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House of Commons Hansard #84 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was flag.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesdays, we will now sing O Canada, which will be led by the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific.

The Late Fritz ZieglerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the late Fritz Ziegler of Vancouver, who died while in his early nineties, was one of the last of the west coast romantics who helped lay the foundations for B.C.'s current economic prosperity. He was also tireless in promoting co-operation between the province's many different ethnic communities and in heading fundraising drives for community health and charitable organizations.

Honorary Consul for Monaco and Grand Prior for the Americas of the Sovereign Order of St. John of Jerusalem, his imaginative and his practical construction skills are symbolically combined in the Gothic castle, King Ludwig of Bavaria style, that he built in the forests above Langley, B.C., and that one understands will eventually be devoted to public educational purposes.

The Lower Laurentians RegionsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Lower Laurentians region is facing a dramatic situation after being hit by three major economic setbacks in the past few months.

First, Kenworth went out of business. Quebec is trying to save this company but needs the co-operation of the federal government to do so. Second, all international flights were transferred from Mirabel to Dorval following an ADM decision. Despite being asked to do so by the official opposition, the federal government has not seen fit so far to demand public hearings so people could be heard. Third, a strike recently broke out at GM.

I wish to express my solidarity with the people in my riding who are affected by this triple tragedy. I call on all those concerned at Kenworth, GM and ADM to adopt a conciliatory attitude and show they care about the public interest, as this is the only way to meet this triple challenge and save our region from the threat of economic stagnation.

Tobacco AdvertisingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, research tells us that tobacco product advertising tends to associate smoking with a wide range of desirable traits: beauty, popularity and even health. Research also shows that young people are twice as likely to be influenced by cigarette advertising as they are by peer pressure.

In recognition of the impact of tobacco advertising on youth, the U.S. FDA is banning all tobacco company sponsorships.

To date the government has done nothing. Why? Is it because the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has a big Imperial Tobacco plant in her riding? Is it because the Minister of Finance was a member of the board of Imasco and expressed concern over the health of the tobacco industry at the time that tobacco taxes were being debated in 1994? Is it because the Liberal senator from South Shore, Nova Scotia, is on the board-

Tobacco AdvertisingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I think we are stretching the rules a bit.

Cansave Children AwardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 10 Senator Landon Pearson will receive the CanSave Children Award from Save the Children Canada.

Senator Pearson has had a long and distinguished career in promoting the interests of children. She is a founding member and chairperson of the Canadian Coalition of the Rights of the Child and was president of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth.

This award acknowledges individuals who have made significant contributions to the objectives of the Declaration of the Rights of a Child adopted by the United Nations in 1959. The first award was given to Senator Pearson's father-in-law, former Prime Minister Lester Pearson.

I congratulate Senator Pearson on this important achievement.

Canada PostStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government released the report of the Canada Post mandate review. The report made a number of recommendations, including privatizing some of Canada Post's commercial activities, which the minister says she will study. She also hinted that the government might consider privatizing Canada Post if it ceases to fulfil a public policy role.

The Liberals seem to be moving in the direction of withdrawing government from providing a public service, with decent jobs and decent wages, toward a low wage environment that would only benefit the large corporations and would not guarantee adequate service.

We have seen this movie before. With cuts to the CBC and the privatization of CN, Air Canada and Petro-Canada, this Liberal-Tory government's ideology is to destroy everything of importance to the Canadian interest and to move away from its core public policy responsibilities.

This ideology of the market rather than of the citizen is wrong and must be abandoned.

Habitat For HumanityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, Habitat for Humanity is a charitable organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty housing by empowering people through home ownership.

This past summer from August 12 to 16, under the Jimmy Carter work project, 10 homes were built in Vac, Hungary. Six hundred volunteers worked on the homes and 19 of those volunteers were from Canada.

One of the 10 homes built was named Canada House and was financed mostly by Canadians with Hungarian backgrounds. The building of Canada House was truly a labour of love as Marcus and Lisa Shantz demonstrated. They spent part of their honeymoon building Canada House under the supervision of Milo Shantz, Marcus' father.

Habitat for Humanity is an example of creativity, generosity and accomplishment in making our world a better place. I congratulate the people who were involved in Habitat for Humanity in Vac, Hungary as well as the people who volunteered for Habitat for Humanity world wide.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Mackenzie basin impact study released last spring documents irrefutable evidence that the impacts of climate change are happening in the area now.

Some of the study's results show that the permafrost is thawing, landslides and forest fires are increasing, caribou are subjected to rising levels of disease and more insect pests. Communities will suffer from negative economic and social consequences as these impacts grow in severity.

Nations from around the world agree that human interventions create conditions that cause global warming and climate change. We all share in creating this problem. We must all take responsibility in solving it.

International Day For Natural Disaster ReductionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has proclaimed the second Wednesday in October as International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Under the theme "cities in danger", this day brings to our attention the extremely perilous situation of giant urban centres. According to some estimates, by the year 2000, 17 out of the 20 largest cities in the world will be in developing countries; this represents a significant challenge.

