House of Commons Hansard #87 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mining.


Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members


Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Call in the members.

Nunavut Waters ActGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

As requested, we will delay the vote until later this day when the other votes are being taken.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec


Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

moved that Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to address Bill C-49, the Administrative Tribunals (Remedial and Disciplinary Measures) Act. This bill illustrates once again our government's commitment to fulfill the promises it made to Canadians.

The bill is part of an integrated and consistent effort to promote sound public management and economic growth. It is also a major component of our goal to restore the confidence of Canadians in their national institutions.

We must continue to build this confidence by displaying openness, honesty and integrity, while also managing our finances in a responsible way. Members of this House are aware of the results of the program review, this fundamental analysis of all federal departments, programs and activities.

Members will also remember that last year we discussed Bill C-65, the first legislation on government organization, before eventually passing it. This legislation stemmed from a review of all the federal government's boards, agencies, commissions and advisory bodies. It was the first omnibus bill designed to eliminate redundant organizations and to streamline the operations of federal organizations and boards, so as to improve effectiveness and the quality of services provided to Canadians.

The legislation before us today is the second omnibus bill to implement the decisions I announced in February of last year in the final report stemming from the agency review. The bill also seeks to implement other changes deemed necessary following the review, while increasing administrative accountability and uniformity for 30 organizations by winding up seven organizations and restructuring or downsizing 13 others.

Last year's act eliminated 150 governor in council positions, wound up 9 organizations and downsized 16 others. The bill before us will wind up 7 organizations and eliminate a further 271 governor in council positions for savings each year of about $2.5 million.

I am also happy to report that as a result of the agency review over 400 other governor in council positions are being eliminated by order in council, by separate legislation and administratively.

In total, the review will see the wind-up of over 80 organizations and the elimination of over 800 governor in council positions.

I suggest to all hon. members that these results, while not insignificant in themselves, are indicative of a much larger issue. When we start thinking hard about getting government right, as we promised we would do, when we take some clear decisions about putting the government's affairs in order, the pay-offs to taxpayers and all Canadians can be very substantial indeed.

When I say pay-offs I do not simply mean saving tax dollars, important as that may be. Like most major western democracies facing severe financial pressures, Canada has been seriously rethinking the role of government in the modern state.

How do we restore the hope and confidence of Canadians in their future? How do we reconnect citizens with their government so they can see that government is immediately relevant to their daily lives?

Government itself is critical in answering both questions.

How then do we reshape the federal government so that it focuses on the things that only government can do or can do best? Canadians repeatedly told us that they have had enough of big government. The message was clear and simple. Government is too big, it is too costly and it is not close enough to the people it serves.

To give Canadians the government and economic opportunities they expect and deserve, we have provided leadership in reducing the deficit, rethinking the whole role of the federal government, reforming our social security system, making federalism more efficient and streamlining government agencies.

Clearly the bill before us is an integral part of this government's coherent and wide ranging program of government renewal.

Program review was another key feature of our strategy to promote job creation and economic growth. This was the most comprehensive review of governmental programs and services in two generations.

The purpose was to reduce government operations to a bare minimum, a core of essential services, in an orderly fashion. And this is exactly our approach in pursuing the three program review objectives: first, to reduce the public administration function of federal programs and services, resulting in a leaner and more effective federal government providing high priority programs to Canadians; second, to modernize Canadian federalism, enabling our government to ensure the provision of programs and services only when the federal government is the most appropriate level of government to do so; and third, to help the government meet its financial targets.

This essentially entails reviewing all of the federal government's responsibilities and determining which of these Canadians can afford. Now that positive results are starting to show, I am sure that the distinguished members of this House will agree that we made a wise decision in taking measured steps. The review was not just another bureaucracy bashing initiative. Neither did it reflect the latest fad in management styles. And it definitely was not an absurd slash and burn exercise.

In the past, many studies were conducted on behalf of the federal government by the Lambert Commission in 1979, by the Nielsen

Task Force in 1986 and as part of the Public Service 2000 initiative in 1990. We are strongly encouraged to eliminate waste and inefficiency within the public service, especially during election campaigns. It is obvious however that the review should not result only in little squares being moved around on public service organization charts.

Why is this review different? Simply because our government has the political will to act and enough imagination to take whatever action is required. This review focuses on the main problems we are facing, namely the need to reduce government spending and improve the economy in order to promote job creation.

Another distinctive feature is that this review involved every minister and department. Departments are now setting aside their secondary responsibilities and merging so that similar programs and services can be grouped in a single portfolio. They are eliminating costly overlap and duplication and using new technologies to reduce the cost of providing services while raising standards. Finally, they are funding necessary programs through cost recovery and user fees.

I began by suggesting that Bill C-49 is an integral part of our well thought out program of government renewal, of getting government right. It is the second omnibus bill to implement decisions stemming from the review of agencies helping to simplify government by eliminating unnecessary or inactive organizations and streamlining others.

The 1994 budget launched this review and its major work is now virtually completed. We have no set targets. Rather, we wanted to identify sensible and practical changes to make government work better.

Ministers reviewed the various agencies within their portfolios and recommendations for change were made in consultation with the agencies themselves and with the Canadians they serve. For example, the changes range from eliminating a single governor in council position on the International Boundary Commission to reducing the governor in council positions on the Canada Pension Plan Review Tribunal from 400 to 300 members.

Other amendments relate to accountability, standardization and administrative efficiency. These affect 30 organizations.

Members will notice that the bill improve the governance of agencies, boards and commissions in two main ways. First, governor in council appointments have been reduced to the minimum number necessary for efficient operation. Second, accountability has been improved in several ways.

One example is the phrase "remedial and disciplinary measures" in the bill's title. This refers to the fact that several statutes do not provide clear mechanisms for those rare cases where it might be necessary to undertake remedial or disciplinary measures with regard to a member of an administrative tribunal appointed during good behaviour. The bill now brings in consistent provisions.

The bill's provisions clarify the complex accountability of persons appointed during good behaviour on the one hand and during pleasure on the other. Persons appointed during good behaviour may be removed only for cause. This applies to appointees of agencies at arm's length where independence and impartiality are important. An example is the National Parole Board.

Where appointments to serve during good behaviour are not justified by the need for independence and impartiality, the bill amends tenure to serving during pleasure. This means that appointees may be removed at the discretion of the governor in council.

Finally, to clarify accountability, consistent appointment mechanisms are being introduced for the chairpersons of administrative tribunals.

I think this bill illustrates on a reduced scale our preferred formula for rethinking the government's role. Until the basic questions are raised, the temptation is to go on as before. On the other hand, some are now saying about government that what has not been reviewed does not deserve to survive.

We are rapidly moving toward some radical changes aimed at reducing the size of the federal government so that it can focus on national roles, responsibilities and priorities and provide the services important to Canadians at a cost everyone can afford.

Programs and services must focus even more on client needs, not on jurisdictional hair splitting or administrative needs. I believe that national confidence in government can be restored if it is involved in activities that properly belong to it.

Government in today's world cannot be static. I see a constant and continuing rethinking about how we can do better. The results will be a more responsive, service oriented and leaner government. It will mean more sensible federal priorities concentrated on the major social and economic issues. As clients, Canadians want services that are speedy, accessible, reliable and responsive.

As citizens, Canadians want services that guarantee health and safety, public security, fairness and equity and economic well-being. As taxpayers, Canadians want a government that is efficient and cost effective. In other words, Canadians want a competent government with political imagination, leadership and courage. That is exactly what this government will continue to deliver.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is about administrative tribunals and the dissolution of certain federal agencies.

As Treasury Board critic for the official opposition, I will first address the real financial impact of Bill C-49 and then I will look more closely at its administrative and political impact.

The minister tells us that all these dissolutions and reorganizations contained in Bill C-49 and in a similar bill adopted by Parliament in June 1995 will result in savings of about $10 million a year.

What is the use of all these changes which, according to the minister, may help us save some $10 million a year when we know that, in spite of their red book promises, the Liberals have let the public debt grow and have not addressed the problem of chronic unemployment. Ten million dollars is just a drop in the ocean of debt created by the Liberals. Canada's debt is growing by more than $100 million a day, which is ten times more a day than Bill C-49 and the other bill adopted in June 1995 will help us save in a year.

Since 1961, the federal debt has increased twenty-six-fold, and the Liberals have been in power during 26 of those 35 years. We know who is responsible for this huge debt.

In its annual brief presented to federal parliamentarians in December 1995, the Conseil du patronat du Quebec asked the federal government to set right then a higher deficit reduction target than the one it is supposed to meet in March 1997, which is $24.3 billion. Reducing the deficit to $20 billion by March 31, 1997 should be a minimum target according to the Conseil du patronat du Québec, which invites the federal government to re-examine seriously its spending rather than increase direct or indirect taxes paid by Canadians.

