House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.

Topics

The House resumed from November 6, 1996 consideration of the motion that Bill C-41, an act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements and Enforcement Assistance Act, the Garnishment Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and the Canada Shipping Act, be read the third time and passed.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-41 which deals with child support payments. I think we can say that it was high time something was done in this area. For several years we were faced with a somewhat incongruous situation, and we had to wait until this was settled by the courts.

In the 1996 budget, the federal government unveiled a new child support payment system consisting of four elements. First, support payments will no longer be taxable in the case of the custodial parent, and will therefore be taxable in the case of the non-custodial parent.

We must ensure that this measure, which would seem to reflect a certain sense of equity, does not lead to impossible situations where in the end, the only winner would be the government. It must remain even handed in the way it deals with the parties, and that is part of the approach taken by the Bloc Quebecois when considering Bill C-41.

The second element announced in the budget is that the amount of the working income supplement included in the federal child tax benefit will be doubled, to ensure that no child will be affected by the change. Furthermore, guidelines were introduced for establishing the amount of child support payments, while new measures for collecting support payments were also announced on that occasion.

The Bloc Quebecois has analysed Bill C-41, and on the whole, like the Quebec government at the provincial level, the bill provides the requisite framework for implementing the guidelines I just mentioned.

This means that except in special cases, the courts will no longer allow discretion in determining the amounts allocated for support child payments. Today, we realize that in our society, we should no longer be subject to arbitrary decisions. We have seen situations, not necessarily in this area but in others, where it was clear that depending on the values the judge might have and how that might influence his decision and also due to the fact that women are not adequately represented in Parliament, the decision was not always fair.

I think this is something we can readily perceive, and it is systemic. At least, until the day men and women are equally represented among judges in the various courts of the Canadian judicial system, I think it would be interesting to replace the bill's provisions regarding judicial discretion with standard guidelines that would apply to everyone and help make more appropriate decisions.

It is also interesting to see that this bill shows once again the inefficient duplication in the Canadian system. Since the division of responsibilities is not totally clear, since the federal government always tends to broaden what it sees as its jurisdiction, there is still some duplication with the provinces, which, of course, increases costs.

For example, the Quebec government has designed a model, while the federal government has created another model with different criteria. For instance, the Quebec model's first criterion is based on the real cost of raising a child, while that of the federal model is based on the partial equalization of living standards. Right from the outset, we see that, despite both governments' good intentions, we may end up with different assessments, with situations that make little sense.

Another principle is that, in the Quebec model, the whole tax income plan will be harmonized with Quebec's income security and taxation programs. We are therefore trying to make sure that this does not lead to unfair situations, that another program will not upset the balance. This is not found in the federal model, possibly because, first of all, it should have been adjusted to the various models found in Canada. This shows, by reducing it to the absurd,

that the federal government is overstepping its mandate and cannot take into consideration the various realities in each province of Canada.

There are five basic criteria in both the Quebec and the federal models. However, these criteria differ and result in slightly different approaches. Hopefully, this will not ultimately lead to an inextricable situation.

When the Minister of Justice first introduced his new policy, the Bloc Quebecois welcomed the initiative. The Bloc had long been asking the Minister of Justice to table a bill to balance the child-related financial burden between the two parents. It is imperative that the government take immediate action to meet the expectations of women. This was pointed out as early as May 1995, in statements made by the hon. members for Québec and for Témiscamingue, among others.

So, this was in May of 1995. We are now in the fall of 1996, almost in 1997, and the minister has finally tabled the reform that the Bloc had been asking for so long. The official opposition in a parliament can play a useful role in pressing the government to take concrete action, instead of merely making statements.

However, the Bloc Quebecois had some reservations regarding the implementation of guidelines in the provinces. These reservations, which do not have to do with Bill C-41 itself, but rather to the guidelines, are not met. We are not at all convinced that, with Bill C-41, the government took them into consideration.

Here are some of these reservations. First, let us suppose that a provincial government decides to put in place guidelines for its province, for example Quebec. We mentioned earlier that the Quebec model has specific criteria. These provincial guidelines must have priority over the federal ones. However, this will be the case only if the governor in council, in other words the federal cabinet, decides, through an order in council, that the provincial guidelines are the ones that apply. This is a situation where the federal government gives itself a somewhat paternalistic role.

And it is not the only area in which it has done so and will continue to do so. In fact, Quebecers have been convinced for quite some time, and I am not referring exclusively to sovereignists, I am talking about the 68 per cent of Quebecers who are currently dissatisfied by the federal government, because it has not taken any concrete action to at least clarify relations with Quebec, to clarify everyone's status, so that a proper solution can be found. This is not because of my position as a sovereignist, but, with respect to federalism, there is a great deal of dissatisfaction in Quebec because we do not think we are being listened to, we do not get the impression this government wants to budge.

And here, in a specific example, in a bill where there is agreement on the principles, we again come up against this nitpicking, slightly petty, vaguely paternalistic attitude in the rules of application. In our view, this line is not good enough and is inconsistent with the fields of jurisdiction set out in the Constitution as it now stands.

In this field, we are not asking for anything extra, just that the Canadian Constitution be enforced. And even then, the federal government disappoints us.

We have only to look at clause 1(4), which reads:

1.(4) The Governor in Council may, by order, designate a province for the purposes of the definition "applicable guidelines" in subsection (1)-

This clause could have have used "shall" thus indicating that the government respects the fact that these fields come under provincial jurisdiction.

In addition, the provinces will have to meet the criteria set out by the federal government in clause 26.1, if they wish their guidelines to be approved. The federal government has complete discretion as to whether or not it will issue the order mentioned in clause 1(4).

This confirms what I was saying earlier, that the federal government is behaving in a paternalistic manner. This clause points up the two very different interpretations of this country. In other words, when they talk about constitutional issues and tell us that that is what people want to hear, it is simply not the case. Here again, in this example, how are we going to ensure support for children in cases of divorce, which affect many families? This is real life, we are not on some other planet.

This is another concrete example of the fact that the fields of jurisdiction are not clear, and, in particular, that the federal government has a tendency to interfere in provincial fields of jurisdiction. This creates complications, even in very concrete situations such as financial support for children.

The federal big brother is still keeping the provinces under his thumb. We think this is disgraceful, particularly in a field where change is long overdue, and where there has long been a need for legislation consistent with the new reality of the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first.

What is even more ridiculous is that the rejection of provincial guidelines can result in absurd situations. For example, when parents separate, the provincial grid would apply, but not when they divorce, in which case the federal grid would be used. This would result in a double standard.

In Quebec, this situation comes up frequently, because it is the province with the highest percentage of common law marriages. It is a situation in which not all citizens are treated equally. This is not good enough.

Finally, the federal government uses the place of residence of the parent paying support in deciding which guidelines to apply, while the Quebec government uses the child's place of residence. We

think this principle is much more consistent with the thinking in a number of court rulings where the child's interests must take precedence, because the premise of the new approach is that the child must have adequate financial support.

We want to eliminate the battles that sometimes took place between spouses who no longer got along, often working things out at a cost to the child. The bill is intended to resolve this situation. But the fact that the federal government uses the place of residence of the debtor to decide which guidelines apply is somewhat contradictory to the principle of the bill.

It must, however, be kept in mind that, overall, this project is a long-awaited measure. Some of its points may strike us as fairly positive, for example that deadbeats could be refused certain privileges, for instance passports or certain licences. This, I feel, is indeed a good measure, because I have seen cases in my riding where the partner has just skipped town rather than pay up. This type of situation will be avoidable in future.

The bill will also include children between the ages of 16 and 18, as well as students, under one definition. I find this appropriate. In so doing, a clear priority is established for the child, when the former spouse is also demanding support. I think this is an interesting principle.

Overall, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of the principle of the bill. We have been calling on the government for a year to do something along this line. We will be voting in favour of the bill.

It seems to us that the government ought to have made some major modifications in order to bring the bill in line with the flexible federalism they are constantly going on about, which was called for in the throne speech.

We find ourselves in a situation in which what was said in the throne speech does not jibe with what is in the bills. This will mean that, in a year, or two or five, there will be test cases, problematical situations which will mean court additional costs for both the people involved and the government.

The federal government could have shown greater respect for the rules of the Canadian Constitution and produced a bill that would be dispute-proof, one that could not be interpreted or disputed because of a lack of respect of jurisdictions, and could not lead to judgments contrary to children's interests.

I believe that the purpose of this bill is to protect children's interests. The federal government ought to have placed the child's interest well ahead of its unhealthy desire to treat the provinces with paternalism.

Let us hope that, with Bill C-41, the federal government will have settled partially, but significantly, the question of financial support for the children in divorce or separation. The Bloc Quebecois will vote in favour of the bill, regretting that the federal government could not have risen above its centralizing vision of Canada.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was surprised as I listened to my colleague who expressed concern for the paternalistic aspect of the bill. Then he went to some length to describe exactly what he believed to be some of that paternalism as his point of view. He then expressed that his party would be supporting the bill.

This piece of legislation goes beyond paternalism. While the concept of guidelines is very good, what we have here is a seriously flawed piece of legislation. For example, there is no consideration for additional financial obligations of either parent. There is no consideration for the needs of a child based on age specific requirements. There is no consideration for servicing the debt of the union by either parent. There is no consideration for the assets division of the matrimonial property settlement. There is no recognition of the costs incurred by the unit to maintain dual households. There is no recognition of the costs involved by the non-custodial parent in maintaining access, including travel, long distance telephone, food, clothing and entertainment. I could go on at some length with the very serious flaws in this legislation.

If this is for children as the hon. member has expressed, I would like my hon. colleague to tell me how he believes a child's needs are satisfied, especially when, in the final analysis, there is no provision for direct spending on the children by the non-custodial parent. This means that a parent who totally ignores the children and spends no time and has no expenses for visitation will be treated in exactly the same way as the caring parent who does spend time with the children, who does provide that emotional support for the children in a household. The process absolutely ignores this individual over someone who has spent no time with the children in the household.

I would like my hon. colleague to indicate how he feels that the needs of the children are given due consideration in light of that.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member that we are on third reading and that the Bloc Quebecois proposed a number of amendments when the bill was in committee. These amendments were to provide for the fairest possible treatment of the parties.

At the third reading stage, where we are today, we have to decide whether, for instance, we want to move a motion to return the bill to committee or whether, based on the principle of the bill and after debating the matter, we are prepared to adopt the bill in its present form. Our position is that the bill will be useful in the light of the principle that will be implemented.

I understand her point, as to the list of recriminations, for instance. We might in fact want this model to function in a different way. There is a particular perception at work here, and I would urge her to look at what the Quebec model proposes. For instance, amounts will be based on the real costs, in the Quebec model,of bringing up the child, which means that we will really make sure that the amounts paid represent the cost of providing the child with adequate financial support.

I agree with her that the federal model does not reflect the same practical considerations. The model in the Liberal majority's bill is based more on an evenhanded apportionment of expenses. Additional problems may arise. We may not be comfortable with this situation.

However, at the stage of today's debate, there does not seem to be sufficient reason to vote against the bill. We feel there is some hope the provinces will be more sensitive to these problems, since those governments will have to administer welfare, for instance.

So, in the case of all parents and children in special circumstances, we expect that the provinces will be more sensitive and that the federal government, although the discretionary powers it has under this legislation were criticized and pointed out several times in my speech, will allow each province to adopt guidelines that reflect its particular needs.

Another example: the Quebec model will be harmonized with Quebec's income security programs and the provincial tax system. So in this model, we are taking into consideration all the other measures and programs available to ensure that the child is treated fairly.

This is not found in the bill, I agree. It is not harmonized with Quebec programs, but we are willing to bet that it would be better for the children if the bill were passed despite its flaws, which the federal government has refused to correct. At this stage, however, we think it would be better to accept the bill as is so children will stop being taken hostage in conflicts between separated parents.

On the whole, we feel this bill will still be an improvement. Basically, we had the choice between taking an inflexible, uncompromising attitude-a little like the federal government with its paternalistic attitude-or agreeing that the provisions in this bill are enough for now to make sure children are treated right, to at least improve their situation. That is how we look at this bill.

Will other amendments be required in the future? Probably. A bill like this one should perhaps be reviewed in the short or medium term so we can look back and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that no children fall between the cracks and end up in unacceptable situations.

We are willing to bet that the principle of the bill is a good one, that it is not inconsistent enough to vote against. But we are also betting that the provinces will take their responsibilities seriously and do a good job. In any case, we have something to learn in this regard, especially in light of the Quebec model.

In conclusion, we hope the federal government will keep an open mind when it receives applications from the provinces. And its preferred approach will be to give priority to provincial guidelines.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, continuing with my discussion about the needs of children, given what my hon. colleague has just expressed, the Canadian Bar Association says that Bill C-41 does not go far enough in protecting children and, in this specific instance, from poverty. It insists that the legislation does not ensure that there is no discrepancy in the standard of living of the custodial and non-custodial parent.

Equalizing the standard of living in post separation households is ultimately in the best interests of the children.

