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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

Quebec SovereigntyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, a new propaganda tool has recently been added to the list of separatist gadgets. Last Thursday, the PQ government in Quebec activated a new toll-free line to answer questions from the public on the future of an independent Quebec.

Listening to the answers provided to any question dealing with a sovereign Quebec, the caller soon starts to wonder if he or she did not make a mistake and dial the number for Cheerful Anonymous instead.

This latest gimmick, which will cost Quebec taxpayers the modest sum of $200,000 for a single month of use, gives a historic advantage to the PQ and the Bloc Quebecois.

This way, they can claim that every "Yes, hello" is another vote in support of their plans for separation.

Time AllocationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, in opposition the Liberals howled at Brian Mulroney with righteous indignation over his government's use of time allocation to ram through legislation. With such sincere compassion for democracy, one would expect this Liberal government's record in the use of time allocation to be squeaky clean compared to Mulroney. Let us compare.

Mulroney used time allocation 35 times to pass 200 bills. That is 17 per cent of his bills. Shame on him. Counting today's time allocation motion, the little guy from Shawinigan has used time allocation an unprecedented 11 times in only 59 bills. That is 19 per cent of his bills passed using time allocation, 2 per cent more than Mulroney.

Congratulations, Liberals. A parliamentary record. Does this mean that this Prime Minister is less democratic and even more arrogant than Brian Mulroney? Is that possible?

PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday afternoon, as nearly 20,000 Quebecers applauded, the march against poverty ended in a rally in front of the Quebec National Assembly building. Many things were achieved through this march. Not only did the Quebec government respond to most of the women's demands, but the march stirred solidarity and social involvement.

These women from all regions of Quebec won over their fellow Quebecers and put to shame those who had predicted a resounding flop. Women's poverty impoverishes the whole community; it must be fought with all available means.

That is the message conveyed by these women to the Quebec government and the challenge the Bloc Quebecois is putting out to the federal government, which for the past 18 months has been washing its hands of social matters and attacking the most vulnerable in our society.

Ontario ElectionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John English Liberal Kitchener, ON

Mr. Speaker, George Orwell once said that most revolutionaries are potential Tories because they imagine that everything can be put to rights by altering the shape of society.

It seems that Mike Harris and his Tories are making every effort to alter our health care system with the doublespeak of their so-called common sense revolution. Tory economic policies will never work without dire consequences to the province's health care system. The common sense revolution is really the nonsense revolution.

The Ontario Tories are promising something they cannot deliver. If they are prepared to impose a $400 million health care tax hike to cover just one of their tax promises, imagine what will remain of our health care system when the revolution is complete.

This government and the Ontario Liberal Party are committed to preserving an accessible, universal, and affordable health care system, one that does not require tax grabs or taking us into uncharted waters. We do not want and will never accept a Canada and an Ontario where there is one health care system for the rich and one for the poor.

Mike Harris' revolution is-

Ontario ElectionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Brant.

Ontario ElectionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Stewart Liberal Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the final days of the Ontario campaign voters are starting to ask very tough questions of the simple answers that are being proffered by the Conservatives.

The Conservatives say work for welfare. Ontarians are asking: "How will this work? What about single mothers? What about their children?" The simple Mike Harris answer: "Send them to the foster homes".

The Conservatives have said that they can cut taxes by 30 per cent, balance the budget, and indeed not touch health care. Ontarians ask: "How can this possibly be?" Mike Harris says: "With our new individual health care tax, of course".

The Conservatives say their plan is common sense for all, but Ontarians ask: "Who will benefit most from these tax cuts?" The simple Mike Harris answer: "Those making over $250,000".

I am glad to see that the people of Ontario are finally asking these tough questions. On June 8 the decision we make will determine our future as a province, and now is no time to give up on our Ontarian values of equity, fairness, and compassion.

PrisonsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, the results are in from the inquest into the death of Patricia Williams, the young lady who was murdered at Kent Institution by a killer who had her there on a conjugal visit.

Among the 14 recommendations were that private family visits should not be a right but an earned privilege, and offenders in maximum security institutions who have committed acts of murder due to sexually related crimes shall not be eligible for private family visits.

Perhaps the Liberals could tell us dumbfounded Canadians why in the same prison Terry Burlingham, a killer of two young women who were found murdered, raped and shot twice in the head, is privileged to have a pen pal girlfriend from another country on conjugal visits.

This is the poorest excuse for a government I have seen in decades. When will we start considering the safety of law-abiding citizens ahead of the rights of convicted criminals?

PovertyOral Question Period

June 5th, 1995 / 2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Quebec City, nearly 20,000 people were there to welcome working women who took part in the bread and roses march. These women marched to demonstrate against poverty. For the past few weeks I was visiting various regions in Quebec, and I must say that wherever you go now, poverty is very much a fact of life. According to the official statistics, more than 800,000 Quebecers live on welfare.

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. After seeing thousands of people who joined yesterday in a demonstration against poverty in Quebec, and now that 23 per cent of the labour force in Quebec is out of work, would the Prime Minister agree that his government's job creation policy has been an abysmal failure and is a clear example of inaction?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when the Canadian economy creates 430,000 jobs over a period of 17 months, one can hardly call this a monumental failure. We brought unemployment down from 11.5 per cent to 9.4 per cent. That does not mean we are satisfied. We have to keep trying to create more and more jobs. I think the budget we brought down in February showed that we intend to put public finances on a sound footing and make it very attractive to invest in Canada.

That is also why the Minister of Human Resources Development is preparing an income security reform proposals, so that we can combine our job creation programs and the way we operate our social services so the poor in Quebec and elsewhere will again have the dignity of a job, as soon as possible.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, these artificial figures cannot hide the fact that for the past five months there has been no net job creation in Canada. And that is the truth.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

I may remind the Prime Minister that the worst city in Canada in terms of poverty and dependence on government funds is Shawinigan, in his riding, and the fourth is Grand-Mère, in his riding as well.