And a bill such as Bill C-49 will not lead to a serious examination and considerable reduction of federal spending. The deficit reduction targets are too low and efforts to stop the growth of our debt are insufficient.

Bill C-49, just like the last budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, means the end of the government's efforts to put our fiscal house in order. The impact of the budget measures on the deficit will be non-existent this year and will total only $200 million next year. Can you imagine an impact of $200 million over a two-year period on an annual budget of over $160 billion. This is ridiculous.

The President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance are still trying to make us believe that deficit reduction remains one of the major concerns of cabinet, by regularly bombarding us with statistics on the debt as a percentage of the GDP and by comparing Canada to countries with the worst record concerning deficit reduction. Let me remind the minister that there is no glory in making such comparisons.

In the briefing notes released by the Treasury Board, it is written in black and white that the two stages of the agency review will only account for $10 million in savings. The Liberals have come up with very little after making such a big show of the program review, which has not amounted to much. It is, indeed, very disappointing.

As I said earlier, the President of the Treasury Board and minister responsible for this program review has been making a lot of fuss these past two years, by bringing forth some very impressive figures: 45,000 jobs cut in the civil service, and more cuts right and left.

In fact, we should let the figures speak for themselves. If it were not for the estimated increase in revenue of $100 million this year and $245 million next year, the budget re-allocation made by the minister in charge of the Treasury Board would have resulted in an operational deficit of $134 million for this year and of $92 million for next year.

Why cut so many jobs and affect so many workers and their families if just to re-allocate funds to so-called priorities? Not only is this exercise bound to result in no gain or even worse a deficit, but a slower economic growth than what was forecast could mean an even higher deficit in the upcoming years.

The government does not keep its word. Furthermore, it wants us to believe that it exceeds its own objectives. Fiscally speaking, Bill C-49 is nothing but a smokescreen to hide the fact that the Liberals are not able to reduce the deficit.

All the accumulated effects of this year's budget will have an impact of only $1.9 billion by 1999. Do not forget that the predicted impact of the 1994 budget was $45 billion over 5 years and that of the 1995 budget was $43 billion over 4 years. According to the predictions, this year's budget will have a nominal impact of $1.9 billion on the debt, which will have increased by $110 billion by the end of this Liberal government's mandate.

The government is dragging its feet and continuing to estimate the impact of its actions over several years because they are generally laughable when taken individually each year. And the best example of this is Bill C-49 tabled by the minister responsible for the Treasury Board.

All the important decisions concerning cuts and reductions in spending were taken in the 1994 and 1995 budgets. Why then propose an administrative overhaul, which will have no real impact on government management? In practice, the finance minister always tables deferred budgets to avoid the backlash of unpopular decisions.

Cuts undertaken in past years coming into effect in 1996 and 1997 will continue to reduce government expenditures without the need for the government to make some new unpopular decisions this year and as it approaches the deadline of the elections planned for next year.

Meanwhile, the President of the Treasury Board is proceeding with a few administrative and symbolic changes to show that the government is still bent on improving public finances. This is an election-oriented strategy and the people is not fooled by it.

With regard to the political and administrative impact of Bill C-49, we can say without fear of error that the President of the Treasury Board set out some fine principles in the backgrounder we received recently from his officials, but, in fact, this piece of legislation is backward looking when it comes to the administrative tools it is proposing and shamefully partisan in its objectives.

The Treasury Board's backgrounder talks about streamlining disciplinary measures taken by administrative tribunals, streamlining the process of appointing chairpersons to administrative tribunals, winding up 7 federal agencies and revamping or downsizing 13 others, as well as standardizing terminology and pay, and several other changes. All these are fine principles indeed, but what is Bill C-49 really hiding?

Let us take a closer look at the administrative and political consequences of this piece of legislation. Bill C-49 makes significant changes in the way administrative tribunals operate. Several of my Bloc colleagues will take the floor shortly, as critics, to tell you about the particular impact of Bill C-49 on each one of the 19 administrative tribunals involved.

I ask the House for unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That, when Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has been concurred in by the Liberal majority at second reading, it be referred to every standing committee of the House connected with an administrative tribunal affected by the said bill.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, if I am not mistaken, you are asking for unanimous consent of the House on a motion.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

October 21st, 1996 / 3:50 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion, this amendment is not admissible at this point. We will go on. To obtain unanimous consent, the motion must be admissible and I do not think it is. So you may continue with your speech.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Even though they are not as well-known as superior courts, the administrative tribunals have major impacts on the daily life of Canadians and Quebecers. Their rulings often have serious consequences for the citizens and the country.

In fact, the increased importance of administrative tribunals in recent years is common knowledge. They have become popular decision-making venues where the citizens regularly face the government to assert their rights.

For more than 25 years now, a debate on these administrative tribunals has been going on in Quebec. A project for the reform of administrative tribunals has even been submitted to the Quebec National Assembly. Fundamental questions like the independence and the impartiality of the judges of those tribunals are being discussed there.

Although they are being debated at the Quebec government level, these issues are also relevant at the federal level. Bill C-49 could have solved the fundamental problem of partisan appointments of members of the administrative tribunals. But the federal government chose to return to a not so glorious past in that area instead of modernizing the appointment process as Quebec is about to do.

At a time when the public is so cynical about politicians, the President of the Treasury Board is implementing even more partisan rules, which give political authorities increased control over the administrative tribunals.

The bill establishes a new mechanism to remove from office people appointed to administrative tribunals by the governor in council. This is in clause 3 of the bill. Also, after certain procedures, the governor in council will have the power to remove these people from office for cause, as specified in the bill.

Only after receiving an inquiry report, will the minister have the power to make a recommendation "to suspend the member without pay, remove the member from office or impose any other disciplinary measure or any remedial measure". This is in clause 14 of the bill. The minister's recommendations are entirely at his discretion, regardless of the content of the inquiry report.

Chairpersons of administrative tribunals will now all be designated instead of being appointed. Such a change makes the chairperson very vulnerable to political pressures by the government, which can simply designate a new chairman when it sees fit. These new measures can even further undermine the credibility of administrative tribunals and, moreover, make them even more

dependent on political authority. It is unacceptable to introduce measures that seriously attack the independence and impartiality of administrative tribunals. It really flies in the face of the transparency people want from a modern and progressive government.

Unfortunately, federal administrative tribunals are constantly the object of Liberal patronage. This was true under Trudeau, and it is still true under the present Prime Minister.

The President of the Treasury Board refuses to discuss these important issues because he wants to maintain the power of ministers to appoint the members of administrative tribunals. Any reform of administrative tribunals should start with the arbitrary nature of the process for appointing and renewing the mandates of administrative judges. In 1996, political patronage in a quasi-judiciary process should no longer exist in a modern democracy like ours.

Bill C-49 is a direct attack on the independence and impartiality of judges. The Liberal government is fully prepared to ignore principles that should underlie the work of administrative tribunals. With the sword of Damocles that he wants to suspend above the heads of members of administrative tribunals, the President of the Treasury Board may vitiate the entire judicial process of administrative tribunals. In so doing he is subordinating the judiciary to political considerations.

The president of the Quebec Bar Association was very clear about this when she said, and I quote: "The lack of job security may have an unexpected psychological impact on the decisions of a person who may be more concerned about pleasing the government than rendering a fair judgment". This quote was taken from Le Soleil of July 8, 1995.

Members of administrative tribunals might even be reluctant to develop jurisprudence that would be favourable to the individual, so as not to penalize the State.

The Liberals, with their base partisan manoeuvring, are attacking the very foundations of a modern democracy. The separation of powers has long been a part of Canadian and Quebec democracy, and the minister would do well to drop Bill C-49 if he does not want to go down in history as the man for whom the development and modernization of institutions is a backdoor proposition.

This government bill is totally unacceptable. It is a direct attack on the impartiality and independence of members of administrative tribunals. These two principles are seen as fundamental to a democratic society, principles that the government prefers to ignore in favour of maintaining its power to make partisan appointments to administrative tribunals.

These appointments are a way to reward friends of the party who may not always have the qualifications to exercise such important duties. The Liberals are simply perpetuating the patronage system with which they are so familiar and which has been their trademark as a government for a long time.

I hope the Minister responsible for the Treasury Board will listen to reason and withdraw this retrograde and backward looking bill. The minister will have a chance to redeem himself by supporting my amendment to Bill C-49, which is as follows:

"this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-49, An Act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, because the principle of the said Bill does not allow for the possibility for any parliamentary mechanism governing the appointment or revocation of the appointment of members of administrative tribunals."

