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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.

Topics

Bombardier Inc.Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, no, it was not matching money. In fact there was three times the money from the company in this investment. The ratio of the Canadian R and D is 25 per cent.

The hon. member should know it is implicit in his question that if a company succeeds, then it should not be helped. If he were to understand a little bit about the structure of this industry which is a very important industry to Canada, he would know that every other country, and there are not that many, that have a fully developed aerospace industry, are supported either by state ownership or by indirect support through defence procurement or other measures.

We have a study, and I will be happy to give him another copy, so that he can see what those support mechanisms are. In this case the kind of thinking that he brings to this file, as evidenced in his question, is the very thinking that 40 years ago led to the destruction of the Avro Arrow and set Canada's high tech sector back years.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

October 29th, 1996 / 3:05 p.m.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia

Liberal

Ron MacDonald LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on two points of order dealing with the decorum during question period from the party of the fresh start opposite. It is the first time in eight years in Parliament that I have risen on a point of order with respect to decorum.

The member for Medicine Hat, in exchanges during question period, was heard to repeatedly refer to the right hon. Prime Minister as a sleazebag. This was clearly heard by people on this side of the House. In addition, some members on this side heard an unfortunate four letter word that was uttered after we objected to the use of the word sleaze.

The second point of order with respect to the decorum of the House has to do with the actions of the member for Beaver River who, in an exchange with the member for London West, made a gesture which we believe was inappropriate.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

We all agree that today was a rather spirited day on both sides. I intervened on two occasions because the nature of the words raised hackles on both sides of the House.

I did not hear the word to which the hon. member referred. I did not see any gestures. If the hon. member wishes me to look at the blues I will, and I will revisit the television tapes. As for the gesture, I do not say this facetiously but how can this be recorded?

I would urge members on days such as this, and we have them from time time, that we try to discipline ourselves as much as we can and try not to use offensive words.

Today, according to my count which is not official, we had 10 questioners rise in question period. We average around 17 on any given day. Sometimes the questions are a little bit long and sometimes the answers are a little bit long. When the answers are protracted, words are exchanged in the House. Not that I condone it, but this has been going on for years. It is something that we learn to live with as parliamentarians. I would urge members, however, to conduct themselves as parliamentarians and, as much as possible, to stay away from those words that seem to incite both sides of the House.

I would rule that the hon. member does not have a point of order but surely a point of debate.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, because I was named, I think I only have one recourse and that is to ask you for just a few seconds of your time. If blowing a kiss to the member for London West is offensive then all I can say is, forgive me.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

If I had my way, which I do not always have, it would be better to kiss each other to death than to fight each other to death. If that is the offensive gesture, I hope we would let these points of order just sit here for today. We will be back tomorrow, same time. I am waiting for you.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That debate on the motion relating to the appointment of the Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole House and on any amendments proposed thereto shall not be further adjourned.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from October 28 consideration of the motion and the amendment.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Resuming debate.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe the member for Vancouver North was on questions and answers when the debate stopped yesterday. Are we continuing from that point?

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

From the information I have, we were finished with the time allowed and therefore I am proceeding now with the debate.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is the same. My understanding was that the hon. member for North Vancouver still had some time remaining on questions and comments.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

The Speaker

Now we are on debate.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is a little confusing sometimes. After the exciting question period we had today, we kind of wonder whether we are following proper procedure.

What I am going to talk about this afternoon is what is a promise. What is it, really? A promise is sometimes defined as something that one person makes. But I have found during my lifetime that usually if I made a promise there was somebody else involved. The consequences sometimes bore more strongly on the person to whom the promise was made than on me when I made the promise.

There are promises which are made verbally. In my experience I have also made a lot of promises that were signed. When I went to banks to borrow money, to dealerships to buy implements, I usually had to make a promise that if I took delivery of the implement I would also have to pay for it and also service it properly if I wanted a guarantee or warranty on it.

One of the most important promises I made in my life was to a beautiful young girl whom I tried to convince she had no better man to look for than me. That was not so easy. I spent quite a bit of time at that. In the end I did have to sign my name to really fulfil a promise and to convince her that I would do what I promised.

After 35 years, sometimes I do not think I have totally kept my promises because there have been a few harsh words between us, although I promised there would never be because I was the perfect gentlemen and would be the perfect husband.

We sometimes do not quite fulfil our promises. As we have heard over the last couple of days sometimes these promises go back to Scripture. I listened to an interview with Mrs. Billy Graham on the issue of divorce. She had made a promise to her husband, saying that she should stay with him through thick or thin, health and sickness, richness and poverty. She was asked if she ever intended to break that promise, that she would not say with her husband until death did they part. She said: "No, I never thought of reneging on that promise, but a lot of times I have thought of speeding up the process that he would leave me sooner than later".

