House of Commons Hansard #92 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was promise.


Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in addressing this motion I would like to start with the Liberal red book and end with the Liberal red book.

Let us start by assuming that there was some good will there that went into the creation of that document, that there were honest, noble members of the Liberal Party who said, sitting in opposition: "We need change. We have to respond to the people of Canada who are saying let us have change, let us revise the rules of the way we are doing things. Let us do things better".

I assume that even the member for Kingston and the Islands was one such person and the report he put forward which forms a contributing document to the red book was made in good faith. Having said that, what happens to it?

When the Liberals were in opposition I think they were sincere and honest in saying that we really must have this. Now they flood the government benches and oh what a difference it makes.

In the creation of the red book the Liberal Party brass, the creators of strategy asked what it is that the people of Canada want. They had a pretty clear message at that point of what the people of Canada wanted, which was integrity and honesty in government. Their red book was created by that stimulus. They said: "Fine, let us promise to the people of Canada what it is that they want, and we will put all that in the red book". It has wound up as a book of promises and the government says it has kept 78 per cent of them. We give the government 30 per cent at the most.

One of the contributing documents for the red book which has already been cited today is the document "Governing with Integrity". Having read it in my role as an opposition member I totally subscribe to it. It states: "If government is to play a positive role in society, as it must, honesty and integrity in our political institutions must be restored". The Liberals felt that was true at the time and I am sure it was, but it is still true and it has still not been achieved.

Again from "Governing with Integrity": "This erosion of confidence seems to have many causes. Some have to do with the behaviour of certain elected politicians, others with an arrogant style of political leadership". Hold on. This is the Liberals talking about the Conservatives. "The people are irritated with governments that do not consult them or that disregard their views or that try to conduct key parts of the public business behind closed doors". That is the Liberals talking in the creation of their famous red book in 1993.

Lest anyone say this is sour grapes or this is just a westerner talking, let me quote from an article written by Michel Venne in Le Devoir yesterday about the unhappiness of the Canadian electorate:

"For the past week, the Liberal Party of Canada has been congratulating itself in a way bordering on indecency, given that, since the Liberals took office in 1993, the country has come within a hair's breadth of disintegration, while poverty and voter cynicism keeps growing from coast to coast."

That is the view from Quebec. The Quebecers say that the cynicism of the electorate is prevalent from coast to coast. Let us look at the reasons for that cynicism. Let us examine some of the specific promises made in the Liberal red book.

Number one: "We will restore Canadians' faith in themselves and their government". Has that been done? The answer is a resounding no, and we will get that no from province to province from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

They also promise: "We will implement new programs only if they can be funded within existing expenditures". That is a very nice promise. Certainly it was probably their intent at the time to keep the promise to implement new programs only if they could be funded within existing expenditures.

How about the latest foray by the Minister of Canadian Heritage into flags at $23 million, and the establishment of-let us call them what they are-government propaganda offices across the country at a cost of well over $100 million? These are new programs that were unfunded and magically, funding has been found for them but not for other things.

There is an example close to us in Ottawa, in Chalk River, Ontario. A superconducting cyclotron needs $3 million of bridge financing to keep it going but the money is not to be found. The government cannot find $3 million or even half of that amount, presuming that the rest would come from private industry. No, the money is just not there.

The same case can be made for Whiteshell Laboratories in Manitoba. The government simply cannot find the money or the means to make its promise of looking at the privatization of that laboratory. It has simply been left to wither on the vine.

These were promises made and promises not kept. The government, when it wants to implement new programs, we have the example of the grant of a loan to Bombardier in Quebec. Was that necessary? Well it was only necessary from a political point of view. New money is found for anything that suits the purpose of the government.

Promise No. 4: "We will exercise unwavering discipline in controlling federal spending and we will re-order current spending priorities to make sure the maximum return is obtained on each investment". It really sounds good: unwavering discipline in controlling federal expenditures. Look around and we find example after example of the flagrant disregard for that.

Just to show that the Liberals did keep some of their promises let us look at a kept promise. Promise No. 7: "A Liberal government will cancel the $5.8 billion purchase of EH-101 helicopters". They kept that promise. The only problem is that it has cost us a few hundred million dollars just to keep the claimants away and we still do not have a replacement three years later. They kept the promise but to the detriment of the country.

Let us go on to some of the other many unfulfilled promises made by the Liberals. Why did they make these promises? They made them purely to get elected. I will reiterate my opening statement that without a doubt some statements were made in honesty at the beginning and some of those were incorporated honestly into the red book. However, they went on from there to say: "No, winning is the thing. We must win and we must win at any cost. Therefore, do not mind what promises are made, we will just see how we can cope with that".

Another promise: "The Liberal government will replace the GST". That one has been pounded into the ground so I think I will leave that for others to hit.

Here is another promise: "A Liberal government will work closely with provincial governments to achieve the maximum possible co-ordination of tax policies". We have seen where that one has gone in recent months. It has made a hiatus in the Atlantic provinces and other provinces are totally unhappy about it.

Another promise: "A Liberal government will be committed to the elimination of interprovincial trade barriers within Canada and will address the issue urgently". What has been done on that? I recall there was a little effort made in 1994 and perhaps there are a few minor items going on but the work that is desperately required is not happening.

Promise No. 17: "The Liberals will manage this trading relationship with the United States in a way that best serves Canada's interests". They are talking about the GATT, the NAFTA and such things. Let us look at examples from the last year or two with respect to our trading with the Unites States in fish, in softwood and in wheat. We do not have anything which is serving Canada's best interests. There are problems. That is not to say that they have not put some effort into it. Of course they have, but it is insufficient. Once again it amounts to a broken promise.

Let us move on through the pages. The Liberals said they would prepare for the transition from school to the workplace and provide a constructive outlet for the skills and talents of younger Canadians who are the innocent victims of Canada's prolonged recession. They said they would enhance the opportunity for job training and improve the literacy and numeracy skills of Canadian workers, and improve access to employment for women and single parents by making quality child care more available.

Those are wonderful words. It is an admirable aim for the government to have said: "Look Canadians, this is what we are going to do for you. We are going to make 100 more promises like this, but unfortunately we are not going to be able to keep them". As a promise it was wonderful. It was certainly a worthwhile aim. That is indeed what the government should be doing. It should be keeping the promises which were made in this book.

Let us go on to other promises along the same line. The Liberals said that a Liberal government would gather information on these developments of job training, skills and disseminate it to all those responsible for the education of our children. That has not been done.

In collaboration with provincial governments the Liberals would introduce a voluntary national achievement test in math, science and technology. Again, that is a very worthwhile aim. I laud the Liberals for having thought of all these wonderful things, but I do not laud them for having put them in this book and then not having kept those promises.

They were also going to work with business, labour and provincial governments to provide funding to establish apprenticeship programs for the new economy. Once again, what could be better than to establish worthwhile apprenticeship programs? This country needs more of them, but we are not getting them. The Liberals have simply not delivered on their promise.

Let us turn the page. What do we have? "A Liberal government will provide the necessary funds and administrative support to launch pilot projects in community projects across Canada within the first year of a Liberal mandate. We will invest $100 million a year in the Canadian Youth Service Corps". I have to say that is not a totally ignored promised. There has been something done.

I have in my own riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan a very worthwhile project concerning the Canadian Youth Service Corps. The trouble is, it only involves 16 or 17 young people. The promise was to invest $100 million a year. That is not being done. Again I will give credit for what is being done, but what is not being done is what we are calling the Liberals to task for.

All of these are examples of broken promises. They are good intentions. If the Liberals want good parliamentary government and good government across the country, they should read their red book again. They should read again the contributory documents that were made probably in good faith to say what the red book is all about, that they are the basic documents. They should read them again and ask themselves if they have kept their promises to the Canadian people, starting and ending with the promise to have a deputy speaker who represents the opposition in the House. It was a good intention. They simply did not measure up to it.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

October 29th, 1996 / 5:25 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON


That this House unequivocally reconfirms the undoubted rights and privileges of the House of Commons, won from the Crown and which became part of the law many centuries ago, and in particular the unfettered right of the House and its committees to at all times compel the attendance of persons and require them to answer questions and to compel the production of such papers and documents as the House or committee considers necessary for the due carrying out of its mandate.

Mr. Speaker, if this motion were to be voted on today it would cause this House of Commons for the first time in its 129-year existence to publicly articulate, declare and confirm its absolute right on behalf of all citizens to send for persons, papers and records.

The authority to require the attendance of persons, to have the persons answer questions and produce documents, as well as the right to institute inquiries, are essential elements of our parliamentary process. They are part of the law of Canada. They are founded in the Constitution Act of 1867 and the Parliament of Canada Act. Each of Beauchesne, Bourinot, Erskine May, Maingot and the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993 has recognized this historic and longstanding body of parliamentary privilege.

Unfortunately these powers are not commonly understood by or in some cases respected by parliamentarians, the executive branch and the public. That is why I have moved this motion on what I consider to be a very important matter for Parliament.

Let me draw to the attention of the House some of the problems that have been encountered in this area, that have arisen in the past and that continue to recur today.

In 1991 the then solicitor general and Correction Services Canada refused to provide to a committee of the House the complete, unexpurgated reports of inquiries into escapes from correctional institutions of an individual by the name of Leger and another individual by the name of Gingras. Each of those individuals had escaped and had killed innocent Canadians.

