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House of Commons Hansard #210 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was languages.

Topics

TransportationStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Liberal Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is national transportation day and next week is national transportation week in Canada.

Organizations have scheduled a variety of transportation related activities and seminars in major cities around the country, including Hamilton, Ontario, where the ninth annual international Great Lakes-St. Lawrence mayors conference will discuss, among other matters, transportation issues.

The theme of national transportation week is "Careers in Transportation: Opportunities, Training, Skills". As the Minister of Transport has said, the coming century will bring new pressure to increase Canada's productivity. This pressure will have an enormous impact on the skilled professionals who design, build, operate, and maintain our transportation system.

Today's dedicated transportation workers are expected to be skilled in technology, management, administration, and public relations. As we pay tribute to the skilled and dedicated people who keep our transportation system running, we must also ensure that those who succeed them have new skills needed for the 21st century.

I also want to congratulate Mr. Geoffrey Elliot, the national transportation person of the year. Without his timeless efforts Canadians would not have the many benefits resulting from the recent open skies agreement with the United States.

Atlantic FisheryStatements By Members

June 2nd, 1995 / 11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Leblanc Liberal Cape Breton Highlands—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has emerged as one of the real success stories in the Atlantic fishery.

This year it will generate more than $275 million in economic benefits in a few short weeks. Success presents a tough policy challenge for the minister of fisheries, who has to set the rules for managing this resource. He must ensure that (a) the snow crab stock is not overfished; (b) the number allowed to fish this resource can make a reasonable return; and (c) the economic benefits from this common property resource are shared equitably.

Determining how many fishermen can participate in the snow crab fishery and what the size of their individual quotas should be has proven to be among the thorniest aspects of reconciling these policy objectives. This year the minister has adopted a novel and ingenious approach for dealing with this difficult problem. He has allocated a portion of the total allowable catch of snow crab to a number of fishermen's associations and has challenged them to find a way to fish their allocation safely and responsibly and to share the benefits fairly among those who do not have regular snow crab licences.

The fishermen are rising to the challenge. They have formed companies and worked out harvesting and processing strategies to share the benefits of this temporary allocation.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, a week after the latest escalation in the conflict in Bosnia, when 370 peacekeepers, including 55 Canadians, were taken hostage by Serbian forces, there has been a flurry of statements and meetings which failed to produce any concrete results leading to the release of the hostages. This morning, the International Red Cross said that the Bosnian Serbs told them they would release the hostages unconditionally, either today or tomorrow.

Could the Deputy Prime Minister confirm the statement by the Red Cross that the Bosnian Serbs will release the 370 peacekeepers who are being kept hostage sometime during the next few hours, although Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said yesterday that no hostages could be released without guarantees that all air strikes would be suspended?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we received communications mentioning that a few hostages might be released today, but at 11.13 a.m., we were unable to confirm whether that was the case.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence confirmed yesterday that Canada was negotiating with the Bosnian Serbs to allow a rotation of the 45 Canadian peacekeepers being held hostage at their observation post. Meanwhile, in Europe the Minister of Foreign Affairs was saying, with Canada's allies, that there would be no negotiations with the Serbs regarding the hostages.

That being said, who speaks for the Canadian government? Is it the Minister of Foreign Affairs or is it the Minister of National Defence, who said that conducting negotiations would be tantamount to saying the Bosnian Serbs have the right to take hostages? Who is telling the truth?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada does not negotiate with the Bosnian Serb government.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Deputy Prime Minister should say so to the Minister of National Defence who said yesterday in the House, as did the Prime Minister-just read Hansard -that negotiations were being conducted locally to obtain the release of hostages.

In any case, the Prime Minister was delighted with the position taken by the UN Secretary General on redefining the mandate of the peacekeepers in Bosnia, and he went on to say that this had been Canada's position since last Sunday. However, need I remind members that although it has been questioned about this all week, the government has steadfastly refused to announce its intentions?

Since tomorrow there will be a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Paris, mainly to discuss the French plan, and since a NATO plane was shot down this morning, while flying over Bosnia, could the government tell Canadians now, before tomorrow's meeting, what Canada's position will be on the French proposals?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I would like to underscore that the claim made by the hon. member is simply not true. In comments made to date we have stated quite clearly that we are not negotiating with the Bosnian Serbs.

If the hon. member's question is reviewed, he speaks about the issue of rotation. In the normal activities of the team on the ground there is a rotation of troops. That rotation is being discussed on an ongoing and soldier to soldier basis in Visoko. That is certainly consistent with the position we have taken as a government.

AgustaOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Defence and Industry officials confirmed yesterday that the government is preparing to spend $2.6 billion on the purchase of 47 new helicopters. The main supplier of this equipment vying for the contract is no other than Agusta, the very company facing accusations of bribery in Europe.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible for enforcing the government's code of ethics in this House. Will the government commit to excluding Agusta from all new contracts until we get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding the EH-101 contract, as demanded by her colleague, the Minister of Human Resources Development, in 1993?

AgustaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, no contract has been authorized by the government.

AgustaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Deputy Prime Minister, who is responsible, as I said earlier, for enforcing the government's code of ethics in this House when the Prime Minister is away.

Given that Agusta just hired the Liberal Party of Canada's former communications director, Daniel Despins, to lobby for the sale of new helicopters to the Canadian government, and given that all cabinet members know him well, how can the Deputy Prime Minister not commit to launching an investigation into the awarding of the EH-101 contract to Agusta before the government does any more business with the company, which is, as I already said, currently facing corruption charges in Europe?

AgustaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I thought I made it quite clear to the member. No contract has been approved either by the Minister of National Defence or by the government.