We do have to honour our promises even if sometimes we do not want to fulfil them in the context that we agreed to.

What does a signed promise mean? A signed promise means that if we do not abide by the contract or the promise, somebody will probably bear some very severe consequences, not just the person who made the promise but the other party to the promise.

I found out early in my life that if I wanted to have credibility it did not really matter whether it was a promise made verbally or a signed promise. In the end it had the same results if I reneged on it or partially fulfilled it. I think one of the most pleasant experiences I had in keeping a promise was to my two youngest grandsons. As it happened, we had been given by our daughter and son-in-law the privilege of looking after the boys for the weekend while they went on a short holiday. Since grandpa wants to impress his grandsons, I made a commitment to take them to McDonald's on Saturday night. This was in the middle of winter and I had forgotten that weather conditions could change drastically from Friday to Saturday.

About 2.30 in the afternoon my wife said "you know, grandpa, I think you will have to break your promise because that storm is just to bad and you cannot take your grandsons out on the road". We had about 12 miles to travel.

When I suggested to my grandsons that there might be a little problem with the weather they found all kinds of excuses to throw at me, saying that it was not that bad outside: "We have been with dad through a lot worse storms than this. You have the old 4x4 and we have the cell phone. There are all kinds of way we can get back and forth".

Finally I realized that I probably could not wiggle out of this promise. At 35 degrees below zero we decided to take the old 4x4 and head 10 miles down the road to McDonald's about six o'clock in the afternoon. There were not many people in that McDonald's. When I walked in with my wife and the two little grandchildren they kind of looked at me as if to say "hey, is this man a little sick? Why is he taking those two little kids out on a night like this?" When I explained to them that I had made a promise, my grandsons looked at me and said "grandpa, he can do it. We'll get home. He can keep that promise".

I was the proudest grandpa that day because I was the only one with two little children there, stupid and foolish as it seemed, but I did keep my promise. I gained a lot of respect from my grandsons, even if I would have rather had it the other way.

Sometimes a broken promise can be very hurtful. To me, it really worked the other way and I gained a lot of respect. It cost me a little extra caution, to drive more carefully and to be a bit more cautious on the road, but we did get home safely and I felt very good about keeping that promise.

When I look at some of the tragedies that we see in the world today where promises were not kept, it is sad to see that we probably do not give enough attention to what a promise is.

In the olden days I heard my dad and my grandfather say that the handshake was a promise and it was a deal and that was enough. Today that does not seem to be true any more. We have to have things legally drawn up and we have to abide by the guidelines.

What has it cost this government to break a number of promises? One of them is the promise of the GST. We have seen that promise broken. We have seen that now it will cost other taxpayers about roughly $1 billion. I do not know how this government is going to face the electorate next time, especially in the west where this $1 billion is going to come from.

The other thing I would like to touch on is the Canadian Wheat Board. We know that this government promised during the election that it would hold a referendum especially on barley marketing. That promise has not been honoured. It may be honoured yet before this Parliament is over, but it has caused a lot of hard feelings. It has more or less developed a lot of tension between different farmers, different families even and different communities.

Is it really worth breaking a promise which creates this tension and distress in the farming community? If I had been the agriculture minister that is one of the first things that I would have honoured, holding a plebiscite. That is what democracy is about. It is to let individuals decide what is best for them in their businesses, in their homes and in their governments.

About a year ago I saw news stories where Mr. Beswick did resign over the friction inside the wheat board on which type of marketing was better. He stated that the bungling of the wheat board had cost barley producers $180 million that year. We can understand why there is friction between farmers and why they would like this to be resolved.

That gives us a small idea not just that the $180 million was gone but that there was confusion and friction in the agriculture community. What did that do to that community? It pitted farmer against farmer. It also pitted business against farmers. When a farmer loses a dollar business loses just as much or more.

I have recently been approached by a number of business people who were very upset that this has gone to the point where some farmers have been charged horrendous penalties through monetary forfeitures. One of the farmers is in jail and it looks like there may be another one in jail very shortly because he is going to refuse to pay some of his fines. I am wondering where it is going to end.

We do not need this type of friction or tension in the community especially today when I see grain prices drifting lower and lower every day.

Why are we debating this issue about promises when I ponder some of the statements that have been made and look at what the four members of Parliament did to establish a task force minority report on the independence of the Chair or the Speaker of the House? I wonder how these four members, at that time being in opposition, could now just ignore what they said.