Inquiries were held and the House of Commons committee on justice at that time was undertaking a review. As I said, the solicitor general and Correction Services Canada refused to turn over the unexpurgated versions of those two reports.

In the end it took approximately 12 months to receive the reports. We had a number of lawyers, a number of parties, committee hearings, privilege moved in this House and ultimately the unexpurgated reports were provided under the basis of a House order which was consensually agreed to. That process which took 12 months is not sufficient. Everyone in the House knows it. That is one example of why the House should adopt this motion at this time.

I am also personally aware of confusion and sometimes ignorance at the Department of Justice where lawyers continue to advise their clients as lawyers to the clients, but we must forgive them in some cases. They are in fact advising their clients. They are not advising the House of Commons. They are not advising parliamentarians, they are simply telling their clients the limits of their legal rights. In some cases this manifests confusion and, I regret to say, ignorance of the law of Parliament.

Clearly this is not acceptable to parliamentarians. I am sure there are many other examples being experienced by parliamentarians in committee from time to time. I know there are some instances extant right now.

Why this motion now? The Canadian House of Commons has never formally articulated this element of parliamentary privilege. It is noteworthy, however, that other parliaments have done this, especially when confusion has arisen. For example, the House of Commons in the United Kingdom reconfirmed its power over witnesses in 1947 and the Senate of Australia did the same thing in 1975.

The way to reconfirm and re-assert the authority of the House of Commons and clear up the confusion is by the adoption of a resolution such as this. In my remarks I want to discuss a bit more of the background to this motion, the purpose of privilege and the enforcement remedies available to the House. Finally I will comment on some practical implications.

Why do we have this particular authority or power to call for persons, papers and documents? The power to send for a person's papers and records is central to the ability of the House and its committees to discharge their responsibilities. This was confirmed in the first report of the standing committee on privileges and elections in February 1991 dealing with the Gingras and Leger matters to which I referred earlier.

There is a phrase of which members may be aware where the House has been described as the grand inquest of the nation. Historically, the House of Commons has been considered to be a grand inquest in the United Kingdom and also in Canada.

Lord Coke first described the House of Commons in this way in the 17th century, and courts have continued to use that phrase ever since. The House of Commons and the other place act as a kind of a check on the executive branch and I will talk a little more about that later.

What is the legal basis of this particular privilege? First, section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867 which I will not read because it is there for reference. Second, it has been restated in sections 4 and 5 of the Parliament of Canada Act. Of course, a recapitulation of all of that is in Standing Order 108(1)(a) of the House. It states, and I will paraphrase: "Standing committees shall be severally empowered to examine and inquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House and to send for persons, papers and records". In effect, that is a comprehensive delegation by the House to its committees of that power to call for persons, papers and records.

The courts have commented on this and I just want to note that for the record. The Supreme Court has stated its opinion on several occasions. It has described these privileges as fundamental. It has stated: "It is clear that the privileges inherent in legislative bodies are fundamental to our system of government". This was in the case of New Brunswick Broadcasting Company v. Nova Scotia.

Second, the court has commented that these privileges are necessary. It has said that parliamentary privilege and the breadth of individual privileges encompassed by that term are accorded to members of the Houses of Parliament and the legislative assemblies because they are judged necessary to the discharge of their legislative function.

Third, these privileges are a part of our Constitution. They are part of the fundamental law of our land.

By this brief review of the statutory basis of parliamentary privilege, it will be noted that it is within the scope of the House or its committees to inquire into any matter within Parliament's authority to enact legislation.

What are the documents that must be produced? What are the questions that must be answered?

For the reasons I have just discussed, Parliament and its committees have a very broad range of powers. No person may ignore the order to appear, nor decline to answer a question, nor refuse to produce a document. To do so is a contempt of the House for which the House may exercise its lawful power to enforce sanctions which include the power of detention.

Here are some of the authorities I want to cite for the record: "A committee is not restricted in the scope of questions it can pose and a witness must answer all questions put to him". That is from Maingot, page 163.

"Committees may send for any papers that are relevant to their orders of reference. Within this restriction, it appears that the power of the committee to send for papers is unlimited. Witnesses must answer all questions directed to them even over their objection that an answer would incriminate them". That is from Beauchesne, page 239, citation 862.

Canadians may be asking what protection is afforded to a witness who provides such evidence or documents. Even if a claim were made that a witness violated a statute's provisions by providing information or documents to the House or a committee, that witness would automatically be clothed with the protection or immunity of the House and cannot be prosecuted.

This immunity is described in Beauchesne as follows: "Every witness attending before the House or any committee thereof may claim the protection of the House in respect of the evidence to be given". That is page 237, citation 853.

"Nothing said before a committee, or at the Bar of the House, may be used in a court of law. Thus a witness may not refuse to

answer on the grounds of self-incrimination". That is Beauchesne, pages 27-28, citation 109.

Finally, article 9 of the Bill of Rights, 1688, which the Supreme Court of Canada noted in the 1991 Patriation Reference and which is part of the public and general law of Canada, states: "That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament". Forgive me for going back 400 years to find that one.

The enforcement mechanisms that are available to the House are available to the House and not to committees. These are the procedure to be used where a witness refuses to appear as set out in Beauchesne, among other volumes: "If a witness should refuse to appear on receiving the order of the Chairman, or if a witness refuses to answer questions, this conduct may be reported to the House and an order immediately made for the attendance of the person at the Bar or before the committee.

"On further refusing to obey, the witness may be ordered to be sent for and brought to the Bar in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, or may be declared guilty of a contempt and ordered to be taken into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms". That citation is from Beauchesne, page 238-239.

In my research, I went back another couple of hundred years to the year 1704 and found the case of an unfortunate Mr. Lee of Clement Inn who I am sure was not an ancestor of mine. He might have been. In any event, Mr. Lee had failed to respond to an order of a committee of Parliament. The resolution of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom which was adopted found him guilty of contempt and required that he be taken into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms.

Even a former Canadian Prime Minister has been held in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms. That was in 1873. Sir John A. Macdonald failed to attend a committee meeting of which he was a member and was ordered into the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms. The former Prime Minister was not discharged until after the reading of his doctor's affidavit indicating his ill health that existed at the time.

In 1913, not that long ago, Mr. R. C. Miller refused to answer questions before the public accounts committee. The matter was reported to the House. He was summoned to the bar but he persisted in his refusal to answer. The House committed him to the Carleton County jail until prorogation or until the House otherwise decided. That citation is at page 30 of Beauchesne's.

Occasionally the matter of crown privilege arises. It is not truly a privilege but a claim that is put to the House of Commons and Parliament on behalf of the crown that usually involves a matter of state. Rather than being an absolute exception to the rule, the matter is taken under advisement by the committee or the House and is disposed of on a common sense basis. I put it that way so as not to derogate unnecessarily at this time from the main principle found in my motion.

I would like to recap for a moment. I have discussed the legal basis for the privilege. I have talked about why the privilege applies, the remedies and the enforcement. Why is this motion important to us? I have thought this through carefully and I think there are three or four reasons.

First, it deals with the public perception of the role and the authority of the House of Parliament and the other place. In my experience the production of documents is the single greatest obstacle I have ever encountered as an MP during my work at committee. The existence of this circumstance is eroding the public's confidence in Parliament. Parliamentarians are more than just a debating club and a cheering section for the government. If parliamentarians cannot get the information our committees are out of business; we cannot do our job.

My second point is fairly simple. If we do not establish the principle all other questions regarding exceptions, privileges and privacy are all moot. We will never be able to deal with the exceptions until we have the principle.

Third, I reiterate how other houses in the Commonwealth have dealt with the matter. Perhaps I will avoid too much detail recognizing that the clock is running faster than I am flipping pages of my speech.

On August 13, 1947 the House of Commons in the United Kingdom reconfirmed its authority to require the attendance of witnesses by resolving:

That the refusal of a witness before a select committee to answer any question which may be put to him is a contempt of this House, and an infraction of the undoubted right of this House to conduct any inquiry which may be necessary in the public interest.

The attorney general of the United Kingdom at that time said:

We are now putting the matter beyond all possibility of doubt by this motion.

The mover of the motion, Mr. Morrison, said:

The point is not one on which any doubt can be allowed to continue. It should be cleared up and the motion is to make the position entirely clear for the future as regards any committee of the House.

The Senate of Australia passed a similar resolution in 1984.

My final point is that we can clear up doubt on this matter once and for all by confirming this privilege with a motion. We must act in such a way as to fortify and buttress the powers of Parliament, the rights of Parliament and the privileges of Parliament as they exist now and as they have always existed. This resolution does not create new law. It simply confirms what is there. The House has not passed a resolution of this type in its entire 129-year existence.

There is some ignorance, denial and confusion out there with which we must deal.

It is an embarrassment to me as a parliamentarian that for 129 years we have muddled along without articulating it. We simply assumed that all the authorities and authors who have written for us would do the job. It is not their job; it is our job. It is our duty as parliamentarians to deal with the issue in this way and the time has come to deal with it.

The House will confirm the principle. It will be there for all parliamentarians, all writers, all the Beauchesnes who write about Parliament and study our rules.

I hope the debate will not fall on deaf ears. I would like to think this motion could be passed but of course it is in the hands of members. I thank members for giving the matter their consideration.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River and I am pleased to speak to his Motion M-142. And in doing so, I am in good company, since I have the hon. member for Gaspé at my side to support me, should I become weak.