For example, under Bill C-41 if a father and a mother earned $45,000 and $25,000 a year, respectively, and the mother had custody of the two children and the cost of caring for the children was calculated at about $1,256 a month, each parent would pay $628 a month. But the father's standard of living would be higher than those of the mother and the children.

I ask my hon. colleague how can we respect this notion of equal and fair treatment of households with respect to the whole issue of poverty when we have a bill such as Bill C-41 that does nothing to look after the interests of children in this instance. I would like my hon. colleague to respond to that.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying that things are obviously different throughout Canada, for example, in Quebec, in this sort of situation. We must also be sure that the Canadian Bar Association is not just trying to complicate the legal situation. I think that we have, in the model proposed for the province of Quebec in any event, covered all the bases.

It will be up to each province with jurisdiction to see that its model is satisfactory and meets the public's requirements. I also hope that the federal government will keep an open mind when considering provincial guidelines. It is obvious that the model

proposed by the government of Quebec addresses my colleague's concerns.

Will the model be the same for the rest of Canada? It is up to citizens to defend their point of view, but basically we feel that it is not up to the federal government to impose guidelines. It is our view, and the correct one we feel, backed up by the Canadian Constitution, that provincial legislatures should have the final say. We also think that the people of Quebec trust the government of Quebec to make the best decision.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to this bill.

Bill C-41 deals with a specific component of the Divorce Act, child support. It has generated a lot of response not only from the public but here in the House with regard to debating other aspects of the divorce situation which are flawed.

We have talked about the problems of access. I also get letters like the one from Sylvia Richards in my riding expressing concerns with section 15(6) regarding spousal support.

Dealing with the one component, the financial support of children, limits the debate on what could be termed an extremely flawed bill, the Divorce Act. However, I suppose it is a place to start.

When the minister made his address the other day he indicated that there has to be a starting place with the support of children and that guidelines would be the way to go. It is my understanding that the concept of guidelines has been around for some time and the problem is actually identifying the amounts of guidelines.

To move that back one step before we actually get to the support aspect for children, when you look at a marriage it is a contract and the initial or main conditions are the sharing of everything. The second condition would be that the parties agree to do this for the rest of their lives.

When a divorce occurs both those conditions are challenged. If children are not involved in the family situation of the divorce then the sharing component is just a matter of totalling up the assets, deducting the liabilities and splitting the balance and that can negate the rest of our lives with that type of clause and the relationship is finished.

When children are involved, somewhere during the course of that marriage contract it was agreed to by the parties that they would indeed raise and support these children to their adult years. That tends to extend at the divorce time to the rest of our lives or to at least the adult years of the children.

The two components involved with the children are the support and the raising of, which tends to beg the argument that access has a direct bearing. This bill deals directly with the financial support.

In the minister's speech the objective he stated was to introduce child support guidelines as a way of determining what constitutes a proper amount of support according the financial capabilities of the payer. That phrase tends to open a number of possible scenarios, as previously mentioned by one of the speakers in the questions period with regard to the financial ability of the payer. What does this actually mean?

If the payer is not working does it mean that the capability is that he or she cannot pay anything? If the payer is earning $30,000 a year then he or she pays x amount in child support and if that increases to $35,000 does x increase proportionately? Or does it mean that if the payer could earn $60,000 a year but chooses to earn $30,000 a year, then is the support payment based on what he or she is earning or what he or she could earn? It does open up a number of concerns.

The payer's capability is a very broad statement and it would be nice if that could be defined a little more closely. One of the possible problems generating from that is that it certainly does not motivate someone in the paying position to work or to improve their salary.

It reminds me of a situation when the income tax tables came down. Getting a promotion and moving up into the next step, it was possible to actually take home less money. I certainly hope with these guidelines that as one's earning power increases that does not happen.

The minister said that the guidelines provide a starting point. They involved a numerical calculation which takes into account the amounts that families at similar income levels would spend on their children. He goes on to say that in this way child support awards can be consistent, fair and predictable. Yet further on in his statement he makes the comment that there are provisions in the bill which would allow the courts to adjust the award if it causes unfairness because of special provisions made in pre-existing agreements by the party. He illustrates that with an example using the house as being part of the child support.

I tend to caution here that this may violate the principle of sharing equally. We have spent years trying to establish what the equal share or the sharing component of the marriage meant.

It took quite a while to get to the 50:50 aspect of the sharing. I am wondering if we are opening an avenue here that when we look at the marriage situation and the sharing component one can actually take the material assets of the marriage and split them on a 50:50 basis or negotiate one way or another to come up with as close to 50:50 as possible.

I caution that if we start taking these assets and applying them to what I see is a separate issue, the amount of money that it costs to address the raising and financial support of the children, I think we may infringe upon the concept of the 50:50 sharing. That is one weakness I see there.

The other weakness tends to be in wanting to establish a level and fair playing field as far as the amount that the custodial parent would receive in relation to child support. The main argument seems to be that people in similar situations can go into a courtroom and come out with totally different end results. There does not seem to be a standard.

The minister suggests that this bill will certainly address that situation. Yet immediately following that, he makes several possible exceptions. The judge has the flexibility to award up or down. It can be changed if there is a preagreement between the two people, i.e. who gets the house kind of thing. Already we start to get it out of balance. I tend to wonder if we actually solved that problem.

The other thing the minister mentioned is that the bill does not address the access component of the situation. He bases that on input from various organizations, the bar association and this type of thing. I think this is quite a misdemeanour. I find it quite difficult to separate the two; viewing the raising and the financial assistance to the children and separating them totally. I think we will run into problems, guidelines or no guidelines.

There is another thing I would like to address here. In previous debates on this bill, we challenged the guidelines by putting amendments in at various stages but they were all defeated in one way or another. I think that is also a misconception.

The member for Quebec, in her response to the bill, made the point quite clearly that the guidelines provided by the provinces had been totally ignored which is a problem that they perceived. I believe that would be our position as well, that there should have been more in-depth study as to how those guidelines would work into this bill.

The other component I wish to mention at this point concerns the comments made by the member for Quebec. She tended to relate the fact that the divorce component should be given back to the provinces. The marriage component is under civil law and it would logically follow that the divorce component should fall back under provincial jurisdiction. I agree with that. That process of decentralization is an excellent concept here. It is certainly an opportunity for the government to show that when it says it would like to decentralize some of the authority back to the provinces this would be an ideal opportunity. I cannot agree with the member for Quebec that this example of decentralization is a component in recognizing Quebec as a distinct society. This divorce situation is applicable across the country. It does not distinguish any particular province in any special way.

I would also like to make reference to comments made by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam the other day in response to the minister's statement. She indicated that as the bill only addresses one component, the access problem was still very viable. She also brought to the attention of the House that there are three main principles in this bill.

I would like to quote to reinforce what she said earlier: "The first principle is the importance of families in our society and the importance of government to support those families". On the second principle she said: "We have a government that is seized with its own importance, a government that thinks that government can solve all problems, a government that thinks coming to a bill such as this in an easy, fast manner, that wants to put a legislative, legalistic quick fix to a problem that is much too major".

Basically the message my colleague is trying to get across to the House is we have too much government in our lives. Because of the different jurisdictions involved, we should seriously consider putting the divorce aspect back into the jurisdiction of provincial governments.

The third principle that she makes reference to is the true equality of the process. That brings me back to the sharing concept. When we marry we agree to share everything for the rest of our lives. We spend a lot of time attempting to put some sort of value system on that sharing component, a 50:50 balance system of the assets of that partnership. Children are an added commitment to that marriage partnership. It is a responsibility that is generated during the course of the partnership and indeed should be considered separate.

We have debated this for some time now and discussed almost all parameters. However, I would like to repeat before closing that the moneys that are required for the raising of children, from whatever their age at the time of the divorce until their adult years, I do have concerns that may somehow get infringed on with the 50:50 sharing concept.

I certainly think the three principles mentioned by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam have been overlooked and should receive more consideration.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Bloc

René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to my hon. colleague most carefully and I find she has raised some very important points.

It seems to me that the bill is being somewhat rushed through third reading, considering its great importance. I have worked in education much of my life, and I have had students whose parents were going to divorce or were involved in a divorce. I became aware of the numerous conflicts around equal division.

This is probably a step in the right direction, but I find it insufficient. Equitable, fair and honest division of property is a complex thing. Who will suffer if there is any conflict? The spouses, of course, but the children are the ones who will suffer most. Children and teenagers are very sensitive to these problems.

Another point justifiably raised by my colleague concerns visiting rights. I endorse her words 100 per cent. This needs to be looked at again. This bill perhaps needs to be returned to a committee. If it is tabled as it is, even if it is generally in order, there are certain negative aspects to it.

Furthermore, I believe that this entire question ought to be a provincial responsibility. If marriage is a provincial responsibility, why not divorce also? My colleague called for this, and I back her up 100 per cent.

My question to my colleague is this: even if the Bloc feels the bill is generally in order, has sufficient thought been given to the children? Will they feel more secure after this bill is passed, or will they still feel more or less the way they did in the past, that is almost totally insecure? Will they still worry about whether their father or mother will be able to see them tomorrow? Is there still too much leeway here? Will the division really be done properly? Why not take advantage of this opportunity to delegate this power to the provinces? I think everyone would benefit.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments. As I mentioned in my speech, I share a number of his concerns. I do not think the bill as it stands will be able to achieve equity. I do not think it is progressive enough to achieve equity of assets for the two partners, nor can it address the issues of financial support and the raising of the children. I have an extremely difficult time trying to separate the financial aspect and the raising of the children.

I firmly believe this is an excellent opportunity for the government to do as it stated: try to decentralize some of the authority of the federal government. This is an excellent opportunity to put this in the jurisdiction of the provinces.

One other point has not been mentioned, that of the custodial parent obtaining the money that has been allocated for support. That is still a problem which the measures in this bill do not really address. It is still very difficult when payments are not made and the onus is still on the custodial parent to obtain the money, which in itself is a financial burden on them.

The points made by the member from Calgary Southwest in relation to the equity of payments, which I also made in my speech to some extent, are extremely valid. Are they prorated? What happens if the amount is $30,000 now, but then moves up to $40,000? These types of things are not addressed here at all. Basically, what we get is a table of guidelines that says if you make $26,000, this is what you pay. On top of that, a judge can sit there and make variations to it. Where have we gone? I do not know what we have achieved here.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, when my colleague was referring to me, she referred to me as the member for Calgary Southwest. I am the member for Calgary Southeast. Just a small intervention, thank you.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question?

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

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

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, November 18, 1996 at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

The House resumed from November 5 consideration of the motion that Bill C-62, an act respecting fisheries, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will just begin my speech since I have only a couple of minutes left before question period.

This fisheries bill gives the minister too much power. The Fisheries Act, as it already stands, gives the minister the necessary power that he requires.

The bill is about allocating the resource unequally. For example, it gives the minister the authority to dedicate fish not to a native food fishery but to a native commercial fishery. This has been a huge problem within my province of B.C. Forty per cent of the commercial fishing fleet is already native. The natives have a good portion of the commercial fleet. Nobody questions the need for a native food fishery. That is not the question. The issue is a native

commercial fishery that is carried on at the expense of non-native fishermen.

The resource is owned by the people of Canada. The resource should be allocated equally to all the people of Canada, native or non-native. That is the issue. This bill gives the minister the authority to move a public resource into one sector of our community. That is absolutely wrong. The minister should not-

Fisheries ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleague, I hate to interrupt you. I apologize. It being 11 a.m., we will now proceed to Statements by Members. The hon. member, should he so desire, will have the floor after question period.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the 1991 census shows that 45 per cent of the people in my riding are new immigrants. I need a full time person just to look after immigration cases.

One of these cases concerned Mr. and Mrs. Fa Qin Lei. Mr. and Mrs. Lei came from China in 1990 and applied, by going through the regular channels, to bring their three children from China. Their case kept being delayed by officials. After several applications, acceptances and refusals, the youngest son, Chew Quen, lost heart and drowned himself because he feared never being able to join his family in Canada.

This tragedy is one of the many immigration cases that cross my desk. Immigrants have to wait too long and are at the whim of immigration officials in their country.

It is hard to accept that a young man can drown in red tape, as a Vancouver journalist wrote. He was 26 and left his family in despair. His brother and sister are still in China waiting for approval to travel.

Our immigration system must be improved if we really want immigrants to continue to come to Canada and to avoid tragedies. I would like to express my sympathy to the Lei family.

Parental Rights And ResponsibilitiesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, this week I introduced Private Member's Motion No. M-300 calling for parental rights and responsibilities to be entrenched in section 7 of the charter of rights and freedoms.

Family autonomy and parental rights and responsibilities are threatened by the constant intrusion of big government. It is time to restore some common sense and give parents protection of their fundamental and natural rights.

Motion No. M-300 reads as follows:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should authorize a proclamation to be issued by the Governor General under the great seal of Canada amending section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to: (a) recognize the fundamental right of individuals to pursue family life free from undue interference by the state; and (b) recognize the fundamental right and responsibility of parents to direct the upbringing of their children, and urge the legislative assemblies of the other provinces to do likewise.

I ask all members of the House to give my parental rights and responsibilities motion serious consideration. Consult your constituents-

Parental Rights And ResponsibilitiesStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Parry Sound-Muskoka.

National UnityStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, Remembrance Day is on Monday, so there is no better time for Canada and Canadians to reflect on what makes our country such a great place for our children to grow up in.

Just over a year ago Canadians from all provinces poured forth their support for a united Canada and Canadians living in Quebec voted to keep our country united. Since then we have worked hard to find a balance that will achieve lasting unity in Canada.

In advance of the day on which we join together to remember the ultimate sacrifices of our veterans, and in advance of the day on which we join together to honour their courage and their commitment to a free and peaceful Canada, I ask also that we take a moment today to value all that makes us Canadians.

I ask that we work together for a Canada that will remain strong, united and free. Let us leave a lasting legacy for future generations of Canadians and let us honour what our veterans fought so hard to preserve.

The Role Of Women In ConflictStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week we are commemorating the service and the sacrifice of the veterans of the two world wars and of the Korean war. This week honours as well the courage of those who served and continue to serve to preserve peace in the world. On this occasion, the official opposition wants to pay special tribute to women.

Women have a played a vital role in the various conflicts in which our country was involved. In Canada, from 1939 to 1944, the number of women doing remunerative work went up from 600,000 to 1.2 million. These women contributed to the war effort by working in factories. Close to 50,000 women served in the armed forces during the second world war, including 22,000 in the Canadian Women Army Corps.

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I want to highlight the courage and the determination of these women.

Candu Nuclear ReactorsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is outrageous that the Liberal government will be going ahead with the subsidized export of a Candu nuclear reactor to China without a full environmental review. We learned only yesterday that the Liberals will not even respect their own environmental law and will be changing regulations without public consultations to allow these nuclear exports to China to proceed.

How is it possible, after a past Liberal government allowed India to develop nuclear weapons by exporting nuclear technology there and after the horror stories surrounding the Candu reactor exported to Romania, that this government would, without public consultation, export nuclear technology to China? China has an atrocious record on environmental degradation, arms proliferation and human rights abuse.

Let us hear no more talk about petty red book promises. The Liberals are breaking faith with their deepest obligation to the international community.

Remembrance DayStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, November 11 Canadians will be assembling in communities across Canada in order to honour the memory of those who fought and died while serving Canada.

More than 50 years ago the second world war ended. As a result of the sacrifices made by thousands of Canadians, successive generations have enjoyed peace and prosperity in Canada.

On Monday, November 11, let us all, youth and seniors alike, participate in these ceremonies and reflect on the many sacrifices made by those at war as well as those who were at home so that we will have a constant reminder that our freedom was not without a huge cost.

Let us all say together: We will remember them.

Remembrance DayStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, next Monday Canadians across the nation will honour those brave men and women who have given their lives for their country in the world wars, the Korean war and international peacekeeping efforts. It is right that we bow our heads on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to commemorate this ultimate sacrifice.

In communities all across Canada we stop, we remember. We teach our children and we thank our elders. Their experiences must never be forgotten. We must learn from their actions, continue to build a strong country and strive toward peace among nations.

In York North there will be Remembrance Day parades in Vaughan and Richmond Hill, wreath laying ceremonies in Aurora and King and a moment of silence throughout our community.

On November 11 we honour service and sacrifice, two words that sum up our proud military history. Our soldiers are gone, but not forgotten. They are our heritage. They are our heroes.

National 4-H WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week is National 4-H Week. The purpose of this event is to mark the work done by many young people who are learning, under the supervision of remarkable people, about the quality of their environment.

I want to point out the work done by a constituent in my riding of Argenteuil-Papineau, Cécile Hélène Wojas, who has been teaching ecology at the Long-Sault school board, in Lachute, for over 30 years.

From 1970 to 1983, Mrs. Wojas was in charge of the Lachute 4-H club, and was also its leader. Since 1992, she has been responsible for an education project relating to the environment for young people between the ages of 12 and 16. I congratulate her and all the young people who have taken part in these initiatives.

This teacher, who became a paraplegic at age 40, did her work from a wheelchair. She deserves all our admiration for her courage and her perseverance.

Canada PostStatements By Members

November 8th, 1996 / 11:05 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, this government promised jobs, jobs, jobs in its red book. Yet the minister responsible for Canada Post recently axed 10,000 posi-

tions in the ad mail business with her recent changes to Canada Post.

Most of these people read about their dismissal in the newspapers. The minister did not give these employees any notice or offer a transition period to either find work or consider purchasing portions of the ad mail business from Canada Post.

Clearly, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Canadians are faced with more unemployment, higher taxes and fewer jobs under this Liberal government.

The national unemployment figure this morning is now at a record high of 10 per cent. Economists say improved growth prospects remain only a hope, not a fact as this Liberal government would have us believe.

The only real hope for Canadians is the Reform Party who will get us out of this rut through smaller government, lower taxes that will create more jobs.

Veterans WeekStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Canada values the role that our veterans have played so dearly that he declared this week as Veterans Week.

Over 100,000 young Canadians gave their lives during the two world war conflicts. Hundreds more died in Korea and in various peacekeeping missions.

Veterans Week is a time to remember the sacrifices of those to whom we owe our peace and freedom. Next week let us encourage the youth of our communities to get involved in the activities that pay tribute and express our gratitude to those who gave their lives for such a noble cause.

In remembering, let us recall the circumstances which led to the conflicts of the past and be vigilant of our commitment to never repeat such a horrific past. Let us remember.

CopyrightStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadian radio and television broadcasters gathered in Edmonton last week to discuss issues like exploding competition from U.S. services and the Internet, responsibilities to their communities and how they can continue to be the primary source of entertainment and information programming Canadians want.

One of the areas of real frustration was copyright Bill C-32. Broadcasters recognize the work done by many members of the House in limiting the damage of neighbouring rights, but they are taken aback that promised time shifting and transfer exceptions are not in the bill. Broadcasters need these exceptions so they can replay live programming at more convenient times and generally operate their stations efficiently.

Like all members in this House, I am sensitive to the need to respect property rights, but we also have to be sensible. Broadcasters pay more than $50 million a year to rights holders, authors, composers and publishers, to broadcast their music. They pay millions more when they record music for programs that are exported and used for many years. It is neither practical nor fair to expect broadcasters to pay more money to these same rights holders when they cover local church services and community parades, or time shift concerts or skating championships so Canadians across the country can watch them at times convenient to them.

Geography Awareness WeekStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, November 17 to 23 is Geography Awareness Week.

As the second largest country in the world, Canada is blessed with an abundant diversity of natural regions and species. Biodiversity is an important environmental theme worldwide. Canada remains a role model on this front for other nations. Not only are we signatories to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, but we have created our own national biodiversity strategy which commits all levels of government to developing and conserving Canada's geography and wildlife.

Despite the importance of government involvement in protecting our country's rich natural heritage, we as politicians can only do so much. The energy and dedication of over 3,000 geography and social studies teachers who form the Canadian Council for Geography Education exemplifies the positive and measurable impact that citizens and community groups can have in the conservation effort.

On Wednesday night I had the opportunity to talk with two of these teachers, Peggy March, a teacher of social studies in Mount Pearl in my riding of St. John's West, and Greg Smith, a teacher from British Columbia. I congratulate them in their efforts.

AsbestosStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Liberal Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, the diplomatic efforts made by Canada over the past few months on the issue of asbestos paid off once again yesterday in Brussels.

Our diplomats' work with the European Union has averted the imposition, by the industry sector, of an almost total ban on asbestos in Europe.

This new victory of Canadian diplomacy is encouraging for the asbestos industry and its workers. There are still issues to be resolved, but we are confident that we can convince our European partners that Canadian asbestos is safe and reliable.

I should point out to the opposition that this matter is important to our government, and we are determined to take all necessary measures to protect the thousands of jobs depending on this industry in the Asbestos and Thetford-Mines regions.

The Parti QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Réjean Lefebvre Bloc Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 15, six members of Quebec's National Assembly will celebrate 20 years of public life as members of the Parti Quebecois. They are Jacques Brassard, the member for Lac-Saint-Jean; Guy Chevrette, the member for Joliette; Jean Garon, the member for Lévis; François Gendron, the member for Abitibi-Ouest; Jean-Pierre Jolivet, the member for Laviolette; and Denis Perron, the member for Duplessis.

This is a first in Quebec history. It is the first time six members of the same political party have succeeded in winning every provincial election for 20 years in a row.

On November 15, 1976, these members were elected by the people in their ridings on the basis of the Parti Quebecois' sovereignist option. These members have performed and continue to perform innumerable services for their communities.

I wish to thank and congratulate these members, who, throughout their political careers, have defended the rights of all Quebecers with vigour, conviction and firmness.

VeteransStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, on November 11 Canadians will gather at cenotaphs from coast to coast to remember and say thanks to those who fought for peace and democracy.

School children are taught about the causes of war and how the battles were won, but can the history books convey the personal experiences of war? Each veteran has a story to tell of heroism, fear, sacrifice, camaraderie and the joy of coming home.

To keep the memory alive, I ask each and every veteran to record their personal tales. They can be written, dictated or videotaped. The legions could get involved by compiling the stories and donating them to the local schools or libraries.

Young people from every community in Canada left the comforts and safety of home to risk life and limb for strangers in other lands to make this a better world. Their courageous deeds must not be forgotten.

Leader Of The Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, during oral question period this week, the Bloc Quebecois leader took advantage of his position by insinuating that the former Quebec lieutenant-governor, the hon. Jean-Louis Roux, took part in a demonstration involving anti-semitic actions, in Montreal, back in 1942.

This shameless way of denigrating a person of this calibre shows a blatant lack of decency. But let us give the benefit of the doubt to the Bloc Quebecois leader and let us say that he got carried away.

Therefore, it would be most appropriate for the Bloc Quebecois leader to apologize to the hon. Jean-Louis Roux, through this House.

Jacques LacoursièreStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 9, Canada's national history society will give the Pierre-Burton award to Quebec historian Jacques Lacoursière.

A talented interpretive writer, Mr. Lacoursière has several works to his credit. He is the author of the famous Canada Québec: Synthèse historique du journal Boréal Express , a real newspaper, with headlines and advertisement, published from 1963 to 1973, which related the history of Quebec and of Canada.

Mr. Lacoursière is also the author of the series Nos racines , whose 44 issues were published from 1979 to 1982, and, just recently, of L'Histoire populaire du Québec . Jacques Lacoursière has never stopped making people learn and love history'' to use his own terms. In his opinion, and I quote:A people with no history is like a tree with no roots. It cannot stand''. In other words, to forget our past is to forget who we are.

The Bloc Quebecois congratulates Mr. Lacoursière for obtaining this award-

Jacques LacoursièreStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

The Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but his time is up.

InternetStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, we learned today of the existence of an Internet site containing hate messages directed at Lucien Bouchard. We strongly condemn this initiative, done anonymously, under the cover provided by Internet, as well as its content.

In our society, there are ways to express our disagreement with the political ideologies of a given party. These individuals will definitely not help their cause by sending messages promoting hate and violence.

I ask all my colleagues as well as opposition members to do their share and to avoid using excessive language during some of our debates. Our actions and our words are sometimes at the root of certain tendencies among the public.

Together let us give the example, but the proper one.

Members Of ParliamentStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the House the distinguished achievement accomplished by two of our most respected members.

It is an honour and a privilege to serve our fellow citizens as their representative here, in the House of Commons.

One can only imagine how proud the hon. members for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke must feel today. In fact, both these members are celebrating their 31st uninterrupted year as members of Parliament.

The respect that these two members have demonstrated for the institution of Parliament over the past three decades is unparalleled and exemplary. They have without doubt contributed in making this a better place.

Equally as impressive as the contributions these members have made in public life are the contributions they have made in the communities in which they have lived and worked. It is because of this dedication and hard work in all aspects of their lives that they have enjoyed the right and privileges to sit in this House for 31 uninterrupted years.

On behalf of all my colleagues, I wish to congratulate both Warren Allmand and Len Hopkins and wish them all the success possible on this very special anniversary.

Congratulations, dear colleagues.

Members Of ParliamentStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Pest Management Regulatory AgencyStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency is a prime example of the Liberals' love affair with big government.

Canada's PMRA is inefficient, bureaucratic and costly. Currently the PMRA has registered 19 new pesticides which is good, but it took 242 bureaucrats to do it which is disastrous.

Canadian agriculture and agri-food industries are pleading for the agriculture minister and the health minister to get their act together and work diligently to fulfil their promise for a more streamlined and more efficient PMRA.

Most disappointing is that many letters, phone calls and personal appeals to these ministers are being virtually ignored, further demonstrating to Canadians just how arrogant this government is.

