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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

TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the hon. member that this government is taking the same position that it has taken now for almost a month. The Minister of Transport did not go to British Columbia to try to broker a deal between Canadian Airlines and its union. He went there to listen. The Minister of Transport did not go to British Columbia to write a cheque. The minister is there to listen.

To quote the Minister of Transport, there is no role for government until such time as the company is made essentially profitable. Government involvement now with money or anything else will not solve the chronic restructuring problem.

TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know why the government is listening now; it never listened before. Reform has been calling for the removal of the federal fuel tax on aviation gas but the federal tax is only part of the problem. An international treaty on air transport, agreed to by 184 countries including Canada, prohibits taxation of fuel used for international air transportation. The federal government has complied but a number of provincial governments have not.

Given that this provincial aviation fuel tax on international flights contravenes the treaty signed by Canada and compounds the competitive problems for Canadian air carriers, what action if any has the minister taken to have this provincial tax removed? If he is

finally talking to them about that, why did he wait until Canadian was in such deep financial trouble?

TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to help the hon. member out. He is a hardworking member of the transport committee.

Maybe he has not met with his leader for a while but his leader spoke on CBU AM radio in Vancouver and said: "In keeping with our philosophy that government should stay out of the marketplace and stay out of business, if Canadian is to survive, it will survive because it is successful in implementing a business plan to make it profitable".

In any of the speeches that have been made by his party or by the government there has been no mention about foreign investment and nothing about eliminating taxes. It is there in Reform's 1995 blue book: "Eliminate regional development as a goal of transportation policy". There is no mention by the leader of the third party on tax cuts on fuel. None of that. Where is the member coming from? Let Canadian do the job of restructuring itself, then we will listen to the proposals.

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

For close to seven years now, a number of stakeholders from the Quebec City region have been asking the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to allow cruising ships on the St. Lawrence River to operate a casino and to be allowed to call at ports, including the port of Quebec.

How can the minister justify his government's slowness to introduce the required amendments to the Criminal Code, given that it would result in major economic spinoffs for the whole Quebec City region?

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this idea comes up from time to time. There are advantages. There are also policy considerations.

If the Government of Quebec has a formal request to make of us to amend the Criminal Code in this regard, I would hope it would be forthcoming. So far to my knowledge no such formal request has been made. If it has a request to make, we will be happy to consider it and discuss it with the other provincial governments and other parties that are affected.

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I understand the minister would support a private member's bill to be tabled to this effect by the Bloc Quebecois.

Given that a number of jobs would be created, we wonder why the minister cannot allow cruising ships to close their casino just one hour before they arrive at the port of Quebec. It is not that complicated.

Criminal CodeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this issue comes under provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, if the Government of Quebec has adopted a position regarding it, I would be pleased to be apprised of it.

If I receive a formal request from the Government of Quebec, I will be pleased to give it proper consideration.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

We are not sure why the minister has not tabled his anti-smoking legislation. Is it because the minister has no clout at the cabinet table? Is it because he is fighting with other ministers in the cabinet? Is it that there are too many high level Liberal lobbyists? We cannot be sure, but the truth is the legislation is not here. Maybe the minister has adopted roll your own targets like the finance minister.

Canadians do not want any more ifs, ands or buts. When will we see this legislation tabled in the House of Commons?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, soon.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend according to Statistics Canada figures, 657 more young people started smoking and another 219 people died from smoking related illnesses. We are not talking about soon or some cute little response here. We are talking about human lives.

Will the minister give us a date as to when we can expect this legislation? Do not give us this nonsense about crossing your i 's and dotting your t 's, or is it crossing your t 's and dotting your i 's.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Yes, Mr. Speaker, some people do have their i 's crossed.

I want to tell the hon. member that what is shameful on the floor of the House of Commons is the hypocrisy of the Reform Party when its own critic has said clearly that the resolution of this problem is not with legislation but with education. Now we have the hon. member standing in this place wanting to have legislation.

I say to the hon. member that we will have our legislation package ready to go very soon.

Job CreationOral Question Period

November 25th, 1996 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

For several months now, we have been hearing that the federal government was going to get more directly involved in promoting job creation.

Could the Minister of Human Resources Development tell us what steps he has taken, in co-operation with the government of my province, the Province of Quebec, in order to stimulate job creation?

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, naturally the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec both wish to help as many unemployed people as possible re-enter the job market. One way in which our governments want to help Quebecers find work is to facilitate the exchange of information between employers and workers, by working closely with partners in the private sector.

I would like to give one example of how the governments of Canada and of Quebec have worked together, in an activity sponsored by Défi Emploi in the region of Témiscouata. In this region, the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec have worked with local dailies, which have agreed to advertise jobs free of charge.

You will be pleased to learn that this Défi Emploi project in Témiscouata has been a success. Of the 557 jobs advertised, approximately 469 have been filled, a success rate of 84 per cent. This means that 469 men and women have thus found jobs when our governments work together.

Access To InformationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

The information commissioner, John Grace, recently declared that a number of government ministers were urging their officials to break the law on purpose by refusing to make public within 30 days replies to requests for access to information.

What action does the minister intend to take to ensure that his foot dragging colleagues get serious and observe the provisions of the Access to Information Act?