Motion M-142 reads as follows:

That this House unequivocally reconfirms the undoubted rights and privileges of the House of Commons, won from the Crown and which became part of the law many centuries ago, and in particular the unfettered right of the House and its committees to at all times compel the attendance of persons and require them to answer questions and to compel the production of such papers and documents as the House or committee considers necessary for the due carrying out of its mandate.

The English version of the motion translates the French word "indubitables", in reference to privileges, as "undoubted rights and privileges". If rights are undoubted, unchallenged, there is no need really to reaffirm or reconfirm them.

In fact, the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River provided a brilliant historical demonstration, and knowing his attachment to the parliamentary system, I am sure he feels this demonstration even in his frustrations as a parliamentarian. I will share some of my own with you in a moment.

I do not think that it is necessary to pass the motion again. That said, should the question be put again, I will gladly vote in favour. But it is worth reaffirming from time to time rights so longstanding in the British parliamentary system, probably dating back to the Magna Carta of 1215, the Oxford provisions of 1258, the Bill of rights of 1689 and all the legislation that, little by little, over the course of centuries, have affirmed the rights and privileges of the House of Commons and Parliament.

I assume that the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River has put this motion before us today not to have a purely academic debate, but in response to actual situations. I will not speak for the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River, but for myself. Since the very beginning of this Parliament or almost, I have been sitting on the sub-committee on national security, which was set up by the Standing Committee for Justice and Legal Affairs.

One of the matters we have worked on was the Heritage Front affair. On many occasions, at in camera sessions, with members of Parliament in attendance, we have had members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, better known as SIRC, appear before our committee as witnesses.

These people systematically refused to answer questions, to table uncensored versions of documents they had sent to the Solicitor General and to co-operate in any way with the committee.

At the time I moved a motion before the committee to have the Chairman of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, Mr. Jacques Courtois, cited for contempt of Parliament. It was divine providence that prevented the motion from being debated because, meanwhile, Mr. Courtois had died.

The other members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee had never volunteered their co-operation either. Neither the chairman pro tempore nor the other members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee. We had to sit for months and months to try and get clear answers to clear questions. All the members did was look at the clock to check when the committee's time was up, and they then rose without having answered the question.

These same members of SIRC, although they had been informed of their obligations by the general legal counsel of the House, Ms. Diane Davidson, refused to answer our questions. They refused to answer, even when the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River, chairman of the sub-committee, ordered them to answer.

In spite of all that, they left us in great good humour, but we never got an answer to matters of substance. Our report to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs was, to all intents and purposes bereft of substance. We could not include any pertinent elements because we had no evidence, which was the fault of those who were supposed to serve the Canadian people by providing accurate replies to the elected representatives of the people.

By hiding behind the oath of office they had taken to keep their information secret, members of the Security Intelligence Review Committee refused to answer the questions asked by the elected representatives of the people. In a parliamentary democracy, this is a moral sin.

Unfortunately, the text of the motion of the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River does not solve the problem. These rights are not discussed but are perhaps open to discussion in connection with the contemporary element which might be added. These rights are not really being questioned, it is the exercise of those rights which is being questioned. That is where politics enters into it.

There was nothing to prevent the subcommittee on national security from promptly making a report to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which would in turn have reported to this House so that the Security Intelligence Review Committee could have been brought before this House for contempt of Parliament and subjected to sanctions commensurate with the offence committed. But no political majority ever came together to have these people charged with contempt of Parliament.

For months and months the question hung fire, and I understand the political constraints under which the chairman and member for Scarborough-Rouge River found himself. Despite all of his attempts at negotiation, he could not compel the members of SIRC to provide answers.

When a parliamentary committee is totally paralyzed, rendered incapable of action by people who refuse to bow to the laws of the country, we are-you will pardon the expression, which may seem to be going almost too far-almost in a state of insurrection. People mandated to do something, who are categorically refusing to do it.

If the question were to be raised again, as it will be-we have already had to adjourn a meeting of the subcommittee on national security-the next time the people of the Security Intelligence Review Committee come before the subcommittee on national security and again refuse to respond, as they have for months, for years now, to the legitimate questions asked of them, I shall be the first in line to table a motion that they be accused of contempt of Parliament.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the issue I address today relates to the investigative and probative powers of committees. I certainly applaud the member for Scarborough-Rouge River for his very informative review of the rights of the House and its committees. Too often it is forgotten that Parliament is the highest court of the land and that the committees as creatures of this House are component bodies of the high court.

In the discharge of our duties as parliamentarians to carry out our mandate it is imperative that committees be given the unfettered right of the House to compel attendance and subpoena witnesses, and such powers must be afforded every committee and every full member of these bodies.

I listened intently to the Bloc member relate the circumstance regarding the subcommittee on national security and the efforts that committee went through to get full evidence before the committee. It should not be the case.

Unfortunately I must report that my personal experience with committees has not been consistent with the high goals advanced in this motion. Take the recent cased put before the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on which I serve as a full member. It was advanced that the standing committee use its probative and investigative powers to study a certain matter of alleged employment insurance fraud and report its findings to Parliament.

It was explained that Elizabeth Roux of Montreal went to the University of Southern California in September 1994 but kept collecting employment insurance benefits to the tune of $5,200 until January 1995. It was further presented that the RCMP was called in to investigate the matter. It determined that Roux "did by trickery, lies and other misleading methods defraud the Canadian government". I explained to our committee that the RCMP recommended that charges be laid.

I also presented evidence that the Montreal office of Human Resources Development Canada also recommended trying Roux. The department sees hundreds of cases a year of EI recipients studying or vacationing outside the country while continuing to collect benefits in violation of the law requiring claimants to be actively seeking and readily available for work.

The Roux case would appear on the surface to be just like any other case but it is more involved. Many of these EI snowbirds and scholars cost Canadians at least $60 million annually. They are such a problem that human resources recently began cross-referencing EI records with customs declarations Canadians file when they return to the country to help them spot the cheats.

I also explained to my committee colleagues that most fraud cases of this type have accomplices, someone back home, usually a close friend or relative who collects the EI cheques and forwards them to the absentee claimant. In Roux's case her partner in deception was her mother who mailed her daughter's false declarations of employability to the EI office from Montreal so they could be postmarked in Canada. She then collected Roux's cheques and deposited them in a joint mother-daughter bank account.

I explained to the committee that charges are almost always laid against accomplices even if the unlawfully obtained benefits are paid back as was the case with Roux. There is in effect a zero tolerance policy. In the case of globetrotting claimants they are invariably fined and almost always charged with fraud.

I imparted to the committee that most Canadians would expect that Roux and her mother would be charged. But they were not. Justice department lawyers refused to proceed. Coincidentally Roux's mother is a Canadian senator, Senator Therésè Lavoie-Roux. Senator Lavoie-Roux was a provincial Liberal cabinet minister for 12 years and it was apparent that her pedigree and political connections may have very well factored into the decision not to lay charges.

Herein is the issue. Two independent federal organizations, the RCMP and the human resources fraud investigators, recommended that charges be laid. Immediately thereafter the justice department, inexplicably, refused to lay charges. The subject of the investigation had real and substantive ties to the political process and the standing committee refused to allow an investigation.

That the government in power would use its majority to suppress my motion for parliamentary investigation into a matter as important as the case illustrated today demonstrates the need to effect the goals advanced in the motion we debate today.

No one can tell me that the Liberal government does not recognize the need to have a more open process in the committee. In fact, the subject for debate prior to Private Members' Business dealt with the promises of the red book. The Liberal red book promises point to several sore spots which need to be corrected.

I noted yesterday that clearly in the preamble to the red book there is a concern on the part of the Liberal government that there have to be some changes. It reads: "Mounting criticism of the House of Commons and its proceedings reflects the frustration of citizens and parliamentarians alike with the continuing failure of Parliament to address effectively the problems that face us". It continues: "Canadians, including those who are elected to serve Parliament, expect the House of Commons not merely to discuss openly the problems of the nation, but also to advance solutions".

Time and again the public has viewed parliamentarians and senators as being above the law. This has been questioned on numerous occasions and there have been regular press reports on these cases.

I will continue to quote from the second paragraph of the preamble to the red book: "They expect the Commons to explore Canada's problems rationally and to establish policies for resolving them. These expectations are not met". That is the statement made by the Liberal government in its red book. I do not believe it is being met adequately.

Parliament must remain the highest court in the land. We the elected officials must possess the tools to carry out our duties and to ensure that justice and the law apply equally to all Canadians. By refusing the right of our committee to investigate the matter of fraud, for instance, involving Senator Lavoie-Roux, the members opposite who serve on the justice and legal affairs committee have contravened the spirit and substance on which the motion which we are debating is founded.

An article in the Edmonton Sun reports that these occasions will hit the press time and time again. I will quote briefly from the Edmonton Sun , the press' view as outlined with the information at hand: ``The RCMP reportedly recommended laying charges, as did the Montreal office of Human Resources Development Canada. But the justice minister says his department has looked into the case and found insufficient evidence to warrant charges. Last week the Liberals used their majority in the Commons to defeat a Reform demand for a parliamentary investigation. Lavoie-Roux claims there was no attempt to defraud. She did not know there are EI rules against making claims while resident in another country''.

"From a former social services minister this is impossible to swallow", the press said. "She didn't see a problem. Why not mail the claims then from California if there was no problem? We could demand to know why mother and daughter have not been charged. Unfortunately that is rather obvious".

