House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was elections.


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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Some hon. members


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Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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An hon. member

On a point of order.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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The Deputy Speaker

There are no points of order while the question is being put.

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

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed to the motion will please say nay.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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Some hon. members


Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen.

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

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

Canada Elections ActGovernment Orders

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The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed.)

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should return the word "Canadian" among questions of ethnic origin on the Canadian Census.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon. I appreciate the fact that my motion has come forward, Motion No. 277. It is certainly high time that this happened. I am pleased that the House has the opportunity to debate this motion. I am also pleased that it is a votable motion.

I would like to refer specifically to question No. 19, under socio-cultural information, on the long 1996 census form, which asks: "Is this person white, Chinese, South Asian, black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese, Korean or other?"

The list appears to follow no logic. For instance, it mixes skin colour, black or white, with ethnic origin, Chinese, Arab, Filipino, Japanese and Korean, and then geographical origin as well, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Latin American. In addition to those ten categories, one could also identify oneself as other. Under "other" we could assume that someone might put "rosy", "Martian", "Hades" or whatever. Some people might put Canadian and, of course, that is my point today. Many people have done that and I know that many more people will. I trust we will be able, through this motion, to make some changes to that.

Let us must get back to reality. For the first time in Canadian census history Canadians were asked to identify their race. It is a socially divisive and racist question as well as invasive and offensive. An added insult was the absence of a Canadian category in section 19. In other words, Canadians were asked to deny their own heritage when responding to this question. If Canadian were a choice on this list, as it should be, that is exactly how most people would respond, and in fact many people did in May 1996.

In a note to question number 19 the government defends this socially divisive and racist approach to categorizing Canadians. Section 19 of the census form states: "This information is collected to support programs which promote equal opportunity for everyone to share in the social, cultural and economic life of Canada".

What in the world does that mean? A further explanation is provided in the background information to the census: "The question on visible minority population in Canada provides information for programs under the Employment Equity Act which promotes equal opportunity for everyone". There of course is the nub of the issue.

What do we mean by equal opportunity for everyone? Perhaps we could refer to the Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960 and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982. The Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960 states:

It is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law; the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law; freedom of religion; freedom of speech; freedom of assembly and association; and freedom of the press.

The Canadian Bill of Rights adopted by this Parliament in 1960, which was opposed by the Liberals, states pretty clearly the true meaning of equality and of being a Canadian. A Canadian to me is anyone who was born in Canada, anyone born to Canadian parents or anyone who has come to Canada and has fulfilled the requirements for becoming a Canadian. It is pretty clear. It is pretty simple: anyone born in Canada, anyone born to Canadian parents or anyone who has come to Canada and has fulfilled the requirements for becoming a Canadian. That is someone who can stand up and say "I am proud to be a Canadian".

But question 19 on the 1996 census form ensures that Canadians must become hyphenated: an Anglo-Canadian, a Franco-Canadian, an Italian-Canadian, a Chinese-Canadian, an Indo-Canadian, a Slavic-Canadian. And on and on it goes; an almost but not quite Canadian, which is shameful.

The government is always expounding on how wonderful Canada is and I know it is a wonderful country, so why not let the citizens of this country preserve their heritage as they see fit? Forget the hyphens and simply say "I am Canadian, period". But

of course there is nothing in question 19 that enables people to do that.

This social engineering process is sanctioned in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 which states in section 15(1):

Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

This looks good in principle and on paper and is then followed immediately by section 15(2) which goes on to negate section 15(1):

Subsection 1 does not preclude any law, program or activity that has as its object the amelioration of conditions of disadvantaged individuals or groups including those that are disadvantaged because of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Of course the question is what is the point of section 15(1) when you look at 15(2). Section 15(2) of the charter emasculates the previous section. It can best be described as the right to discriminate clause. In other words, section 15(1) says that every individual is equal before and under the law until some other person anointed under section 15(2) comes along; then equality becomes expendable.

I am reminded of George Orwell's Animal Farm from my teaching career where Napoleon the pig said: ``All animals are created equal but some are more equal than others''. What a tragedy it was in that book and what a commentary it is on society when we say all are created equal and yet we are sorry, but some are more equal than others.

Section 15(2) legitimizes employment equity, which is a euphemism for quotas, and it should be obliterated from the charter of rights and freedoms. It is a disgrace and a shame to democracy.

This then explains why the government collects information on ethnic origin, because it is required by the social engineers to promote legislatively mandated employment equity programs in the public service and in businesses of 100 or more employees doing business with the Government of Canada. These programs claim to promote equal opportunity for everyone. They do exactly the opposite. It is a concept that is socially divisive and is contradictory to the perception of equality and fairness shared by most Canadians.

Employment equity seeks to confer benefits on members of designated groups which must be identified by the program managers. Many people refuse to self-classify on the form because of a loss of legitimacy in the eyes of colleagues. Most people wish to be chosen on the basis of merit. I would certainly hope that people in this House believe they got here because of merit. It is sad to say that some are here because they were anointed in their nomination process. That is sadder yet than even what we are talking about today.

The avoidance of self-classification skews the statistical basis in many important ways. It skews the whole thing because some answered and some did not. Yet the social engineers are asking the questions about numbers because they want to determine what their programs will look like. If enough people refuse to classify themselves, the appearance of discrimination is then elevated. There will be a degree of disparity between the number of designated group members in the workforce and the number available to work.