I would just like to read into the record exactly what was said. This is what they said about the independence of the Chair: "In order to enhance the independence of the Chair and in an effort to reduce the level of partisanship, when the Speaker is from the government party two of the junior Chair officers should be from the opposition so that the four presiding officer positions are shared equally by government and opposition". Further down in the statement they say: "If the Speaker were from the government party, the deputy speaker would be from the opposition, the next officer from the government-", and so forth.

I would say that is a tremendous statement. That goes to show that these four members, while sitting in opposition, were really determined and honest in analysing the partisanship that was happening in Parliament at that time.

I am wondering why it would be so hard to fulfil that little promise today. This promise is not going to cost them anything financially. It is not going to give them any more or less power in

this House. It would only, I would think, supplement their stature in the public that they honoured this small promise that was intimated to be made if they were elected.

I think it was probably important at that time to the government to add this to the appendix of the red book to show that this government wanted to democratize this Parliament the way it should be democratized, that it should be a House where there is equal opportunity, that it should be a House where the guidelines and partisanship were neutral or as neutral as they could hope it to be.

When we look at the debate we have been entering into for the last day and a half, it is astounding that this little promise could create such a partisan debate when I see that there has not been a single member from the Bloc or from the government really supporting this statement that was made in the last Parliament to reinforce the idea that this should be a House, through the Speaker, as impartial as possible.

We can see what it has done in the debate. It has kept us thinking, but the decision that we are going to make tonight will not be one that is going to be beneficial to the House unless something historic happens.

I wonder how the government would feel if the member for Kingston and the Islands decided to honour his commitment through the statement he made when he was in opposition. I wonder what the Liberal government would say if this member for Kingston and the Islands said: "I am going to stick by my statement of four years ago or so, walk the floor and join the Bloc or the Reform to honour the commitment that my nomination as deputy chairman could be held".

I would like to see what the Liberal government would say. That is the way he could honour his commitment. If he made that choice, I am sure not going to say that I would not honour his intentions. He could sit as an independent. He could join one of the other parties. That is the way this member could stay true to his commitment of four years ago.

It would be a tremendous credit to the House if this member fulfilled that commitment. I would really appreciate it and I think everybody would respect him more for it. It would probably be a pretty strong pill to swallow but I think it would be well accepted. Whether it would be accepted by the government is another issue. I am sure the opposition or the independents in the House would welcome another member on this side.

From what we have heard from the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, he is an honourable member and a very fair member on the committees he has served on. I would love to see this member make that final decision. It would be precedent setting. It would be something this House would remember for perpetuity. I do not think we would run into the situation ever again where that would have to be debated.

He made this commitment before an election and he knew the statement he made was correct; so much more power to the member to fulfil it.

How is this government going to face the electorate in the next election when it cannot keep this one little promise which did not cost this government a single nickel? All it would have done is made this House more democratic. It would have fulfilled some of the promises the Liberals made to be honourable, fair and to treat people equally. It would only be a plus to them.

If I had to go back and campaign on a little broken promise like this, I am sure my electorate would not believe any big promises I made during the campaign. If I was not true to the little promises, the teeny-weeny promises that were costly neither to government nor to opposition, then how would people ever believe me on the bigger promises like the GST, like the referendum on barley marketing, like a few others I should mention? I do not want to create too much hostility on the other side. At that point we could run into another lively debate like we had during the question and answer period.

I enjoy listening to the comments from members on the other side because I know they will try to distort the issues somewhat and there will be some political rhetoric. I can deal with a little of it but when it gets too thick and too foggy then at times it becomes difficult to sit quietly and seal my lips.

We know today that we cannot even dare blow a kiss to opposition members. They get too excited. It irritates them. I would not want to cause a riot in the House just because of a few comments I might make.

I would really like to see how some of the members on the other side are going to deal with the issue of breaking the promise to make the Speaker impartial and to make the Speaker as effective as possible in the House when they have not even tried to accomplish that in the vice-chairmanship of all the standing committees. We have seen how democracy operates there. We see the whip walking into the room, counting the heads and identifying the people who might all of a sudden vote against the government.

We have seen it happen a number of times that when someone voted against government policy they were demoted, taken off the committee and replaced by somebody else. I find it very hard to believe that is democracy. It is not keeping the promise to make the procedures of the House more democratic and to have more free votes.

I wonder what the electorate will say in the next election, especially after some of the comments made in question period today about the way the government is trying to divert attention from the real issues. We are being called extremists. The government is reneging on a little promise to make the Chair more

impartial. How can we be the extremists? The extremism comes from the other side. That little democracy which could help the House-

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, but the hon. member's time has expired.

Committee Of The WholeGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, I fail to see a quorum in the House.