Situations of this nature bring the whole parliamentary system into disrepute. If this motion is to have any meaning, Senator Lavoie-Roux, should be called before a committee, questioned by its members and the findings reported back to Parliament.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I take peculiar pleasure in speaking to this motion. This is quite incredible because it pertains to one of my direct ancestors. I refer to one Thomas Percy who, on November 4, 1605, was chased by the soldiers of James I because he had been involved in the gunpowder plot.

Thomas Percy joined up with Guy Fawkes and they rented a building next to the Houses of Parliament, spent six months burrowing through the wall into the cellar under the House of Lords. They filled it with 20 barrels of gun powder and intended to blow up the entire House of Lords, the privy council, James I, and hopefully get his successor as well.

The plot failed, as members know, and my ancestor was pursued on the road to Dover and was captured at an inn where the king's

men rode up in the rain. Thomas Percy and other members of the conspiracy had laid their gunpowder out to dry in front of the fireplace and a spark ignited it. There was an explosion and the king's men successfully captured my ancestor, Thomas Percy. He was hanged, drawn and quartered, all in the name of trying to obtain parliamentary privilege for members of Parliament.

This issue of privilege goes back for centuries in parliamentary tradition. In fact, the English civil war was fought over this issue. It is not just a matter of summoning documents, it is also a fundamental issue of free speech and the ability of MPs to have freedom from arbitrary arrest or interference by the crown, by the state. James I, who was the target of the gunpowder plot, on several occasions arrested members of Parliament. This led directly to the English civil war which, I am happy to report, parliamentarians won against the royalists. This is one reason why we have privileges entrenched in the Canadian Parliament today.

I should say that privilege, the right to speak freely in the House of Commons, the right to order documents, the right to have true witness from those we call before us, is something that has been fought long and hard for in the British tradition.

However, we Canadians were fortunate because in 1867 we adopted these privileges in the Constitution Act without a war, without bloodshed and they became an essential part of our parliamentary tradition and an essential part of the way the House of Commons functions. If we cannot have immunity from arrest, if we cannot have freedom of speech and if we cannot summon the evidence that we must have in order to make our decisions clearly, then this Parliament cannot function adequately and serve the people who elected it.

I come to Motion No. 42 from the member for Scarborough-Rouge River. He raises the question of whether we have left behind the sense of privilege. Is there something the matter? Are we getting the return on the sense of privilege as it pertains to the summoning of documents and questioning of witnesses? I suggest we are not.

Indeed, what was conferred on us by the Constitution Act of 1867 we are losing through a process of neglect. As MPs we have over many decades failed to establish our need and our right to have the proper documents and the proper testimony from witnesses who come before us.

Indeed, I regret to say that when I was elected as an MP for the first time in 1993, veteran MPs who had been in the House previously told me that there was not much point in taking part in standing committees because it was all by rote. It was all decided by the government in power. It was all decided by parliamentary secretaries who sat in the standing committees.

There has been criticism in the House about the performance of standing committees. Nevertheless I have been very satisfied, for the most part, that MPs who are willing to speak out in standing committees, whether they are opposition MPs or government MPs, can be heard and can make a difference.

It is true-and this is where the motion of the member for Scarborough-Rouge River is so very important-that the one place where we hit a log jam is the repeated instances where officials called before the committee have refused to testify or have refused to give an answer.

The motion is long overdue. It merely reminds Parliament of a privilege it has had for centuries, centuries of parliamentary tradition that should require proper testimony and evidence before the committee.

I remind the House of something that we implement very rarely. Parliament has the option of compelling testimony under oath. This is one occasion on which we can bring people before us. If they fail to satisfy us, they are actually subject to a penalty equivalent to perjury.

In conclusion, looking down the centuries I must say that we in Parliament should remember the origins of privilege in the British tradition which wars were fought over. We should remember that every one of us on all sides of the House have a fundamental obligation to defend the rights of every MP to obtain good information and adequate testimony both in committees and in any other location on Parliament Hill.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.


Jim Karygiannis Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague about the history of his forefather. If he were hanged and quartered I was wondering how my colleague evolved. I will speak a bit about history, democracy and the privileges we should have and should not have.

Democracy comes from two Greek words, part of my ancestry, demos, which means people, and kratos, which means country. In the old ages in Athens people would gather at the bottom of the hill to have a say in what the state should be doing. At that time they did not have elected members of Parliament or an elected system but collectively they were there and made a decision.

As we evolved we came to what we have today, the Westminster system and the parliamentary systems of different countries. People have different elections. Other people get elected at large. For example, in the parliamentary systems in Europe in the second district of Paris 20 or 30 members of Parliament are elected. In Canada we have a plus one system which means one parliamentarian gets elected for one seat.

The constituents who have sent us here want us to voice their opinions in caucus. We all come here, as I did in 1988, with dreams

and aspirations. We find out there is a larger game. We find out we have to listen to our colleagues. We find out there are rules and procedures. It is not what we want it to be but by working in committees and here we can make changes.

I always ask my constituents what one member of Parliament can do. I raise the example of when the Prime Minister put forward a private member's bill back in the sixties and changed the name of the Trans-Canada Airlines to Air Canada. Members of Parliament are effective.

I commend my colleague from Scarborough-Rouge River, for bringing this important motion to the floor of the House. It gives us the right to access information. It gives us the right to ask. We do not have to be wary that if I ask this question somebody will crack my knuckles.

I support the motion my colleague has brought forward.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Motion No. 142 in the name of the member for Scarborough-Rouge River. It states:

That this House unequivocally reconfirms the undoubted rights and privileges of the House of Commons, won from the crown and which became part of law many centuries ago, and in particular the unfettered right of the House and its committees to at all times compel the attendance of persons and require them to answer questions and to compel the production of such papers and documents as the House or committee considers necessary for the due carrying out of its mandate.

I listened carefully to the mover of the motion, a second term member of Parliament who has worked very diligently in a particular area of the House in which many members do not get to participate. It has to do with security, intelligence and review, et cetera.

The issue is important to the member because of the sensitivity and the importance of that area of responsibility in the House of Commons in terms of its mandate to create legislation and to ensure the laws of Canada are abided by.

The principal issue I want to deal with, rather than referring to some of the history, is whether or not the House of Commons should be a body that is prepared in advance for a problem or whether or not it is presently exposing itself to a situation where should there be a problem there would be some confusion.

The principal point raised by the member for Scarborough-Rouge River is a very good point: the House has not in its history dealt with the confusion or uncertainty of the powers of the House.

In my experience over the past three years as a member of Parliament dealing at the committee level, there have been times when I wondered whether or not there was an opportunity to bring to the committee forum additional information or expertise I knew was available but had not accepted an invitation of the committee to be there.

When I think of the important aspects that are dealt with by committees on behalf of the House, it raises a very important issue about whether or not committees have looked for opportunities to exercise this right which exists in law.

The fact that it has not been affirmed within our place and the fact that it has not been tested or applied here are all the more reason for the motion to have been brought before the House.

This is not a votable motion. At the end of the hour debate will cease. However it has raised the issue to a point where all hon. members will be looking for opportunities to test this right of Parliament.

As the member for Scarborough-Rouge River pointed out in his presentation, the Canadian House of Commons has never reaffirmed this right of Parliament and of its committees to call for persons or papers.

There has been a failure to articulate this right which leads to confusion. In the absence of a clear statement of authority, cabinet ministers and government officials may at some time be unaware. The powers of the committee must be more fully articulated.

Another issue raised was public confidence in Parliament. In terms of historical context, committee work in Parliament has not garnered public attention to any great extent.

The role of a member of Parliament is very broad. It is most unfortunate that many Canadians feel the performance of members of Parliament and the credibility of this place are more reflected in the activities during question period, which is only 45 minutes of each day even though the House starts at 10 in the morning and continues to 6.30 at night.

Committees operate in virtually every discipline. Members of all parties are represented on those committees. These facts are not well known to the Canadian public. It is unfortunate the Canadian public does not know what happens at committee. As a result or a consequence of Motion No. 142, possibly the role of committees can be reconsidered in light of the responsibilities seconded to them by the Chamber.

I congratulate the hon. member for Scarborough-Rouge River for raising an important issue in terms of the fundamental aspects of the operation of the House of Commons of Canada, the important role committees play, and the potential for confusion or a problem down the road.

Should a matter of importance to all Canadians and to the laws of Canada arise which would tend to put the House in some difficulty

or jeopardy, it would reaffirm the right of Parliament and the right of the committees to call for persons or papers.

I thank the member for raising the motion. Possibly he would consider reintroducing it at an appropriate time to ensure that the House does not miss the opportunity to be prepared.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to say a couple of words. Obviously there is no disagreement with the intention of the motion. There is a strong feeling about the importance of this principle and the entitlement of Parliament as the highest court in the land to have before it whatever information or witnesses it requires.

I make one point which I hope we all bear in mind. We have exercised this right to be able to fulfil our responsibilities on behalf of the people who have sent us here to govern our country. It is not for our privilege as individuals but in our role as members of Parliament and representatives of the Canadian people. That element has been missing from the debate today.

I compliment the hon. member for bringing forward the motion.

House Of CommonsPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for Private Members' Business has now expired.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and the amendment.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak on the motion which is not meant in anyway to be pejorative of the member in question, a person whom I respect greatly.

The government motion basically asks that the member for Kingston and the Islands be made a deputy speaker of the House. As I said before, while I have a lot of respect for the individual we oppose it on the grounds that it is a breach of promise the government made to the House and Canadians.

