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House of Commons Hansard #94 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was research.

Topics

International Fighter Pilots CompetitionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Richardson Liberal Perth—Wellington—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to salute Canada's top guns. Recently at the high profile International Fighter Pilots Competition in Florida, Canadian fighter pilots won the world series of flying. For the first time the Canadian team was the overall winner of the competition.

I applaud Captain Ross Granley of Red Deer, Alberta; Captain Brian Murray of Markham, Ontario; Captain Dave Mercer of Montreal; and their flight crew. I also wish to extend my recognition to the maintenance crew and other ground support personnel who contributed greatly to the Canadian team's performance.

In particular, I would like to congratulate Captain Steve Nierlich of Sunderland, Ontario who won the prestigious top gun award for the best individual score in the aerial combat competition.

Canadian fighter pilots and the flight crew of Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake have positioned Canada as number one in the world in air combat. On behalf of all members of this House, I would like to pay tribute to Canadian fighter pilots and congratulate them on a job well done.

ZaireStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I want to salute the UN's decision to send a special envoy to the eastern part of Zaire. This mission will not be an easy one: UN special envoy Raymond Chrétien is to ease Zaire out of the current crisis by calling for a ceasefire and organizing an international conference on the African great lakes region.

The situation is escalating dangerously with every passing day. Yesterday, the conflict spread to the Rwandan army and victims now number in the hundreds. The situation is also becoming increasingly critical in refugee camps, with 500,000 refugees anxiously awaiting a resolution of this conflict. The challenge facing the UN special envoy to Zaire is therefore a difficult one, and we wish him every success in his mission.

Breast CancerStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, today marks the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

October has been an especially poignant time for me as it also marks the first anniversary when one of my assistants, Renée Fairweather, began treatment in her battle with breast cancer.

In Canada a woman dies every two hours from this disease. In other words about 400 women have died during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

On October 1 the member for Lambton-Middlesex pointed out that the federal government spends almost $5 million a year on breast cancer research. What she did not mention is that this is almost $20 million less than what the Minister for Canadian Heritage is spending on free flags.

While some may believe a moment of silence is appropriate for the victims of breast cancer, I believe that a moment of outrage is called for. The spending priorities of this government are all screwed up. Maybe the Minister of Canadian Heritage should explain to the families of the victims who have died of breast cancer this month why her flag program is more important than breast cancer research.

Family TrustsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Liberal Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois is spreading misinformation on family trusts. But the facts speak for themselves. Let me sum them up for you.

The family trust controversy started in 1991, when the Tories were in office. In May 1995, the Auditor General of Canada expressed some concern about the legislation governing these trusts. The federal government having acted diligently, since October 2, we can assure the public that every effort has been made to ensure that nothing similar will ever happen again.

If they really want to make themselves useful, Bloc members should press the Government in Quebec to plug the loopholes in its own tax system. Even if it does not involve bashing the federal government, that too is in the interest of Quebecers.

Government PoliciesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals brag about their spending cuts, how the budget is under control, how they have tamed Leviathan. Balderdash.

The $14 billion in spending cuts have hardly scratched the monster. Of this amount, only $4.1 billion or 29 per cent came out of monster government that writes regulations, pays MP pensions and writes cheques for multiculturalism, a mere $1 billion cut per year.

Three-quarters of all cuts came from reduced UI payments of $3.4 billion due entirely to economic recovery and from cuts to social transfers to the provinces worth $6.5 billion.

These figures show clearly the Liberal strategy: Keep big government; let the provinces take the political heat.

Now the Prime Minister promises to fatten Leviathan again with more spending. Remember Canadians: Liberals, like leopards, never change their spots. They will always find ways to spend your money.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

October 31st, 1996 / 2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, we are going to do something a bit different today.

We have a special guest in our gallery today.

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, he has become one of Canada's most recognized faces in film and television. My colleagues, please join me in welcoming this accomplished actor, veteran comedian and we claim him as a Canadian, Mr. Leslie Nielsen.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

[Translation]

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a few minutes ago in this House, the secretary of state for youth made a statement concerning the situation which was brought to the Prime Minister's attention a few days ago. We are not in any way questioning the accuracy of this statement, but we have a few questions for the Prime Minister regarding the process which led to the present situation.