Jobs are becoming harder and harder to find, and because of repeated cuts in unemployment insurance, fewer than 50 per cent of the unemployed today are entitled to unemployment insurance benefits, compared with nearly 80 per cent five years ago.

That being the case, could the leader of the government tell us whether his government intends to suspend the new cuts in unemployment insurance, especially those announced by his Minister of Finance in the last budget?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I just said, the Minister of Human Resources Development is working on draft proposals to ensure that resources earmarked for unemployment insurance and welfare payments can be used to create jobs or subsidize certain jobs that could not be created without government intervention.

That is precisely the focus of the government's activities at this time. We will bring legislation before Parliament this fall, and we hope the opposition will help us pass it as soon as possible.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Lac-Saint-Jean Québec

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if it is progressive legislation to take care of the needy in our society, we will support it, but if it is more of the same, we will vote against it, even if we are alone in our defence of the needy in this Parliament.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

PovertyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Lucien Bouchard Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Since the unemployment rate in Quebec still varies very little, between 11.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, and the employment rate has not moved for five months, and considering that 50,000 more people in Quebec are living on welfare and thousands of unemployed workers have now been excluded from unemployment insurance, does the leader of the government, does the Prime Minister realize that his government's record on unemployment during the first 18 months has been dismal?

PovertyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since October 1993, 173,000 new jobs were created for women in Quebec, and the unemployment rate for women in Quebec has gone down from 12.1 per cent to 10.8 per cent. That is a substantial improvement.

I must say I am delighted to see the opposition take an interest in the real problems of this country, instead of talking about separation, cunning decisions, and sharp shifts and mirages. We want to work with everyone, with the governments of the provinces, including the Government of Quebec, to improve the social and economic situation of this country. The best way would be to stop talking about the constitution and separation and talk about employment every day, the way we are doing today.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to remind the Prime Minister that, over the past nine years, the Canada that produced so many unemployed and welfare recipients was managed by federalists, as was the province of Quebec. This is the result of their policies. They should not try to muddle the issue: this is their legacy, and Quebecers are increasingly aware of that.

Currently, more than half of Canada's unemployed are not even eligible to UI benefits any more. No question about it: this is the result of this government's actions. This situation shows how the government targeted the unemployed, rather than unemployment.

Last year alone, the UI fund generated a $4 billion surplus, yet the government still intends to cut another $700 million. Given that surplus, and the fact that over half of the unemployed are no longer eligible to the UI program, will the government agree to not go ahead with this unacceptable cut of $700 million?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have to take into account the fact that, before us, there was another government, in which the Leader of the Opposition was a very prominent minister. That government left us with a $6 billion deficit in the UI fund, and we have to pay it off.

Indeed, if the Conservative Party, which included a very prominent minister and lieutenant for Quebec, generated such a deficit in the UI fund, we, as a responsible government, must pay that deficit, as we are doing, and re-establish a UI fund which will truly serve in difficult situations. That would be an easy thing to do now if the Conservatives, including the Leader of the Opposition, had not been in office for so long.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, when there is a reference to the plight of poor people, it is the separatists' fault, and when there is a reference to the government's UI cuts over a three year period, it is the Conservatives' fault. Enough is enough.

Will the Prime Minister agree to stop being irresponsible, as he has been since the beginning, and will he recognize, as does the Quebec minister for income security, that 43 per cent, a percentage which reflects a tragic situation, of the new households joining the welfare rolls in Quebec have been excluded from the UI program because of the cuts made by this government? Will the Prime Minister finally admit that?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I explained a minute ago that we are working on it. Since we formed the government the economy has created more than 430,000 new jobs in Canada. We would like to see the situation improve more. The problem was put in our lap when we came here; 11.5 per cent were not working and were on unemployment insurance. At the moment we are trying to solve it.

I am delighted to see the Bloc Quebecois talking about jobs today. At long last it is not talking about separation, the tournage and the virage and tricky questions. It is talking about real problems. I am delighted to see the leader of the Bloc Quebecois is today having another virage; he is getting preoccupied with job creation. I am happy today.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, both the justice minister and the revenue minister continue to trot out words like competence and merit with respect to the government's latest patronage appointments in the B.C. justice system.

There is no possible justification for turning aside a firm with 20 years experience in narcotics prosecution in favour of inexperienced political friends.

Can the justice minister explain to the House specifically how the new firms in the revenue minister's Victoria riding have more competence and merit than the firm the government terminated?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I note with satisfaction nothing in the hon. member's question suggests the new agent is not competent. The new agent is competent.

The premise of the hon. member's question is the appointments were somehow motivated by patronage. Of the new agents supported by the government, 38 per cent had acted as agents under the previous government. In British Columbia of the 38 agents whose mandate has been confirmed, 47 per cent had acted as agents for the previous government. We appoint agents on the basis of competence.

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is really interesting. According to the news reports we are getting there is serious concern on the part of law enforcement people. One report from Victoria says a judge last week examined a charge and

commented he hoped the new drug prosecutor learned how to spell marijuana correctly.

Was the justice minister made aware of the very close political ties between the revenue minister and the Victoria law firms before the appointments were made?

Government AppointmentsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if we were to determine who was to continue as an agent for the government based on the stripe of the party that appointed them, it seems to me that 20 years ago the government in office was a Liberal government. Surely the premise of the hon. member's question is faulty.

As we find agents to represent the federal interest in court we look for people competent for the task. That is the approach we have taken in British Columbia and across the country.