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House of Commons Hansard #106 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was election.

Topics

BanksStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, the big six banks are rejoicing over their early Christmas gift of $6 billion in record profits, but we know that many more Canadians cannot be part of this celebration.

While bank profits soar, so do bank service charges. On the heels of celebrating its windfall profits, the CIBC is hiking the fee for using another bank's cash machine from $1 to $1.25.

While the Bank of Canada prime rate has dropped to 3.25 per cent, the big banks continue to charge 18.9 per cent on Mastercard and 16.5 per cent on Visa.

The banks have been quick to lower the interest paid on the savings accounts of hardworking Canadians, so low that they pay only one-quarter of 1 per cent per annum on these savings.

I challenge this Liberal government to take legislative action that will bring debt relief and fair treatment to Canadian consumers, small business people, seniors and working families. They too deserve an early Christmas gift.

Parlement Jeunesse Des Francophones De L'OuestStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, November 10, I had the privilege of attending a session of the sixth Parlement jeunesse des francophones de l'Ouest in Edmonton.

More than fifty young people from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon spent four days in the seats of the Alberta legislative assembly, familiarizing themselves with the role of the legislator and the rules of parliamentary procedure.

Speaker Marco Roy guided the debates with a firm hand. Premier Christiane Moquin and House Leader Joëlle Leclerc acquitted themselves of their duties with skill and verve. The serious approach taken by all of these young people to their undertaking is eloquent proof that our future is in good hands.

The slight majority of young women participating in this youth parliament gives us grounds for believing that, on the eve of the third millennium, we shall be seeing increasing numbers of women in positions of political responsibility at all levels of government.

Parti QuebecoisStatements By Members

November 25th, 1996 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend's PQ congress has provided us with the perfect example of a political party which places its ideology above everything else: the economy, social and health services, minority rights and so on.

Thumbing their noses at the results of the two referendums they themselves organized on the separation of Quebec, PQ members continue to prepare for the next referendum as if nothing had happened.

In the close to 2,000 resolutions contained in the delegates' kits, the PQ members did not see fit to consider, even once, the desire expressed by a majority of Quebecers to remain within Canada. The PQ continues in its desire to impose its separatist obsession on the majority of the Quebec population.

That population has spoken twice on the separation of Quebec. It is time for the Parti Quebecois, and the Bloc Quebecois, to agree to respect the democratic will of Quebecers and to move on to other things: the economy, social services, and the respect of minority rights.

Quebec PremierStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, Lucien Bouchard urged delegates at the PQ convention last weekend to endorse his partnership proposal.

He reminded militants that partnership proved to be a winning formula in the last referendum, adding that, with an additional two months, the yes side would have won.

We do not believe in Lucien Bouchard's partnership project, and nor do the militants representing Montreal Centre, who said: "After condemning the excessive number of government and decision-making levels, we cannot propose another source of duplication and inefficiency".

Partnership, as described by the PQ leader, is nothing but a ploy, a marketing technique and an illusion to give the impression that separation would be smoother if achieved in conjunction with a partnership proposal. Lucien the magician strikes again!

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for the official languages program and, accordingly, for supporting the francophone minority outside Quebec in order to prevent its being assimilated by the anglophone majority.

How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage fulfil her ministerial responsibility and protect the two official language minorities, when she in fact refuses to acknowledge that Canada has a real problem in the assimilation of francophones outside Quebec, as Statistics Canada figures prove beyond a doubt?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member really wants to know what I said, he can read the minutes of the committee in which I said, following the comments by the minister, Ms. Beaudouin, that the problem of anglicization exists throughout the country, including in the Province of Quebec.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has said a lot of things, so many things that she was awarded the Montreal Gazette 's brickbat of the week. No mean feat.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

I would recall some statistics for her: the rate of assimilation of francophones in New Brunswick is 8.7 per cent; in British Columbia, 72 per cent; in western Canada, 55 per cent; in Ontario, 37 per cent and in the City of Hamilton, her city, 65 per cent. These are Statistics Canada's figures. And this is why associations representing francophones in English Canada have criticized the minister's remarks.