For example, the clerk here in the House of Commons appeared before the Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons concerning Bill C-64, an act respecting employment equity. He stated that a voluntary self-identification or a self-classification survey was sent to 1,700 House employees. Only 23 per cent returned the survey and of that number less than 50 per cent identified themselves as belonging to a designated group. What does that do when 1,700 surveys are sent out and 50 come back stating they are not sure about this? Obviously the numbers are going to be skewed and for the social engineers it is going to mess up their figures and programs.

These inaccurate statistics have important consequences for employers. If some members of designated groups refuse to self-classify, employers must consistently report a non-representative workplace. They would then be forced to report non-compliance when in fact they may well be complying. This is clear injustice.

Employment equity action carries with it a presumption of inferiority. It flies in the face of the merit principle. Employment opportunities should be based on the ability to do the job and on that criterion alone.

Is the government saying then that designated groups cannot compete on their own merit? If accident of birth is a qualification for a job then it is an outright mockery of the merit principle. No self-classifying group should accept being treated in this patronizing manner. They should resent all that the employment equity program symbolizes.

The role of government is to ensure equality of opportunity, not equality of results. Bill C-64 was whisked through this House recently and there is also the Canadian census form that so many people have been aggravated about and have been in touch with me. I will bet a dollar that there are a lot of Liberal MPs who should stand up here today and say that they have also received calls from their constituents saying: "I want to represent myself and label myself Canadian. Why can't I do it on the census form?" If they are not coming forward with that information then perhaps the

word smug might come to mind, as if only people in other ridings who are not represented by Liberals would have people outraged.

I know somebody in Edmonton right now who is in the process of being charged. He lives in what is a Liberal held riding for now, but he has said that they have come after him three times and are in the process of charging him. That is shameful. This is a young man who is a Canadian through and through. This is a young man whose heritage is Jewish. However, he said that he was a Canadian under section 19, but they came back to his house time and time again. What is wrong with this picture? Somebody is going to be charged and possibly convicted under this because he stood up and said: "I am a Canadian, period". It is shameful.

For those people who smirk, for those people who think that they have all the answers in the world, something is dreadfully wrong here. I challenge the members across the way to make this right. They could do it in a heartbeat yet I can tell by the looks on their faces they have no intention of doing that, which is sad.

Legalized discrimination invites discriminatory practices. Discrimination in favour of someone logically requires that another be discriminated against. Employment equity legislation officially sanctions discrimination against those groups that are not designated. By putting some people in, by committing, then obviously other people are left out by omitting them.

One group is able bodied white males. We have heard story after story in this place of people who have said that they tried to get into the RCMP or some other group and they simply were not able to do it because there was a quota system.

The government's role should be to ensure equality of opportunity and to protect individuals from discrimination in employment. Instead of predetermined employment results, the government must act as guardian of the merit principle and allow individuals to excel through a fair competitive process. I do not know how anyone in this place could ever deny that.

Employment equity programs are opposed by the majority of Canadians. In a December 1993 Gallup poll, 74 per cent of the respondents said that qualifications should be the sole criteria for hiring for management positions. Many Canadians do not want to be classified by their ethnic origin. In the 1991 census, 765,095 Canadians ignored the ethnic distinctions presented by Statistics Canada and gave Canadian as their sole ethnic origin. The numbers are not out yet from the 1996 census but I am sure they will be way higher than 765,095.

I also question how it can be fairly determined who belongs to visible minority groups. Should a person of racially mixed parentage be counted as a visible minority? Should third generation visible minority Canadians be thought of as disadvantaged in the same way as a new visible minority citizen? What about the Caucasian who constitutes a visible minority in certain areas? It is a quagmire and one that could be easily solved by simply putting the word Canadian in section 19.

Studies have shown that Canadian employers are generally fair and that discrimination is not systemic. The Economic Council of Canada undertook a study in 1991 called "New Faces in the Crowd", asserting that there was no significant discrimination against immigrants in general, and no apparent tendency to discriminate against immigrants from the third world. Indeed, the report suggested that immigrants take some time to catch up to native born Canadians because their overseas qualifications do not match those obtained in Canada. This is from the Economic Council of Canada.

In addition, businesses know that having a representative workplace is in their best interests ultimately and of course they are going to want to have that cross-section.

Employment equity breathes resentment toward designated groups. First, it will be assumed that employment was not obtained through the merit principle. Second, it labels them as being inferior and unable to compete on a level playing field. Third, it seems that they need mother government to run interference for them. To me nothing is sadder than that.

The government may have had good intentions when it introduced employment equity legislation which led to this racist and socially divisive question on the census form. I will give the government the benefit of the doubt on that, maybe it was trying to do something good.

I think this legislation is demeaning and detrimental to designated groups and legalizes discrimination against non-designated groups. This kind of legislated mandated social engineering has no place in a democratic country like Canada. It is also a denial of the most basic fundamental right of all Canadians: the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, one of the basic rights that defines our democracy.

I am one of those designated groups and I find it offensive that I would get some sort of special treatment. I know in many respects women are not treated well in the business world. I know of women who have gone to get business loans from a bank and they have been asked who the man is that is in charge. What a pathetic state it is. We are approaching the new century and we need to be moving forward, yet women are having a problem for instance in getting business loans. That is shameful. Yet I do not think the answer is to have employment equity to label me for instance as a designated group and that I would need special status.

In running as a parliamentarian I can think of nothing sadder than for women on either side of the House to go door knocking and say: "Hello, I am a candidate in your constituency. Please vote for me because I am a woman". I cannot do that. I do not think it would be right for any one of us to do that. As soon as we start

labelling people and putting them into groups then we leave out other people and it represents a real danger.

All Canadians should be treated equally under the law regardless of what group they belong to. To borrow a phrase from the Liberal majority report in 1992 on the employment equity review, the Liberals said: "The principle of social justice and fairness must always be foremost in the minds of those who draft the laws by which Canadians abide".