It is even more hypocritical because one member who put forth a document when in opposition recommended that two junior chair officers be from the opposition. That was a recommendation made by four prominent government members, one of whom is the hon. member nominated as the deputy chair.

We feel that in order to honour the intentions of the promise made by the government when it was in opposition, it should fulfil its obligation and make an opposition member a deputy chair. That would ensure that the Chair is non-partisan. It would increase the democracy which the government promised. That is one of the many promises which the government has failed to fulfil.

We have put forward the name of the hon. member for Mission-Coquitlam to fill the position. We strongly suggest that the government take that nomination into consideration and make this well qualified individual the deputy chair and thereby live up to its promise.

That is only one of many promises on which the government has failed to deliver. I will address a number of those promises in my speech today.

This weekend I was pleased to attend the Liberal convention in Ottawa as an observer for the Reform Party. The government made repeated claims to its members and to the Canadian public that it had lived up to 78 per cent of its red book promises. That is completely untrue. The government has kept 62 of 198 of its promises. It has failed to keep 136 of its promises. I would like to cite a few of the promises as examples because I do not believe the people know that the wool has been pulled over their eyes on a wide range of issues which deeply affect them.

The first promise I would like to speak about is the GST. The government promised that it would abolish the GST. When we go to the stores what do we pay? GST. The government has had three years to do something about it, but it has done nothing.

Second, it wanted to co-ordinate tax policies between the provinces and the federal government. That was a very worthwhile initiative. It is one from which all Canadians would benefit, whether in the private sector or in the public sector. Has there been any co-ordination? No.

In three years there has not been any simplification of the tax system. The Reform Party has given to the government the elements of a flat tax proposal which would greatly simplify the system. Numerous suggestions have been made by Reform's finance people to simplify the tax system. Has the government adopted any of these measures? No.

Then there was the promise to remove interprovincial trade barriers. I find it ironic that there are more trade barriers between Quebec and Ontario or any two provinces within Canada than between Canada and the United States. There is freer trade between Canada and the United States than between the provinces. That is deplorable. How can businesses become aggressive exporters, aggressive in their areas of endeavour, when the government has created trade barriers?

Trade barriers dampen productivity, increase the costs of doing business within Canada, increase the unemployment rate and generally put a damper on the economy. What a great initiative it would have been if the government had taken the bull by the horns

and brought down interprovincial trade barriers. Unfortunately that has not happened.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I thought that this evening's debate was to deal with the qualifications, the worthiness and the appropriateness of an eight-year veteran of the House of Commons who is being considered for a deputy chair position.

I have listened carefully in the last six or seven minutes. I believe that the litany of all the things which we have or have not done as a Liberal government is not relevant to the issue of this debate.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, could we call quorum, please?

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Can we do one thing first. I think I will rule on the question of order before I do the quorum call. The House belongs to the members. The standing orders reflect, at least in theory, the views of the members. The Chair is not at liberty to say if the member is off the subject.

Accordingly, when the issue is raised as it was by a member, the Chair is entitled to ask that the member speaking, whoever it might be, and I have great respect for the member who is speaking, might please bear in mind the subject matter that we are discussing.

I am sure the member from Esquimalt will quickly be getting to the point that relates to the motion that is actually before the House.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, for the attention of the-

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

An hon. member

On a point of order. Quorum.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry. Yes, in fact there are not 20 members in the House. I would ask that the bells be rung.

And the bells having rung:

And the count having been taken:

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

We now have a quorum. There are more than 20 members in the House.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:35 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the point I was getting to by raising this subject was to show that while the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands is a very competent individual and one for whom we have very great respect, this issue comes from a much larger issue. The issue here is a breach of promise. It has to do with credibility of the government. That is intimately associated with the issue.

The government promised when in opposition that when it became the government, it would democratize the House. One initiative was to ensure that at least two junior members of the Chair would be members of the opposition. That is not what is being done here. Every member of the Chair right now is from the ruling party. There is a vacancy now. The proposal in the House today is to ensure that the vacancy does not go to a member of the opposition but to a member of the government. That is a breach of promise, a breach of a contract and it belies the much larger issue which is that this government is not living up to its promises. These are just a couple of examples.

I want to get to the member's question by raising a couple of other issues which are very much related to the Chair and have to do with democratizing Parliament.

When the government was in opposition it wanted to democratize the House. The Liberals wanted to make sure that committees would be empowered to truly bring the wishes of the public to the House and empower individual MPs and committees to bring forward solid solutions to the problems that affect us all. That does not happen because committees are an utter sham. I do not think the public recognize that. Committees are repeatedly asked to deal with subjects which have very little relevance to the problems that affect the country.

When they deal with relevant matters and work very hard, long hours writing a document, using the expertise and time of members of the House, research staff, witnesses as well as thousands of taxpayers' dollars, what happens to the document? It gets about a day of play in the media then it is tossed on a shelf to be ignored. It has no relevance, no meaning, no input into legislation.

What a waste of time, money and effort. What a waste of the potential and expertise of members in this House. I do not think that the public understands that the committee structures in this Parliament are very much a sham. It is in no way a reflection on the good, hard working members of Parliament, the research and ancillary staff that work very hard to try to make a difference. The structure prevents them from doing that. It is a real shame.

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands with his colleagues had proposed initiatives to democratize the House and the structures under which we labour. However, absolutely nothing has happened.

Today I introduced a private member's bill. Eight came to this House to determine votability. Out of those eight, only one private member's bill has a chance of being votable and therefore becoming law. Why do we have private members' bills that are not going to be made votable, and therefore can never become law? The whole issue becomes a sham and completely misrepresents to the public the fact that their individual MPs have the power to

introduce legislation that can become votable, can become law so that it can have an effect.

It cannot happen because the structure does not allow it to happen. The government has had ample opportunity to make those changes. One of the changes is to make all private members' bills votable. That would empower the members to actually make an honest effort, make an impact on the welfare of Canadians.

MPs also labour under a culture of fear. Because of the whip structure, if they do not do what the higher ups say in their respective parties, individual members of Parliament have their fists put down on them, as the government has repeatedly done. Their privileges to speak are removed. They cannot get on the committees that they want. They are removed from them. They become superfluous to the issues that affect them.

Where are all the big decisions made in this House? The big decisions are made in the Prime Minister's Office by a few selected members of cabinet and by some of the captains of industry. These are the people who make the decisions. It is not this House that makes the major significant decisions that can truly have an impact on the country. It gives democracy in Canada a bad name to see this happening. We do not live in a democracy because this House and this Parliament are not a democracy.

The government has had an opportunity to make changes that would empower individual MPs, would empower committees to actually make a change, to actually give people the power to speak through their MPs and affect the legislation that comes to this House. Unfortunately that does not happen.

The public would be appalled if they truly knew what happens in this place and how powerless most of their MPs are to make changes within our fine country. What great opportunity do we have to do this?

Perhaps the greatest disappointment I have had concerns health care. The government had a great opportunity. Its members said when they were running for office that health care was going to be a priority for them, that they were going to ensure that Canadians were going to get their health care when they medically needed it. They recognized that today Canadians from coast to coast are not receiving their health care when they need it. Instead, the government is adhering to the status quo. Why? Purely for political reasons.

The Liberals want to look like the white knight that is going to defend the principles of the Canada Health Act, defend the status quo and defend the declining state of the health care system within Canada.

The public does not realize that because most Canadians are healthy. However, some are not. It is sad that the sick people are the ones who truly understand the state of affairs of our health care system today.

One of the wives of a member in the House is quite sick. She has been diagnosed with a serious illness. The member's wife will not receive treatment for over 30 days, which is not unusual.

If someone is in British Columbia and requires treatment for breast cancer, the wait is over 40 days. If treatment is required for prostate cancer, the wait is over 40 days. If a new knee or hip is required by an elderly person who is in severe pain, the wait is over seven months. That is not access to timely health care. In fact, it is a transgression of one of the basic pillars of the Canadian health system: accessibility for all Canadians.

We cannot defend the current system as it stands. We can and we must build a better system. Not an American system; that can stay south of the border. We do not want an American style health care system in Canada, period, end of story. What we can do is build a better, made in Canada health care system that will provide timely access for all people regardless of their income and ensure that their essential health care services are going to be met when it is medically needed, not when the bottom line allows it.

Adhering to the current principles as they stand is fallacious. Right now portability does not exist. Quebec and the other nine provinces do not have an agreement. Therefore, somebody in Quebec would not necessarily get their services in other parts of the country.

I have dealt with the accessibility issue. There is no universality. If somebody in British Columbia or any other province chooses not to pay their medical premiums, they do not have coverage. They do not have to be treated. There is a significant pool of individuals who do not have coverage because they choose not to. These people are not covered under the health plans as they exist and they put themselves forward as wards of the state. This is only because they choose not to be covered. Comprehensive coverage also does not exist because coverage varies from province to province.

Perhaps the greatest tragedy I see in this issue is that there is a great opportunity. We have to put aside the rhetoric. The rhetoric the government is putting forth on health care is only going to do a huge disservice to Canadians.

Giving people a choice, for example by allowing for private health care clinics where only private moneys are exchanged and no tax dollars are spent, enables people to come off existing waiting lists if they choose to go to the private sector. This would provide more money for and better access to the public system. The private system would be subsidizing the public system; the rich would be subsidizing the poor. It would provide better access for everybody.