The "cities in danger" campaign provides an opportunity to take action before disaster strikes. Much more than a mere 24-hour period, this day is the culmination of all the efforts invested in emergency preparedness throughout the year.

Closer to home, the flooding in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region showed the importance of prevention and the need for solidarity.

This day underlines our responsibility toward all of humankind.

Canada PostStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Post mandate review report released yesterday recom-

mended that Canada Post be made subject to the Freedom of Information Act and to an annual audit by the auditor general.

It is interesting to note that last March I tabled a private members' bill to amend the Access to Information Act that would bring all crown corporations under the jurisdiction of access to information.

The Radwanski report on Canada Post made a number of recommendations that merit serious consideration, most of which have been ignored by the minister, including the recommendation to open Canada Post to public scrutiny.

Canadians have a stake in how crown corporations are run. They have a right to know what is going on, and the Radwanski report makes clear they have legitimate concerns regarding Canada Post.

The Liberals promised open government. Now is the time to deliver on that promise and to bring Canada Post under the jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Act and under the scrutiny of the auditor general.

EmploymentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister will be presenting an economic statement today to the finance committee. He will tell the committee about the excellent work the government has done with respect to deficit reduction, and that it will beat its targets.

What he will not be saying is that he has reduced the deficit on the backs of the unemployed. The surplus of $5 billion in the EI account is padding his deficit figures. He will not be telling the committee that the unemployment rate has remained above 9 per cent for more than 72 consecutive months, the longest stretch since the 1930s, despite the promise to create jobs.

We have been told by the Conference Board of Canada that the real unemployment rate among young Canadians exceeds 25 per cent. This government promised jobs. Instead, it is killing jobs by keeping payroll taxes higher than need be.

Will the finance minister do the right thing, lower EI premiums and restore hope to those who are desperately seeking jobs?

Fire Prevention WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, as many members already know, this is Fire Prevention Week and everyone in the country can take part.

Fire Prevention Week is a joint project of your community, provincial fire services and Fire Prevention Canada. Those experts wish to remind Canadians that it takes just a few minutes to follow a few simple steps.

One, install smoke alarms on every floor and outside each sleeping area in your home. I want to remind everyone to put the battery back in the alarm after you burn the toast.

Two, test smoke alarms regularly. I know the noise is annoying but it could save your life.

Three, make a home fire evacuation plan and have the whole family practice it. This is particularly important for families with small children.

These actions will cut a needless and tragic toll. In 1993, 417 Canadians died in fires and more than 3,400 were injured. I know now that all my hon. colleagues will join me to encourage Canadians to make their homes safe every week, not just during Fire Prevention Week.

EthanolStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gar Knutson Liberal Elgin—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to recognize yet another milestone for the agriculture technology industry in Canada.

I would like to congratulate the city of Chatham and the company Commercial Alcohols for their recent announcement of the construction of a new $153 ethanol production facility. The plant will be one of the largest and most efficient manufacturing facilities in the world. It will benefit the corn industry by utilizing up to 15 million bushels of corn per year.

The winners of this deal are corn producers from all across Ontario, including the ones in my riding of Elgin-Norfolk. In the long run, the environment will win as well as Canadians move from burning hydrocarbons to renewable carbohydrates.

The Liberal government has encouraged ethanol development in Canada with the introduction of a national biomass ethanol program. This has meant 400 permanent jobs per plant and could create up to 6,000 temporary construction jobs in the future.

This is another great example of the Liberal government's commitment to jobs.

Call To Remembrance ProgramStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to bring to the attention of the House a new quiz program being organized by the Royal Canadian Legion.

The Call to Remembrance Program is a nationwide project aimed at helping to ensure that Canadians, particularly young

people, understand the value and the sacrifices made on their behalf during the wars of this century.

I am proud to say that this concept originated with the members of the Hants Branch 009 in the town of Windsor in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants.

Commencing in 1997 the Call to Remembrance quiz competition will kick off in communities across Canada. Call to Remembrance will ensure that future generations will know of the extreme sacrifices of Canadians and our national effort during the wars of this century.

International Natural Disaster Reduction DayStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is International Natural Disaster Reduction Day, a day celebrated world-wide since the beginning of the 1990s. This year, the theme is "cities in danger".

In the year 2000, half of the world's population will be living in urban areas representing merely 3 per cent of the earth's total surface. Many of these areas are at risk; they could be the site of earthquakes, floods, landslides and other natural disasters. Last year, such disasters claimed many lives and caused damage estimated at $65 billion.

Our vulnerability in the face of natural disasters is very real. Prevention, foresight and education should be our tools of choice. International Natural Disaster Reduction Day is a time for all of us to become more aware.

National Family WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, during National Family Week it is necessary to remind the Liberals that they have failed to give ordinary Canadian families a sense of real hope for their future.

It is a shameful record: unemployment above 9 per cent for almost six years, staggering taxes, record bankruptcies. It is obvious the combination of cabinet salary and a rich MP pension plan has hardened the government to the economic trials that Canadian families face each and every day.