If this government is truly committed to the betterment of all Canadians, it must remove the emphasis on race, ethnic and geographical origins from its policies and ensure that hiring and promotion are based solely on the merit principle. A good start would be to include the word Canadian in section 19 of the sociocultural information of the 1996 Canadian census or better still, remove section 19 altogether.

Let us say it together: I am proud to be a Canadian.

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

November 26th, 1996 / 6:05 p.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Motion M-277 put forward by the hon. member for Beaver River. I listened carefully to the comments and relevant remarks she made in this debate. The hon. member for Beaver River raised a number of points.

First of all, Statistics Canada's question no. 19 about ethnic origin makes us wonder if the word "Canadian" should not be just one of the choices on the list census respondents have to choose from.

Personally, what I had the biggest problem with in the points raised by the hon. member for Beaver River is this tendency to standardize everything from coast to coast, so that "Canadian" becomes the obvious choice. Of course, we are Canadians under the law.

But what does "Canadian" mean in terms of ethnic origin? Various groups came to this country at different times in Canadian history. As a small boy, I remember reading in history books that Canada was founded in 1534 when Jacques Cartier planted a cross in Gaspé. We have since learned that there had been people here long before then.

We learned that the Vikings first visited Newfoundland probably as early as the 11th century, and that the First Nations were already established on this land. There has been much denial in our history of the existence of people settling in Canada long before the white man arrived.

To make the origin of Canada coincide with Jacques Cartier's arrival in 1534 is regrettable and, in my opinion, it is a totally racist attitude which quietly became ingrained in our customs. The fact is that this country had people living in it at the time and, therefore, already existed.

However, it is important to look at the notion of ethnic origin. Is a person an Amerindian? Was that person born in France, in Great Britain? What is the origin of his or her name? This information helps us understand, along with statistics, the various contributions made to Canada by immigrants. When I refer to immigrants, this means all of us, even those who were here 400 years ago. Indeed, we all moved here from somewhere else.

There are terms not to be confused, and there is some confusion in the speech made by the hon. member for Beaver River. For one thing, her conclusion on the meaning of the word "Canadian" is not precise enough. This meaning should be explained, and I will do so later by tabling an amendment.

The confusion probably relates to the notion of ethnic origin versus citizenship. Citizenship is a legal status given to the inhabitants of a country, which comes under federal jurisdiction in accordance with section 91 of the 1867 British North America Act.

It is the prerogative of the federal state to grant Canadian citizenship to people who come to live in Canada and who wish to stay here, earn a living and settle permanently in this country. This is one of the criteria to be eligible for Canadian citizenship.

However, we must not confuse citizenship and nationality. If asked what my citizenship is, I must say I am a Canadian, since I was born in Canada and federal laws make me a Canadian citizen. Now, if I am asked my nationality, I am going to reply that I am Quebecois by nationality, because I am attached to the territory of Quebec, to this fledgling country of Quebec, and this is the word with which I identify most strongly. For me, my nation is Quebec.

Another person might define himself as an English Canadian, a French Canadian, someone else might consider himself Acadian, each one defining himself according to his innermost feelings with respect to his origins.

It is a bit the same with the concept of "domicile", which was discussed during the debate on Bill C-63. My colleague from St-Hubert, who sits on my left, is well placed to correct or support me on this, but civil law tells us that the concept of "domicile" we were discussing today comprises a material element, i.e. a physical establishment, as well as an element of intention, i.e. the desire to make that physical establishment one's principal residence. I am not sure if my definition is correct. If not, the hon. member could correct me from her long experience with the law.

As for nationality, there are two elements. There is the material element, the place one lives, and the element of intention, the group with which one most identifies. This is not always an easy matter. Everyone must answer for himself. I cannot answer for others. The hon. member for Beaver River would like the law to answer "Canadians from coast to coast" for all the people questioned, but it is not that simple.

One might well wonder. For example, I see the clerk at the table, Mr. Lukyniuk. With that name, he is probably not from Brittany or Ireland. I would wager that he is probably Ukrainian in origin, but surely now a Canadian. What about his definition of himself? Are we to deprive him of the right to indicate what his origin is, what he or his parents contributed to the wealth and diversity of Canada?

My colleague from Winnipeg North is, quite clearly, not from Alsace or the Walloon part of Belgium, or anything of the sort. If he is able to indicate his origins, all the better. The more information the state has on the origin of its citizens, when they came to Canada, and under what circumstances when that question is appropriate, the more understanding we will have. I believe that information is what is needed to knock down the walls of misunderstanding.

Someone has written a book which is, I think, called "Uneasy Patriot". This book offers us some help in understanding the Canadian reality, the difficulty we sometimes experience in living as Canadians, the means we have developed to resolve certain conflicts. It is not always easy, but we have created a traditional approach that will work in the best of times as well as the worst of times, when the social fabric is under severe tension.

We experienced this on October 30 last year, when Quebec went to the polls. I am convinced that this ability to absorb, this democratic fabric we have woven together for generations evolved very gradually. Despite certain alarmist statements made from time to time, we have developed a tradition of tolerance in Canada which enables us to accept change, provided it is done democratically.

There are several examples of this. In 1992, when the Charlottetown accord was rejected, all governments campaigned in favour of accepting the offer except one, the Government of Quebec. The accord was massively rejected. The next day, people were not marching in the streets to demand the government's resignation, to get rid of the government. We have a tradition of respect for the results of a democratic vote, and that is how we developed a great capacity for tolerance.