In closing, we disagree with this motion because it transgresses a basic promise the government made. We hope the government does not break this promise as it has broken so many others in its

red book. We hope the government will listen to the ideas put forth by the member for Kingston and the Islands and three other distinguished members from the Liberal government to democratize this House and allow a member from the opposition to sit in the Chair as one of the deputy speakers. We suggest that the member be one from the Reform Party.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to speak to this motion. I have gone through the report, which I am sure all of us have puzzled over, which looks at reviving parliamentary democracy. The member for Kingston and the Islands was one of the people who put the report forward. It is rather shocking, after this report which says that two opposition members should also share in the role of Speaker, that the member now finds himself in conflict in this situation.

I would like to demonstrate the true meanspirited nature of the Liberal government, the true spirit of the spin doctors and manipulators and the whole despicable performance that has been created within this Parliament and this country. We have had years of this sort of government and Canadians are sick and tired of it. Canadians are sick and tired of the old Canada which is withering and full of these problems.

The Prime Minister is really yesterday's man and is leading us backward into the past. There was the situation today where an individual was telling us, totally incorrectly, that because Reformers would dare to visit Washington and talk to all the politicians there, including Mr. Newt Gingrich, that it somehow makes us part of the extremist right. The point to make clear is that the Reformers were probably as surprised as anyone else at just how different we really are, just how much difference there is between a Canadian and an American. Whether we are looking at our political system, social system, hospital system or other systems, the differences are obvious.

Yes, we are annoyed. We are more than annoyed when we get this kind of treatment from that sort of an individual in our country. We Reformers are annoyed when we see posters of an evolutionary chart and we are at the bottom and the Liberals have the arrogance to put themselves at the top. It is that kind of arrogance that would cause a motion to appoint all speakers from the one party, even though there is a promise to democratize this place; a promise to open it up and to make it more transparent, to enter the 21st century with some kind of a vision rather than the meanspirited dictatorship which we are now subject to in this place.

As we examine this motion we can see the deception that has gone on. We can go through the list and talk about some of the promises. There is the member of Parliament pension plan. The Liberals said they were going to reform and fix it. Sure, just a little dust over and now it is fine. Canadians are not going to accept that sort of deception. Who opted out? The members across know who did and we Reformers are proud of it. Reform is showing a vision for the next century.

The Liberals said: "Yes we will get rid of the GST, we will scrap it, we will get rid of it. We promise we will. Elect us and we will do it". Who are the ones who are making politicians the low lives of this country? Who is doing that? It is not Reformers who are doing it. It is the party opposite that is just adding more and more fuel to the fire by the sorts of things that we have seen it do this week.

The GST harmonization: another billion dollar grab from the other provinces. It is not even acceptable in the provinces that have agreed to it but it is better than nothing.

What about health care? Again we have heard the deception, that we are the ones who will burn and scrap this system, that there will be a two tier system. Our health care system is in disarray. Look at it in this province, or look at it in my home province. There are waiting lists. People are waiting 30 days, six months and seven months. My wife has a serious problem and she has to wait three months to see a specialist.

That is the sort of quality we have in our health care system. That is what makes this government say: "Those people across the way, they are destroying the system". It is the $3 billion cut from the feds. It is not just the provinces. Canadians are going to see that and then they will understand what the government is like.

Canadians will then understand why it is going against the recommendation of the member himself, that there should be a person from the opposition put in the Chair. That was a recommendation from the member for Kingston and the Islands and now the government is going against that. It is deception of the worst kind in this place.

The list goes on and on. In 1969 the debt was zero; in 1972 it was $17 billion. Would it not be nice to be back there? Then we really got into it and by 1984, when we were all totally disgusted with the Liberal government, we were up to $180 billion in debt and we said that we could not let it go any further. But it did go further and the day we all got elected it was $489 billion.

Now the Liberals are saying that they have it under control. Canadians are asking: "Do they really have it under control? Do they really? What are they going to tell us in 1997?" They are going to say $610 billion or $620 billion. Under control? Again the whole picture before us is one of total misrepresentation and it goes on and on.

We are told that the unemployment problem has been solved and infrastructure programs are taking place. Boy, that is fixing everything. Tell that to the 1.4 million people who are unemployed, the two million to three million who are underemployed, the one in four people who are worried they will lose their jobs. Tell them it is under control.

Again this deception, this smoke and mirrors, saying one thing and doing something else, saying there will be a more open Parliament, a speaker which will represent all parties. No offence to the position, Mr. Speaker. It is one that all of us in this place honour, but here is a chance to reform this place. Here is a little way of doing it. However, we see closure, shutting down the debate. Again, we add to the nails in the coffin of the people who say what they think about this place.

We can talk about the criminal justice system and how it is doing. Talk to the victims. Yesterday I spoke to a constituent of mine who was victimized by a 10-year old. We are not solving these social problems. We are going down the middle saying that if we close our eyes, we will not have to see them. People are watching and they are seeing what is happening here. When the government does have an opportunity to fix a situation, it does not. It just does not make any attempt to try to change the perceptions people have.

What do Canadians think about the other place? Just ask anyone what they think about it. I do not care what political party they belong to. Ask them if they think the other place needs to be changed. On the kind of change we might have differences of opinion but just ask the people if it should be changed. They will say without a doubt, probably in the 90 per cent range, that the other place needs to changed.

The government has a chance to make some changes here tonight, but it is not going to because it is status quo. The government believes in the old line of thinking. We can look at how things work in the House, how the committees work, free votes and private members' bills. All of those things present an opportunity to make a change.

I cannot help but think back to a couple of years ago on an access to information bill. I was more naive three years ago. I said: "What do you think of this?" I got it from the access commissioner. He recommended this change. It came out of his report. The Liberals endorsed it back in 1990. They said it was a great idea. However, it did not pass the House. The reason it did not pass was two and a half years ago everybody got up and said: "Yes, it is a very good motion, but there will be amendments made to the Access to Information Act. The justice minister will put them forward in the next year or two. Do not worry about it. That is why we voted against your motion". We are still waiting for those changes.

I have put forward another private member's bill which deals with peacekeeping. Should we vote in the House for peacekeeping?

Should we have all the facts before we vote? Should there be atree vote?

That seems very straightforward. Certainly that is what Canadians want. However, it will be defeated in the House because we have to keep the status quo and we have to let a few guys at the top make the decisions.

We have a centralized, sluggish organization that wants to keep the status quo. It could be made much better.

I feel very fortunate to be involved in the foreign affairs area. In that area, if in no other, we should be able to work together on things. We try to work together on issues which are good for Canadians.

Parliament could be much more constructive if we could work together for the betterment of Canadians. Somehow we have to change the system to do that. As long as attendance is like this, and as long as there is so little chance to make a difference we will not make any changes. We will just carry on until finally the Canadian people will say "enough". It should not have to go that far. The country should not have to be hurt that much. Can the country survive if we do not act?

We are now celebrating what happened a year ago. A year ago the vote was 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent. That well could have spelled the end of this country. That is how close we are to Canadians losing faith in their Parliament.

What can we do to bring back the faith? Certainly one little tiny thing would be to elect an opposition member to be the junior speaker. I have heard some say that it cannot be a Reform member. Why does someone not amend it to make it a Bloc member? Make it one of those other guys. Make it whomever, but make it an opposition member. At least start the process of change, change that is so necessary for this House.

We might say that it really will not make a difference anyway because of the Liberal majority and the way majorities work. If we started making changes we might be surprised at how they might catch on. We might be surprised at how that might lead to a better place. It would be a better place for the country, for the members and for all those associated with this place. We would all benefit from that.

I am sure that all of us are asking ourselves if we are going to run in the next election. We are asking ourselves what else we could do. We are asking ourselves if we have made a difference. The thing which makes it most rewarding for all of us is when we go home and we have our town hall meetings and people say: "Thank you for representing us. It must be a tough job".

If I did not hear that a lot I might say "enough is enough".

Because they say that, we come back down here. I often tell them that it is sort of like getting thrown out of the ring, going back home, getting picked up, sorted out and thrown back into the ring. We get on a plane and come back down here and try again.

When we go through something like this, we say: "Is it worth it? Am I making a difference? Are they going to just slam stuff through whether it is good or bad? Is status quo the only thing we think of in this place?"

I plead with the members across as we vote on something like this to think about it, make an amendment, make any kind of amendment to improve this. Show Canadians, show parliamentarians, show the people who are watching that we care about this country.

Obviously the Prime Minister has said enough times in this House: "The only reason there are people who want to leave this country is that they have given up on it". The best way to defeat separatism in any part of Canada obviously is to make it better, make it some place that people can respect and feel part of.

I am saying that this motion that is before us tonight is just one step that might help put us that one more step.

When we hear parliamentarians, as we did this past weekend, rating themselves as A+, as the very best, Canadians are saying: "Boy, let's look at the list on taxation. Are we better off? No. It is $23 billion, We are paying more taxes than we were before".

On the whole social policy, are we better off? No, the line-ups are longer. There are more social programs today than ever before. On labour policies, are we better off? No, not at all. Look at The problems we have in that whole area.

Cultural policies, the unity issue and the report card could go on and on. Canadians out there have that report card. They are keeping score. Again I say to this House that this is a chance to make one little change and show that at least this House is prepared to look at some kind of reform of this place to make it better.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.