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The amendment is in order.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps you can clarify whether we are talking about the amendment. Is debate only on the amendment or can we still talk about the bill, since it is the intention of the amendment to postpone the bill.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Let me put it in these terms. Technically we are debating the amendment. Of course the original motion is always relevant. I will leave that to your interpretation.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.


John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the advice. I also appreciate the motion by my colleague from the Bloc that says we should not be debating this bill. We in the Reform Party do not agree with the contents of the bill either.

If I can endorse the feelings of my colleague from the Bloc perhaps I can give my feelings on Bill C-49 and why this bill should be voted down and out. I do not think the government has achieved very much other than some grandiose statements from the President of the Treasury Board in introducing the bill. It was a wonderful speech but when it is analysed he did not have much to say.

One point that did strike me as being very important was the statement that 271 positions had been eliminated. Attached to that was the statement that $2.5 million would be saved. When we look at the 271 positions that are being eliminated we find that these are 271 vacant positions. The minister gave no explanation of how he was saving $2.5 million by eliminating positions that are sitting vacant and were not costing taxpayers anything. I wonder how this

is going to move the Liberal agenda forward or is it just more smoke and mirrors of the type that we have become accustomed to over the last three years in this House.

Unfortunately, I have drawn the conclusion that it is very likely in the realm of smoke and mirrors than an actual advancement of policy which is why I think the Bloc's amendment is in order.

Patronage has always run long and deep and lies close to the heart of members of the Liberal Party. That is why when the President of the Treasury Board is touting this as a great new advancement I am somewhat sceptical. I looked at some of the points he made, such as keeping promises to Canadians, which I will talk more about later. The major component of the objective of this exercise is to improve the confidence of Canadians in the exercise of government. We are talking more government and more spending.

Reformers have asked the Minister of Finance to cut spending but the spending of this government has not changed in three years. Interest costs on the deficit have more than offset any decreases the Minister of Finance has been able to make elsewhere. The actual cost of government is just as much today as it was three years ago except that Canadians are getting less for their money as it is used to pay interest and given to bankers, lenders, foreign investors and all the people who really do not need the taxpayers' money.

I listened to the Minister of Finance during question period today. He was really getting quite hot and bothered by the Reform Party's plan. He tried to defend his own but I did not hear him defend how he taxes Canadians, especially poor Canadians and young Canadians who are looking for jobs. The money is transferred to foreign investors, bankers, money lenders and so on who are rich beyond all imagination. This is just because the government cannot get its spending act together. These are the types of things for which Canadians want answers.

Now the President of the Treasury Board stands up in the House and gives us a wonderful speech. However, when it is analysed he has not said anything. There will be 271 positions eliminated. Is that not a wonderful piece of work? When we look underneath we find these are vacant positions. He has not axed one single person out of the patronage pork barrel. Did he tell us that? No. Did he tell Canadians that? No. Did he admit that this was just smoke and mirrors? No. This was presented as wonderful leadership by the government.

The philosophy of appointments by the Liberal Party is questionable at best. Merit is certainly not a consideration. When I say merit I again come back to the President of the Treasury Board. He is the minister in charge of the department that is the employer of the civil service. We are trying to introduce merit into the civil service to recognize the people who work harder and do a better job, who deserve more pay and to be advanced up the ladder faster. Yet we have Bill C-49 which contains 100 pages or so and not one single mention of merit in it.

The President of the Treasury Board is promoting merit but supports a bill that completely bypasses merit and favours partisanship. The minister has a mandate to renew the civil service which he has accomplished through job cuts and the restructuring of departments. Yet Bill C-49 offers no such review of appointments or an overhaul of the appointment process.

The government has eliminated 45,000 jobs in the civil service. Not all of them are legitimate eliminations. There are lots of smoke and mirrors too. However, the point is there is some serious downsizing in the civil service. But no, the government cannot touch the patronage jobs. It can eliminate the jobs that are sitting vacant, but will not go after its friends.

The bill goes on to restructure words. Fisherman is eliminated and replaced by fisher. The President of the Treasury Board promotes neutrality, accountability and integrity within the civil service but does not feel that these qualities should apply to Liberal colleagues when they are appointed to the plum patronage posts. Smoke and mirrors. As the House will see, Liberal Party claims about how much it has done to improve the patronage system is really bogus.

Let me remind my hon. colleagues on the other side of their party's boasts some three years ago in the red book. On page 92 it states: "A Liberal government will make competence and diversity the criteria for federal appointments". I read in the paper this morning that with the Liberal convention coming up this weekend they are going to publish a document telling us how many of these promises they have met. Bill C-49 does not even have the word competence in it yet it deals with patronage appointments by the hundreds.

I wonder how the crafters of this document are going to tell us how they achieved their promises in the red book. I am sure they will be able to point to one particular appointment where just by chance perhaps the guy actually has some qualifications as well as being a member of the Liberal Party and hence the promise has been fulfilled.

Let us remember that a Liberal government will make competence and diversity the criteria for federal appointments. However in the bill there is not a mention.

How strange is it that the best candidate all too often turns out to be a Liberal? For example, the current Minister of National Defence appointed Marian Robinson, a long time Liberal staffer to the National Transportation Agency with a per diem of $500 a day without even interviewing her to determine her competency or expertise in the field. However, being a good Liberal and working for the minister deserves an appointment courtesy of the taxpayer.

How about all of these appointments to the Senate in the last three years? Many of them came from that side of the House. Not one of them was not beholden and committed to the Liberal Party.

I have a book here that I got from the Library. It is called Federal cabinet appointments handbook: A compendium of Governor in Council appointments. You can see how thick it is, Mr. Speaker. If the number of pages are counted it might be embarrassing. There are a number of pages for each chapter. It is full of the names of people, hundreds and thousands of people, each and every one of them enjoying the largesse of the taxpayer in order to do some political appointment job. There are lists of names under the Department of Health, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, the Medical Council of Canada, Medical Research Council, National Advisory Council on Aging, Patented Medicines Price Review Board.

Let us move to a different chapter. Under the Renewable Resources Board, the chairperson is picked by the governor in council with remuneration at $200 to $275 a day. Renewable Resource Board, in Sahtu in the Northwest Territories, per diem $160 to $250 a day. Under the Department of Industry there is the National Economic Development Board, remuneration to be fixed by the minister but it does not tell us how much.

There is the Business Development Bank of Canada and pages of names. Remuneration is $200 to $300 a day with an annual retainer of $4,000 to $5,000. This one is up. As soon as we put a bank in there I guess it deserves more. This is getting expensive.

There is the Canadian Space Agency, the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Copyright Board. There is Edmonton Northlands, in my hometown. There are two people on there. Remuneration is fixed by the organization. Directors who are public servants serve without remuneration but they look to be local people who have served for pleasure.

On and on it goes with hundreds of names, thousands of people, millions of dollars and no accountability.

Going back to the government, the Prime Minister in his acceptance speech in 1993 vowed that Liberals were elected to serve the people of Canada and not to serve themselves. Is that not a wonderful statement? The Liberals were elected to serve the people of Canada, not to serve themselves yet when we look at all these patronage appointments it is rather interesting.

I have a copy of the Monday, October 14, 1996 edition of the Hill Times . It contains part one of the Liberal patronage appointments. I put the emphasis on part one.

Let us take a look at Gerald Allbright who was appointed to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench. Party: Liberal. Background: a well known Liberal supporter.

Gary Anstey. Position: Minister of Fisheries, that is the previous minister, Brian Tobin, who is now the premier of Newfoundland. He was appointed as executive assistant. Party: Liberal. He worked for another member of Parliament and later resigned from Mr. Tobin's office temporarily until cleared of financial wrongdoings. A little shaky there.

There is Claire Brouillet, a staffer in the Minister of Transport's office. She was an unsuccessful candidate in Terrebonne in 1993 so she got a political patronage plum rather than being in this House. Talk about political patronage.

There is Richard Campbell, Director, Marine Atlantic. Party: Liberal. He was the campaign manager for Lawrence MacAulay. It carries on.

There is Moses Coady, a lobbyist. He is a former aide to Liberal Allan MacEachen and is seeking infrastructure dollars. Well there you are.

There is Dorothy Davey, vice-chair, Immigration and Refugee Board, Liberal.

That is from part one. I could go on forever. Wait until next week's edition with part two.

I go back to the Prime Minister's point that in his words "Liberals were elected to serve the people of Canada, not to serve themselves". Bill C-49 does not do very much about that. The Prime Minister quickly forgot his promise when he appointed his longtime ally, Mr. André Ouellet to Canada Post with a salary of $160,000 a year, or when he appointed the sister of the Minister of National Defence to the bench at $140,000 a year, or the brother of the member for Gander-Grand Falls to the board of the Bank of Canada at $300 a day.