Yesterday, CBC's The National informed viewers that the ethics counsellor had not seen the minister's expense account, nor her written statement, when he made his decision. We know the Prime Minister's propensity for defending his ministers right to the limit, and sometimes beyond.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister, and he is the one under scrutiny in this matter, how he justifies his statement of yesterday that he had checked with the ethics counsellor, when the latter has apparently said that he had seen neither the expense account nor the secretary of state's statement. I would like him to give us some explanations.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as in every matter of this nature, the ethics counsellor was advised of the problem. He spoke with the secretary of state. He then concluded that the explanation was satisfactory.

Allusion has been made in this House to a document that he had not seen, but that had apparently been explained to him verbally. When he saw the document, it confirmed the version given by the secretary of state.

I accept the completely acceptable version given in the House by the secretary of state.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the question is not about the secretary of state. I took the trouble to point out that we accepted her explanations. That is not what is at issue. What is at issue is the Prime Minister's propensity for defending his government at all costs, with or without justification.

When, without taking the facts into consideration, the Prime Minister has relied on an opinion given by the ethics counsellor, how can he claim this opinion is of any value, when it was arrived at solely on the strength of a few discussion, without all the documents having been seen? Of what use is the opinion of an ethics counsellor who has not looked into a matter thoroughly? That is the question.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the counsellor checked the document which was shown in this House. He analyzed it. As I was saying earlier, it was entirely consistent with the version given him by the hon. secretary of state.

I have nothing to add. If the hon. member is not questioning the version given by the secretary of state, let him suit action to word and stop asking questions.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect for the Prime Minister, I would like to say to him that I will ask all the questions I want, however I want. That is my affair, not his. And I would like him to be so kind as to answer the question.

How can the Prime Minister justify having sought the opinion of the ethics counsellor without personally ensuring, in his capacity as Prime Minister, since it is a question of defending his government's integrity, that all the documents were brought to the counsellor's attention?

Is that not the normal way to proceed, before holding up such an opinion to defend the integrity of his government? Would that not be wiser, more prudent, more reassuring to the Canadian public? And is not the purpose of seeking opinions of an ethics counsellor who does not have all the documents in his possession so that accommodating opinions will be given?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

I said, and I repeat, that all the documents were checked by the ethics counsellor and that the version given by the Secretary of State is the version behind the decision about which I informed the House yesterday, to the effect that there was no intention to harm in this administrative error. And, as it happened, when the additional document was shown to him, the ethics counsellor examined it and concluded that it in no way changed the decision he had initially made to inform me that there was reason to pursue the matter, that the version given by the secretary of state was acceptable.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an article published in the Ottawa Citizen and headlined:

"The Deputy Prime Minister dodged the blame for budget cuts at CBC".

-it says, and I quote:

"Don't blame me for cutting the CBC budget", the Minister of Canadian Heritage told an audience of journalists in Ottawa, "blame the finance minister".

The article goes on to say, and I quote:

"She repeated several times that the finance minister should be held accountable for the cuts".

Does the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage admit she said that the Minister of Finance, her very dear colleague, should take the blame for the cuts to the CBC?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, this is not an actual quote, for the very good reason that what I said at the conference is that, when I became minister responsible for the CBC, I told them at the outset that I could not bypass the budgetary process already in place, but that I would fight for a $100 million programming fund.

The Minister of Finance went ahead with this programming fund, 50 per cent of which will go to the CBC. That is what I said when I was appointed at the end of January. That is what I delivered with the finance minister's support.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it may not be an actual quote, but we saw it live on television. It was even better. Another minister who needs video evidence.

Yesterday, the minister said she was working with her colleague, the Minister of Finance, on multi-year financing for the CBC. In fact, Southam reported last weekend, and I quote:

"The finance minister told reporters the government intends to do the right thing for the CBC after it has wrestled the deficit to the ground".

Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage again blame her finance colleague next March on television, whether or not it is an actual quote, for her government's future cuts to the CBC?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, as I said before many times in this House, like all government agencies, like Radio-Québec, the CBC has been cut. Unfortunately, the cuts the Quebec Minister of Culture had to make to Radio-Québec were even deeper than those at the CBC.