John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. You might want to check the blues or the hon. member might want to confirm it, but I think I heard him a few minutes ago use the word meanspirited in referring to this side of the House.

If he indeed used that word, I would ask that he withdraw it. I base that request on a ruling that you made in this House a couple of years ago.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I did hear the word meanspirited. It is the age old story of what is parliamentary today may be unparliamentary tomorrow and vice versa. Sometimes the word is not used in the same context as the other. In this case I found that in the context that it was used it was not unparliamentary. I thank you for bringing it to my attention. It shows that we are all in this debate. I would say at least at this point from what I heard it would not be a point of order.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

7:05 p.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying it is really sad on an evening like this when we will be voting to ask someone to be the deputy chair of the House that we have not had more time discussing the background and the qualities that the member for Kingston and the Islands has exhibited in this House over the last eight years.

With respect to many of the members of the Reform Party, had they been here when we were in opposition when the Conservative government was operating this place they would have witnessed a man who showed a tremendous amount of love for this Chamber. He practically lived in here for his first term.

He developed a keen sense of understanding about the technical aspects of the House. He committed himself to becoming a master of the House, understanding the rules and making sure that there was fair play and accountability on the government side of the House.

I think the members of the Reform Party are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to assessing the member for Kingston and the Islands because they did not witness that experience. He has served a tremendous apprenticeship which suits him to take over this assignment.

It is too bad that tonight, what should be a total acclamation of a great member of Parliament, is being stained and clouded by a diversionary tactic of the opposition to prevent this member who has such merit from being appointed.

For the last little while I have listened to the members of the Reform Party. I want to go back to the very first time that the leader of the Reform Party stood in this House. He said the members of the Reform Party over this term would only stand and criticize the government if they had constructive alternatives to the government pathway and that they would do it in a way that was not like the traditional jousting and bickering that tends to go on during question period.

We can see that after three or four months in this Chamber Reform Party members have fallen into the traditional partisan habits of opposition parties. I find that sad because there were many good thoughts put on the table tonight and many good observations about what really does happen in this House of Commons and in committees. Many of their observations are about the fact that effectiveness of the utilization of committee recommendations is not really high. There is a lot of good talent and good ideas which go on in those committees which really never see the light of day. I thought that some of the Reform members who brought that point up made a good observation.

However, we know that the real root of the problem for this Chamber is not what goes on in the committees and in debate here on bills as they come through the House. The real root evolves from question period. The members of the Reform Party over the last three years had a chance to do something different.

I do not think many Canadians realize how question period operates in this country. I do not think many Canadians realize that most of it is sort of a rigged deal. In other words, every morning we all know that the tacticians from both sides of the House meet in their offices and the opposition members sit there and say "okay, let us see what the media is saying about issues all across the country and let us see how we can sort of find one or two things to embarrass the government". These are not ideas coming from the members from their own committee experiences. By and large they tend to design their questions from what they see in the media.

Lo and behold, on the other side of the House we have tacticians sitting there for the government almost having a contest as to what questions opposition members are going to ask today. They wonder how many questions they can anticipate are going to be asked and how accurate are they going to be. What do we have here? We have a phony joust every day in question period. There is not a member of Parliament in this House who will say that this is anything other than an almost predictable exercise every day.

This is what Canadians are fed up with. They are not fed up with what goes on in committee because they see very little of committee. The members are right, that is where a lot of good work goes on. However, what is the face that we put to Canadians in this Chamber? It is the face of that 30 second little joust clip that goes on in question period. In the last three and a half years Reform members had a chance to try to change that and make question period a more meaningful exercise. That is what the leader of the Reform Party said he would do the first time he spoke in the House.

I want to be specific. I am not criticizing the Reform Party just to criticize. I am trying to convey the genuineness they are trying to show with regard to making the Chamber more meaningful. I say question period could be different. Reform members or the members of the opposition should not govern themselves or design their questions based on the media. They should base them on their own committee experience and what they personally believe is the issue of the day. They should control the agenda rather than letting the media control it.

That is one of the sicknesses around here. By and large the media controls the agenda of most members of Parliament, and it should be the reverse. Members of Parliament should be controlling the agenda.

I give a specific example. Members have stood in the past few hours to talk about the flawed health care system as it is evolving and about some of the shortcomings of government.

I could make the case the Reform Party has caused most of the flaws. I should not say flaws. If the Liberal government has been a little less liberal than what it has been traditionally, it is primarily because of the Reform Party which has an obsession with deficit and debt. How can it be so obsessed with deficit and debt and expect the health care system to be anything other than what it is?

We have a pathway of deficit and debt reduction around here that is crazy. We are cutting off our nose to spite our face. We are destroying national institutions because of the deep cuts that are going on.

The Reform Party has taken some credit for the heavy duty focus on deficit and debt. We in the Chamber are supposed to be here not for the advantaged but to speak for the disadvantaged. Traditionally the opposition party is supposed to make sure government is accountable and there is some balance.

I humbly say those members of Parliament have not been a factor in ensuring a balance as we go through reconstruction or modernization. They have been too extreme and that extremism does not help the quality of life. It exacerbates the breakdown of some institutions going through a very difficult period.

I have a great respect for the Chamber. I continue to enjoy my experience in the House of Commons. I have a deep understanding and respect for where the Reform Party is coming from. However, if Reformers want to make this work, they have to carve out a new pathway or a different approach which should start at question period. Until we clean up the House at question period to make it real and not a gimmick, nothing will change. It will go on.

There is not a kid or a serious person in Canada who will tell us to our face that they love what goes on in question period, that they think what goes on there is great, that they admire what happens there. I have never found the person, anyway. If the Reform Party were serious about making the House more meaningful it would focus on the root problem.

I end by saying that I came to the House of Commons with the member for Kingston and the Islands who is a fabulous Chamber member. He loves the Chamber. He has worked his buns off to ensure that fair play is part of the rules and the different sorts of things that go on here. It is part of his being.

If the members of the Reform Party believe in change, they should not stain an evening like tonight when such a fine member will be appointed in any event. We should all get behind him and

put trust that he and the Speaker over the next few months can perhaps make a few changes.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

7:20 p.m.


Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise tonight to participate in the debate.

The member for Broadview-Greenwood has joined us. As usual he was very eloquent in making his point, but he missed the point of the debate that is taking place tonight and indeed earlier today. The debate is not about the qualifications of the member for Kingston and the Islands. Speaker after speaker on this side of the House has made that point and I will make it. I think he is very well qualified for the position. I have been a great admirer of his but that is not what it is about.

The debate tonight is about his appointment being another Liberal broken promise. It is not about the member. It is about the fact that promises made to Canadians to get elected have not been kept. I will focus my remarks on the severity or the impact of those broken promises on Canadians. This is a small one by comparison to some that have been made.

Last weekend there was a great deal of accounting: "78 per cent of our promises kept". Numbers were kicked around. I have done my own tabulation and I have rated the impact of the promises that were made. The Liberal government made two promises to get elected that I would put in the 90 per cent category: job creation and the GST. Those two promises rated with the Canadian people somewhere about 90 per cent. The others were nickel and dime stuff compared to those two promises. Very few Canadians went beyond the third or fourth promise, but those two broken promises had a great impact on Canadians and played a great role in getting the government elected.

I focus on the jobs promised at election time and the GST. In 1993 during that election campaign Canadians wanted to believe the government would be able to create the jobs they so desperately needed. Some 1.4 million Canadians were out of work. They wanted to believe the Liberal government and voted for the Liberal government on that promise.

They wanted to get rid of the GST. They voted for that Liberal government because it was to abolish it. It was to scrap it. They hated it and I think the member for Broadview-Greenwood would agree. He knows the impact of the GST promise in his riding and many ridings across Canada.

Those two major promises were not kept. They got the Liberals elected but once elected they were soon forgotten. I am not referring to the member for Broadview-Greenwood who did the honourable thing.

Let us talk about the broken promise on jobs for a minute. Three years down the road we still have 1.4 million unemployed Canadians; 18 per cent of our youth and several million Canadians with jobs are worried sick about how much longer they will have them. They just do not know if they will be employed a year from now. That is the reality of the broken promise. It has turned out to be a cruel hoax. Unemployed people were looking for that promise, looking for those jobs which in fact did not materialize.

The Liberal government has yet to make the connection between the high tax burden and the lack of job creation. There is a relationship there and it still has not made it.

That was evidenced a little over a week ago when the Prime Minister said: "No, if we get a few extra bucks there won't be any tax relief; we will put those extra dollars into social programs". There was arrogance in that statement. For hard working overtaxed Canadians there was no hope for tax relief. The indication is that if there are extra dollars they will go into social programs. That is not what Canadians wanted to hear. It is further proof there was misplaced trust in the government when it was elected in 1993.

To find out about creating jobs why not go to the people who create jobs and find out how it is done? The Chamber of Commerce is the organization that represents the job creators.

I quote from a letter sent to all members of Parliament and the Senate in December 1994 from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce which represents 170,000 entrepreneurs, hard working small business people that create the jobs: "The next federal budget will be crucial to the future of our country. Tough choices will be necessary. Despite the overwhelming consensus that the deficit must be cut we fear that the cuts will not be deep enough. The finance minister's promise to meet his target of a deficit that is 3 per cent of GDP by 1996-97 is simply not good enough. The deficit must be reduced to zero by 1997-98. The consequences of the government not following through on this is unthinkable".