The member quotes unnamed sources within the bureaucracy. It is not the bureaucracy that will make this decision and no decision has been made about any contract by any member of cabinet.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the defence minister said he was looking forward to finding out how the U.S. forces would be deployed in Bosnia. Today the world got a clear indication of where the U.S. is headed when one of its F-16 fighter planes was shot down over Bosnia earlier this morning. Everyone knows this act could escalate the conflict even further.

For the second day in a row, my question is this. Will the government assure the House that it will not let our troops get dragged into a war for which they are neither equipped nor mandated?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, we have confirmed that an American plane was shot down. Obviously the situation is very volatile.

A number of Canadian hostages are being held in various parts of the territory in question. The prudent thing for the Government of Canada to do to protect the safety of the hostages is to go to the meeting in Paris tomorrow with a clear mandate. Our number one priority will be to protect those Canadian soldiers and to ensure that any action taken in a collective way will ensure the safety of the hostages and the soldiers who are on the ground right now.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, civil wars are very messy and they get even worse when other countries join in the fighting, and the situation is escalating in Bosnia.

Given that our troops are not equipped for a high intensity conflict, what is the exact position the Canadian government will take tomorrow in Paris? Will it be the position of the foreign affairs minister or the defence minister, because a definite question has to be asked?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite clear as to the options the hon. member is offering. I have underlined how concerned we are about the more than 50 Canadians either being detained or being held hostage.

At this point our main concern when we go to Paris tomorrow is to ensure that any collective action decided on by all of the participating parties will first and foremost ensure the safety of those soldiers who are on the ground.

I am sure all Canadians want the Government of Canada to ensure the safety of those troops who are currently being held hostage and others who are on the ground.

BosniaOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are all concerned about the hostages. We want them released. We want all Canadians withdrawn, including the hostages.

We welcome the news that Bosnian Serbs will be releasing the hostages tomorrow without condition. The Reform Party hopes that will happen. There would not have been hostages if we had acted on this much sooner.

Given the escalation of the situation in Bosnia and the potential for further hostage taking, will the government make a commitment to withdraw our troops once the hostages are released?

BosniaOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I did say that at about 11.13 a.m. we had the opportunity to check the status. At the moment we have no confirmation of the release of hostages. We hope that news is forthcoming.

Our first responsibility should not be to outline our negotiating stance for political gain. Rather it should be to ensure that when we go to Paris, all the parties that have troops on the ground have a chance to make a full exploration of all of the possibilities on the table.

That is certainly what the Minister of National Defence will be doing in Paris tomorrow.

Human RightsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

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

In its decision last Friday in the case of Egan v. Canada , the Supreme Court of Canada found that sexual orientation is a profoundly personal characteristic, which is either immutable or alterable only at unacceptable personal cost and which, therefore, comes under the protection of section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada considers discrimination based on sexual orientation unconstitutional, will the minister not acknowledge that he has a duty to table his bill to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act by the end of the present session and thus make all discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal? A little courage, Mr. Speaker.

Human RightsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has referred to the recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in which the court considered the equality provisions in section 15 of the charter as they relate to sexual orientation.

For the first time the court pointed out that sexual orientation is an analogous ground under the charter for the purposes of that section. We are considering the judgment. More than one judgment was issued by the court in its analysis and the judges expressed a variety of views.

Quite apart from the judgment, the government has long recognized the importance of amending the human rights act to provide that sexual orientation cannot be a basis on which discrimination occurs. We have long since made the commitment to do just that.

Human RightsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Minister of Justice that the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms has prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1978 and that he should use it as an example.

Are we to understand that, despite the very clear decision by the Supreme Court, the government will not change its policy with respect to homosexuals, lesbians and same sex spouses, a policy which, by the fact of doing nothing, denies the rights accorded by the country's justice system to all these Canadians?

Human RightsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in fairness the member will know that the judgment of the court was released a week ago yesterday. As I mentioned, there are judgments both ways expressing a variety of views with respect to these matters and what flows from them.

The government should do what it is doing. It has reaffirmed its commitment to amend the human rights act. It is also going to look at the implications of the judgment. It is going to consult with caucus and determine the position that we will take on the wide variety of issues that arise on the subject of sexual orientation.

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in dealing with the administration of the justice ministry, the minister insisted yesterday that "when the government goes to the legal profession to hire agents to help us with legal cases, the fundamental criteria is competence and merit".

That being the case, can the justice minister explain to Canadians the appointments recently made in the revenue minister's riding in Victoria. How does the appointment of three firms with little or no experience in drug prosecution and the termination of a firm with 20-years' experience fit his stated criteria of competence and merit?

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in British Columbia, as in the case of all other provinces where legal agents were appointed, suggested names for appointment were sent to the regional offices of the Department of Justice where they were vetted. We asked the regional justice offices whether they were satisfied the persons under consideration were competent for the work that was intended.

In the case of the agents under discussion, as in the case of all others who were appointed, the regional offices expressed their view that the individuals were competent for the work that was intended to be given to those lawyers.

If the hon. member will look at the record of agents appointed across the country he will find that in many cases agents appointed during the last regime are still doing work. Their appointments have been continued by the government because we thought they were appropriate to carry on the work in those cases.

Department Of JusticeOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in news reports from Victoria an experienced undercover officer commenting on the justice department's termination of a firm with 20 years of drug prosecution experience has said:

It is a complete and utter farce. We are losing very experienced and very knowledgeable prosecutors who are used to dealing at all levels of drug enforcement. This is a definite blow to drug enforcement.

Public safety should never be compromised by political patronage. It begs the question: was the justice minister made aware of the very close connections between the revenue minister's political interests and the appointed firms?