The Liberal's bloated PMRA is costing farmers a lot of money and is making the Canadian agricultural industry uncompetitive. On behalf of the farmers across Canada I invite farmers to get behind Reform's fresh start for Canada to bring about reforms to the PMRA, another example of Liberal-Tory bureaucratic empires.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

This morning, as they were going into cabinet, three ministers gave the following justifications for the choice of June 23 for the Supreme Court hearing regarding the next Quebec referendum: the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said it was the only date available; the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada said it was the date they had requested; and the President of the Treasury Board said it was the same date as his birthday.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Very serious, this government is very serious.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

How else can the Supreme Court's comment that the government had not done its homework very well be explained except by the fact that it has improvised unpardonably in such an important matter?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, justice department lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada this morning to receive instructions, including the date the reference will be heard. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court indicated clearly that the court will set the date for arguments and for the hearing. It is up to the court to decide, during the coming weeks.

I would like to add that there was no intended provocation on our part in suggesting June 23. We need time between now and next June to prepare, and we intend to do everything necessary to prepare.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the facts are being distorted.

As I have mentioned in my preamble, at 8.30 this morning, as they were going into cabinet, three ministers defended this date. However, when the government lawyers set out for the Supreme Court, they received a counter-order. Between 8.30 and 9 o'clock, cabinet changed its mind and the government lawyers were asked to withdraw the June 23 date. What the judge said was this: "That is a good decision, because it really is up to me. You should consult with all the provinces to find out which ones wish to make a contribution. At a time that suits everyone, when we know who wishes to take part in the debate, we will all sit down and we in the Supreme Court will set a date in consultation with all parties concerned, according to our schedule". This was what was actually said this morning by the Supreme Court.

I therefore ask the Minister of Justice to explain why they changed their mind between 8.30 and 9 o'clock, if it was not because the editorials, the hot lines and the whole world opened their eyes to the fact that it was provocation.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member speaks of provocation. What we are interesting in doing is resolving legal issues that are raised by the position of the Government of Quebec in relation to the application of the Constitution toward its desire to separate that province from the rest of the country.

Provocation is hardly the word one would use for a government that seeks a court date to determine issues of fundamental legal and constitutional importance to all Canadians but particularly to Quebecers.

It is in the interests of Quebecers in particular to resolve these issues, to clarify the consequences of the position taken by the Quebec government and to determine the legal issues that arise.

It is in the interest of Quebecers in particular to avoid chaos after a unilateral declaration of independence. It is because of the position taken by the Government of Quebec that we have made a reference.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, in life there are no chance occurrences, only coincidences. And one must be able to read, analyse and interpret these coincidences. The government selected June 23 and then, this morning, changed its mind.

Once again, are we looking at a government that is at the mercy of mandarins who suggested that it be June 23, or will the government have the courage to tell us that it alone took the decision, and that it is therefore the prime mover in everything that is now going on?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member tries to make something out of very little.

The indignation that comes from this episode is very difficult to accept. The hon. member speaks of provocation and humiliation and I suppose we should take it that the hon. member and her party know what that is all about.

We saw it during this past week with a display by the bloquistes and their partners in the Government of Quebec, the kind of political humiliation and provocation of which they speak, when they set out to destroy Jean-Louis Roux, the lieutenant-governor of Quebec. They used tactics that have no place in Canadian politics. That is the kind of provocation we should avoid in public life.

If we want to start somewhere to avoid provocation, I suggest that the Bloc Quebecois and the hon. member cease and desist with tactics such as that.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the Minister of Justice is a master at provocation. I would submit that the official opposition is a master at showing respect for the people of Quebec.

What explanation can there be for the decision to choose June 23, with its obvious political repercussions? How could the government make that decision without considering the impact of such a provocation?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out first of all that we are not the ones who will choose the date, the Supreme Court of Canada will choose the date of the hearing.

As for the question of provocation, it is the Government of Quebec itself which has provoked questions, which has said that neither the courts nor the Constitution have anything to do with the issue of sovereignty. That is where the provocation lies.

We have acted on behalf of all Canadians, including all the people of Quebec, in asking questions before the courts so as to regulate, clarify, determine the legality of these important questions.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge that the Supreme Court has exercised great good judgment in rejecting the government's choice ofJune 23.

Might this government provocation in the constitutional issue, which appears to have had its origins with employees in the Department of Justice, not be explained by the fact that their ranks also include supporters of the hard line, of plan B?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it was my experience as an advocate in the courtroom that when one of the parties was completely without confidence in his or her position on the merits of the case, he or she would resort to tactics such as complaining about the date for hearing in order to distract attention from that weak position.

What we are witnessing in the House today is exactly that syndrome. Left completely without any argument on the merits of the case, finding themselves in a position that is untenable legally, the members of the Bloc Quebecois have resorted to the selection of the hearing date as a ground on which to resist this initiative which is intended to clarify and resolve legal questions that they themselves have raised.

I suggest this is conclusive evidence of the falsity of their position in the law.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, 16,000 jobs are on the line as Canadian Airlines attempts to restructure the company.

The so-called official opposition says that we should merely let Canadian go, that there is only room for one national airline in Canada. That simply is not acceptable. I am sure the minister agrees that is not an option for the Canadian airline system.

We are not sure, though, exactly what options or ideas the minister has brought to the table in his talks with the airline. Would he detail for the House what plans, options or proposals he has made to Canadian Airlines to help it in its restructuring plan?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I certainly agree with the hon. member's comments with respect to the importance of Canadian Airlines International, our second largest carrier. It is very important to the government's competition policy, which has had such a dramatic effect in reducing the costs of travel in Canada and increasing the number of Canadians who travel.

With respect to the second part of the hon. member's question, it is not possible for this or any other government simply to continue to cover losses of a company that has had a chronic problem of losses. What must happen is restructuring to place that company on a profitable, competitive footing so that it can expand beyond the 16,000 jobs which have been created by Canadian Airlines International.

The plan of restructuring involves a number of elements, for example, changing the contract with American, changing the routing structure, making use of Vancouver's hub, increasing the Asian routes and the open skies routes with the United States, adjusting salaries and wages, as well as other measures. We want to make sure that plan has a fair chance.

I know it is difficult for the employees, but we want them to be able to vote on that plan.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the government knows and is concerned about the 16,000 jobs that are at stake in the restructuring of Canadian Airlines. I believe that Canadian Airlines is doing its part. It is aggressively attempting to restructure everything from its debt to its service contracts.

However, the minister also knows that the government is intimately involved in the Canadian airline industry. It is involved in everything from fuel tax rates, which are some 30 per cent higher than our American competitors, to regulatory regimes and so on. All of this plays a part in any restructuring plan. The company cannot do it all on its own. The government will be, by necessity, involved in whatever changes come to be.

Will the minister tell us what options he is considering on the open skies treaty and on the taxation policy? What are some of the specifics he is offering to Canadian and its employees?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, this is not a situation where we are offering to any one particular company some special deal, not at all. What we are trying to do is make sure there is competition in the industry and that the players are treated as fairly as possible by the government.

I would like to thank the hon. member's colleague, the hon. member for Calgary Centre, who stated recently that a government bailout does not appear to be a viable option. With that I agree wholeheartedly.

We want to put Canadian back in the business of being a profitable company, creating new jobs and expanding internationally and domestically as well.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a supplementary question of the Minister of Labour.

Canadian Airlines is trying to restructure and would like to take some of its proposals directly to the Canadian employees for their evaluation. While it is up to Canadian Airlines to convince its employees of the merits of any restructuring plan, the union leadership still refuses to let its members vote directly on any company offer. Even after the union leadership divided on the question it will not allow its employees the chance to vote on any restructuring plan.

Will the Minister of Labour intervene to free up employees of Canadian Airlines to ensure their democratic right to determine their opinion on the restructuring plan and will he ensure that they have the right to vote on any restructuring offer by Canadian Airlines?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I completely agree that the employees of Canadian should have the right to vote on their future and on the restructuring program that has been proposed by Mr. Benson, the CEO of Canadian Airlines. It is their right and opportunity. It is a difficult decision. They have been asked for sacrifices previously. In no way do I wish to influence their vote one way or another, but they should have that right.

It is unacceptable to us to have a decision made by 300 people, I understand, in Toronto. There are 6,000 to 7,000 employees of that company in Vancouver and 6,000 to 7,000 in Calgary. That type of approach is simply unacceptable to us.

We want to make sure that the actual employees who are affected by this plan have the opportunity of expressing their views. That seems to be only fair. I certainly implore the leaders of the machinists and the Canadian Auto Workers to allow this element of democracy to take place.

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Today, Rwanda opposed France's participation in plans for intervention by the international community. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict, and hundreds of thousands of refugees are in danger of dying in eastern Zaire. Deprived of help for more than two weeks, they are cut off from the outside world by the rebels, who prevent humanitarian organizations from reaching their region.

Since Kigali is opposed to France's participation but would look positively on an Euro-African military mission, could the minister tell us whether a proposal of this kind is being considered?

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I share the tremendous concern of the hon. member over the tragic situation in Zaire and the great lakes region. Today, the UN Security Council is considering several proposals for a cease fire in the region.

As you know, a ceasefire is the only way to ensure that humanitarian aid can be safely delivered to these regions. The Canadian position is to support the efforts of ambassador Chrétien and also to encourage all parties to submit plans to the UN and the Security Council for a security program in the region and also for expanding humanitarian aid as soon as possible.

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the aid professionals sounded the alarm, saying they needed action, not words. People are dying like flies in Zaire.

Does the minister realize that, if the international community continues to wait and see, there will be a real slaughter, and that, in the circumstances, considering the humanitarian emergency, the only solution may be to consider military intervention on short notice?

ZaireOral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, certainly we agree fully that the potential for disaster is imminent.

The latest report is that there are still supplies available in the region. The major difficulty faced is finding a secure environment so that they can be delivered. That has to come about through political agreement at the international level.

I disagree with the premise of the hon. member that there is no action. As I just pointed out, we have the engagement of Ambassador Chrétien on behalf of the Secretary-General. He is in the region at this moment meeting with leaders and attempting to forge some form of consensus.

The Security Council is considering a number of proposals today. We hope by the latter part of the day to have an indication of the initiative by the United Nations. It is something that has to take place. There is no magic wand. There is no panacea. There has to be an agreement by the international community on a course of

action. At that time, all members of the United Nations will consider how they can participate.

We are trying to get that agreement through the efforts of Ambassador Chrétien, by the diplomatic efforts at the UN and by the special efforts that Canada is making to try to influence and persuade the Rwandans, in particular, to agree to the return of the refugees.

Those are the necessary conditions. We are working as actively as possible to get that agreement. I hope we can get it soon so that we can continue to go on with the kind of aid the hon. member would like to see happen.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the former heritage minister violated section 23, clause 1, of the conflict of interest code for public office holders in his dinner for dollars scandal.

The former minister of defence violated section 23, clause 3, of this same code when he gave a former campaign pal over $150,000 in untendered government contracts.

And the youth minister violated section 3, clause 9, of this code when she improperly used her government credit card.

Why were these clear violations of a code that we know exists allowed to go unchecked?

EthicsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, these questions were asked yesterday, the day before, the day before, last Friday, last Thursday, last Wednesday, and the Prime Minister, the minister and the President of the Treasury Board have answered every single one of them.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, in fact, the questions remained unanswered and that is why we are asking again.

The emperor has no codes. The President of the Treasury Board, the ethics counsellor, the youth minister herself and even the Prime Minister have admitted that the minister violated the conflict of interest code and Treasury Board guidelines.

In the face of the facts and the admissions, where are the consequences?

EthicsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the only emperor I know with a clothing budget is Preston Manning.

EthicsOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, I would remind you not to call each other by name.

Unemployment RateOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

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

In spite of all his posturing and the government's attempt to pull the wool over our eyes, the unemployment rate in Canada has reached the 10 per cent psychological threshold. I will not call for a minute of silence, but I will remind the House that the OECD had forecasted a 2.1 per cent increase in employment, one of the highest in the world, according to the government. However, since the beginning of the year, in the past 10 months, the average increase in employment has been only 1.1 per cent, barely half what had ben forecasted.

What steps does the government intend to take to create the tens of thousands of jobs necessary to reach its goals according to the OECD's forecast?

Unemployment RateOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the slight increase in the unemployment rate in October is due to the arrival of 58,000 more workers on the labour market, which shows an increase in their faith in the continuing economic recovery.

It should be pointed out that, in fact, that same month the private sector created 46,000 jobs, a rather significant number. Moreover, since the beginning of the year, nearly 200,000 new jobs have been created in the private sector certainly thanks to the climate of confidence due in part to the government's agenda.

Unemployment RateOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, to listen to our colleagues opposite, one would think that everything is going well in Canada. And yet, we know that last month the youth unemployment rate climbed again, reaching the official critical threshold of 16.8 per cent. Moreover, everybody knows that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Will the minister finally acknowledge that the measures put in place by the government for young people are a totally failure and far from meeting its goals?

Unemployment RateOral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, clearly, we are all very concerned by the level of unemployment affecting our young people. As a matter of fact, it is a problem common to every country, including the United States where the job creation rate is rather impressive, I might add.

This is why, in the last budget, the Minister of Human Resources Development introduced a significant job creation program aimed at young people. We doubled the funds earmarked for the creation

of summer jobs for young people. We have on-the-job training programs, we have youth programs.

We have put in place a very strategic program to promote job creation for young people, and we will continue to do so.

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister for International Trade blamed the forestry industry for the job losses caused by this government's caving into the American lumber lobby.