Those are the people who create the jobs. That was the result of a survey of 6,000 of their members. Perhaps it was not what the government wanted to hear. The government ignored it because it still had not made the connection on how to create jobs by reducing the tax burden of Canadians.

I think back to when we were first elected. We in Reform ran on the deficit and the debt. The member for Broadview-Greenwood thinks we are fixated on the deficit and the debt. It is not the deficit and the debt. It is what the government is doing to job creation, taxes and our social programs. That is what Reform is concerned about. That is the impact or the connection the government has not been made yet. That is what is killing jobs. That is why our taxes

are so high. That is why medicare is in trouble. It is the deficit and the debt. Until the government gets that message it just will not happen.

Reform campaigned on it. When we were running on that platform in 1993 the Liberals were saying: "It is not a problem. What are you worried about? You are fearmongering". Because of that the first budget brought down by our finance minister did absolutely nothing to deal with the deficit and the debt. Actually it was worse than nothing because part of that first budget gave in to the smugglers and gave away $300 million to $400 million in tobacco taxes. It was unbelievable in the position we were in that they threw away tax dollars so desperately needed.

The first budget from the finance minister ignores the most serious problem we have today. I have heard members say: "We just got here. We didn't know anything about it. We didn't know it was that serious. We were just elected". That might hold for some of the backbenchers but most in the front row, most of the cabinet ministers in government, had been in opposition. They were not rookies. They knew the state of the economy. They knew the state of the tax burden. In fact when they were in opposition they opposed most attempts by the Conservative government to do something about it.

In the second budget the finance minister all of a sudden started to talk about the serious problem with the deficit and debt. It was killing jobs. It took two budgets. He found out in the second budget that we had a problem, but even in the second budget he failed to do anything about it.

The finance minister did nothing about it even with a warning shot from Moody's, the bond rating people. They told the finance minister there was a serious problem: "The people who buy your bonds come to us for advice. Unless you do a couple of things we will not be advising them to buy your bonds or if they are going to buy them we will advise them to look for an extra point". Moody's said: "Your 3 per cent target of GDP is too low. You could fall over that. That is not a target. We want a date for when you are going to get to zero. Don't give me rolling two-year targets somewhere down the road". When I heard that from the finance minister I saw myself in business going to my bank manager with my overdraft which I had for many years and the bank manager says: "When are you going to have it paid off?" I would say to him: "I'm not going to tell you-somewhere down the road". I would be out the door, I would be gone and my note would be called.

However, we play that game on the Canadian taxpayers. They are not buying it. That advice of Moody's was ignored and we were downgraded, unfortunately. However, by the third budget he was really starting to get the message. He realized that yes, we have to make some cuts. We did not get cuts. We got scrapes. We did not get the cuts that we needed; too little, too late.

Here we are, three years from when the government took office. We were just under $500 billion in debt. It will have added over $100 billion to the debt. We are approaching $600 billion of debt.

The finance minister stands up and brags about 3 per cent of GDP. He does not talk about the $400 billion, $500 billion, $600 billion of debt that he has put this country in. Of course the real cruncher is $50 billion in interest payments to service that debt. The 68 cent government is what the Canadian people have now. One-third of tax dollars goes to pay the debt, just the interest on our debt. The interest on our debt now is equivalent to our social program spending. It is growing faster than any item in the budget.

What do we get from the finance minister? Interest rates are the answer. We get reduced interest rates. It is not interest rates. It is taxes. Canadians want lower taxes, not lower interest rates. We need to leave more dollars in the pockets of the people who are going to buy the goods and get the economy moving.

I have to quote the Prime Minister because I think this is at the mind block that is there on this deficit and debt. This is a statement the Prime Minister made during a town hall meeting and it was reported in the Ottawa Sun : ``PM downplays massive serving cost. The debt load is no problem. Of course we have a debt but we can pay off our interest. We have no problem at all. Fifty billion of interest payments is not a problem''. We just tax the people and get more taxes from those compassionate, caring people.

What about health care? We are not creating jobs, but not a problem, $50 billion is not a problem. This is the leader of the party. If that kind of thinking is what is coming down from cabinet we are never going to get tax relief because we do not have a problem. Tell that to the 1.5 million unemployed who say: "What is the problem? Why can't I get a job?" Those unemployed people are not interested in interest rates. They are interested in doing something about getting their taxes reduced and there is absolutely no hope.

The other big broken promise of course was NAFTA. They were going to rewrite NAFTA, scrap NAFTA. Thank God it did not happen. The only jobs we have in this country are because of free trade and NAFTA. That is a broken promise.

Right now it is not Canadians who are spending money. It is our exports that are keeping us going. Of course free trade was opposed by the Liberals when they were in opposition. It is interesting now to hear them stand up in the House and rant and rave about the 600,000 jobs. Those jobs have been created by free trade and NAFTA and they opposed it. They do not know how to create jobs. That is the sad truth of the situation today.

Let us talk for a moment about the GST. I know that is very near and dear to the heart of the member for Broadview-Greenwood. He did the right thing on that. He knew that he was elected by a large number of people in his riding on the basis of that being scrapped and when the government did not deal with it he did the right thing. I applaud him for it.

That won a lot of votes. That was the most hated tax by Canadians and may still be because of the way it was put through. Not that it is a bad tax; I happen to think that the GST is a very fair tax. It replaced the old manufacturers' sales tax. I think it was brought in at a higher level than it needed to be but it was sure a lot fairer tax than the one it replaced.

Nevertheless, Canadians hated it. It still comes up at meetings and I am asked, as I am sure the hon. member across the aisle is, "When are you going to get rid of it? Why isn't it paying off the debt?" A lot of Canadians thought it was a brand new tax, the receipts from which were going to do something about the deficit and the debt. They did not understand the difference.

Those were two major promises, scrap, abolish, get rid of. Never mind the fine print in the red book, those were the words that were used and of course the words that were used by the Deputy Prime Minister ended up costing her job. She had to resign because she did not honour the promise that was made to the people. It was unfortunate that it took as long as it did for that promise to be honoured. This was the government that was elected on another promise of restoring integrity in government and faith in the process, yet we had the Deputy Prime Minister not honouring her word.

All members of this House, indeed all politicians, were being hurt by the fact that her word was not being kept. It was so typical of politicians who will say one thing to get elected and do whatever once elected. Then we get this excuse: "I was only running for office. What are you getting so worked up about? It was just a little white lie. Not to worry".

I want to talk about Ontario because I am from Ontario. I am the only Reformer from Ontario. Ontario is not being looked after by this government. Ontario is suffering badly even though 98 of 99 in '93.

I am going to talk about Pearson airport, the jewel of Canadian infrastructure. In my view, and I think the member for Broadview-Greenwood would agree, there is not a more important piece of infrastucture in Canada. The government was elected on an infrastructure program with $6 billion of borrowed money and it completely ignored this major piece of infrastructure right in Toronto. It was not just the jobs that were going to be created in overhauling terminals I and II. Four or five thousand jobs could have been created immediately. That airport impacts on jobs all across Canada. That is where industries fly in and out of when they are looking to expand or locate their plants.

The irony there is a government elected on an infrastructure program completely ignores Ontario's and Canada's most important piece of infrastructure. We are getting into Pearson and the hypocrisy of the Liberals. When they were campaigning they said they would examine that complex deal.

They had Mr. Nixon do a 30 day review of that contract. That review raised a lot of questions and a lot of suspicion but contained no hard facts to suggest this was a bad deal, not one hard fact.

The government introduced a bill on the basis of that report which had no concrete evidence that the deal should be cancelled, yet the government cancelled it. Again, it was the government's right to do, but it introduced a bill that would deny Canadian citizens their day in court. Those developers would not have the opportunity to defend their good names. There are some Canadians whose names have been dragged through the mud because of the Liberal government and this bill would deny them their day in court.

The bill was defeated in other place and now it has been defeated in a court of law. The Liberals have failed to prove that was a bad deal. In a court of law it has been established that it was not a bad deal after all. When the government appealed the decision, it even lost the appeal.

It has gone through the process and it has been proven that the original deal would have been a good deal for Canadians. Both those terminals would be functioning more efficiently now. We would have created those jobs and many more jobs right across the country.

Now the only thing that is being debated in court is the compensation which the developers are entitled to because it was a good deal. Now what is the government arguing in court? It is now arguing that it did the developers a favour in cancelling it because they were going to lose their shirts. I cannot believe the hypocrisy of that position, that the government would have the nerve to do that. It will end up costing us $400 million or $500 million before that is through. It was unbelievable to see the Liberals denying citizens their day in court.

The other issue is Toronto as an international banking centre. I would like to quote the former mayor of Toronto. When the decision was made to bypass Toronto and give it to Montreal and Vancouver, the former mayor called the decision crass politics at its worst: "All this adds up to is bad news for Toronto because we have been openly discriminated against by the federal government".

It just so happens that former mayor of Toronto is now a member of the Liberal cabinet. He is a cabinet minister. He had 98 members

from Ontario to do something about crass politics, to do something about the fact that Toronto was bypassed, the capital of Ontario.

In three years with the former mayor now sitting as a cabinet minister nothing has happened. Toronto still has not been given the distinction that it so rightly deserves.

As a matter of fact, there was a lawsuit. The lawsuit originated by this former mayor of Toronto. It is still coming forward. This government is going to be sued for bypassing Toronto and not giving it the status it should have received three or four years ago.

I appreciate the opportunity to bring out some of these broken promises. Really that is what we are focusing on tonight.