Instead of concealing the problem, by promoting bilingualism, does the minister not think it is time to recognize the facts, to open her eyes and to perhaps offer some solutions?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, if the member is really interested in the well-being of the francophone community across Canada, I would ask him to contact his counterpart, the Quebec minister of education, who has introduced a system that discriminates against francophones outside Quebec in French language post-secondary education.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec introduced a system of higher costs for out of country students, as did Ontario. In Ontario, it is good management; in Quebec, it is discrimination.

In the case of out of province students, Quebec charges them the average cost of education in Canada, which means that it costs even less for an Ontarian than studying in Toronto. Those are the facts. It is time the minister woke up. If she wants to talk money, we will talk money.

Does the minister not think that one way to meet her responsibilities, because she does have responsibilities although she may not realize it, is to look carefully at the use the other provinces make of the money intended to go to educating official language minorities that went to other things, like heating schools or setting up public washrooms in Kingston?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I asked the hon. member, who, I assume, supports the policy of his colleague, the hon. member for Québec-Est, who supports a policy of bilingualism across the country, which we support, whether he is prepared to acknowledge that the education policy of his counterpart in Quebec City, Pauline Marois, discriminates against 1,500 students registered at Laval, the University of Sherbrooke and the University of Montreal. Most of them are francophones who wish to continue their studies in their own language.

Why is the Government of Quebec a part of such discrimination against Canada's francophones?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister keeps hammering at Quebec because she cannot do her own job properly. That is the problem.

Marcel Beaudry, president of the National Capital Commission, said before the Joint Committee on Official Languages that Ottawa was, to all intents and purposes, a bilingual city. However, only last summer the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne condemned the national capital's English unilingualism.

Considering that the assimilation rate of francophones within the federal capital has reached 30 per cent, does the Minister of Canadian Heritage not think it is high time she reminded Mr. Beaudry that it is part of the NCC's mandate to actively promote linguistic duality?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, one thing is certain and that is that someone who refers to francophones outside Quebec as paraplegics in wheelchairs is hardly in a position to say anything about the state of the French language.

That being said, what I said, and what is falsely denied by the hon. member for Québec-Est is that now, and this was not the case 30 years ago, 99 per cent of francophones outside Quebec who wish to be educated in their language have that possibility, thanks to federal policies.

Of course the policies are not perfect. But if the hon. member wants to victimize francophones in this country, I think he is barking up the wrong tree.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, I challenge the minister to prove that 99 per cent of francophones outside Quebec have access to education in French, when there are only 50 per cent. This is a shameless falsehood on the part of the minister who is supposed to be responsible for this sector.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleague, I suggest it would be more appropriate to refrain from using words like "falsely" or "falsehood". I would ask you to be very careful about your choice of words.

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

NCC leases provide that tenants who are businesses or government agencies must advertise and provide services in both official languages. According to Mr. Beaudry, they cannot act on these clauses because they have never been enforced.

Are we to conclude that the Official Languages Act is no longer valid because it has never been properly enforced in Canada, outside Quebec?

Francophones Outside QuebecOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, you will understand my pleasant astonishment at the spectacle of the Bloc Quebecois' supporting the use of bilingual signs across the country. We think that is an important step forward.

If the member for Quebec Est is honest in the comment that he made the other night to the committee that he supports bilingualism across the country, in every part of the country, including the province of Quebec, I would encourage him to intervene with the minister of education in Quebec who has introduced a two tier system of tuition which discriminates against francophones outside Quebec.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it looks like the finance minister's harmonization road show hit a pot hole last week, then the wheels fell off, then it rolled over and then it exploded in the ditch.

First, Greenberg stores announced they are closing 5 stores in New Brunswick and a possible 19 others in Nova Scotia and they have placed the blame squarely on the harmonized GST.