To recapitulate: We should not be stuck in a definition of "Canadian" which we would be unable to get out of, the excuse being that everything has to be Canadian so that it becomes impossible to specify what kind of Canadians we are. As far as Statistics Canada is concerned, we must not confuse citizenship with ethnic origin and nationality.

Therefore I move, seconded by the hon. member for Saint-Hubert:

That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after the word "should" with the following:

"include "Canadian", "Quebecker", "English-Canadian", "French-Canadian" and "Acadian" among questions of ethnic origin on the Canadian Census."

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I can inform the hon. member for Bellechasse that his motion is in order.

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am a proud Canadian. I chose Canada to be my country. I rise in debate today in full knowledge of my Canadian pride.

The motion tabled by the Reform member for Beaver River states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should return the word "Canadian" among questions of ethnic origin on the Canadian Census.

On the surface, it sounds innocuous to public good. Examined closely, it is harmful to good citizenship.

I am proud to be a Canadian citizen. If I am asked what is my ethnic origin, I will proudly answer "Filipino". Yes, I was born in the Philippines. My colour is brown, "kayumanggi" in my native tongue.

Speaking of languages, neither English or French is not my mother tongue. Tagalog is. I had to learn English in school. Now I am studying French.

These are some characteristics of my ethnic origin, my ethnocultural background, my roots. I am proud of my Filipino heritage. They are a people known for their hospitality, their work ethic, their creativity and determination, and their generosity of heart.

At the same time, I am proud to be a Canadian by choice. I am proud not only because of the physical beauty of our country-its immense geography, beautiful lakes, beautiful scenery, majestic mountains, surrounding oceans and rich natural resources-and not only because of Canada's economic wealth, important as it is. I am proud primarily because of the beauty of our people. We are diverse in cultures, yet we live in harmony. We are a people of varied ethnic origins, yet we share a common national vision. I approach this motion secure in the knowledge that Canada is a nation of human achievement.

I have with me a copy of the May 14, 1996 census questionnaire. It gives the reasons for which the questions were asked. The member for Beaver River should have carefully studied the document. It outlines clearly the nine steps to answering the questionnaire.

When one correctly answered the questions in steps No. 1 to No. 5, only Canadian citizens and immigrants would be proceeding to answer the questions in the subsequent steps. When one correctly answered the question in step No. 7, the respondent would have answered questions about Canadian citizenship. Thus, by the time the person was answering the question on ethnic or cultural identification, he or she would have been identified in answer to the earlier question as being Canadian or not. Hence, to require that the word "Canadian" be returned among questions of ethnic origin on the Canadian census as the motion before us insists would not only result in confusion but would create a redundancy that no one would wish to happen.

There was a purpose or set of reasons for every question, namely to serve public policy and public programs and public good. The question on ethnic origin of Canadians, specifically question No. 19, was not about whether we are Canadians or not. It was not intended to measure national identity or national pride. In fact, this question was asked to be answered after the respondent had identified himself or herself as a Canadian.

To have listed Canadian for question No. 19 would not make it possible to determine the numbers and characteristics of the visible minority population, the essential purpose of this particular question, to serve a legitimate public policy.

Answers to question No. 19, along with other related questions, provide information needed to deal with many vital economic and social policy issues of concern to Canadians. This particular question was adopted for the 1996 census after rigorous consultation and testing, a process which clearly documented that accurate data would be produced and that respondents clearly understood the question and did not react negatively to it.

One cannot help but sense that the criticism to question No. 19 about ethnic origin is directed more at the idea of employment equity rather than at the collection of statistical data. But the Reform Party had already lost this debate in the House of Commons.

For example, when the member was speaking about the able-bodied white Canadians that are excluded from the Employment Equity Act, I have to tell the member about simple arithmetic. If you target equal opportunities for a fraction of 100, as in the act, the remainder of the citizens of this country, the able-bodied white males, are included in this act. It is only simple arithmetic. It is a lesson in fractions. It is a lesson in proportion.

The Employment Equity Act has been a federal law for a decade now and the census is the only possible source of objective information needed to administer the act and to evaluate its impact over a period of time. It is therefore in the interest of everyone, including this member, who wishes to debate this issue, to have objective census data rather than biases and unfounded opinion.

We should remind ourselves that we have a federal law on multiculturalism. It is about the balance of rights and obligations, about managing Canada's diversity in the interests of the individual Canadian and of Canada as a whole, about accepting the contribution of all her people and providing them with the opportunity to participate fully in Canadian citizenship. Section 27 of the charter of rights and freedoms guarantees to preserve and protect the multicultural heritage of our nation.

It is a given that we must have objective data to serve good public policy. Statistics Canada has always been ranked by international panels of statisticians as the best in the world. While we should be vigilant of every department, we should do so not to the point of partisanship which can only destroy.

The motion before us impugns unkindly the international distinction that Statistics Canada has justly earned. Worse, the motion before us is an insult to common sense.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission said in its recent report to Parliament: "Asking question No. 19 is entirely reasonable in a pluri-cultural society which needs to understand itself". Understand each other we must.

I am, you may say, Mr. Speaker, a Filipino Canadian. Whether the two words are separated by a hyphen or a space does not detract from my loyalty to Canada, from my pride in Canadian citizenship, a citizenship that I will serve in peace, a citizenship that I will serve in war.

This is true, irrespective of our origin. It is true of my wife Gloria with whom I immigrated to Canada in 1968. This is true of our four sons, who all were born in Winnipeg and are Canadians by birth. They too are proud of the Filipino heritage of their parents' roots.