Blaming the industry is absolutely inexcusable. This government negotiated a bad softwood lumber deal with the Americans and now it does not have the backbone to admit that this government, not the industry, is the cause of the loss of thousands of sawmill jobs in B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

The Liberals ran on a platform of job creation, yet now with thousands of sawmill workers losing their jobs they refuse to show leadership to rectify the situation.

What is the minister going to do now to ensure that these sawmills remain in operation?

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the preamble is entirely wrong. I certainly do not blame the industry. In fact, the industry has been most co-operative. However, there are some companies within the industry that have tried to take advantage of the fact that prices have been high and have used all their quota up and are now coming and crying to us about needing more quota. However, they knew what the rules were because the industry and the provincial governments were the biggest participants in setting out the rules.

In fact, today we made public the entire list of rules that the industry presented to us, the quota details by province. I am happy to table them and make them available.

The industry wanted this deal and in fact helped set the rules. We have bargained with the United States the kind of agreement it wanted, to give it protection for five years from countervail from the United States. It is a good deal. It is just that all of companies, not just most of them, have to comply by the rules that they were a big contributor toward setting and not cry about them, as the member is.

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would invite the minister to tell the families out of work what a good deal this is. They tend to disagree and disagree strongly.

The reason for the losses of thousands of jobs is not that the lumber mills overproduced, as the minister said, but that the quotas allotted to those mills came in at far below expected levels.

Yesterday the minister refused to table a full list of quota allocations for the mills all across the country. I suspect the reason for the secrecy is that in this way only the minister and his staff know the whole picture. There is a large unallocated portion of the quota sitting in this minister's pockets.

It appears that the minister is refusing to disclose the entire allocation list because he wants to reward his Liberal friends with the unallocated-

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. The hon. member should not impute motive. I would ask the hon. member to go directly to his question.

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the minister avoid the secrecy and table the allocation documents in this House now.

ForestryOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as I said a few moments ago, even before he asked the question, we tabled all the information relevant to how the allocation was arrived at and what the allocations are per province.

In terms of the individual companies, it is up to them as to whether they want to divulge their figures.

Let me say, because jobs are very important, that some of the companies have known full well what the formula is and that a great amount of the basis for the formula has been their past experience and they know what their past exporting is. However, they have chosen to rush the border and thereby create a problem for their employees. I am sorry that some of them have done that because that is outside what the industry wanted to have happen.

Notwithstanding that, there are two things they can do. They can continue to ship. It is a question of what is free quota. They can continue to ship and pay the quota fees. There is nothing stopping them from doing that. Further, we have provided for a very small quota bank so that we can help these firms if they are-

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

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

Yesterday, the minister said he could consider relaxing the rules to allow American Airlines to acquire a bigger share of Canadian. He said he was waiting for an application before reviewing the matter. However, yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers who represent 4,000 employees from Canadian International urged the

federal government to relax foreign investment rules so that American Airlines could buy a bigger share.

Can the minister give us the assurance that if the rules are relaxed he would give Air Canada equal access to destinations currently served by Canadian International, thus putting an end to its partisan patronage in favour of a company which will be getting more and more americanized?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may have misunderstood what I said yesterday. The government policy has not changed. No decision has been made. There is no review concerning the participation of an American company in the airline industry, none at all.

The hon. member also mentioned CAW. No American company has made an application to invest or increase its investments in Canadian International. This is a purely hypothetical issue.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, at least, the minister was not being hypothetical when he clearly stated yesterday that he did not intend to provide financial assistance to Canadian International.

However, we were told that his government awarded an extension of 30 days for the repayment of a loan granted in 1992. Is the minister about to financially assist Canadian International, by giving it an extension of 30 days to repay the money it owes the federal government?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has an incredible imagination.

What we said was that we had absolutely no intention of investing in Canadian International. The reason is obvious: this company which has incurred losses year after year is in need of some restructuring. The structure of the company needs to be changed, its contracts with American Airlines need to be changed, its routes need to be changed, and a lot of other things need to be changed before this company can begin to show a profit.

This is what I want to tell the hon. member. We mentioned no investment from the Canadian government. We have have received no application for an increase in American investments. No amount of Canadian or American money could help a company faced with structural problems.

International CourtOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Warren Allmand Liberal Notre-Dame-De-Grâce, QC

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

Within a few weeks the United Nations will vote to establish a permanent international criminal court to try individuals who commit serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity, including genocide and ethnic cleansing.

I know the government supports this measure but it requires an amendment to our domestic legislation to permit the referral of accused Canadians to the new international court. In order to give impetus to a positive vote at the UN, when will Canada amend its domestic legislation to facilitate this matter?

International CourtOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if I might be allowed to provide an answer for the hon. member, at the United Nations general assembly this fall in the statement we totally endorsed the idea of an international court and indicated that we would do everything possible to facilitate its development.

We will be working very closely with the Minister of Justice to see what means or measures might be necessary to implement that kind of idea.

ChinaOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, our Liberal friends are continuing to cosy up to China. Last week the defence minister gave Chinese generals special tours of our military bases and today Canadians were shocked to learn that the government is ignoring its own environmental laws and providing interest free loans to sell CANDU reactors.

Behind closed doors cabinet has jigged the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to allow this sale.

Instead of scrapping Canada's environmental laws to benefit China, should Canada not urge China to change its laws?

ChinaOral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are not providing any interest free loan. This is a regular commercial operation. In fact, AECL is expected to make money on it. One hundred Canadian companies will profit from this. It will mean some 27,000 person years in employment.

With respect to the environment there is absolutely no diminishing of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. That act was never intended to apply to the Export Development Corporation's commercial financing operations in foreign countries, and so it does not apply.

Over the years that AECL has produced the CANDU-6 reactor, it has done a great deal of environmental work on it and in fact it is the safest, most reliable, most environmentally efficient nuclear reactor in the world.

ChinaOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government is breaking its own environmental laws and its red book promises on the environment. The red book

promised to strengthen the enforcement of the Environmental Protection Assessment Act.

Instead, behind closed doors the government is violating and changing its own environmental review requirements. Is ignoring environmental review laws what the government had in mind when it promised in 1993 to protect the environment?

ChinaOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we have greatly protected the environment by putting this act into effect. It was never intended to apply to foreign projects funded by the Export Development Corporation.

We have said that when there is an international environmental agreement with respect to standards, yes, we would want to be a part of that and we have promoted that very thing. We are not going to in an extraterritorial way, like some countries do, apply our law against another country. We continue to do all we can to protect the environment and have the most environmentally friendly products in terms of other countries, and that is what this CANDU-6 reactor is.

Canada-United States Tax ConventionOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

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

On Wednesday, the minister admitted that the tax convention between Canada and the United States was unfair to low-income pensioners by depriving them of 25 per cent of their American pensions.

While waiting for the results of negotiations with the Americans, would the minister be willing to consider the net income rather than the gross income to determine income supplement eligibility so that low-income earners are less penalized by this convention?

Canada-United States Tax ConventionOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, this problem has not arisen as a result of the Canada-United States tax convention, but as a result of action taken unilaterally by the American government. I think we all agree that we need to continue to put pressure on the Americans because some people have certainly been treated unfairly as a result of this action.

We are negotiating with the Americans. In fact, on election day, I discussed this issue with my American counterpart. I think the best thing is to pursue these negotiations. We are not making progress as fast as we would like, but we are indeed making progress.

Canada-United States Tax ConventionOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, even though the minister keeps saying that it is the Americans' fault, it does not change the fact that Canadians are the victims of this unfortunate situation.

Is the minister willing to ask a special parliamentary committee to propose to him, by December 1, 1996, temporary solutions to rectify the situation until negotiations with the Americans lead to a permanent solution?

Canada-United States Tax ConventionOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I very much appreciate that there are members on all sides of this House who are very concerned by this matter. In fact, in the negotiations with the Americans the ability of the government to say that we speak with the virtual unanimity of this House gives us a very strong card to play.

The one thing I would not want to do is anything that would slow these negotiations down. Under those circumstances I think we are far better to continue with the course of action with which we are now engaged.

That being said, I very much appreciate the desire of members to participate and I am certainly prepared to sit down with them anytime and discuss the matter.

Gun ControlOral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice in this House said we should acknowledge and respect the history and tradition of hunting as a very important economic activity contributing to the prosperity of Canada. Firearms manufacturers, dealers, collectors, tourism outfitters and firearms owners have informed me that the fees proposed by the minister will effectively destroy any businesses and kill thousands of jobs.

Will the Minister of Justice reassure workers who depend on the firearms industry in Canada that the fees he introduces in this House will not result in any job losses nor have any negative economic impact on the industry?

Gun ControlOral Question Period

Noon

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, first let me acknowledge and express how much we welcome more evidence of the Reform Party's newly found interest in jobs. It is nice to see.

Yes, we do acknowledge and recognize that hunting represents not only an important and traditional pastime, but also an important source of revenue and an economic activity in many parts of this country. It is for that reason that no part of Bill C-68 interferes in any way with the enjoyment by Canadians of hunting as a sport and a pastime.

On the subject of the regulations, let me make it clear that those regulations are now being drafted in consultation with all interested parties including outfitters, those who organize and are paid for working in hunting expeditions. We shall very much keep their interests in mind as we put the final touches on the regulations, including the fees.

Gun ControlOral Question Period

Noon

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the minister says, a firearms manufacturer in Ontario states that his present fees are $850. Yesterday the justice minister proposed fees that would cost that company $242,000. Today the justice minister lowered it to $15,000, still over 15 times its present level. This new export tax will force some of the manufacturer's employees out of work.

What does the justice minister have to say to that manufacturer? Exactly how will he keep his promise not to hurt the firearms industry, sports shooters, hunters, collectors and tourism?

Gun ControlOral Question Period

Noon

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is relying upon information which bears the usual degree of unreliability when it comes from him and his colleagues.

We have not yet tabled the regulations. We have not yet tabled the fees, yet the hon. member is quoting numbers which I take it are intended to inflame passions and as usual to groundlessly frighten people.

When Canadians want advice, direction or policy about firearms in this country, they know where to look. They look to this government for sensible approaches.

It is clear where the Reform Party has come from. One of its riding association presidents in Alberta is Mr. Tomlinson, the president of the National Firearms Association. The national chair of the gun lobby is a riding president for the Reform Party. I think we can draw our own conclusions about the approach of the Reform Party toward firearms.

HousingOral Question Period

Noon

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

People who live in co-operative housing in Peterborough are concerned about the government's plans for social housing. They are particularly concerned about the future of co-op housing across Canada. My personal preference would be for the co-ops to manage themselves through their national organization. Can the minister assure me and my constituents that the federal government is not abandoning social housing in Canada?

HousingOral Question Period

Noon

Winnipeg—St. James Manitoba

Liberal

John Harvard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, yes, this government is offering management of social housing to the provinces and territories. However I want to assure the hon. member that we are not backing away from our social housing commitments.

Currently this government pays about $2 billion toward social housing which will be maintained. Moreover, there will be savings from the consolidation of management of social housing and those savings must be kept within the social housing envelope. That is over and above the $2 billion.

I am glad the hon. member raised the issue of the co-ops. This government believes the co-ops play a very important and major role in social housing. That role will not be overlooked and it will be given every consideration in the current negotiations.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

Noon

The Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of the House the presence in the gallery of Mr. Sergey Kalashnikov, Member of the Parliamentary (DUMA) Council.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

Noon

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. On Monday, November 4, at page 6056 of the Hansard, the leader of the official opposition said, in his preamble on the issue of the former lieutenant-governor of Quebec, the honourable Jean-Louis Roux, and I quote:

[-] also engaged in anti-Semitic behaviour by vandalizing businesses belonging to members of Montreal's Jewish community.

That statement is completely false and unbefitting a leader of the opposition.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

12:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleague, this is not a point of order in my opinion, but a point of debate. We will all have the opportunity to debate this question, but for the time being, I cannot accept it as a point of order.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Perth—Wellington—Waterloo Ontario

Liberal

John Richardson LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to

table in both official languages the government's response to 38 petitions.

ForestryRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia

Liberal

Ron MacDonald LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period the Minister for International Trade in response to a question from the member for Comox-Alberni indicated that he would be tabling certain documents.

If it is agreeable to the Chair, we are awaiting receipt of one of the documents which is being translated, at which time we will deposit it with the clerk today.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.

Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, June 11, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-17, an act to amend the Criminal Code and certain other acts, and your committee has agreed to report it without amendment.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development entitled Biotechnology Regulation in Canada, A Matter of Public Confidence .

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) the committee considered the topic of federal regulation on biotechnology in Canada.

The report contains six recommendations. An important recommendation is the creation of a national advisory commission to provide advice on the safety and appropriateness of the technology. The committee also considers that a gene law may be necessary in the future for the evolving field of biotechnology in large part because of the important ethical questions raised by recombinant DNA technology.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting the first report of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. The report details the committee's consideration of Bill C-23, an act to establish the Nuclear Safety Commission and to make consequential amendments to other acts. We have agreed to report it with amendments.