Members may have recalled in the Globe and Mail a couple of weeks ago when we were giving the government such a hard time about its code of ethics which the Prime Minister refuses to divulge. The Globe and Mail had a little article which said that the perception of influence has to be avoided as well as actual influence.

The perception must be avoided yet there are people who sit next to the Prime Minister in this House, who move out of this House into a $160,000 a year job. Relatives and friends of the Minister of National Defence move into $140,000 jobs. A brother of the member for Grand Falls moves to the Bank of Canada. The perception is downright awful.

Canadians are sick and tired of this type of perception where friends and who you know is more important than what you know. Merit is what Canadians like. Canadians have no problem with the

fact that they have to compete and work hard today to get ahead in this world. When I gave this country 25 years or more, it is what I most appreciated about this country. It was not who you are or who you know, but what you can do and accomplish that will get you ahead. That whole way of Canadian life has been thrown in the garbage can and people are losing faith.

We wonder why people are losing faith in their politicians when there are these types of appointments, friends and relatives and connections right across the board. There are books in the Library of Parliament which contain names upon names upon names.

Agencies, boards and tribunals were once an important forum for alternative decision making. In most cases they have become another arm of the bureaucracy, laden with people in an environment where political loyalties rather than merit are the criteria for decision making. We see organizations whose functions overlap and duplicate the work of the non-partisan bureaucracy, but where else would we be able to help our friends?

Before I look at the bill in detail, I would like to briefly discuss the history of agencies and administrative tribunals in Canada. Agencies predate the Confederation of Canada. In 1851 the Board of Railway Commissioners was created. Even back then the independence of the agency subsequently came into question when in 1888 the agency was criticized because its members spent most of their time in Ottawa, served only on a part time basis, lacked expertise and were becoming subject to the daily political wrangling in Ottawa. What is new?

It seems that very little has changed over the last 130 years. Since that time both the Glassco and the Lambert commissions have questioned patronage practices and agency accountability. But once again nothing has been done and Bill C-49 continues that tradition. The President of the Treasury Board has made grandiose statements about change, updating, revamping and eliminating positions but really when we look at it, nothing has changed.

Clearly we have a problem with the government's vision of the roles of agencies and tribunals. The government has lost its focus and the lure of patronage has become too great to implement meaningful changes. Even where the independence of an agency should be respected by cabinet, it is overlooked.

The National Parole Board is a perfect example. How often have we talked in the House about the problems, the mistakes, the incompetence of the National Parole Board that has allowed people to walk our streets and commit violent and horrendous crimes where the innocent suffer? Tragically, families are ruined all because the National Parole Board gets its act wrong. Of course it is staffed by friends of the government.

The former chair of the parole board stated that the National Parole Board had become a haven for dangerously inexperienced appointees. I am sure he used the word dangerously advisedly because criminals are turned back out on to the streets and what happens? They commit another murder, another rape, another violent crime when they should be behind bars. These appointees have no training yet we literally put them in charge of keeping the doors locked on our violent offenders. That job should be given to competent, trained people who know how to make the proper decisions rather than to friends of the government.

Political agencies have corrupted the day to day duties of the agencies. When I say corrupt I am not talking about illegalities but the whole concept of agencies as an expression of the public will by people who are competent and able to do so has been totally corrupted by the fact that they are seen as a place to reward friends and family. That is the corruption I speak of.

That is why politicians are held in such low regard. This government has every opportunity to do something about it. It promised to do something about it in the red book. The Prime Minister promised to do something about it in his acceptance speech yet three years later it is the same old story.

Bill C-49 for all its hype changes things such as "chairman" to "chair" but does not change the fact that the National Transportation Agency is currently staffed by well connected former Liberal MPs. Bill C-49 changes the term "fishermen" to "fisher" and the term "salary" to "remuneration", but these changes do not renew confidence in the appointment process. They are politically correct changes for a politically incorrect practice.

Bill C-49 will reorganize the Immigration and Refugee Board, but that does not change the fact that Pierre Trudeau's former executive assistant is on the board, along with the defeated Liberal MP Gary McCauley. We are paying these people $80,000 a year.

Let the truth be known. The cost cutting, the 271 positions and the whole exercise being proposed by the President of the Treasury Board has no teeth. The bill for all its fanfare saves no money and offers no innovation. The only innovation is the use of common sense that we would propose. Why were these appointments not eliminated a long time ago? Why did he wait and take the great glory of doing it all at once when the positions have been sitting empty for a long time?

I have some serious problems with the bill again with what I perceive to be the smoke and mirrors concept. Clause 5 of the bill proposes that the minister will have to wait for a request by the chair of a tribunal or agency in order to investigate or apply any disciplinary measures to a member if the chair feels there is cause.

One could argue that the chair is right there and aware of what is happening to the members and therefore it is only appropriate that the chair should advise the minister if he perceives any impropriety. That is a good argument, but there is nothing in the bill which causes the chair to report to the minister if he is the one who is accused of impropriety. There is no mechanism to deal with that.

The bill also allows the minister to hide behind the chair if the chair does not report to the minister an impropriety of his colleagues. Clause 5 allows the minister to hide behind the chair. That is the type of innuendo which we see built into legislation. If there is a problem down the road with any member of any agency, the minister can say: "I have not had a report from the chair. My hands are tied". Nothing will be done. These innuendoes in the legislation will ensure the smoke and mirrors game which the government is so fond and capable of playing.

I do not recall the minister talking about this aspect of the bill. The CBC and the CRTC for many Canadians are the bastions of Canadian culture. The CBC is Canadian owned. It is paid for by the taxpayers. It promotes Canadian culture. The CRTC regulates our broadcast industry to ensure that Canadian content rules are followed. Those are laudatory goals. Bill C-49 allows us to appoint non-Canadians to the boards. I scratch my head. I shake my head. Are we now going to say that boards such as the CBC and the CRTC no longer require Canadian citizens?

The only way individuals cannot have Canadian citizenship is if they have not been in the country for three years. They have landed immigrant status but they have not been here long enough and therefore they cannot apply for Canadian citizenship but they can sit on the board of the CBC or the CRTC.

Even if an individual has been here for three years, they must be sufficiently committed to Canada to say: "I want to be a Canadian. I want to be known as being a Canadian. I want to stand up and be proud of the country that has adopted me and I want to take out Canadian citizenship because I am proud of this country and I want to support this country". No, we do not want these people on the board. We only want landed immigrants.

Bill C-49 says that our Canadian culture, which this government and many other governments before it have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting, can be run by non-Canadians. The hypocrisy is beyond belief, that this government, which has just gone through a referendum and almost lost the country through its incompetence, should now turn around and give us in Bill C-49 these bastions of Canadian culture no longer requiring Canadian citizenships. It boggles my mind. I find it quite incomprehensible. I have no idea what this government is trying to achieve.

If anybody doubts my word, take a look at clause 38 on page 11 regarding the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

A person is not eligible to be appointed or to continue as a director if the person is not a Canadian citizen who is ordinarily resident in Canada or a permanent resident within the meaning of the Immigration Act or if, directly or indirectly, as owner, shareholder-

My point is the government has opened it up now to include non-Canadians, and that is not just the CBC but the CRTC and other organizations. You do not have to be a Canadian to sit on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

These are things in the bill that the minister made no mention of at all. There are all kinds of little things that have been slipped into this bill that I find rather offensive and I would have thought the minister would have spoken out clearly on them.

I am also looking at the page on the Race Relations Foundation, clause 68. In clause 68.(1)(a) the objectives of the foundation are to undertake research and collect data to develop a national information base in order to "eliminate racism and racial discrimination", a laudable objective again.

However, now the government has changed the act. Rather than trying to help eliminate racism and racial discrimination it has moved it into the pejorative to eliminate racism and racial discrimination. I would suggest this is an oxymoron. As long as we continue to undertake research and collect data on the number of people of various colours, sex, racial origin and so on that we have in this country, we will guarantee the continuation of racism and racial discrimination. That has been foisted and fostered and counted by the bureaucrats and agencies of this government.

I could go on at length. There are many situations in here that I would like to bring up, which we will do at committee. That is flavour of the types of issues that deserve to be properly aired.

In his speech the minister said that they want to rethink government, reach people the best way possible, that people do not like big government, they want government that is close to the people it serves. The minister should have been talking about decentralization and delegation rather than political appointments and so on.

I support the Bloc's amendment. This type of bill is not laudable, as the minister would have us believe. This bill is not going to advance government, as the minister would have us believe. It is not going to reduce patronage, as we would believe. It is not going to fulfil the red book promises, as the minister would have us believe. Therefore the Bloc's amendment is perfectly in order.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bruce—Grey Ontario


Ovid Jackson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-49, the administrative tribunals, remedial and disciplinary measures, act.

