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House of Commons Hansard #211 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was provinces.

Topics

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking specifically about the situation in Victoria and the three firms there with absolute ties to the revenue minister.

Will the minister now do the right thing and rescind these obvious patronage, political appointments and award the contracts on the basis of merit alone?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, these agents were appointed because they are competent to do the work they have been asked to do.

The hon. member should also observe as he looks at the government's record of appointing legal agents the changes we have made with respect to training new agents, the clarity in the terms and conditions governing their appointment, and that we are addressing the issue of conflicts which has never before been regulated by government. We are ensuring the people who represent the government in court abide by those standards in respect of not only competence but also conflict of interest. That is a stride forward.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

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

One of the nine demands made by the Quebec women who marched against poverty was the creation of an accessible manpower training network. As all stakeholders in the labour market in Quebec know, Quebec's labour sector has unanimously demanded exclusive control over job training for the past six years.

Does the minister realize that this extraordinary march against poverty organized by Quebec women clearly and dramatically demonstrates the effects of the federal government's repeated refusal to give Quebec exclusive power over manpower training?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member draws a somewhat curious conclusion. The fact is that in the past year alone, over 50,000 women in the province of Quebec have benefited directly from federal employment training programs. It is the largest training program being offered to women throughout the country. We are making a very serious effort to respond to the real needs of women not just in Quebec but across Canada.

In this effort it would be much more important if we could find the ways to work together. I am sure the women who were in the march this weekend would want governments to work together to co-operate and collaborate, not to work in terms of setting up separate jurisdictions, separate kinds of identity but to co-operate. That really is the spirit by which we can conquer poverty in this country.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, Quebec has unanimously demanded power over manpower training. And women, some of them single parents, some of them stuck in low paying jobs, some of them re-entering the workforce after having raised their families, made the statement yesterday that they need a co-ordinated job training policy and they are asking Quebec to provide it.

Will the minister acknowledge that until Quebec receives exclusive power over manpower training, women will continue to be cruelly disadvantaged?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad the hon. member twists the really deep and sincere interest and emotion of the women to try to turn it into an argument for separatism.

What we offered a year ago is exactly what the member said. We offered to the province of Quebec, as we did to all provinces, a fully co-ordinated labour market program. We would do the planning together. We would have the guichets uniques together. We would work out the programs together. The province of Quebec has yet to respond.

HighwaysOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the last Parliament a Tory minister diverted money from a federal-provincial program to a road in his riding. I would like to quote from Hansard : ``The $20 million gift of federal taxpayers' money spent on a project not even related to the purposes of the

fund in the riding of the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is appalling".

Since these words were spoken by the current public works minister six years ago, I would like to ask the minister to stand and explain what has changed. Why is Liberal pork barrelling acceptable to him on highway 104 but appalling when the Tories did it?

HighwaysOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

London East Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the government and the Minister of Transport have answered this question time and time again.

Highways are under provincial jurisdiction. It is up to the provincial minister of transport to determine the priorities of where he wants to put those highway funds. This government obliges what the province asks for and that is what we have essentially done.

HighwaysOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I guess we are not going to get that fellow up here to talk about this. Let me quote the public works minister once again. This is a recent quote: "Drivers had better get used to the idea of toll booths on the Trans-Canada if they expect major highway projects to proceed".

My question is for the Prime Minister if he would like to get up. In addition to the recent tax increases on gas, are we to expect these tolls on the Trans-Canada because his ministers are using the highway improvement money to buy votes in their own ridings?

HighwaysOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

London East Ontario

Liberal

Joe Fontana LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, once again to educate the Reform Party, highways are under provincial jurisdiction. To toll a highway is the responsibility of the provincial government. Not to toll a highway is the responsibility of the provincial government. Surely the Reform Party, which calls for more autonomy for the provinces, would not want this federal government to intrude on provincial jurisdiction.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

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

In 1993, Canada's child poverty rate was the second highest among industrialized countries. Last year, more than one in five Canadian children were poor. And all that the federal government has on its social program reform agenda are cuts, cuts, cuts.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the problem of child poverty is caused by their parents' poverty and that the measures taken by the government since it was elected only push families closer to the brink of poverty, in particular by making many of them ineligible for unemployment insurance?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, we have said right from the beginning that one of the real purposes for undertaking a major modernization of our social programs is to tackle the whole problem of poverty faced by women and children. The beginning of that was to create the proper economic climate.

I would like to point out to the hon. member that in the past year alone there has been an increase in employment in the province of Quebec. Over 42,000 new jobs have been created for women in Quebec. That is one important way to provide economic security. At the same time, as the hon. member well knows, we have put forward an offer and a willingness to engage in the cost sharing of a new child care program to enable women to more easily get back into the workforce.

We are certainly open and willing to have discussions with the provinces. We have already set in motion a program with the aboriginal First Nations of this country to start a child care program. We would certainly like to continue that work in discussions with the provinces. We are making an effort.

The most important way the hon. member can help in the question of getting a combined collaborative effort on the issue of poverty for both women and children is to work to make sure that the social reform goes ahead in the quickest, most effective way possible.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec, 245,000 children currently live in families drawing social assistance benefits. Will the Prime Minister admit that his $7 billion in cuts to transfer payments and the relentless cuts to the unemployment insurance system, which push more and more families on to social assistance, exacerbate the already glaring problem we have with poverty?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is the same question. As the hon. member will probably know, in the House of Commons report which was tabled in the House just last fall, it was indicated that one way of tackling that problem was to give the provinces more flexibility.