Petition ActRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-348, an act to provide for petitions presented to the House of Commons that have 250,000 or more signatures to be subsequently prepared as bills so far as possible and introduced in the House.

Mr. Speaker, this bill wants to improve the quality of democracy in Canada. Whenever we receive a petition bearing more than 250,000 signatures and having some legislative impact, Parliament will be required to study that bill.

Two hundred fifty thousand signatures is an impressive number of names, it makes for a very substantial petition. This will show the citizens supporting the petition that they do have a direct access to Parliament, because a bill will be submitted to the House whenever the numbers warrant it.

On the eve of the twenty-first century, this is one way to ensure a better democracy and increased participation by the citizens of Canada in the decisions of this Parliament.

(Motion agreed to and bill read the first time.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the member for Kingston and the Islands moved a motion and sought unanimous consent to have the motion concurred in, which the Reform Party members and myself in particular denied with the intention of checking it out before we granted unanimous consent.

Since the member for Kingston and the Islands is now in the Chair, the proper procedure is that we seek unanimous consent for me to move the motion today. I would ask that the Chair seek unanimous consent that the member for St. Albert, being myself, move the motion in lieu of the member for Kingston and the Islands because he is in the Chair.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Does the hon. member for St. Albert have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion standing in the name of the member for Kingston and the Islands on today's Order Paper? Is that agreed?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, in relation to the Orders of Reference adopted by the Senate on March 21, 1996 and on June 19, 1996, and by the House of Commons on March 12, 1996 and June 19, 1996, the reporting date of the Special Joint Committee on a Code of Conduct be extended to Friday, December 13, 1996;

That, if the House of Commons is not sitting when the final report of the committee is completed, the report be deposited with the Clerk of the House of Commons and shall thereupon be deemed to have been presented to the House of Commons; and

That a message be sent to the Senate requesting that House to unite with this House for these purposes.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, while we are certainly going to support this motion and give the committee the extra time in order to table its report, I would like to take this occasion to say just a few things about this topic and about the process.

It is very important for us to recognize what is going on in our House of Commons, the place where we make rules for the Canadian people, where we pass legislation and where we administer on behalf of the people of this great country the money they send us in trust as taxpayers. We are managing their affairs.

Referring to the incoming Trudeau regime in 1968, Grattan O'Leary said: "So far we have had nothing but props and music. The curtain goes up and the play never begins". That comment is true here as well.

We have talked a lot about ethics. It was a large portion of the debate during the campaign of 1993. It comes up very frequently in the House. Frequently the Prime Minister and other ministers of the crown, as well as government members, rise in the House and say over and over again: "We never do anything wrong". The Prime Minister bragged just yesterday: "I have not had any ministers resign".

It is a point of great consternation to us that in fact there now seems to be even lower standards than there were under the Tory regime of Mr. Mulroney.

When the Liberals took power one of the things they said in the infamous red book was that Canadians had come to distrust their government and they wanted to trust it again. The Liberals were able to garner a lot of votes because people wanted to trust government. In the red book, in the campaign literature and in the campaign speeches the Liberals repeatedly promised that there would be a new level of trust, that members of Parliament, cabinet ministers and, indeed, even senators would no longer be able to look after themselves, that they would have an obligation to deal ethically, correctly and honestly with the people who they deal with on behalf of taxpayers and that there would be no more of these shenanigans that Canadians had come to dislike in the previous government.

Today I want to point out emphatically that there is a lot of talk about ethics. I also want to emphasize just as emphatically that the talk is empty. The ethical behaviour that we had expected has not been delivered.

I remember back in 1984 that we were delighted because the member of Parliament for the constituency which included Elk Island was a member of the Tory party which had formed the government. Finally the Conservatives had won. We knew that it would be a great advantage, or so we thought, to send to Ottawa a member of the governing party.

A scant nine years later the hope that was enjoyed by Conservatives right across the country had evaporated. Primarily it evaporated because of questionable behaviour and ethics.

The same thing is happening with the Liberal government. It came to power promising to do things better and to solve the ethics problem so that once again Canadians would be able to trust their government. We need to look at what has actually happened.

I endorse the work of the committee. One of the reasons I am in favour of the motion to postpone for two weeks is so we can do a better job, a thorough job, instead of meeting a timeline. Of course that is important, but it should be the secondary goal. The first goal should be to do it well and the second goal should be to be timely. I would rather do it very well and have it two weeks late, as this motion proposes.

One of the promises of the Liberals, and I mention it often in the House, was the promise of an ethics counsellor. The present ethics counsellor is a man who, as far as we know, has an untarnished reputation. He is, to the very best of his ability, doing the job to which he has been called. Unfortunately he has tremendous strictures on his position. He is not independent as the red book promised. The Prime Minister has made the ethics counsellor answerable to him only.

One of the purposes of postponing the work of the committee must be to assure that there is a counsellor, an ethics watchdog if you like, who will be quite independent of the political realm. That is the flaw in the present system. It is deemed much more important by the Prime Minister that there be an appearance of doing things right rather than actually doing them right.

Over and over again we see the political damage control team swing into action. All sorts of different tactics are used to persuade the people that nothing is wrong when in fact the simple and obvious remedy is not implemented. That remedy is to provide adequate disclosure. Let us lay the facts out before the people. Let us lay them out before the press. Let us lay the facts out before the opposition. The facts will speak for themselves. We do not need to

have a large public relations campaign. We do not need a damage control team if all we are doing is dealing in facts.

I would like to have a couple of things that are very important to us included in a code of ethics and I hope that our code will have them. One of them is that the person who oversees questions of ethics will be totally removed from any implication even of being part of the damage control team.

In the case most recently before Parliament that appears to be so evident. That is very unfortunate because of the fact that, first, the ethics counsellor is restricted in what he can ask, what he can do and what he can investigate, and second, he is restricted in what he can say. If the ethnics counsellor were truly independent, as the auditor general is now, he could say what he wants because he would say what he actually finds. He would put the truth on the record and there would be no attempt to try to hide it or to cover it up.

We need an ethics counsellor who is truly independent, totally removed from the political realm of this place.

The next thing we need is adequate disclosure. It is unconscionable for us as MPs and as senators, as people who are governing the country, to not be willing to put on the public record any facts and figures that may be relevant to a discussion. We need openness. We need to correct things that prevent the people from knowing the truth in a situation.

We need to make sure that when we have conflicting rules, for example, the Access to Information Act conflicting with accountability to the Treasury Board, we need to make sure that in those instances that the priority is honesty, openness and accountability. Everything should be laid on the table. If something is wrong it needs to be corrected.

In this House we are only allowed to call each other honourable members. I believe that by far the majority of us are. I would like to think that all of us are. However, just being forced to say the word "honourable" does not necessarily make it so.

Many years ago when I was a kid I taught high school. I had students who were just a little younger than I and we had a discussion one day on whether they should respect me. As high school students sometimes do, they challenge authority. I remember that the discussion went to a level where we agreed on two things. The first one was that a certain amount of respect was inherent in the position because they were the students and I was the teacher. Because of that relationship there would be a certain amount of initial respect granted.

However, they quickly told me, and I agreed with them, that respect also had to be earned and demonstrated. As a teacher in mathematics I had to demonstrate to them that I knew my subject. I had to demonstrate to them that I knew how to teach and communicate it so that I could improve their knowledge of the subject.

The same thing is true here. I travel to various parts of the country and to my home riding. Some people seem to take a great deal of pleasure in being able to introduce their member of Parliament. They give us all a certain amount of respect which is very humbling actually when one stops to think about it. They do that because they expect us to be honest and open.

However, when a member of the House or the other place engages in activities or involves himself or herself in behaviour which does not reflect that honour, truthfulness, openness and accountability then the words become empty. Though they may still introduce us with an air of respect, the actual respect will disappear if we do not demonstrate it.

The essence of my little intervention is that while we wait for the ethics committee to table its report, I believe that there is much more involved here than simply giving the appearance again of doing something about ethics. Just repeating over and over again that we are ethical is not going to produce ethical behaviour. It is only going to happen if we have inherently a predisposition to doing things correctly and honestly. If we have a mechanism in place that will clearly and succinctly point out to the Canadian public when one of us goes wrong, let us be honest and open and put it all out on the table and let the truth prevail.

I am not content with my participation in this ethics committee to simply go through yet another exercise in the whole public relations work of this government or any other government in trying simply to improve the appearance of being a highly ethical party or a highly ethical government or whatever it is. I am not content with it. I will not be content until it actually is ethical, honest and above reproach. That ought to be our ever-seeking goal.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the Prime Minister has spoken often about his own secret code of ethics that applies to ministers. Over the last two and a half to three years he has made frequent references to it. The other day in the House he said that the ministers have seen it and read it. However, one cannot read something that does not exist either on paper, a television screen or somewhere. It has to be a document of some sort if one is going to read it.

Now we are finding that perhaps there is serious doubt as to whether or not this code actually exists. I do not in any way want to show any disrespect to the Prime Minister of this wonderful country. However, I believe that he must give an example of honesty, openness and truthfulness which is just beyond reproach among Canadians. I seriously doubt that is happening right now because of this blight on his record. He is saying that he has this

code of ethics and he is not willing to show any evidence of its actual existence. Then he says that this code is a higher standard than that which is out there and available to Canadians and parliamentarians.

We have found over and over that even the code which exists is not being enforced. We have numerous instances of people clearing breaking existing guidelines. We have had several ministers who have written to quasi-judicial bodies against regulations.

In the previous government when that happened these people were forced immediately to resign. That is incredible. That was in the previous Mulroney government. They were at least honest enough to admit that they had done wrong and resign.

This Prime Minister is so proud of being able to say "none of my ministers has resigned" that he is closing eyes to the facts. There have been ministers who have breached these very codes but his inability or his unwillingness to take action has resulted in his being able to say no ministers have done anything wrong and so they have not resigned. The truth is on the other hand which says they have done something wrong and the fact is no action has been taken.

We have this recent case of the minister for youth. I cannot help but really feel bad for her and for this situation. What an anguish. I regret that this government and this Prime Minister have so little accountability and so little conscience that they will let her hang because of this. Where were the people who were to have instructed her on what was right and what was wrong? Where are the people in the department who she said in her statement never told her that what she was doing was wrong? That is not acceptable.

I have a certain degree of sympathy for this minister. She unfortunately is the latest example of people who are breaking these ethical guidelines and rules and nothing is being done about it.

Here is a case which illustrates perfectly my thesis that we need to put the truth on the table. If in fact what she is saying is right and true then it is perfectly in order for her to table those facts in this House. She could show them to me, she could show them to the press. Let the facts prevail. Hey, there it is all out in the open.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said we have this tradition that when someone says something we just accept it without checking. We accept it without looking. The Reform Party is ready to do things differently. We say there is openness, accountability and when a person says something we will begin by saying they are hon. members and we trust them but when it is demonstrated and proven then the trust is built and the trust is established. That is all we are asking.

In this instance either the minister is stating what is correct, in which case it should be demonstrated, or she is stating something which is not correct, as we suspect, because the numbers do not add up. There are too many blank spaces. We want to get to the root of this. That is we want.

Again the Prime Minister is bragging. He says nobody ever does anything wrong. He has the gall to accuse us in this House of breaking the parliamentary tradition to accept what the government says without questioning it.

I am ready to question it. I am here on behalf of Canadian taxpayers and when there is even the appearance of a minister of this government's not using taxpayer funds correctly, I and the members of the Reform Party are here to hold them to account. That is what ethics is all about and that is what we are going to do.

I am emphatically stating here that my goal and my purpose in saying let us give this committee two more weeks is that those types of issues can be addressed.

We can have built into these ethical guidelines the fact that there will be openness. There is one thing we must definitely have. No minister should be able to hide behind privacy when they bring these types of things into the public domain by using public money for this type of expenditure. That is only an example, which I would like to state again. We have had others. There have been several other ministers.

It is wrong to simply put out the image of everything being right. Let us strive for the facts of the case, the truth of the case. That is the definition of ethical behaviour.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I agree that we should have ethical standards to mark our own conduct to see whether we are at times meeting those standards. There is no question.

Not only cabinet ministers but all members of this House should be functioning according to a high ethical standard in our dialogue and our interchanges with one another. Most Canadians would expect such a standard from members of Parliament. I want to bring to the attention of the House that this has not happened during the time of my service in this House.

Just yesterday the chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs indicated that she wanted to speak to me outside the room. When I obliged and attended I was accosted with inaccurate accusations. Filthy language was directed at me in a manner that was far below the ethical standards of members of this House. What course do we have to deal with that? What course do we have to respond to that kind of interchange when that kind of thing occurs?

We need standards of ethics by which all members can conduct themselves so that we will never be accused of functioning in a manner that is below the standard that is expected by the people who have elected us and sent us to this House to do their business, so we can conduct the affairs as elected representatives of the people.

I believe that if we do establish a clear standard of ethics for cabinet ministers we can look on those standards as a guide for us all. Would the member for Elk Island agree that it might benefit all members of this House to create a standard we could all measure ourselves against and, if necessary, measure the actions of other hon. members from time to time, when need be?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member for Crowfoot is right on here.