I would like to comment on the remarks of my hon. colleague from St. Albert. As I understand it, to date this government has made 2,040 GIC appointments to agencies, boards and commissions. Of these, 525 or 25.7 per cent were reappointments. These persons, I understand, were there before November 4, 1993.

This bill is an integral part of the government's approach to getting government right, renewing the federal government and restoring the confidence of all Canadians in our national institutions.

In 1994 a review was conducted of all federal boards, agencies, commissions and advisory bodies as one of several initiatives aimed at reducing the cost of government and improving the efficiency of its operations.

The objectives of the agency review were to simplify government by eliminating unnecessary and inactive organizations, to streamline operations by examining the size of boards and their remuneration of members and to ensure that these bodies were geared to meet the challenges of today and the demands of years ahead.

Bill C-49 is the second omnibus bill that has introduced changes resulting from agency review. Last year, this House approved the first bill, Bill C-65, the government organization act No. 1.

Today's bill will improve the accountability and administrative consistency of 30 organizations. It will amend the statutes governing 13 federal boards, agencies and commissions by restructuring or downsizing them. It will wind down 7 organizations that are no longer necessary. It will eliminate 271 governor in council positions. By these measures, Bill C-49 will save taxpayers some $2.5 million annually.

Agency review was conducted under the leadership of the President of the Treasury Board. His commitment to cost effective and streamlined government is yet another example of what can be accomplished by a government that is determined to serve Canadians efficiently, honourably and compassionately.

Good government means creating jobs and growth, creating opportunities for every Canadians.

The critical part of the jobs and growth agenda is reshaping government so that it is lean, efficient and sensitive. It must respond to the needs of Canadians, helping all of us adapt to global change and an increasingly competitive marketplace.

The bill reflects our commitment as a government. We promised good government to Canadians and we are delivering on that promise.

I appreciate that a 70 page omnibus bill can be somewhat intimidating at first glance. However, the changes it introduces are quite straightforward and involve twelve types of proposals. Perhaps it would be helpful to hon. members if I commented briefly on each kind.

The first three of the twelve types of proposals deal with accountability requirements for governor in council appointees. These involve changes in tenure, designation of chairperson and remedial and disciplinary measures. These follow from the decisions about the accountability in the final report of the agency review released in February last year by the President of the Treasury Board.

The next three types of proposals concern the appointment authority of winding up agencies and restructuring.

The next five are housekeeping items and the last type of proposal deals with other changes for better management of several agencies.

Accountability is being improved, for instance, by changes in the tenure of some governor in council appointments. The changes will allow the government to manage agencies, boards and commissions more effectively. Members are aware that governor in council appointees serve either during good behaviour or during pleasure. Perhaps serving during good behaviour may be removed from office only for cause, while persons serving during pleasure may be removed at the discretion of the governor in council.

In cases where good behaviour appointees are not justified by a need for independence and impartiality, the bill amends tenure to serving during pleasure. This proposal will affect five agencies, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

I should add that there are transition clauses in the bill so that the changes will not apply to incumbents.

A related change affects the appointment provisions for the chairpersons of several tribunals. Most chairpersons who are serving during good behaviour have the status of members, which is actually the status that warrants the good behaviour tenure.

For consistency, clarity and accountability, the bill modifies the appointment provisions in six agencies so that a person will be appointed a member first and then will be designated chairperson. As a member, he or she will serve during good behaviour; as a chairperson, he or she will serve during pleasure. The agencies include the Copyright Board and the Civil Aviation Tribunal.

This appointment provision already exists in a number of other administrative tribunals such as the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and the National Parole Board.

Again, there are transition clauses in the bill so that changes will not apply to incumbents.

Another element of accountability arises on the rare occasion when it might be necessary to discipline or remove a member of an administrative tribunal. Statutory provisions for the discipline of good behaviour appointees already exist for appointees on the Immigration and Refugee Board, the National Parole Board and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.

Bill C-49 brings in standard provisions for these three organizations and other administrative tribunals.

Contrary to some speculation, standardizing these provisions will not make it easier for the government to remove appointees. One of the standard provisions will ensure that the governor in council has the authority to remove good behaviour appointees from office for cause, as is already the case in most statutes.

The expression "during good behaviour" in itself does not clearly authorize the government to remove the office holder whom it has appointed and who appears to have breached that standard. As the law stands now, the government will likely have to seek assistance from a court.

In order to provide the government clear authority to act on its own, some further legislative provision is needed. Therefore when Parliament states that a public office holder serves during good behaviour, the practice has developed to go on to say that the government can remove him or her for cause. This formula is not new. It can be traced back to the 1903 provisions that created the first federal administrative tribunal, the Board of Railway Commissioners.

Viewed in this context, the reference to the governor in council's authority to remove for cause should not be taken to add any new grounds of removal beyond those already included in the concept of good behaviour. Nor does it allow the government to avoid its duty to act fairly in exercising the removal power.

The changes do not prevent and office holder from securing redress in a court if he or she had been wrongfully dismissed.

As the final report of the agency review noted, it is important for the government to have the authority necessary to match its accountability for managing federal bodies. The bill standardizes the appointment provisions of seven organizations so that they are consistent with normal practice. For example, the National Arts Centre Act is being amended so that the governor in council rather than the board of trustees appoints the director of the centre. This is important because the government is accountable for the performance of the organization.

The provisions of Bill C-49 wind up seven agencies that are no longer necessary. They range from the Petroleum Monitoring Agency with one governor in council position to the Veterans Land Administration with 32. In all, 49 governor in council appointments will be eliminated.

The bill also restructures or downsizes 13 agencies for a further reduction of 222 governor in council appointments. For example, the Canadian Polar Commission will be reduced from 12 to 7 members. The positions of 50 citizenship court judges will be eliminated. Members of the advisory committee of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation will be elected rather than appointed by the governor in council.

Bill C-49 standardizes remuneration provisions to clarify that full time board members of 13 organizations are entitled to be reimbursed for travel expenses only when they are absent from their place of work. It also changes the word "salary" to "remuneration" for 13 agencies to allow consistent interpretation.

The bill standardizes workers' compensation coverage for governor in council appointees in 19 agencies. Currently these appointees are not covered by the Government Employees Compensation Act in case of injury or disease arising out of their employment. Nor are they covered by the Aeronautics Act in case of flight injury or death as a direct result of a flight undertaken in the course of their duties.

To conform with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to be consistent with the Immigration Act, the bill amends the provisions of acts affecting nine organizations to permit the appointment of permanent residents as well as Canadian citizens. Limits preventing people over a certain age from serving as appointees are removed from these statutes.

The bill eliminates references to the masculine in the English version of some acts, replacing the term such as "chairman" with the gender neutral term in this case "chairperson".

Bill C-49 introduces other changes for the better management of several agencies. For example, the mandate and financial accountability regime of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation will be clarified. Provision will be made for the Immigration and Refugee Board to hear cases with one member panels. The governor in council will no longer be required to approve salaries of senior officials of the National Film Board.

All these changes, major or minor, reflect the commitment to provide Canadians with good government. Bill C-49 makes sensible changes in a reasonable way, which is the hallmark of our approach to renewing the federal government.

The passage of the second omnibus bill is an important step in achieving agency review goals of eliminating over 800 governor in council positions and saving the Canadian taxpayers about $10 million each and every year. I invite all hon. members to join me in assuring speedy passage of this much needed legislation.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-49, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

This bill was tabled last June 14 by the President of the Treasury Board and would rationalize federal organizations, boards, commissions and advisory bodies. It affects 46 agencies, of which 7 will be dissolved and 39 restructured or modified.

Bill C-49 provides for major changes in the operation of administrative tribunals. These tribunals, which are often less well known than superior courts, nonetheless have a major impact on the daily lives of Canadians and of Quebecers.

These tribunals often hand down more rulings than superior courts. In addition, their rulings often have very important consequences for citizens and for the Canadian government. In fact, there is no longer any doubt about the importance administrative tribunals have acquired in recent years. They are regularly the site of battles between the government and private citizens seeking rulings on the respect of their rights.

There is currently a bill to reform administrative tribunals before the Quebec national assembly. Questions as important as the independence and impartiality of administrative tribunal judges are now being discussed.

This same problem can also be found at the federal level. Bill C-49 could have provided a solution to the fundamental problem of partisan appointments to administrative tribunals. The Liberals would rather stick their heads in the sand.

In an era when the public is so cynical about politicians, the President of the Treasury Board would have shown honourable courage in tackling the question of political appointments to administrative tribunals. Instead, he introduces even more partisan rules, increasing the control of the political arm over administrative tribunals.