They could then establish a broader range of incentives and support particularly for single mothers who want to get back into the workforce.

I can indicate to the hon. member that we have been discussing with Quebec government officials the undertaking of strategic initiatives by which we could help with the APPORT program, a very successful program in Quebec, to aid and abet in those areas. We are simply waiting for a reply, again on our willingness to co-operate in those areas.

We are making efforts. Fundamentally, we have to recognize that to bring about a real attack against the question of poverty is going to require the efforts of all levels of government, business, labour, social groups and women's groups. No one single jurisdiction can do it alone. We must work together, as an ensemble.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Since he was appointed to the cabinet, the minister has attended a number of fundraising dinners organized by Richard Gervais, a lobbyist and Liberal bagman. As payback for his fundraising efforts, the minister has rewarded Gervais with departmental contracts.

Having helped pay off the minister's election debts, how many untendered contracts has Gervais or his company received as a reward and at what cost to Canadian taxpayers?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure whether this question concerns the responsibilities of my portfolio. Of course, in recent years, I have participated in many fundraising events, as we all do, and I will continue to do so.

However, I can assure you that the rest is allegation. I would be happy to respond and provide our colleague with all the details, if she wants information on Mr. Gervais's contracts.

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, Gervais has received no less than two contracts from the minister. As a lobbyist, Gervais has at least one client who receives grants from the Department of Canadian Heritage. It is a blatant conflict of interest for the minister to be issuing contracts to his bagman and grants to the clients of his bagman.

Why is the government shamelessly allowing its ministers to hand out untendered contracts to Liberal fundraisers?

Government ContractsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Laval West Québec

Liberal

Michel Dupuy LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, our colleague knows very well that Elections Canada has a system set up to provide this type of information and establish the rules of the game. These rules have consistently been followed to the letter.

BosniaOral Question Period

June 5th, 1995 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

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

Over the weekend, NATO decided to establish a rapid reaction force under UN command, which, for now, could include up to 10,000 men. France and Great Britain, among others, have already offered to participate. In Bosnia, the Serbs continue to hold more than 250 peacekeepers hostage, including 12 Canadians.

Would the Prime Minister bring us up to date on the situation of the Canadian peacekeepers held hostage and on the status of the negotiations toward their release?

BosniaOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we were delighted to learn over the weekend of the release of many of the hostages. A number of hostages remain, including one being held outside Pale. The others are near Visoko, and we are in contact with them. We are talking with local Serb and Bosnian Serb authorities in the hopes that these hostages will be freed as quickly as possible, like the others. However, I have nothing else to report on this at the moment.

As regards the decision by the defence ministers of the countries involved, the ministers met in Paris, and Canada's Minister of National Defence and Chief of the Defence Staff, John de Chastelain, were present. The proposal was made. However, the Government of Canada has not yet decided to take part. We will see whether our participation would be beneficial or required, in the coming days and weeks.

BosniaOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned this morning that Canada is preparing an operation for the withdrawal of 800 Canadian peacekeepers from Bosnia.

Are we to understand that Canada does not intend to participate in the rapid reaction force, preferring to withdraw its peacekeepers from Bosnia unilaterally under operation Cobra?

BosniaOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has joined with the other governments that have troops in Bosnia, Croatia or elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia, to draw up plans for the troops to be withdrawn safely, should their withdrawal be required at some point.

This weekend, the President of the United States sought the support of Congress and the American people for the possible

intervention of American troops to help the peacekeeping forces in Yugoslavia in the event of a withdrawal operation.

There is no question of withdrawing at the moment. We must, however, always be prepared, should we have to withdraw, and this is what we are doing at the moment. There are no plans for a unilateral withdrawal from Bosnia at the moment. Our troops are in Bosnia because we were given a mandate by the United Nations. As I have said in this House, we complete our United Nations mandates. In this instance, we are beginning a six-month mandate.

Public ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Ian Murray Liberal Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The minister has announced changes in the way term employees in the public service will be treated by the government in the downsizing period. This appears to be unfair to term employees who have close to five years of service and would otherwise be eligible to become permanent public servants.

Can the minister tell us how the government will ensure that term employees are protected?

Public ServiceOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

St. Boniface Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the government wants to ensure there is a level playing field between determinate and indeterminate employees. It wants to be fair and up front.

For the first time there will be a formal written notice given in cases of layoff or end of employment. Also for the first time there will be access to transition services for employees with two years of service or more. That will help them in relocating and finding other employment.

When a term employee nears five years of service there will be less probability of losing employment because of it. That is all in the spirit of fairness and ensuring a level playing field for everyone.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the illegal Indian blockade of the Douglas Lake ranch continues today despite the fact that the RCMP has had an injunction enforcement order for several days now.

It appears the only significant thing, as we have read, the RCMP has done has been to offer the band's chief as of yesterday an eagle feather and some tobacco.

While non-natives continue to be held hostage by the illegal blockade, maybe the Solicitor General could tell the House exactly who has directed the RCMP not to enforce the injunction order and remove the illegal blockade?