voting. I know the people of Quebec want to stay in Canada. All the polls say that. Mr. Parizeau came with his astuce in December. That was a flop by the month of March. Then came the Leader of the Opposition who tried to hide the truth. He made a virage. Today the virage is back to square one. He is a separatist and he does not have the guts to say that to the nation.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to change the subject to the separation of one of the government ministers from the cabinet.

When we first raised the issue of the heritage minister's dollars for contracts dinner, we were told that it was merely a routine fundraiser to pay off the minister's campaign debts. This was the story of the organizer, Richard Gervais, and was confirmed by many of the guests who attended the dinner.

Now we learn from Elections Canada that the Minister of Canadian Heritage had no election debts to pay. In fact his receipts and reimbursements minus his expenses left him $25,000 ahead. The dinner was held, therefore, for other purposes, which will go undisclosed until the government releases all the information surrounding the minister's dinner.

My question for the Prime Minister: Will the government table the complete list of who was invited to the heritage minister's dinner and who contributed the money for what purposes? The Prime Minister knows full well that Elections Canada documents will not provide the information.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, whether the Minister of Canadian Heritage had debts or no debts is irrelevant.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

We used to have debt, but we do not have debt any more. For the last eight years I raised money to pay the debt. When we raise money it is to pay the debt and to have enough money for the next election. The minister raised money for the Liberal Party that will be used in the next election. That money will compete with the money the leader of the Reform Party is raising when he has his own private dinners around the country.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's obsession with protecting a party loyalist is clouding his judgment.

The heritage minister violated the federal code of ethics, not once, not twice, but three times. He targeted departmental clients for donations. He rewarded some with heritage contracts and appointments, placing himself in direct conflict of interest. Now there is the question of raising money under cloudy pretences to pay off debts that did not exist. Canadians are right to wonder what kind of example this sets for other ministers.

My supplementary is to the ultimate arbiter of government ethics. Since the Prime Minister is unwilling to discipline the Minister of Canadian Heritage, does this mean that other ministers are free to hold similar fundraising dinners that target departmental clients?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, ministers are advised as I am that they have an obligation, like any other member of Parliament to help to raise money for the next election of the Liberal Party. They have to do it according to the rules, and the rules are very clear by Elections Canada. Every contribution has to be made public if it is more than $100. That is exactly what ministers are instructed to do and they are doing it. It is known by the public.

I had great success in the city of Calgary. Many of the friends of the leader of the Reform Party came, paid, and were happy with the speech.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to Mitchell Sharp, the government's original ethics adviser, the heritage minister's dinner may be just the tip of an iceberg.

Mr. Sharp said yesterday the government's code of ethics was clear and tough but that some cabinet ministers are not following it. He went on to say that business should be separate from fundraising to eliminate the appearance of conflict of interest and that cabinet should receive a refresher course on the code of ethics.

Since the Prime Minister has personally assumed the role of ethics counsellor, which other ministers are not following the government's guidelines? And will they be invited to an ethics summer course, which Mr. Sharp advises?