Access To InformationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I know that all of my colleagues make their best efforts in good faith to comply with their obligations under the law. Sometimes the complexity of a request or the difficulty in amassing the necessary information is such that the time limit is not fully respected. However, the record of this government is clear. We take these responsibilities very seriously and we make our best efforts to provide whatever information is required as soon as practical.

Access To InformationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, surely the commissioner was not just making idle comments. There must be a problem.

When will the justice minister propose amendments to the Access to Information Act for the purpose of strengthening the coercive authority held by the information commissioner over officials, political staff or ministers who deliberately take their time making documents to which we are entitled to have access under the act public?

Access To InformationOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, these matters are always under review. We are happy to discuss with interested parties ways in which the law can be improved. However, we are satisfied that for the most part the statute works well now. As I say, we make every effort in good faith to comply with its spirit, its intent, as well as its letter.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the rule of law means that everyone in our society, including ministers of government, premiers, the rich and powerful and ordinary citizens alike are governed by the same law of the land. Those words were spoken in the House by the Minister of Justice last September. Yet last Friday the same minister asked me to overlook niggling legalisms such as orders in council to permit Madam Justice Louise Arbour to accept another position, despite the fact that the Judges Act specifically prohibits judges from accepting other appointments.

Is the minister now saying that the rule of law does not apply to this minister when he grants orders in council to powerful people?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, nothing has happened since Friday last to add any legitimacy to the position expressed by the hon. member. He was wrong then and he is wrong now.

The order in council that was made granted a leave of absence to Madam Justice Arbour. That is entirely permitted by the Judges Act. The fact that Madam Justice Arbour is pursuing other duties is also permitted under the Judges Act.

What is prohibited by the Judges Act is that Madam Justice Arbour would accept money from sources other than the federal government. That she has not done and she will not do so until Bill C-42 becomes law. That legislation is intended to amend the Judges Act so that Madam Justice Arbour can take up the duties, with pay from the United Nations, for which she was appointed.

I might say that she was appointed by the United Nations Security Council in a unanimous vote. This country was honoured that a judge of the court of appeal for Ontario was appointed to this position, a position of world leadership in terms of morality: chief prosecutor of the war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, the end does not justify the means. Regardless of what the minister is saying today, he did say before the Senate that he had absolutely no power to grant this order in council as the law currently stands and he is in violation of section 55 of the Judges Act which prohibits other employment. It has nothing to do with salary.

Since the minister has granted a special dispensation to Madam Justice Louise Arbour, will he acknowledge that the appearance of impartiality by Madam Justice Arbour will be seriously compromised when she returns to the bench if she is judging cases that involve the Government of Canada?

JusticeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this concern makes no more sense when it emanates from the hon. member than it did from some of those in the Senate who expressed it also. I do not understand it frankly. I simply do not understand it. It does not make sense.

The United Nations wanted a judge from this country for the role because with judges it has impartiality. It wanted a Canadian judge because of our reputation in the world order. It wanted this judge because of her integrity and her reputation for fairness and competence. By unanimous vote of the security council it chose her for this role.

We found that although she is permitted a leave of absence to take up the duties she cannot be paid by the UN without a change in the statute. The UN does not want us to pay her because it fears that will undermine her independence in the World Court. We propose a change to the statute and all we hear from this member is a bizarre and, in my view, incorrect interpretation of the statute which might cause difficulties in having this woman do an important service for humanity.

Will the hon. member and his party stand down so that we can get this job done for the world?

BanksOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.

The banks will be announcing another $6 billion profit, a record. We hear members of the Liberal caucus making progressive noises in the finance committee about the banks' service charges and interest rates charged on Visa cards. But the real question is: What is the government going to do?

Will the Minister of Finance commit his government to putting a ceiling on interest charges on Visa, Mastercard and the other credit card companies? Will he act?

BanksOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to know the NDP has an inside track on bank profits because none of the banks has announced their profits yet this year.

The government is committed to ensuring that the banks do their fair share to support the economy. By that I mean paying their fair share of taxes. These are the highest taxed corporations in the country. Indeed they pay large corporate taxes. They pay a special capital tax for large institutions besides their corporate taxes. They paid a billion dollars in taxes in 1991 and 1993 and more this year.

That is one of the ways we have made sure that the banks play out their role in the community.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the worst abuser of the unemployment insurance fund in Canada, the Minister of Finance.

After three years of Liberal government, Canada is experiencing the longest period of high unemployment we have known since the thirties. Nevertheless, the Liberal government continues to put a surtax on employees through the unemployment insurance fund.

I simply want to ask the Minister of Finance whether he thinks it is legitimate for the government to use the unemployment insurance fund to reduce its deficit?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, that takes the cake. When the Conservative government came to power in 1984, unemployment insurance premiums were $2.30, and when we came to power in 1993, they were about to reach

$3.30. We have reduced them annually, but the Conservatives increased them every year they were in power.

It is beyond belief. It must be very difficult to be the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and have to swallow oneself whole every time he stands up and denies the record of his government in office. Every single year it was in office unemployment insurance premiums went up. Every year that we have been in office unemployment premiums have gone down.

He represents a government that was prepared to impose on the Canadian people the highest level of taxation that they have ever had. Yet they also gave them the highest deficit. At least the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party should have the courage of the Reform Party and outline from where his tax cuts will come. Let him admit that he will cut health care-