Then we hear about the 16,000 New Brunswickers who have signed a petition to dump the tax and then a report comes out showing how rents in Nova Scotia will go up, hurting the old, the young and the poor, those least able to absorb a tax hike.

Finally, at the end of the week Ontario's finance minister put a torch to any possibility of Canada's largest province hitching a ride on this Hindenburg.

Why will the finance minister not finally admit that his hope for a nationwide harmonization deal is dead? Will he kill it now in Atlantic Canada before it kills any more jobs?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the Greenberg stores, the fact of the matter is the stores, indeed all retailers in Atlantic Canada, will gain as much if not more as a result of the introduction of input tax credits than any other cost.

At the same time, the minister of finance in New Brunswick stated very clearly that he is prepared to sit down with any of the retailers in New Brunswick, as indeed are the other ministers of finance, to make sure tax inclusive pricing is introduced in a way that will not cause hardship but that will in fact give consumers what they want.

The issue nonetheless that remains in this House is why the Reform Party has supported in House of Commons committee and in fact in its own official program, all 18 versions of its own official program, tax harmonization. Why is it prepared to support it in principle but when Atlantic Canada wants to do it in order to

make its small and medium size business more competitive, to give it an opportunity to get a leg up, the Reform Party in an act of blind attack against Atlantic Canada refuses to accept that very good measure?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, Reformers are standing up for Atlantic Canada. My question is why do we have all these Atlantic Canadian MPs sitting over here using up perfectly good oxygen but not standing up for their constituents.

Despite a billion dollars in hush money the facts of this political deal have started leaking out. Everything is going up in price: new houses, rents, heating fuel, children's clothing, gasoline. Nova Scotia's opposition leader says this deal will mean $53 million in new gas taxes in Nova Scotia. Even Nova Scotia's finance minister admits that municipal property taxes are going to have to rise because of this deal.

Why is the finance minister allowing this tax attack on the hard pressed people of Atlantic Canada when it is clear that it will hurt the poor and it will kill jobs?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hidden agenda of the Reform Party is very clear. It comes out in its body language, it comes out in the words it uses.

The hon. member uses the words hush money. Any time money is transferred to Atlantic Canada it is hush money. It was not hush money when Ontario received stabilization payments from the federal government. It was not hush money when western Canadian grain farmers were given the support for agricultural payments. It was not hush money for the Reform Party when the Alberta tar sands were given a very important deal that would create jobs there.

But transfer a penny to Atlantic Canada and it is hush money and the reason is the Reform Party refuses to take a pan-Canadian view of this country. The Reform Party refuses to understand that the regions of this country support one another.

The problem that exists here is that the Reform Party simply has given up on Atlantic Canada while the Liberal Party has not. We believe in Atlantic Canada.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is the Liberal Party has made a career of creating divisions in this country, which is why it is not willing to come up with $3 billion for Ontario and the other provinces.

The devil is in the details. A copy of this deal says a cut in the provincial portion of this tax requires the unanimous consent of all provinces involved.

When was the last time we had unanimity on anything in this country? But a rate increase only needs a simple majority. That is one of the reasons the finance minister himself opposed harmonization back when he ran for the Liberal leadership. This deal entrenches higher taxes forever.

Why has the finance minister compromised his own belief that harmonization guarantees higher taxes forever and, in doing so, why did he sell out the people of Atlantic Canada?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I would simply ask the hon. member to go back to the byelection which took place in Labrador when the Reform Party was prepared to stand up and speak for Atlantic Canada. Now all of a sudden, having lost that byelection as well as every other election in Atlantic Canada, Reform members are taking out their vengeance on Atlantic Canadians, saying "we will not allow you to have a lower tax rate, we will not allow you to have lower consumer costs, we will not allow you to break away from a cycle of dependence, toward independence".

The hon. member asks when was the last time we had unanimity in this country. I will tell him. It was when Canadians from coast to coast to coast said "the Reform Party has had it; it is going down the drain". They do not want to have anything more to do with those vicious policies it stands for.