We are all going through some difficult times, but I am confident that with the finance minister's support in the upcoming budgets, in the next budget, we will continue to strengthen the CBC for all Canadians.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government puts ministers in a very awkward spot by not revealing and making public the so-called ethical guidelines for cabinet ministers. Integrity means more than just saying I am sorry after the fact.

The Prime Minister promised and promised again to restore public trust in our political institutions. Canadians deserve to see the ethical guidelines the government says it has come up with. It is not good enough for the Prime Minister to hide behind imaginary parliamentary tradition.

In the interest of restoring public trust and confidence in this parliamentary institution, will the Prime Minister release his guidelines on ethics for cabinet ministers? Yes or no.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is a directive that the Prime Minister sends to his ministers for their guidance. Ethics cases are discussed when they come to the House of Commons. Members of Parliament and the press can look at the decisions that are made.

On the case we discussed yesterday, I am satisfied with the explanation given by the Secretary of State earlier today.

These are the facts. The member may not agree with the facts, but I am satisfied the Secretary of State has acted in good faith all along. All the bills have been repaid properly to the crown. There was some problem in the administration but no money was spent illegally or against any guidelines. It was done properly and all the money has been reimbursed properly in good time.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not particularly keen on the Prime Minister just saying the facts. I want to see the facts and I think the Canadian public wants the same.

This has been a very awkward spot. I wonder how many more cabinet ministers on the front bench are in the same position today. Maybe we should ask for a show of hands. Why would it be so

strange or incongruous that one minister would get caught in this kind of bind yet there would not be others? Maybe we should ask for a show of hands. We have seen how well some of these systems work with these imaginary guidelines.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said that he consulted the ethics counsellor about the youth minister's expense claims. Lo and behold, the ethics counsellor admitted that he had not seen the expense claims, that he just took people at their word.

Let me ask the Prime Minister about their word, about his word and everyone else's word. Will he come good on his word in the red book that he would have an independent ethics counsellor who is responsible and reportable to Parliament, not just to him?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in the last analysis the person who is responsible for the conduct of all ministers is the Prime Minister of Canada. I maintain that and I have the responsibility.

She will be the first one to know if I say someday that it is not my decision, that it is the decision of somebody else. As Prime Minister I have to take responsibility for the activities of all my ministers and I will not give that responsibility to someone else. I will always face all my responsibilities.

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what kind of comfort that is to his cabinet or the Canadian public watching right now.

I sense a double standard. The former defence minister was forced to resign for a technical breach of the government's ethical guidelines. Whether the guidelines are public or private, we really do not know what they say. Cabinet ministers are supposed to know what they say but I am not sure they are entirely clear on it.

The Prime Minister stubbornly defends the youth minister who in her estimation and I think in that of the Canadian public did something worse. She admitted today in the House of Commons that it was a mistake and we appreciate that.

However, this minister knowingly signed a document on which she said these were government expenses. I will ask the Prime Minister one more time: Why is the defence minister called out on a technicality yet the youth minister is called safe for a blatant breach of the Prime Minister's guidelines and we do not even know what they say?

EthicsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, days before the form was signed, the Secretary of State indicated that some elements of the expenditures were personal. The expenses were accounted for the same day. When she signed the document she attached a cheque to reimburse her personal expenses.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. A Statistics Canada bulletin released yesterday indicates that the number of employment insurance claims is at its lowest level since 1981. However, we should not rejoice too soon, because the number of unemployed is now 55 per cent higher than in 1981.

Will the minister, who extols the virtues of his reform, tell us why the number of unemployed is currently so high, while the number of recipients is constantly decreasing?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, allow me to answer the short digression of the member for Mercier. The fact is that 700,000 jobs have been created since 1993.

As for the member's question, it is important to realize that the employment insurance act is the result of an extensive consultation process involving 100,000 Canadians. This legislation will prepare Canadians to enter the 21st century and to adjust to the new market reality.

Using the actual number of hours worked results in a system that is more fair and better balanced. The new program currently allows an additional 500,000 people to be covered, including 270,000 women.