This is what we must have for all Canadians. It is how our society operates in an orderly and functional way. We have rules. We have rules to control our behaviour on the highway and in many other areas. There are two things every citizen needs to know and there are two things every member of this House needs to know. First, we need to know what the rules are. That is the first function of the law, to make sure people know what behaviour is allowed. And so the ethics code that will be produced will apply to members of Parliament, to minister of the crown and to members of the other place. The first function is to inform.

The second function of the law is certainly that it is to be used as a measuring stick and to provide for means of holding people accountable.

I refer to Canadians in general. We in the House of Commons are commoners. We represent the wider population. We need in this House a set of rules and regulations, a code of conduct which clearly sets out what behaviour is unacceptable and what is desirable, as the member for Crowfoot has said.

The second role of the law is of course to hold accountable those who would not live by the code of conduct. As a lawyer, I am sure Mr. Speaker knows the rules full well. It is not acceptable in the House that we have rules which are not published. How do we know whether a person is in breach of a regulation unless we know about them?

Some are available to us, but the Prime Minister's phantom secret code is not. That is not acceptable. We need to have a way of holding accountable those who would breach the standards. That, of course, is the role of the a code of conduct. I certainly concur that we need that. It should set out more than just minimum behaviour. It should have a broad spectrum of behaviour outlined so that members know when they have stepped across the line. If they know in advance, hopefully they will not do it. If they did not know it in advance, of course as the public in general knows, ignorance of the law is not an excuse, therefore it would then be used as a way of showing them what they should have done and also an example for others who remain.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak to this motion to explain what happened and why. The only reason we are debating this motion today is that the hon. member for Elk Island did not do his homework.

Since the end of August, we have had a report on the work done by the committee. As agreed, we were supposed to present this document to our caucus for discussion, so that we can then go back to the committee and be in a position to determine what we want to accept or reject in this code, what we would like to see changed, and so forth.

This week when we met in committee, the hon. member for Elk Island told us he had not read the document, so he could not discuss it. He was the only member at the table who had not done his homework. He was the only one who was prepared.

Today, we are taking the time of the House, and we will have to extend debates and pay people overtime, because the House will have to reschedule its proceedings. The Reform Party has made a habit of wasting the time of this House and then complaining about the government's wasting money.

Let it look at the weeds in its own backyard. He says he was not satisfied with the performance of the committee, but we are not satisfied, either, this week. When we wanted to set a date for a meeting, the hon. member for Elk Island was not available until the end of November. That is really going too far. He rises in the House and uses the motion that the reporting date the committee be extended from November 29 to December 13 as an excuse to talk about a case that has been the subject of questions in the House for almost two weeks.

Those members who want the "pablum" clause, as my colleague from Hochelaga-Maisonneuve said so eloquently, in other words, who want to make 10-year old children responsible under the Criminal Code, instead of considering ways to make our society a better place, those members are not, I believe, in a position to tell anyone about codes of conduct.

If he would do his job and read his documents, we would not have to extend the reporting date. Perhaps he did not read his document on purpose, so he would have a chance to discuss a motion and make us waste our time.

When you want to tell the truth, you tell the whole truth. You rise of your seat and say: "I agree with the extension because it was my fault". You do not try to use a motion to discuss everything that is going: the code of conduct for ministers, the rules of conduct to the government, resignations under Brian Mulroney and resignations under the Liberals. Why not talk about resignations under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, while we are at it? He could go down the list of all

Prime Ministers who had to relieve ministers of their duties during the past hundred years, which would keep us busy all afternoon.

However, I think that Reform Party members should themselves start behaving like responsible parliamentarians and not make us waste our time. We have better things to do on a Friday afternoon than listen to their foolishness, especially since they are responsible for extending the reporting date of the committee.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe our meeting was held in camera yesterday, but I want to set the record straight. What I said was that I had received no notice of the meeting that indicated what the agenda was, and so I had not brought my documents with me.

I have, in fact, read the document. I have not finished my work on it, but I have read it, obviously, because we have been working together on it as a committee.

I would like to point out to the member that I want this work to be done well. That is why I am supporting the motion. I want to be able to have the time to discuss it with my colleagues, which I think is appropriate.

I was under the impression, because there was no meeting held this fall, that the committee was basically being abandoned by default. There was no action being taken. As a result, I have to admit that I was not diligent in meeting the deadline because I thought it would never happen. That is simply how it is. There has been no action on this since last June.

With respect to the member's statement on our work as Reformers, yes, we do indeed want to do things right here. That is our goal. I am not going to be thrown off track simply by accusations such as this.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am sure in your nearly 50 years on this earth that you have never seen such a debate as this. Although you are an experienced parliamentarian and an experienced person, because of your advancing age, I am sure you have never seen a debate like this on ethics in the House of Commons.

The member for Rimouski-Témiscouata kind of went over the top with her concern that we are wasting the time of the House. I do not consider it to be a waste of time to talk about ethics. I do not consider it to be a waste of time to raise concerns about the ethical standards of the government and its failure to meet even the low standards which seem to have been set. I do not think it is a waste of time to ask questions about credit card use, about letters written to quasi-judicial boards, or to ask questions about the resignations of some ministers.

If we want to talk about wasting time we could ask the government why it brought forward the debate on the speech from the throne yesterday, usurping even Private Members' Business. The speech from the throne was so overwhelmingly important to the government that it took up an entire day of the business of the House of Commons to talk about a February 1996 document which no one has heard about since it was tabled. That is a waste of time. If she wants to get excited about a waste of time, that is a good thing to get excited about. I did not see her complaining about it yesterday at all.

It is not a waste of time to talk about ethics. It is not a waste of time to get it right when we are talking about ethics.

If we want to get an ethics counsellor, an ethics control system and an ethics checks and balances system that works for the House of Commons and for Canadians it is not a waste of time to get it right.

The member for Elk Island has asked if we could have a couple of weeks to put forward our suggestions on this. That is not a waste of time. The government has sat on that since June, this whole issue of the ethics counsellor. It has sat on this since June. It has not had one meeting for June, July, August, September, October. Suddenly the government says it would like to call a meeting together and run it through the House and it is all over.

Four months of no comment is hardly a recent rehashing of the concerns. To claim that it does not matter now and we should just throw our hands up in the air and let it go, when it comes to ethical standards it is not good enough. We are not going to let it go. That is why we want to talk about the ethical standards of this government for a few minutes today. Even if the government is not listening, I think the Canadian people are.

What has triggered this lately is only an example. I do not want to particularly single out one person, but obviously the minister for youth has been in the newspapers lately. She has been complaining because she has been under scrutiny, that people have been watching her every move, that when she uses a government credit card and whites out $9,000 worth of expenses, just trust her because they were for personal use on her government credit card.

She has reimbursed the government. The Prime Minister says over some weeks and months she has reimbursed the government. That may be so, but if you want to use a government credit card issued only to cabinet members for personal use, then you can fully expect that we are going to ask questions about it. Members of Parliament do not get them. No other member of Parliament, government or opposition, gets a credit card; only the ministers get credit cards.

On this idea that "I did not have another credit card so I had to use the government credit card", she has been a member of Parliament for eight years. She has lived in Ottawa for the last eight years while she has been a member of Parliament. To say she does not have another credit card or cannot get another credit card, cannot have another credit card, whatever, she has a government credit card and she is going to use it for personal use. She bought a fur coat with this stupid thing, a down payment on a fur coat. Pardon me, it was not a full fur coat, just the collar.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think we are completely off topic. This is not what is on the Order Paper. We discussed it during question period. We are discussing a committee report on codes of conduct. I think we are off topic and I would ask the chair not to allow any further reference to this question in the course of this debate.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

I am sure the hon. whip for the Reform Party is seeking to make his remarks relevant to the motion now before the House which does deal with the extension of time for the report of a committee on a code of conduct for all MPs. I am sure he will bear in mind the need for relevance in the remarks he makes to the House. I know he will do that as he carries on his remarks.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, what I am doing is I am detailing in lawyer terms, as you will be familiar with, an ironclad case of why we need an ethics counsellor and why this review, this extension of a couple of weeks, rather than being a waste of time, may allow the government or try to make the government do the right thing and that is to have ethnics guidelines and some advice for the ethics counsellor that is worth more than just the paper it is written on.

That is why I am building this case. There are times when it is right for opposition members, and I would think and hope government members as well, to question the use and the ethics of their own cabinet.

It is true that all members of Parliament have an ethical standard that we should adhere to, as the member for Crowfoot mentioned earlier. There are things that we can and cannot do. Those guidelines are very useful for all members of Parliament.

Also, no doubt cabinet ministers are held to a higher standard. I just went over the reasons. Cabinet ministers are the only people who get credit cards. They are the only members of Parliament who get a car and a driver. They are the only members of Parliament who have wide ranging responsibilities from coast to coast that affect government policy directly by the directives they sign.

They have a higher level of standard than members of Parliament generally, and so they should. The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that should be so.

What I am describing here in the youth minister's case is an absolute, 100 per cent case of misuse of a government credit card. One of the ministers came forward the other day and said that because these were personal items she charged on her government credit card we had no business knowing what this was about. Absolutely.

If someone uses a personal credit card for personal use it is their business. The privacy commissioner is right to ensure that the person is ensured of privacy. If someone uses a government credit card for personal use, then the person has lost some of that privacy. They have used a government credit card, a government asset and government privilege, available only to the cabinet, for personal use.

Once that happens it should become public knowledge. I am disappointed that the Prime Minister seems to believe he has to deal with is a cabinet minister who breaks a guideline only when it is convenient for the government to shuffle the minister aside.

One of the guidelines I hope will be in the report which will be tabled will deal with the whole access to information request. The way many members access information is through the access to information directive.

We ask of ministers copies of their expenses, which is routinely done, their department expenses, things they spent money on, priorities of the departments and so on. It is routinely done. I probably tabled 100 access to information requests since being in Parliament.

I hope one of the things to be dealt with in this report is why there is an early warning system given to cabinet minister when an access to information request is put in. Why do the red flags go up in the privy council office when there is an access to information request about something to do with a minister?

In other words, instead of saying "here is the information the member for Fraser Valley East has asked for", it happens otherwise. People in Canada should know. It goes through the privy council and the privy council puts the early warning flag on it.

It says to the minister: "Is there something in this pot here that disturbs you? Do you want to know about it? Is there something here that will cause some trouble?" If so, they are advised of that and so on. That is what happened to the former minister of defence.

There was an access to information request put in by someone from the media. It went by the privy council office. "Geepers creepers, sakes alive. Look at this. It could be very damaging". It is brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, the minister and so on.

After they decide how they will spin it and handle it, eventually maybe it is handed down to the person who actually asked for the information.

I hope the report when tabled will deal with that. It is only fair that the person asking for the information receives the information asked for first. They asked for it. They wanted it.

I am not sure what the Prime Minister is thinking about by setting up the two standards. The minister of national defence was forced to resign for writing a letter to a quasi-judicial body. That is fair enough. Those are his guidelines. I do not know what the guidelines are but if those were his guideline, fair enough.

What about the other ministers? The former Minister of Canadian Heritage wrote to the chair of the CRTC, a quasi-judicial board, endorsing a radio licence application of a constituent. Was that breaking the guidelines? If so, why was no action taken?

When Brian Tobin was minister of fisheries he wrote a letter to the chair of the CRTC backing francophone demands for the French Newsworld. He wanted it carried by Newfoundland cable companies so he wrote to the CRTC as a minister and asked for that to be done. Interfering with a quasi-judicial board got the Minister of National Defence fired, but Brian Tobin just becomes the terminator.

The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development wrote to the CRTC on behalf of a temple in Toronto that applied for a religious TV channel. That is interfering with a quasi-judicial board. The minister of defence was fired for it, but it was fine for the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to do that.

I do not have it here with me today, but perhaps I will bring it when we come back. I will bring forward my top 10 suggestions for ethics guidelines for ministers since the Prime Minister does not seem to have any. It includes things like: Guideline No. 1, do not get caught. These are the tough ones. Guideline No. 2, remember you can fool all of the people all of the time and some of the people some of the time. These are tough guidelines. Another guideline is: Always check with Paul Desmarais. That is a good guideline.

I do not know what the guidelines are because the Prime Minister will not table them. They are as imaginary as his imaginary friend, the one he said he visited frequently to talk about the problems of the homeless. You probably remember that, Mr. Speaker. When he was asked by a reporter where he met this homeless friend I think the Prime Minister's response was: "I see, I said, I had, I thought, actually I don't have an imaginary friend. I just kind of made that up, but you caught me. Anyway, let's talk about something else".

The Prime Minister's ethic guidelines that he promised are around somewhere have never been tabled. That would have been an integral part of the report that the member for Elk Island would have liked to have seen tabled in this House. An integral part would have been the guidelines, how they are processed, who are they responsible for, who are they accountable to, has the ethics counsellor even seen them.