Certain provisions in the bill are of particular interest to me. The bill contains a new mechanism for removing from office persons appointed by the Governor in Council to administrative tribunals. Those appointed may, after certain procedures have been followed, be removed from their duties for just cause, by the governor in council.

The process set out in the Bill can be initiated by the chairperson of the administrative tribunal by asking the minister concerned whether the members of the tribunal in question ought to be subjected to disciplinary or corrective measures. The chairperson must cite one of the following reasons: incapacity, misconduct, failure to properly execute the office, or incompatibility.

After the request is received, the minister may take one or more of the following steps, at his discretion: obtain information himself, refer the matter for mediation, request an inquiry, and/or take no further measures. In the case of an inquiry, the governor in council may appoint a judge of a superior court to conduct the inquiry.

Then, only after a inquiry report has been submitted, can the minister recommend that the member be removed from office or suspended without pay, or impose any other disciplinary measure or any remedial measure.

The Minister's recommendations are totally at his discretion, regardless of the content of the report.

The bill standardizes the appointment of chairpersons of administrative tribunals. All will henceforth be designated rather than appointed. Such a major modification makes the chairperson highly vulnerable to political pressures from the government, which can quite simply designate a new one, any time it sees fit. I shall speak later of the specific situation of the Immigration and Refugee Board, which is, as we know, the most important administrative tribunal in Canada.

These new measures are likely to undermine the credibility of administrative tribunals still further and, particularly, to make them still more dependent upon political power. Without an in-depth reform of appointments to administrative tribunals, measures that seriously hamper the independence and impartiality of these tribunals should not be introduced.

As we all know, the President of the Treasury Board refuses to deal with this important issue, because he does not want to give up the sacrosanct powers of ministers to appoint the members of administrative tribunals. Any reform of or change to administrative tribunals must tackle the arbitrary way in which administrative tribunal judges are appointed and their mandates renewed. Political patronage in a quasi-judicial process should have no place in a modern democracy like ours.

The Dictionnaire de droit québécois et canadien defines administrative tribunal as follows: ``a generally autonomous and independent body, which the government has empowered to settle disputes between itself and its citizens''.

In 1995, the President of the Quebec Bar Association clearly stated in this regard: "The lack of job security may have unexpected psychological impact on the decisions of a person who may be more concerned about pleasing the government than rendering a fair judgment".

Administrative tribunal members may even be reluctant to set legal precedents favouring citizens at the expense of the government.

I would now like to analyze some provisions of this bill which deal with the Immigration and Refugee Board.

On March 2, 1995, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced the introduction of a bill aimed at reducing from two to one the membership of the refugee status determination tribunal of the IRB.

The bill amends section 69.1 in the Immigration Act. This provision provides that two members are usually needed to constitute a quorum at hearings on refugee claims. Except in three particular cases, any split decision by a two-member tribunal is deemed to favour the claimant. Consequently, the claimant needs to convince only one member of the validity of his claim to be recognized as a refugee under the Geneva convention.

This bill will modify this system so that all refugee claims can be heard by a one-commissioner tribunal, except in complex cases in which the chair may assign more than one member.

Let us take a historical look at the make-up of this board. In 1985, at the government's request, Rabbi Gunther Plaut tabled a report on refugee status determination in Canada. The basic condition of this new system was that a high quality hearing be held before a decision maker. Three models were suggested, one of which provided for a hearing before a one-member board, except where a negative determination were made, in which case the board would be made up of three members. It also provided for an appeal, where authorized, to the Federal Court.

In the fall of 1985, the Standing Committee on Labour, Employment and Immigration reviewed the Plaut report. The committee did not approve any of the three suggested models and decided on a two-member board hearing. In the case of a split decision, the claim would be approved. It would also be possible to appeal a decision before the Federal Court, if the court agreed to hear the appeal.

The committee felt it was desirable for decisions to be made by two persons. Its rationale was the following: the issue of credibility is paramount in processing refugee status claims, as claimants generally cannot present oral or written evidence in support of their claims. That is why it is better to have two persons determine whether or not the claimant is truthful.

The committee also suggested that a divided decision be viewed as a favourable decision, thereby giving the benefit of the doubt to the claimant, which is in keeping with the policy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, provided of course that the claimant's story is credible.

This can be a controversial issue. For some, particularly refugee advocacy groups, the current system, which requires a favourable decision by one member only, greatly reduces the risk of a bad decision being made. It also appears that a number of members prefer to share the onus of the decision and thus develop a certain collegiality.

With all due respect for these organizations, I believe that a tribunal made up of only one member will cost less, be easier to set up and, more importantly, will allow the IRB to hear a greater number of cases. This, however, is based on the assumption that the board will have more hearing rooms available.

It is to be noted that the delays and the backlog in the processing of IRB files are considerable and in fact unacceptable. It should also be pointed out that no other tribunal in Canada has an initial decision process similar to the IRB's, not even those hearing criminal cases, where the consequences may be very serious for the accused.

A one-person tribunal may have the effect of making the member more responsible. If the member proved to be unable to make decisions alone, he would not deserve to keep his job. In any case, there should be a review process, in case the member makes an erroneous decision.

When the member for York West was the Liberal Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, he was strongly in favour of an internal review system at the IRB. In November 1993, he said he wanted to amend the refugee determination process, so that unfavourable decisions could be appealed within the Board. The former minister even said that the lack of an appeal process was a flaw.

While I agree with the idea of having one instead of two members hearing a claim, I wonder about the qualifications of some members appointed by this government. The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, of which I am a vice-chairperson, reviewed several appointments and reappointments.

In many cases, the appointments are exclusively partisan. In fact, there is only one way to become an IRB commissioner, and that is to have worked at some time or other for the Liberal Party of Canada, or to have friends in the party. And the salary is very interesting: $86,000 and up annually. The length of service to the party also determines the length of the appointment: one year, two years, three years or four years.

I would like to give a few examples of the patronage appointments of this Liberal government. It should be noted that in the 1993 election campaign the Liberals condemned the political patronage of the Conservatives of the time. The Liberal Party of Canada was going to be a strong advocate of honesty and integrity in government if elected, or so it told us.

But now Mr. Interjit Bal has been made an IRB commissioner. His previous experience included working for the Prime Minister during his leadership campaign and for the Liberal Party of Canada during the 1993 election. He was also chair of the ethno-cultural committee of the Liberal Party of Canada. He was forced to admit to the standing committee examining his appointment that he came into Canada illegally. He was therefore obliged to step down from his duties as commissioner.

I will mention other partisan appointments to the IRB. Auguste Choquette, former Liberal member; Raymonde Folco, former Liberal candidate in the riding of Laval East; Patricia Davey, married to an assistant to former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; Milagos Eustaquoi, former Liberal Party candidate; Janet Susan Rowsell, who worked for the Minister of Justice.

I was an Unemployment Insurance Commission referee from the union movement. During the Conservative reign, I often criticized the partisan appointments handed out by Brian Mulroney. The present government continues to appoint faithful Liberals, often very incompetent ones, to chair arbitration boards. The same situation can be found in the Bank of Canada, the Senate, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian Pension Commission, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and so on.

It is very important that the initial hearing of a refugee claim be of the utmost quality, as I have said here in the past. The board members must, therefore, be competent and well informed.

On March 3, 1995, in response to accusations of patronage, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced the creation of an advisory committee composed of a chairperson and four members. I have, however, been extremely disappointed with the outcome, for the committee continues to appoint incompetent board members. It is a known fact that there has been no improvement over the way things were before, under the Conservatives.

In closing, I would like to invite the Standing Committee on Government Operations to have the part relating to the IRB examined by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, since this is a highly technical matter and our committee has something to say on this. There are organizations which want to come and testify before the committee, and the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Government Operations gave us the particular opportunity to contribute our opinion on Bill C-49.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia


Ron MacDonald LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my 20 minute time and my question or comment time with the member for Broadview-Greenwood.

I am extremely pleased to speak on a bill that some might otherwise think is of a technical nature and that is perhaps not as stimulating in its subject matter as some others that are vigorously debated on the floor of this place.

This bill is exceptionally important for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that when this government makes a commitment with respect to what it wants to do once given the mantle of power by the Canadian public, that it is prepared, even if it is not the sexiest or the most flamboyant piece of legislation, to put its money where its mouth is. We are prepared to go forward and do what we told Canadians we would do prior to the last election, rationalize the way the federal government acts in all aspects of its responsibilities between the provinces, the municipalities and, more important, between our boards and our agencies and the people of Canada.

When the Liberals ran in the last election we made a number of commitments and the member for St. Albert from the Reform Party wanted to speak about that. He was trying to speak in an off-handed way about the commitments that this party has made in the red book.