I conclude by saying that our diversity is and should be a source of national pride for all of us. We are a model to the world. Canada has shown the world that co-habitation of cultures is the strength of the Canadian federation and inherent in this national achievement are the unifying forces of universal values.

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to add my words to this debate in support of the motion by my hon. colleague from Beaver River.

The motion states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should return the word "Canadian" among questions of ethnic origin on the Canadian Census.

The recently submitted Bloc Quebecois amendment would add behind the word Canadian: Quebecois, English Canadian, French Canadian, Acadian and I am not sure what else.

It is interesting that the Bloc Quebecois, the separatists in the House and in this country, are endeavouring this evening to explain to Canadians what Canadian means. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

As well, I listened with great interest to the member who just spoke. I am pleased that he is so proud of his heritage. A lot of immigrants who come to this country are proud of their individual heritages. They come to Canada from countries around the world. But there are also Canadians who are proud to be Canadian. We would like to be known as Canadians and be registered as Canadian.

For the hon. member to say in his remarks that the motion is an insult to common sense is complete and utter rubbish. The motion is common sense. I only wish I could do as good a job as the hon. member for Beaver River did during her remarks to this motion this evening.

The motion seeks to bring some logic to the issue of racism and equality. On the one hand, Canadians are striving to eliminate discrimination based on ethnic origin or skin colour, to say first and foremost that we are all Canadians and are equally deserving of the rights, privileges and pleasures that come with being Canadian.

On the other hand, the federal government demands that individuals distinguish themselves by their skin colour, ethnic or geographic origin, to stand up and be counted as different.

In the 1996 census, respondents are not even given the opportunity to identify themselves as Canadian. Census question 19, in fact the entire long form of the 1996 census, stirred up a great deal of controversy in my constituency of Prince George-Peace River and across the country. The member for Beaver River referred quite eloquently to the problems that this question and the whole issue stirred up. People are simply furious about this and they are demanding change. However, we cannot expect common sense from the government.

I cannot help thinking whenever I address this issue of how the writings of George Orwell apply to the 1996 census. For the one in five Canadians who were required by law to complete the long form it must have seemed as though big brother was indeed watching over them.

I recall that in the year 1984, many social analysts celebrated the fact that the oppressed society predicted in Orwell's book 1984 had little resemblance to real life. Ha. However, I cannot ignore how millions of Canadians felt about the invasive questions asked of them by their big brothers in the federal government this past spring. With their privacy seriously jeopardized by questions that ranged from income, all types of household expenses, race, colour, et cetera, these Canadians faced fines or jail if they did not answer the questions.

In addition, as my colleague from Beaver River mentioned in her remarks, the specific application of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell to the 1996 census is even more frightening. She cited the quote that all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. It would appear that the federal government's discriminatory practice of conferring special status means that all Canadians are equal, it is just that some Canadians are more equal than others.

I suggest that some hon. members take the opportunity to refresh their schoolday memories and pick up copies of these two books. We are always searching for quick examples to give our children when they complain that their math lessons and required English readings have little relevance to real life. Ironically, I did not expect that we would be able to tell them that Animal Farm and 1984 are books that bear such similarities to life in 1996.

While census data may appear to some as simply statistics and record keeping, keep in mind that these data are used by all sorts of different groups and individuals for all kinds of purposes, including employment equity legislation, funding programs and tax benefits, to name but a few.

One of the reasons "Canadian" was eliminated as a category in the 1996 census was that 3 per cent of respondents to the 1991 census reported themselves as being Canadian. Apparently this caused a great deal of difficulty for Stats Canada in interpreting the results because it was under pressure to produce these statistics for use in employment equity programs and other initiatives. So the federal government's answer was to simply eliminate the option of identifying oneself as Canadian.

What happened to the 3 per cent of people who identified themselves as Canadian? Statistics Canada's difficulty in interpreting the results makes me wonder how accurately census data reflect our society. The fact that Stats Canada has also admitted that 10 per cent of the aboriginal population in this country was not enumerated in the 1991 census shakes my confidence in its results even further.

When we consider this information will be used to determine employment equity figures until the year 2003, it is a wonder how anyone either for or against employment equity can trust these data to be used for that purpose.

The very idea that the federal government encourages hiring on anything other than the basis of merit is preposterous. But of course we have all become quite accustomed to hearing special interest groups and Liberal MPs extolling the virtues of these so-called equal opportunity initiatives. Employment equity creates resentment in the workplace and widens the gap of understanding

between races and ethnic groups. It accomplishes not harmony but discord.

I believe that one large misconception on the part of some members in this House is that minority groups are in favour of this type of government action. However, many individuals are reluctant to identify themselves as a member of a minority group. The 1992-93 report on employment equity in the public services states that the number of visible minority employees may be under identified by one and a half times. Many individuals do not wish to identify themselves as members of a particular race or ethnic group either because they wish to be considered on the basis of merit alone or because they do not wish preferential treatment over their colleagues.

Furthermore, in my home province of British Columbia just 11 per cent of those asked in a December 1993 Gallup poll supported employment equity initiatives. As we are all well aware, British Columbia is fortunate to be home to a cosmopolitan society that is enriched by a skilled population that represents a broad range of visible and cultural minorities. Based on this poll it is obvious that many of the individuals in those groups themselves do not feel there is a need for employment equity.

Employment equity legislation and any other program or initiative that gives preferential treatment to a group or individual based on physical, social or cultural characteristics is discrimination.

That is the definition of the type of discrimination we are talking about today, giving one individual preferential treatment over another on the basis of skin colour or country of birth.