The most shocking data comes from a Fraser Institute study that shows that the average Canadian family's disposable income has plummeted $3,800 in the three years the Liberals have been in power. This is a disaster.

Canadian families need lower taxes and good permanent jobs created by a vibrant private sector. They want the option of caring for their children, buying a home, paying for their children's education and saving for their retirement. They want a smaller government that stays out of their face.

It is time to reform the government-

Social Insurance NumbersStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House that an excellent initiative was recently announced by the Minister of Human Resources Development.

A violent spouse will no longer be able to use computer technology to locate his wife. The department has just announced that steps have been taken to make it impossible for an individual to use his spouse's former social insurance number to obtain her new one and use it to locate her.

I commend Human Resources Development Canada for this contribution to our relentless fight against violence and crime.

The Premier Of QuebecStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, the premier of Quebec, Mr. Bouchard, asked businesspeople to make efforts to help create jobs. The leader of the Quebec government is seeking help to create jobs and reduce the deficit. He is asking for help and support, because of the cuts he will make regarding education, health and social programs.

Businesspeople and Quebecers in general do not forget that Mr. Bouchard's primary objective is the separation of Quebec from Canada and that, because of this option, the economic situation will continue to remain difficult. Will Mr. Bouchard realize that such a contradiction is very costly to Quebecers?

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the crisis affecting the Armed Forces is slowly subsiding, with the departure of the former minister of defence, and of the former chief of defence staff who, in my opinion, took the only action possible under the circumstances. There is, however, another problem: the Prime Minister's inability to admit to the facts, because he wants to protect the integrity of his government.

Questioned in the House yesterday, the Prime Minister stated that he had been informed on the morning of October 2 that his Minister of Defence had seriously breached the Cabinet code of ethics. That same Wednesday, in the afternoon, the Prime Minister

stated, and I quote: "I have a lot of confidence in the Minister of National Defence", adding that he would keep him in that job.

How can the Prime Minister, after learning that very morning that his defence minister had gone against the code of ethics, repeat in this House, barely hours later, within mere hours, that he had confidence in his former minister and even tell us that he would be there for a long time? How can he explain this?

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

As I stated in the House, I was informed in the morning that there was a problem, not one connected in any way to the duties of the Minister of Defence, but perhaps one connected to the performance of his duties as a member of Parliament serving one of his constituents.

I therefore referred the problem to Mr. Wilson, the ethics counsellor. I did not know what his conclusions were going to be, but I had confidence in the Minister of Defence, as always. I repeat that he did an excellent job in his three years as Minister of Defence, both for the Department of National Defence and for Canada.

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that he did not really know whether what the Minister of Defence had done was a problem, when the underlying principle of his code of ethics is that ministers shall neither interfere, nor appear to interfere. The former Minister of Defence had written a letter. The Prime Minister cannot expect us to believe today that he was not really sure whether or not he had contravened the code of ethics. That is just too facile.

Furthermore, in response to General Boyle's letter of resignation, the Prime Minister wrote that he had served with courage, dignity and integrity.

How, knowing that the accusations made under oath by Mr. Gonzales were weighing heavily against General Boyle, could the Prime Minister be so sure and praise the integrity of the chief of defence staff without even knowing the outcome of the ongoing inquiry with respect to him?

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, General Boyle had testified, and had himself said that he was not aware of certain facts which the commission was investigating in this connection.

In the performance of his duties as chief of defence staff, he has done a good job. He had a very difficult task, arriving as the new head of the Armed Forces just as the commission was starting up. That was hard. This was the first time in history that there had been an inquiry of this nature. I believe that General Boyle did his best, and acquitted himself honourably. At the end, he realized that he was the subject of controversy and he submitted his resignation in a most honourable manner, and I accepted it.

As for myself, should the commission comment on this at some point, I shall have something to say, but it is the custom in Canada-and a very good one-that no one is declared guilty until there is a verdict.

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister ought to take care to add to that statement: "And, if there are accusations hanging over someone's head, the Prime Minister ought perhaps to hold back on his congratulations until there is a verdict".

The House is faced with a problem at the present time, and this is it: the Prime Minister, who was aware that his minister had intervened and broken the code of ethics, admitted it only after it became impossible for him to avoid doing so, when he was forced to do so. In his letter to General Boyle, the Prime Minister was still praising the General's integrity and good service, while fully aware that there is an ongoing inquiry, which may lead to some conclusions. At any rate, there is at least some reasonable doubt.

What are we to think of such an attitude on the part of the Prime Minister? Are we to understand that, for him, the integrity of his government is intact, just as long as no one is actually caught red-handed.

The Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this entire incident of last week was made public, and the decisions were made before the press was informed. I was informed on the Wednesday morning. I was informed, and the Minister of Defence received Mr. Wilson's opinion on the Thursday. He came to see me at 6 p.m. and I accepted his resignation the following morning. I think that this is totally reasonable.

It amuses me a great deal that the opposition has nothing much to say against the government and has to resort to rehashing the past. I must therefore congratulate my entire cabinet for doing a good job with the rest of government, since the opposition has nothing to say these days.