We had a departure at the beginning of the campaign last time in 1993. We said that rather than have different people as spokespersons for our party going around the country saying different things to different audiences, we were going to put it in writing. As the Prime Minister said at the time and again the other day, you do not have to read my lips, read my record, read my red book.

In the red book we made certain commitments. The member for St. Albert did not want to hear this today but later this week with the great Liberal Party, the party that has crafted this fabulous country of ours for most of the last 130 years, at the convention this weekend there will be a book that will probably be put forward. It will indicate the successes and the commitments that we have made and we have kept through the red book on behalf of the people of Canada.

When we deal with restructuring government, we have to recognize that over the past number of years, many times when we thought that we had more resources than what we had, it was okay for governments because traditionally they had a program in a particular area to hold it close and not even want to review it to see

whether there was any modern reason for us to continue with those responsibilities or those programs.

We said to the Canadian public, after those disastrous two terms of the Tory government, the previous administration, that we understood that Canadians wanted a parliamentary system, a Parliament, a legislative body, that was modern, that was responsive, that said what it was going to do and then did it. That is exactly what the Liberal Party has proven over the last three years.

We started off by coming in and we looked at program review; things that were not always easy but things that nevertheless had to be done. We were saddled with an enormous debt and deficit and a government out of control when it came to spending the public purse. That was a right wing Conservative party at the time, subsequently replaced by a smattering of Reform Party MPs who sit across here and natter at us from time to time.

What we set about to do was put a plan in place. We wanted to ensure the Canadian public had confidence, that when the Prime Minister, the ministers at the front bench or the Minister of Finance stood in this place and said these are the programs and these are the targets, they did it with credibility, that the Canadian public and the business community would know that when we said we were going to do something we did it.

The Minister of Finance was appointed by the Prime Minister. In successive budgets we have shown ourselves capable not just in articulating the targets and the programs to reach those targets but in surpassing those targets each and every time that we have been put up to the measure of the test of the public of Canada.

Indeed we have had to do some very difficult things. We have had to go about reinventing government. We had to look at what made sense in the modern context and where the federal government should be, where its programs and responsibilities should be. Perhaps it would be better placed either with the private sector or with other levels of government.

We set out in an unprecedented fashion under the minister responsible for government reorganization and government operations. We set about an unprecedented task of program review. During that program review we looked at each and every area of program delivery of the federal government. Where it made sense we said we will keep it, enhance it. Where it made no sense we decided to look to see first if we should be in that business and second if there was another level of government or another participant in society, the private sector, that could do it better.

We had to shrink the federal public service and that was not an easy thing to do. We had to do it in order to put some fiscal sanity back into the way we conduct our business as a nation. We did some things that were easier to do. We rationalized things.

We saw, for instance, that we had a number of fleets plying the oceans of this great maritime nation. We had a coast guard fleet. Then we had a fisheries and oceans fleet. I am on the harbour in Halifax. In my riding we had a coast guard base with a fleet and we had a fisheries and oceans base with another fleet.

However, through program review we saw what made sense and consolidated both of the fleets together. It made more sense operationally, and being good guardians of the public purse, it is what we told Canadians we would do if we were given a mandate in 1993. We said we would try to put this country back on the road to fiscal sanity.

We have done a number of other things. We looked at the transportation sector. The former minister of transportation, the Minister of National Defence, had a look at that big monster called the Department of Transport and walked in with a critical view. He asked what the Department of Transport did and why do we continue to do it.

At the end of the day it made sense to get rid of the bureaucracy at the air transport sector. It made sense to allow local airport authorities to be established to make the local decisions so that those airports, the wonderful infrastructure that can create real sustainable jobs, was put in the hands of local authorities who would know best how to manage them.

We went even further than that and looked at some of the subsidies that had been in place for far too long in the transportation sector. Where they did not make sense any longer we eliminated them.

The other thing was to deal with Canada's marine policy. There is a bill currently before a House committee dealing in a wholesome and holistic fashion with every aspect of Canada's national marine transportation policy. For example, the port of Halifax has been saddled for years by a heavy bureaucracy that does not allow it to do what it can do best, which is to use its location to its advantage, to be competitive and create jobs. The government is going to unleash that yoke from around its neck. It is going to ensure that places like the port of Halifax, the port of Vancouver and the port of Montreal are able to do what they do best which is to operate under private sector principles. The government is disengaging and disentangling itself from those operations. That is what we told Canadians we would do.

The substance of this bill is important. A lot of boards and agencies are established by the governor in council. Not only do they give advice but in many cases as in the case of a tribunal, hand down major decisions that have a substantial impact on the lives of many Canadians.

Rather than sit back and say that there are 800 or 1,000 appointments that can be made by governor in council and we are going to keep them because they are there, as was the way it was done in the past, in 1994 we set out to do a complete review of these agencies and boards with the same critical eye that we did program review. We found out which ones made sense, which ones we continue to need in the interest of public policy and which ones should we keep or perhaps streamline or downsize so that they are less of a drag on the taxpayers' wallets.

As a result of that, this bill will wind up seven federal organizations. It will restructure or downsize 13 other organizations. Other amendments relating to accountability and some housekeeping measures will affect 34 other organizations. This bill will eliminate over 271 governor in council appointments and will save the Canadian taxpayer over $10 million annually.

In the broader course of large federal government expenditures this may not seem like a lot but it was a commitment we made in our campaign leading up to the 1993 election. We are a party that is committed to the details of the promises that we give to our electorate. Indeed, we have come through and we now have a more streamlined system of boards, agencies and tribunals than we have ever had before.

My Reform Party friend from St. Albert stood up and started to list by name individuals, good, solid Canadians who have given up their time to serve on public boards, agencies and tribunals to ensure that there is public input and that we do not have governments administering programs in a vacuum. He mocked those individuals on the floor of the House of Commons. He alluded to whether or not they were Liberals.

The hon. member would do his party a far greater service, instead of taking cheap political shots at individuals who have had the good sense to allow their names to stand and to serve on these agencies and boards, if he would concentrate his efforts on looking at the high calibre of individuals that the government has been able to attract and appoint to those agencies and boards for the greatness of Canada to ensure that the public policy of these boards, agencies and tribunals is executed by those of the highest integrity.

In conclusion, I wish the bill speedy passage. I hope that my friends in the official opposition and in the Reform Party finally recognize that sometimes as a government we have to appoint Liberals. After all, 60 per cent of Canadians claim to support our party.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in the House of Commons this afternoon on this bill.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the work that my colleague from Dartmouth has been doing over the last few months as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade. Most Canadians will realize that our export numbers have never been this high in Canadian history in terms of percentage increases. All too often Canadians do not realize that members, such as the member for Dartmouth, when they are not here sitting in the House of Commons doing their work, are busy working with small, medium and large industries in all regions of the country, assisting them and signing contracts that lead to the export of Canadian goods and services. The member should be celebrated for the work he has been doing on international trade.

When I listened to the President of the Treasury Board speak earlier in the debate today, I could not argue with him when he spoke about the notion that we must have a smaller, modernized government, and that we must make sure that the overall financial objectives are kept in mind when we are going through the whole program review, or as some people have described it, reinventing government.

In principle, I support all of those objectives. I certainly would support the bill today which is tidying up some agencies and reducing orders in council which will make government more efficient.

However, I am concerned that the pathway of reinventing government is going too fast and in many cases is too dramatic. First is the overall objective of trying to reduce the deficit in a rapid fashion. I have a concern that in the process of doing this we will be dismantling aspects of the Government of Canada that we will live to regret in the not too distant future.

The member for Dartmouth talked about the port of Halifax. In my city of Toronto, the port of Toronto is something that not only serves as an agent for industrial building and policy making, but is also a large symbol of the presence of the Government of Canada in the major market of Toronto.

Fortunately, the bill relating to the harbours of Canada has the flexibility that if in certain regions you want to exempt certain harbours and still have them in the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada, then with enough support it can be done. But my concern is the fact that as we cut, dismantle and offload, we will eventually get to a point where the levers that the government needs from time to time to activate industrial policy will be weakened to a point where they will not be effective.

Even though we are on the right pathway, we had better make sure that we do not cut off our nose to spite our face because some of these instruments are going to be very important for us in the future, especially in the whole area of national unity. The presence of the Government of Canada in every province is something that I

personally believe should be maintained in a very vibrant and active way.

There is another thing I want to mention when we are talking about this bill of reinventing or renewing government. I would like to see the government as it goes through its program review take on the challenge of reviewing the work of the Governor of the Bank of Canada. That was a governor in council agency that many years ago was offloaded from the Government of Canada. It is almost an independent body, other than the fact that the Governor of the Bank of Canada is appointed by the governor in council, the Prime Minister. Of course the Governor of the Bank of Canada routinely meets with the Minister of Finance.