Another obvious practice by the federal government that confers special status and preferential treatment is an archaic act of Parliament that grants one group of Canadians special tax exemptions based on their race and place of residence. I am of course referring to the Indian Act.

I would like to go on and on about the need for the reform of the Indian Act and other archaic pieces of legislation that exist in this country and need to be overhauled but I simply do not have the time.

It is not simply question 19 of the 1996 census that is the problem. It is the socially divisive initiatives that will be driven by the responses to this question. If Canadian were to be included as a category it would be a good first step in breaking down the walls of racism and discrimination.

This motion is an opportunity to make real headway in the war against racism and discrimination. It is action that is based on reality. When we are done with the debate today on this motion and because it is votable, as the hon. member for Beaver River has indicated, I certainly encourage all hon. members from both sides of the House to support this motion and return the option of registering oneself as truly Canadian to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Saskatoon—Dundurn Saskatchewan


Morris Bodnar LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to Motion No. 277 which calls for the government to include the word "Canadian" on the question concerning ethnic origin in the census.

First, I would like to point out that for a number of censuses respondents have been able to respond "Canadian" to the ethnic origin question. This question appears only on the long form questionnaire which goes to 20 per cent of the population. In the 1996 census conducted last May, "Canadian" was listed among the examples provided as possible answers to the question on ethnic or cultural origins.

The census has played an important role in the development of Canada. For more than 100 years, the census has informed us about the social and economic development of our country and on the evolving diversity of our population. For the last four censuses, it has provided statistics reported on the number of people who reported Canadian as their only ethnic origin.

I would like to assure the House that Statistics Canada is committed to developing census questions that meet the highest priority needs of data users. Prior to every census, Statistics Canada consults interested Canadians throughout the country in government, in community associations and as interested citizens in an effort to identify information requirements which might best be addressed through the census.

For each census, Statistics Canada carefully tests and evaluates all the proposed questions. For the 1991 census the ethnic origin question went through a particularly rigorous consultation, testing, review and approval process. This process ultimately included approval by cabinet and the prescription of the questions by the governor in council as required by the Statistics Act.

The increasing diversity of Canada's population, coupled with the increasing number of persons who chose to report Canadian as their only ethnic origin in 1991, led Statistics Canada to undertake further consultations and testing on the ethnicity question. This ensured that the census would continue to meet the important needs for accurate data on the composition and characteristics of the population. As a result, the question was modified again for the 1996 census.

Testing of the modified question indicated that people clearly understood the question and that it would produce accurate data. The 1996 ethnic origin question included as examples of possible answers the most frequently reported ethnic origins from the 1991 census. Canadian was among the examples provided since Canadian was the fifth most often reported ethnic origin in the 1991 census. Respondents could report up to four ethnic origins in the space provided. Canada is a country populated by aboriginal peoples, immigrants and the descendants of immigrants. Indeed,

census data show that our population includes people with more than 100 different ethnic and cultural origins. We are all proud of both our heritage and of Canada.

The government acknowledges that for some Canadians the ethnic origin question is a sensitive one. It can be associated with emotional issues such as personal identity, national unity, patriotism or fear of oppressive regimes in former homelands. Nevertheless, many Canadians are proud to report their ancestry or ethnic origins on the census, and indeed are anxious to do so. For them it is a straightforward and simple question.

For others whose families may have been in Canada for many generations or who no longer have any connection to their country of origin, the question may be difficult to answer or may be considered irrelevant. For this and a variety of other reasons many people choose to report their ethnic origin as Canadian and nothing else. The census has provided them with the opportunity to do so and the results have been published.

Since 1981 Statistics Canada has published the number of people who chose to report their ethnic origin as Canadian. This number has been increasing and has reached 765,000 in 1991. As I mentioned earlier, Canadian was the fifth most frequently reported ethnic origin in 1991.

As in past censuses, Canadian was a valid answer to the ethnic origin question on the 1996 census. The data are now being tabulated and will be published as soon as the results are available. Adding or changing questions on the census form is not a task that Statistics Canada takes lightly. The agency must tread a fine line to accommodate many different needs, balancing the many conflicting demands for information with the need to minimize the reporting burden and the intrusion on the privacy of Canadian citizens.

The census provides information which is vital to virtually every sector of society. Census data are used in the administration of more than 80 federal and provincial legislative measures and support critical decision making by private industry and by every level of government throughout the country.

Throughout the years census data on ethnic origin have been of widespread interest to federal departments, provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as agencies and companies of every kind. In fact, these data are among the most widely used data from the census. The data are used to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society, to plan heritage and multicultural programs and to deliver services to an increasing, diverse population.

Statistics Canada has a proven method of treading the fine line between meeting data needs and minimizing the burden on the

public. The Canadian census enjoys wide approval and support from the public and from data users. This House should not get involved in the difficult and complex business of survey design. Rather, we should leave this task to Statistics Canada. Let us give the agency the chance to review the results of the 1996 census and then design and test questions leading to the submission of proven workable proposals for review and approval of cabinet as required by the Statistics Act.

I am confident that the agency can formulate questions that make sense to respondents and still supply the data needed to inform the decisions of government, industry and individual citizens in the first decade of the next century. No decision should be made about the content of the 2001 census at this time. As Canada enters the 21st century it is important that the census questions keep pace with the changes in our society. Consultations for the 2001 census as well as the evaluation of the 1996 census results will bring many new ideas to the forefront, including the need for the collection of statistics on the ethnic origins of the population. The cost of the census and the burden on the respondents must be taken into account before any decision is made to add or to change questions.

I call on members of the House to reject Motion No. 277 and leave this difficult job to Statistics Canada.

