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House of Commons Hansard #78 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can talk about the distinct society resolution, but the best proof that this resolution of the House of Commons is not worth the paper it is written on is that at no time has the government asked the Supreme Court to consider it in the opinion it is going to give the provinces.

If the Prime Minister believes in what he is doing, there is still time to ask the Supreme Court judges to consider the resolution passed in the House of Commons recognizing Quebec as a distinct society. Let him do it.

Will he at least admit that not only will the reference to the Supreme Court gain him time, but that also, in his mind, it will allow preparations to be made for a possible federal intervention in Quebec's next referendum, an intervention that would otherwise be viewed as completely unacceptable by Quebecers, and that the Prime Minister wants the Supreme Court to pave the way for?

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition voted against the distinct society resolution. In addition, the bill was passed by the Parliament of Canada and challenged by no one. A reference is not possible.

Furthermore, in the throne speech, we proposed a series of adjustments to the federation, including our withdrawal frommany areas. We offered the provinces a new manpower agreement,

which the minister is in the process of negotiating with the provinces.

We said that we were not going to use our spending authority without the consent of five provinces. We spoke about a series of things to change the federation. Since February, once again, the Bloc Quebecois and the Parti Quebecois want to keep the status quo, while we are in favour of change in Canada.

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely astonishing to hear the Prime Minister say that he did not mention the House of Commons resolution before the Supreme Court because the Leader of the Opposition voted against it. I had no idea I was so powerful. I would remind the Prime Minister that this was not a bill, but a resolution of the House of Commons.

With respect to the Supreme Court's opinion, the government is using this reference to create a false sense of security in the rest of Canada, telling people not to worry because it will be a powerful tool against sovereignty. In Quebec, he says that it will not stand in the way of sovereignty, but will merely provide a legal framework.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his reference to the Supreme Court not only gains him time and allows him to pave the way, but that it also allows him to change his tune, depending on whether he is in Quebec or in the rest of Canada?

Reference To The Supreme CourtOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I speak in the House of Commons every day. Through the House of Commons, I am heard across Canada, both in Quebec and in the rest of the country.

When the hon. Leader of the Opposition says that this was just a resolution, here again he is demonstrating his failure to understand the facts. We passed a bill on the right of veto. It is a bill, not a resolution. It is a bill and the member voted against a bill giving Quebec the right of veto with regard to any changes to the Constitution.

Speaking about promises, we are in our twelfth day of question period and the Leader of the Opposition said in Le Devoir not very long ago: ``When we go back, the priority will be on the problems our people are experiencing, particularly in Montreal and in Quebec. We will be talking about jobs, about the economy. We have suggestions to make''.

Because he is unable to attack us on our economic policies, all the Leader of the Opposition can talk about is the Constitution.

The Minister Of Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

October 1st, 1996 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. In his Le Canada et le Québec après le référendum: explications d'une quasi-défaite , written when he was an academic, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs accused the Prime Minister of having contributed to the sovereignist cause and of having lacked clarity in his promises during the last referendum. To quote him: ``Ironically, these promises made in desperation probably did not help the No cause. On the contrary, the contradictions within the No camp, and the lack of clarity in the promises, probably convinced voters to vote Yes.''

Since the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs stated yesterday that he was proud that, since entering politics, he has never had to back down from anything he wrote as a university professor, does he still maintain that severe judgment of the man who is now his leader?

The Minister Of Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have never blamed the Prime Minister for the referendum victory by the No. I have simply said that the promises made came too late to have a positive impact on the vote.

That is why prompt action is necessary. That is why it is important to clarify things rapidly, and not to let the separatist camp exploit the confusion, and we are going to clarify a number of things.

It is, for example, incorrect to say that this federation is centralized. It is one of the most decentralized possible. It is incorrect to say that Quebecers do not have a share in this confederation. This is one of the most generous federations there is, and it is wrong to say that this federation cannot change. We shall improve it by working with all of our partners who believe in Canada. It is wrong to spread a whole pack of falsehoods, as the opposition and the independentist movement are constantly doing, and we are going to clarify things as soon as possible.

The Minister Of Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in that same book, the minister wrote that the Liberals ought perhaps, and again I quote: "to consider the opinion of the leader of the Reform Party by passing a law clarifying the conditions under which a province can separate from Canada."

The Minister having stated yesterday in this House that he denies absolutely nothing in what he has written, are we to understand that his thoughts are the same today, that the government ought to follow the plan of the Reform leader, and that consequently he is giving his blessing to the holy alliance of Liberals and Reformers against Quebec?

The Minister Of Intergovernmental AffairsOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what Quebecers see is certainly all of the efforts being expended to cloud the issue.

The opposition is well aware that confusion can help it win out, and that a clear question, a clear process relating to secession, will bring Quebecers and other Canadians to a reconciliation and will reinforce the solidarity that joins them, rather than breaking it down. They are aware of this, and that is why they fear the undertaking we have begun.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the military justice system was brought under a cloud because of the Somalia inquiry.

Last night CBC reported another example of the apparent failure of the military justice system under this Minister of National Defence.

Commander Dean Marsaw was court martialled and found guilty of verbal and physical misconduct. However, transcripts and videos of the investigations show the witnesses being badgered, called liars and being accused of not co-operating. Before Marsaw can be dismissed from the forces the minister must confirm the dismissal.

Will the minister show some support for the morale in the forces and immediately suspend the dismissal of Commander Marsaw?

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, once again the hon. member shows his absolute contempt for due process in the Canadian justice system.