For all intents and purposes the Bank of Canada works almost in an independent fashion from this Parliament. I believe as we are going through program review it would be an interesting exercise if we took a look at just how the Bank of Canada operates.

I for one believe that the relationship between the Bank of Canada and the chartered banks of Canada, the financial institutions of Canada, is an area that needs intense scrutiny, intense review. As we move forward on this pathway of deficit and ultimately debt reduction, if we are not careful we are going to have a repeat of what happened from 1987 to 1988 and the first part of 1992 where the governor, John Crow, essentially put a ratchet on inflation to the point where he just broke the confidence of Canadians. He broke the confidence of small and medium sized businessmen and women in this country. He created a factor of fear that essentially tilted the economy. It is very important that this agency of government be put under the microscope of program review by the Government of Canada.

I want to conclude by saying, as the member for Dartmouth said, there are many good men and women who over the years have served these crown corporations, these agencies of government in a very productive way. When the Conservatives are in power it is a normal natural process that they would promote the friends that helped them get their government elected. It is not any different for a Liberal government or a Reform government or whoever it might be that is given the trust of the people.

Obviously you choose the people to put into strategic and sensitive positions who reflect the views that you have been mandated to implement. It would be a pretty silly experience to put somebody in that did not share your views. With the nature of the human being these people might be tempted from time to time to sabotage your policy objectives.

By and large these people have served these agencies well. I do not think anyone in the community or in the country should feel that these reductions in orders in council or the dismantling of these agencies have anything to do with the quality of service that these men and women have provided on behalf of Canadians over the last number of years.

I am happy to conclude on this note. It is very important, as we continue to go through this program review, because we have been going so hard and so fast, that we not dismantle this place to the point where the national government no longer has instruments that allow it to serve, produce, create or provide the type of role that it needs to make sure of the economy and service to the public that this place has to provide from time to time. Do not shut it down to the point where we lose our effectiveness.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Broadview-Greenwood for raising the perspective of the angle of policy implementation.

I would like him to comment on competence and accountability, particularly in these senior roles. This was not mentioned by the Reform Party. There were the appointments of Perrin Beatty to the CBC and the Right Hon. Kim Campbell as Consul General to Los Angeles. There have been other examples of non-partisan appointments. The competence and the accountability of those people and their track records are certainly very important. I wonder if the hon. member would like to comment on that.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mississauga South for his question.

I have a problem with the appointment to the CBC. I do not have a problem with the individual. I have known Perrin Beatty for many years. He has served Parliament and this country well. I am one of his biggest fans. However, I have a problem with the fact that he would be more sympathetic with the general pathway of cuts that we are on with the CBC. For me, as someone who has been a traditional supporter of the CBC, especially in the outlying regions of Canada, I probably would have lobbied to put somebody in charge of the corporation who held a more traditional view of what the CBC is all about.

I applaud Perrin Beatty as an individual. I believe that as someone who would be sensitive, of course, but sympathetic to a reduction in the presence of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the government could not have chosen a better person.

That is the balancing act that it has to go through. I wish my colleague from Mississauga South had not mentioned the CBC. That is an example of the point which I was trying to make in my remarks.

In a major market like Toronto one could argue that there are so many options in terms of private sector radio and television, et cetera, that maybe we could let the private sector do it. However, remember how this country was built. This country was built by ensuring that the outer regions had a shot at the same quality of service, in all sectors of the economy, as the people in major

markets. One area where the CBC has done a terrific job is in the outlying regions.

I do not know how the CBC will be dismantled. However, we must ensure that we do not begin the process of weakening the galvanizing forces which held all regions of the country together.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-49. It has been mentioned that what started out as a kind of dry, stuffy, sterile debate about patronage appointments, administrative tribunals, the shuffling of papers and so on has evolved into a more serious debate about a vision of Canada.

I have been listening to the speeches from across the way. They are right to applaud the reduction in the number of patronage appointments that this bill allows for, the reduction of 271 positions. That is good.

We like that part of this bill. It is a good start on a messy problem. I like that part of the bill as far as it goes. That is good.

As we get talking about these positions and what they represent, it becomes really a statement of what type of country we are looking for. Is it a country, as the hon. member mentioned earlier, that demands a stronger federal government and stronger federal institutions, large tax dollars that go with it, big government programs that must be administered from a central government in order to keep the government together? That is one argument, for example, the argument of the CBC and the patronage appointment that goes with that.

The hon. member mentioned earlier that he did not like the trend that is happening with the CBC. I think it is fair to say it does not seem to be following on Liberal red book promises. I can see there are some dicey problems there for some Liberal members.

Really the vision is the two visions of Canada. One is the way to keep the country together, the way to keep Canadians happy and the way to give Canadians what they deserve from their federal government is that whole package of a billion dollars for the CBC, a billion dollars for Canadian heritage, a billion dollars for ACOA, a billion dollars for WED, a billion dollars here, a billion dollars there. Pretty soon we are talking real change.

The reason the Reform Party has come out with its fresh start vision of Canada-the debate could be entered into here I would hope-is that we are trying to show a different vision of where the country could go.

The Liberal-Tory vision, whether Perrin Beatty or whoever it is-it does not really much matter because I kind of lump them together-is one vision of Canada that is lots of money, big programs. I could go down the list. The best way to look after children is a national daycare plan, a red book promise to expand and spend more money.

The Reform Party's vision is that is not the best way. The best way is to leave money in the hands of families to make their own child rearing decisions and leave it with them. Give them considerably more resources, increase their personal exemption, increase the tax credit available for raising children and let parents make the decision on how to raise their children.

We have one vision, a Liberal-Tory vision, and a Reform Party vision. On the CBC, we say when the original mandate of the CBC came through it served a very useful purpose. It was basically the only national communications tool. The only way someone could get from Frobisher Bay to Vancouver Island and points in between was through the CBC. That was all there was. It was basically CBC radio to start. Then it expanded.

We say again now is the time to check the vision of the country. We say that CBC radio is still serving a national unifying force. It is not that expensive. It is very well received by Canadians as is something like CBC "Newsworld". It is relatively cheap and provides a service from coast to coast.

We are saying that right now in Canada with telecommunications being what they are, changing over the last 50 years, we are looking at a different vision. We are saying privatize CBC television. Let it do the job that B.C. TV does, that CTV does and CKBU and all the other channels that compete on the multichannel universe and turn a profit.

In other words, all these things start to sift out the different vision of Canada. I have spoken to members of the Liberal caucus about this. They say, for example, that the way to keep Quebec in the fold, a happy member of the federation, is to have a stronger federal government.

That way it would have so much influence in the country, so much buying power, so much spending power, so much influence on programming and so on that Quebecers just cannot leave. Everything from cradle to grave is covered by the federal government. The federal government is in every area of their lives and they have to stay. We are so pervasive.

The Reform Party's argument is that is a lousy way to keep Quebec and the rest of the country together. We should be concentrating on the areas we do well in at the federal level. The leader of the Reform Party mentioned the other day that it boils down to about 10 or 12 areas that the federal government can focus its attention on. They are important areas like the Criminal Code,

regulating interprovincial trade, international trade, financial institutions, national defence, border patrol, customs and so on.

We can focus our energy on what the national government does best and then for Quebecers, British Columbians and others we should say that much of what is left is in their bailiwick. If Quebecers want to promote the French language and culture in their province because it is a wonderful language, a lovely culture and something we all appreciate as Canadians-but Quebecers are naturally most concerned about that-we will not invade that area of spending. We will leave that with Quebecers. It should be theirs. They should spend money on that as they see fit and we will not intrude. We will not muscle in on their political territory. That can be theirs to manage.

We will not be involved in natural resources. That is a good thing for the province of Quebec to maintain, as it is for British Columbia. We will not tell Quebec how to spend money on cultural events. That is Quebec's bailiwick and other provinces will look after their own.

In this kind of a bill, although it is a small thing, we see the two different visions of Canada. We see one vision that there will be 2,225 patronage appointments left after this bill. And who will they be filled by? They will be filled by good loyal Liberals. There is the odd exception. There is the Perrin Beatty exception and so on, but let us face the facts.

The facts are the longer you are a pedigree in the Liberal Party the more likely you are to be appointed to a good position. As the member for Broadview-Greenwood said earlier, that is the way it has always been done. It does not matter whether it is Liberals or Tories, that is just an accepted way. I am not sure how that is supposed to make Quebecers feel more at home.

I do not know what people from the GTA think about this, but how can they possibly think that the way to build national unity, the way to build national cohesiveness is to dole it out to Liberal hacks?