Canadian CensusPrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary North will have the floor when this matter comes back for debate.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to follow up on a question which I asked at the beginning of October concerning the very difficult situation facing Canada's young people, in particular the absolutely unac-

ceptable level of unemployment which in real terms is in excess of 20 per cent for young people.

Members of the House will recall that a little over three years ago the Liberal government was elected on a promise of jobs. The red book promised jobs and a new hope for change from the Conservative government. Instead, what we have seen are levels of unemployment particularly among young people which are even higher than they were when this government was elected. In fact in September alone over 19,000 jobs were lost in the age group of 15 to 24.

There is a growing insecurity which young people are facing as they look at their futures. The very tragic unemployment situation is completely unacceptable.

I spoke earlier today at the conference celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Canadian Federation of Students. The chair of the Canadian Federation of Students, Brad Lavigne, spoke out strongly earlier this year on this issue. He said: "Where are the red book promises of jobs, jobs, jobs? Instead of creating jobs, the Liberals have made cuts to the public sector and pursued a destructive high interest rate policy. That is not a long term approach to jobs".

Young people today are facing soaring tuition fees, except in the province of British Columbia. The New Democratic government in that province has actually frozen tuition fees for this year, next year and the following year. Students are facing increasing debt loads. The average debt load of a graduating student is about $24,000.

There have been cuts in research and development. That is not what the Liberal government was elected to do, certainly not to cut funding for example in research for environmental technologies. There has been no renewal of the national AIDS strategy.

Cuts have been made in arts and cultural programs and to the CBC.

All of this has directly affected the opportunity of young people to find meaningful jobs in our economy.

Young people are looking for tax relief in the education system. I appeal to the government to listen carefully to the Canadian Federation of Students' request for tax relief and also for an academic component to any infrastructure program.

The fact is that there are too many young people who not only cannot find work but who are underemployed. For example, there is the physicist who is driving a cab in Toronto and cannot find any other work and the historian who is delivering pizzas.

There is a tremendous amount of insecurity, not only about jobs, but because of the growing number of part time jobs, contractual jobs and temporary jobs, more and more young people do not have jobs which will provide them with decent pensions. At the same time, the Canada pension plan is under attack. The Reform Party suggests that we wipe out the Canada pension plan and replace it with super RRSPs. The Liberal Party talks about cutting the benefits of the Canada pension plan and increasing the age of retirement. Now is the time for us to be reaffirming our support for the Canada pension plan and strengthening it as a very important social insurance program.

There are fewer summer jobs for students. There are fewer part time jobs. There is a lot of pressure on them.

What this country needs is a government that is committed to full employment, committed to putting jobs at the heart of its economic strategy. There are many ways of doing that. One is a fair tax system. The national leader of the New Democratic Party, Alexa McDonough, has been travelling across the country getting out the message that there are alternatives.

It is time that this country had a government that did not just listen to the wealthy and the powerful. It is time that we had a government that put young people and employment of young people at the heart of its economic policy.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario


Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, indeed helping young Canadians make the transition into the workforce has been a priority of this government.

This is an obvious statement in that the 1996 budget reallocated some $315 million of budget savings to help create employment opportunities for young Canadians over the next three years. This included, contrary to what the member just said, a doubling to $120 million of the 1996-97 contribution to student summer placement initiatives which enabled the creation of more than 60,000 summer employment placements this past summer.

In addition through our Canada employment centres for students, some 664,000 students have benefited from a variety of other employment measures since 1994. Youth Service Canada has already given some 5,200 young Canadians the opportunity to learn work related skills and life skills while engaging in community service activities across the country. Youth Internship Canada will provide over 35,000 youth with the opportunities to gain employability skills and work experience that will help them get and keep a job. In total more than 430,000 young Canadians will benefit from this government's youth programs this year alone.

As the hon. member is aware, the Government of Canada appointed a ministerial task force on youth to obtain input from Canadians on how to help young people make a successful transition into the labour market. Furthermore this government has also made public its intention to introduce a program to help students better manage their Canada student loan debts.

This is what we have started to do for young Canadians. We will continue to examine ways of supporting youth so that they can succeed in the future.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I had the opportunity to question the Minister for International Trade on the signing of the free trade agreement between Chile and Canada, he situated this agreement to some extent within the context of Canada's general international trade in his response.

I think we must look at this agreement in the context of what we are doing in Canada to diversify our trade with the United States and to find new markets, especially markets opening up in the Asia-Pacific region and in Latin America. In this context, it seems to me that Chile is very important, because it is now associated with Mercasur, an association of four Latin American countries: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.

If we really intend to create a free trade zone in the Americas by 2005, as stated in Miami a year ago, we must remember that there is a lot of work to be done in terms of international trade and the signing of agreements like the one we have with Chile.

In that context I would like to pursue my question of the minister. In his answer to my question, he specifically said that he perceived that the additional advantage this agreement would bring to this country would be in the areas of investment, tariff reduction and perhaps serving as a model whereby the United States would be brought into this process.

Clearly tariff reduction is there. That is a factor in every agreement of this nature, so let us leave that aside and speak for a moment on both the investment issue and the American issue. I would like to ask additional questions of the parliamentary secretary.

How do we see Chile in terms of its investment regulations? My understanding is that when the tesobonos problems arose with Mexico it shook the very foundations of the financial markets of Latin America. Chile was one country which survived that experience precisely because it had in place investment controls which were more strict than those of other Latin American countries. Mexico in fact collapsed and then Argentina very nearly collapsed on top of it, but Chile survived.