We have a case here of a court martial. I cannot talk about the details but the individual concerned has the right to appeal to the court martial appeal court. That court is composed of three civilian justices, usually of the Federal Court of Canada or the superior courts of the provinces.

I think the hon. member would serve the cause of justice well if he would let the process take its course, allow the individual to make up his own mind as to what to do and not to second guess once again individual cases on the floor of the House of Commons.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, why will this minister not show some competence and just do what is right for once?

The minister refuses to act on what appears to be a gross injustice. Time and time again we keep coming across instances where the military justice system goes on a witch hunt. Corporal Pernelle is being court martialled for telling the truth to the Somalia inquiry. Dean Marsaw has already been found guilty and is about to be kicked out of the forces. The whole investigation has been called into question.

To restore the integrity of the investigation of Commander Marsaw, will the minister bring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in to conduct an investigation into the botched investigation?

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member admits to coming to certain conclusions based on appearances from some television program.

The fact is we see clearly once again that Reform Party justice is vigilante justice, and that is not Canadian justice.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister forgets that he himself this past summer suggested that the military justice system needs to be reviewed. The military justice system is in shambles under this minister.

There are double standards applied. General Boyle got special treatment when he was interviewed and he was handled with kid gloves. In Commander Marsaw's case witnesses were grilled and accused of lying. It appears that Marsaw was railroaded and the justice system has failed him.

It is time for a complete overhaul of the judge advocate general's office. This is the only way to avoid repeats of events like Marsaw's case.

To restore morale in the Canadian Armed Forces and to demonstrate leadership, will the minister commit to an immediate overhaul of the justice system in the military?

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

The hon. member knows that I have said we are reviewing all procedures and practices at national defence and one of them will be the military justice system. I hope Parliament will take part in that review and I hope the hon. member will make some reasoned and informed comments instead of the ones that he has been making.

The hon. member talks about shambles. The only thing that is in shambles is the Reform Party of Canada. Day after day its members come here and they castigate people in the military. They reflect upon the judicial process, the commission on Somalia. They have nothing to say on national unity, nothing on the economy, nothing on agriculture, nothing on social justice, nothing on pension reform. The Reform Party has nothing to say.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I thought there for a minute I missed a day this week.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said in his budget speech that when new and significant savings were realized with respect to unemployment insurance, it would be possible to reduce premiums even further, and he would make sure that this happened. Well, this morning we are told that the minister is seriously considering raising the unemployment insurance surplus to $15 billion.

My question is directed to the Minister of Finance. Why does the minister want to accumulate a surplus of $15 billion in the unemployment insurance fund instead of reducing premiums, when he himself said that a reduction of seven cents would create 40,000 jobs over two years and that he would be able to reduce this payroll tax to a significant extent?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the report to which the hon. member is referring is a report by the chief actuary of the Department of Human Resources Development, who prepared a study that found that if we want to accumulate a surplus in the account, to avoid going through what the last government did, we would need a surplus of between ten and fifteen billion dollars.

That being said, I would like to point out to the hon. member that when we came to power, the previous government had intended to raise unemployment insurance premiums to $3.30. We froze them at $3.07 and then reduced them to $3 and reduced them again last year to $2.95. Last year, we reduced premiums by $1.8 billion, which saved taxpayers money on unemployment insurance.

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal government came to power, it deliberately increased unemployment insurance premiums. It was the first thing it did as far as economic policy was concerned.

We are accused of not asking a whole lot of questions about jobs. I accuse the government of never having an answer on the subject. The Minister of Finance is more concerned about his millionaires than about the unemployed.

Here is my question, and I expect a reply. Does the minister realize that by wanting to accumulate a surplus of $15 billion in the unemployment insurance fund and by refusing to reduce premiums for employers and employees, he has deliberately ordered a tax of $15 billion on employment?

Unemployment InsuranceOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, the report to which the hon. member referred was drafted by an actuary, by an expert who said: "If you want a surplus, it will take from ten to fifteen billion dollars".

Now the hon. member is talking about jobs. Since we came to power, more than three quarter of a million new jobs were created by Canadians. At the beginning of the year, more than 200,000 new jobs were created by this government. During the month of August, more than 82,000 jobs were created by Canadians. Yesterday, we saw that Canada's economic growth is not only very strong but that the IMF says that next year, Canada will have the strongest economic growth rate of any G7 country. Canadians are doing very well, thank you!

SomaliaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Globe and Mail reported that Captain Alvis, a U.S. Green Beret officer, ordered a Canadian soldier to fire on a Somali.

Later Captain Alvis denied even being in Somalia at the time of the incident even though his interview had been taped. However, later last night he said that basically the report was accurate but to disregard the part about the shooting.

Will the minister of defence please tell us exactly what happened at that bridge in Belet Huen?

SomaliaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I was confused when I read the Globe and Mail yesterday morning. I was confused when I saw the individual on television last night. I am even more confused with the interpretation of events by this hon. member in the House today.

The fact is certain allegations were made in a newspaper. They have been called into question. That is not a matter for me to debate.

SomaliaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, all I asked was to get to the bottom of the facts of what happened at the bridge at Belet Huen. I cannot believe this minister is refusing to answer.

An individual is dead from a Canadian soldier's bullet. We know that the military tried to cover up the murder of Shidane Arone in Somalia. It has misreported and misrepresented the death of Corporal MacKinnon at Suffield. Now the minister refuses to give the Canadian public the facts on what happened in Somalia in this instance. Why does he not come clean?

SomaliaOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, this government

has given the Canadian people a commission of inquiry to look into all the matters of concern to the hon. member. Let it do its job.