Surely it would seem to me that when we enter into an agreement with Chile that we would want to reinforce and enable that type of arrangement to be in place. We would be a part of it and we would relate that to the International Monetary Fund and other monetary policies. That is certainly an issue which I think is preoccupying for many of us when we look at this agreement.

Perhaps more preoccupying is the role of the United States in this. It is clear that it would be beneficial to bring the United States into this agreement. It is clear that if free trade of the Americas is going to be realized by the year 2005, an essential first step is to bring in the United States.

Will the United States be brought in with environmental and labour standards side agreements such as those we have insisted on in NAFTA? My understanding is that the present political climate in Washington is that an ever increasingly conservative Congress will resist a great deal any suggestion by the administration that we should have side agreements of this nature attached to the Chile agreement.

It seems to me that if ultimately Chile is going to be a part of NAFTA, then we have to incorporate into its arrangements with us these very important agreements because we are all concerned with the problem of the harmonization of standards.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Unfortunately, the member's time has expired.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I will try to answer the member as best I can.

The recently signed Canada-Chile free trade agreement is an important development for Canadian businesses. With this agreement Canadian exporters will gain significant access to one of the region's fastest growing economies and a gateway to all of Latin America.

All Canadian exports are currently subject to an 11 per cent duty when they enter Chile. This agreement paves the way for increases in trade with Chile by eliminating the duty for roughly 75 per cent of current Canadian exports to Chile. The agreement will mean immediate duty free access on goods such as telecommunications equipment, electrical generating equipment, mining and forestry equipment, durum wheat, barley, lentils and maple syrup. A further 15 per cent of current Canadian exports will have duty free access within five years.

Since 40 per cent of our GDP depends on trade, an agreement such as this one is essential for the creation of jobs and growth.

Furthermore, if Chile provides, for key products, improved access to other countries where Canadian products cannot enter duty free, this ensures that Canada will also enjoy improved access.

Elimination by both sides of anti-dumping measures will guarantee free access for Canadian exports and move forward the international reform of anti-dumping measures.

Cultural industries and the autopact are exempted from this agreement and social services and health care are fully protected. High tariffs for dairy, poultry and eggs over quota are preserved.

We have signed side agreements on labour and the environment that provide us with the new mechanisms to seek to influence Chilean policies in these important areas.

This bilateral agreement is a step toward fulfilling Canada's broader trade policy objective of promoting hemispheric trade liberalization under the FTAA. This free trade agreement will be a bridge to Chile's accession to NAFTA. Canadian exporters will have an important advantage over the United States, Asia and Europe in the Chilean market. This will give Canadian exporters a head start on their U.S. competitors when Chile does eventually join NAFTA.

The Canada-Chile free trade agreement sends an important message to our trading partners that Canada is prepared to take the lead in creating a freer trade environment throughout the world.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.


Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week I asked the President of the Treasury Board whether in view of the 10 per cent unemployment rate in Canada the government intends to launch a new infrastructure program this winter.

In 1993 the Canada infrastructure works program was a rightful promise kept by the government within weeks of taking office. The result of this joint federal-provincial-municipal program has been the creation of over 110,000 jobs for Canadians, all for the purpose of improving Canada's infrastructure and enhancing the skills and technological expertise of Canadians.

Before the infrastructure program, unemployment stood at 11.4 per cent. Today it is at 10 per cent with youth unemployment around 14 per cent. We need more job creation by government if we are to cope with almost jobless growth.

Today about 97 per cent of the $6 billion in federal, provincial and municipal funding has been committed. Consequently we need to prime the pump. Again, we need a new infrastructure program with the same funding formula as the first but with new goals. For instance, we could target new infrastructure funds for energy efficient investments, to make buildings more efficient, to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. This would create jobs for Canadians in the construction trades and environmental technology fields.

The Canadian Home Builders Association estimates that for every $10,000 spent on a renovation, half a person year of direct employment is created. Increased funding for the residential rehabilitation assistance program would be a good vehicle both for creating jobs and increasing energy efficiency because it aims at improving the safety, health and energy efficiency of older buildings, structures and homes across the country.

A new infrastructure program would help stimulate private sector job creation and community initiatives. Again I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board: Does the government intend to launch a new infrastructure program this winter?

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Bruce—Grey Ontario


Ovid Jackson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the chance to respond to my colleague, the hon. member for Davenport. My friend asks if the government intends to launch a new infrastructure program.

The Prime Minister first invited provincial premiers at the first ministers' meeting in June 1996 to consider renewal of the infrastructure program.

At the October 4 meeting of the Minister of Finance and his counterparts, the federal government outlined what its position would be if the program were to be renewed. This position included the following points: The federal government will fund no more than one-third of the total program in every province. The program will continue to be focused primarily on improving municipal infrastructure. The financial participation of the private sector will be actively encouraged.

In order to contribute to job creation programs, funds should be incremental. Infrastructure investments should also have a strategic focus on the 21st century by improving the conditions for medium and long term job creation, enhancing competitiveness. And the program would continue as a national program. We will not proceed without the full participation of all provinces.

Since that meeting the media has reported that British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario are now onside to join the new infrastructure program. However, provinces have not yet indicated they are ready to increase their overall capital spending on infrastructure to match federal contributions for the new program.

The premiers' deadline of November 1 for the report back from their finance ministers has passed. However, we are still waiting to hear something official from the provinces.

With respect to the renewal of the program, any decision to extend it must be taken in the context of fiscal realities, and in light of the objectives of both the provinces and the government.

Canadian CensusAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is deemed to have been adopted. The House stands adjourned until2 p.m. tomorrow.

(The House adjourned at 7.03 p.m.)