Watching the ethics counsellor on the news the other day I bled for the guy. The reporter says: "So about these guidelines?". The guy, who is digging his toe in the dirt, says: "Well, sir, actually I have not seen any guidelines". The ethics counsellor has not seen any guidelines. Against what standard does he judge these cabinet ministers? How does he enforce? What are the consequences? What is he doing anyway? I do not know if he gets paid for this job or not. Does he get paid? What does he do? Does he get up in the morning and watch "Quirks and Quarks" and then make his decisions? Does he consult JoJo? Perhaps he does. If JoJo is not available then he checks with the imaginary friend. How does he judge these people? There is nothing to judge them against.

Why does the Prime Minister not just put all this to rest, if he has guidelines, and table them, make it part of the report that the member for Elk Island would like to table in this House so that we can deal with it in its entirety, not some tromped up, last minute, drop it on the table, hope it makes it through the House guidelines at the last minute. It is not good enough. That is why today we need to talk about ethics.

The whole problem that the government is having now is with its promises. Mr. Speaker, I should sometime give you my top 10 list of the ways that the Liberal government tries to seduce the voters, but I am not going to get into that today. It is not ethical perhaps at this time. Ethics are involved with promises made and promises kept. Remember what the Prime Minister said in 1993. "There is not one promise that I have made that I will not keep". He should have signed that GST but he did not. But he just said he would keep them all.

Then the excuses started. "I cannot be expected to keep them all," says the Prime Minister. And listen to this: "Sometimes in the course of a mandate you are faced with a situation where you cannot deliver". That is kind of a contrast to his earlier statement. "You have to have some flexibility because acts of God come into the administration. No politician can see everything happening".

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

A higher authority.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Maybe when he is consulting with JoJo, he can get it. But otherwise he cannot see into the future.

Imagine, acts of God interfere with the Prime Minister's ability to keep his promises. I wonder what that means to the Prime

Minister. Is that the flood in Quebec? Now, that is an act of God. That is registered. No arguments made.

But is it an act of God that the GST is still with us when the Liberals promised to scrap, kill and abolish it? Is that an act of God? When he said: "We will work with the provinces to redesign the social assistance programs," only to find out that he moved in and did it unilaterally without consultation.

Is it an act of God when he says: "I will renegotiate the FTA and the NAFTA agreements. I will not sign it the way it is" and then two weeks later he signed the whole thing?

Is it an act of God when he says: "We will develop a code of conduct for public officials to guide cabinet ministers and members of Parliament and Senators? And there is no code of conduct.

What prevented it? What act of God? What premonition? Perhaps some Epiphany? What was it that came on the Prime Minister and touched him in such a way that he could not follow through with his promise of a public code of conduct for his cabinet? There is no excuse. It was not an act of God, it was an act of omission. I hope that the people watching and listening and keeping track will say: "You promised, Mr. Prime Minister, when you said in 1993 there is not one promise you have made that you will not keep, judge you on you record," they will say: "You omitted, Mr. Prime Minister, to keep your basic, ethical promise of a code of conduct for your cabinet".

It probably also applies to whips. All of us would be covered under this code of conduct. He has failed to deliver on that. He promised it. He has not given it to us. It is no wonder that the member for Elk Island has had to ask for an extension in order to get the proper code of conduct and the proper ethics highlighted for the benefit of all members of Parliament and especially for the cabinet.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member to direct some comments toward the public's distrust of politicians. We have seen the public's trust in politicians erode over the years. This is the highest court in the land when it comes to setting rules and regulations by which to govern society. A certain onus falls on individual members when they are elected to a position as a member of this House to demonstrate leadership qualities.

To demonstrate these leadership qualities we certainly cannot embark on a "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy.

I would like some expansion on the perception of the public of how this kind of blatant disrespect for ethics in a position of this nature has come about and how it has eroded political credibility.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I can talk for a couple of minutes about why the faith of Canadians in politicians has plummeted so severely.

It has been a sad trend to watch how people have placed politicians somewhere down on the bottom of the list with snake oil salesmen as people to trust. It is unfortunate because I do not believe it is necessary. It is unfortunate and I do not believe it is necessary. The government does not seem to understand, and the Prime Minister has not grasped, that there is no shame in stepping aside while an investigation goes on.

There is no shame in a senior official stepping aside and saying that while there is a cloud over my administration, while there is some question about this, I want a complete airing of the facts and I am stepping down until my name is cleared. There is no shame in that. That is a proud moment when you are able to come back to your peers and say that the investigation is complete, it has been fair and open and the facts are all out on the table. We give a nice round of applause and the minister comes back into a position of trust. That is a proud moment. That is assuring and reassuring the Canadian people that the ethics issue is taken seriously.

When you are not prepared to lead by example, when there is some white out on the expense account but you are told: Take my word for it, all is good. I will not tell you what it is, what it is about, how long it took to pay it back or the details, it is my own little secret because it is personal. People look at that. It might be true, they hope it is true but they cannot see it. There is a perception that something is going on. Normally there is no white out for routine business. It is done because there is something being covered or hidden on whatever it is that was changed.

It applies not only to ethical things that involve money. It involves leadership by example in other areas such as the government's plan for something that is as integral to our social system as the Canada pension plan. I hear the government say the only solution is to double the premiums and slash the benefits and that is it. However, members of Parliament get a pension plan fully indexed after six years. That is what breaks the trust with politicians and their constituents.

The member for Beaver River was the first Reform Party member to quality for the MP pension. The papers were brought into her office and basically it came down to her being told that if the MP pension was too extravagant, to opt out of this pension plan, put your money where your mouth is and there is a chance to do it right now. When the member for Beaver River looked at this asked: What is this program worth to me? She was told the pension plan at that time was worth $1.4 million.

The member for Beaver River said, I am sure with some hesitation and trembling because it is a lot of money: "This is where the buck does not pass. This is where the rubber meets the road". She signed away $1.4 million. Why did she do this? Because she had given her word.

It is not fun to give up $1.4 million. It was hers, it was right in the papers and she had it. It could not be taken away except by her own free will. She said: "There are tough decisions to be made and there were promises made in the last election". When the crunch came, even if it was a personal sacrifice, the hon. member stepped up to the batting box and hit a home run. That is why I have respect for the hon. member as the chair of our caucus which exceeds the respect I have for anybody in this House, on that side of the House especially.

She put her money where her mouth is. She showed what ethical conduct is all about. She set a standard to which the rest of us will try to adhere. I opted out of the pension plan as well. We had some leadership in our caucus. We made a promise and we kept it. Ethical conduct is directly linked to the appreciation that constituents have for their MPs. There is a direct correlation between ethical conduct and that appreciation. When we see the ranking of MPs going down, it is tied entirely to that. People always ask me: "How do I know you will keep your word? How do I know I can trust you? How do I know that you will do what you say you will do?"

Keeping ethical standards will restore people's faith in parliamentarians. That is what should be happening here today and in the past while with the Prime Minister. It has not happened. That is too bad because the respect for parliamentarians will continue to drop until he gets that straight in his mind.

(Motion agreed to.)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am tabling today a petition signed by more than 12,000 people, the majority of whom-over 10,000-live in my riding, who are calling for the abolition of the Senate.

This is their response to members of the Liberal majority, who voted against the motion this week, and to Reform members, who have just made us waste an hour on an issue on which Canadian taxpayers' money is continuously being wasted. The people's answer is the 12,000 signatures I am tabling today.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present eight petitions today, duly certified, dealing variously with criminals benefiting from the proceeds of crime, taxation, sexual orientation and public hazards.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Dartmouth Nova Scotia

Liberal

Ron MacDonald LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could ask for the unanimous consent of the House that the Chair see the clock as being 1.30 p.m.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is there unanimous consent to call it 1.30 p.m.?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Point Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent to adopt the following motion:

I move:

That nothwithstanding the Standing Orders and the practices of the House, Bill C-347, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts, be now considered at second reading stage, and that the House proceed to dispose of the bill at all stages, including Committee of the Whole.

Point Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Could I seek the clarification of the hon. member and the House? Is it intended that we proceed with this bill first, and then if there is time following that we proceed with the bill listed for consideration on today's Order Paper?

Point Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, once we dispose of this bill, given the unanimous consent already granted, we would move it at all stages. There will be at least one amendment when we go to committee of the whole. Once that matter has been completed, we would move to today's scheduled Private Members' Business.

Point Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The House has heard the terms of the motion moved by the hon. member for Bellechasse. Is there unanimous consent?

Point Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Bloc

François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

moved that Bill C-347, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts, be read the second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few seconds to thank the chief government whip, the hon. member for Stormont-Dundas, and the coordinator of the Reform Party caucus, the hon. member for Fraser Valley East, for the non partisan work they did during the discussions that led to the tabling of this bill. They showed great class throughout all the stages. In my opinion, this bill will improve the representativeness and particularly the description of the various regions represented in this House.

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and, with the unanimous consent, the House went in committee thereon, Mr. Milliken in the Chair.)

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

Order. House in committee of the whole on Bill C-347, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts.

Shall clause 1 carry?

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Clause 1 agreed to.)

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

Shall clause 2 carry?

On clause 2:

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon Liberal Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I propose, seconded by the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata, the following amendment:

That the name of the electoral district of Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine be changed and that the future electoral district of Bonaventure-Gaspé-Îles-de-la-Madeleine be designated under the name of Pabok.

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

The Deputy Chairman

The question is on the amendment to clause 2. Is it the pleasure of the committee to adopt the said amendment?

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Amendment agreed to.)

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is clause 2 as amended agreed to?

(Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.)

(Clauses 3 to 20 inclusive agreed to.)

(Title agreed to.)

An Act To Change The Names Of Certain Electoral DistrictsPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Chairman, on a point of order. You were going so quickly through the clauses I thought perhaps you might get to 50, which of course would be very close to your own age when your birthday comes up. But you did not and I am glad to see that.

(Bill reported, read the third time and passed.)

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should amend the Young Offenders Act: to reduce the age for whom it applies down to the age of 10 from the age of 12; to allow for the publication of the names of individuals convicted under the Act; and to require the immediate transfer to adult court of individuals being tried for the repeat offence of violent crimes.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt who have sent me here to bring forward their concerns regarding the Young Offenders Act. Motion No. 278 states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should amend the Young Offenders Act: to reduce the age for whom it applies down to the age of 10 from the age of 12; to allow for the publication of the names of individuals convicted under the act; and to require the immediate transfer to adult court of individuals being tried for the repeat offence of violent crimes.

It is interesting to note the speed at which some bills can move through this House as we just saw a bill pass all stages in the House of Commons in less than 10 minutes. I hope the House will take

this motion dealing with the Young Offenders Act as seriously and move it along through all stages just as quickly.

My constituents have asked me to bring this motion to the House because of the headlines that we read in our local newspapers almost daily. I brought some examples.

From the Penticton Herald : ``Teen charged in school standoff''. A 15-year old Princeton youth brought a gun into school and had an armed standoff with police. His name cannot be released because of the Young Offenders Act.

Another headline from the Penticton Herald : ``Squatters embark on wrecking spree''. There was damage in the tens of thousands of dollars after teens trashed a partially completed condo complex. Names cannot be released because of the Young Offenders Act.

"Osoyoos demands justice". Twelve hundred Osoyoos residents want two youths tried as adults for the hijacking of a school bus. The young offenders' names cannot be released because of the Young Offenders Act.

"Classmate says suspect obsessed with gun". Young offender cannot be named because of the act.

"Crown fights to keep youth killer off streets", was another headline in our newspapers recently. A dangerous young offender convicted of murder is set to be released from jail. His name, again, cannot be released because of the Young Offenders Act.

These are just some of the headlines we are greeted with in my riding. We must not be misled by these headlines. It is important to note that most young people are on their way to being upstanding members of society and will contribute in a positive fashion to our communities.

I worked for many years in the air cadet program. I know the vast majority of our children today are good kids. It is just a few bad apples that we are speaking of today. It is important to remember that when we speak about the Young Offenders Act, we are only speaking about youth who have committed crimes. Particularly, we are speaking today about violent and dangerous young offenders.

The Liberal government has done nothing to address the problems of the Young Offenders Act but we in the Reform Party are attempting to shore up the holes. My colleague, the hon. member for Crowfoot, the Reform Party justice critic has been working diligently on changing the Young Offenders Act and he should be applauded for his efforts. I am pleased to have his support in the House today.

As a former police officer, he brings to the debate a level of experience that one must respect. He has led the Reform Party in its attempts to change the Young Offenders Act. He has led the fight to recognize victims' rights. That is what my motion is about today, victims' rights and the Young Offenders Act.

I spent the summer touring my riding as I am sure other members did in theirs. I held town hall meetings in each and every corner of my riding. I met with people everywhere. Constituents told me that they are concerned about high taxes. They are concerned about health care. They are concerned about job creation. However, the number one issue on their minds, the single issue that was brought up at every single meeting I attended is the failure of the Young Offenders Act to protect our communities.

I was at a very interesting meeting this summer hosted by Darlene Harder of the Penticton Court Watch. Darlene is a no-nonsense woman with a keen sense of justice. She called together a group of people to meet in a church, a most appropriate place I thought to have a discussion about justice issues.

Darlene brought her group together to talk about what they could do to help fix the problems of youth crime in our riding. At the meeting there was a cross-section of people from the community. There were lawyers, teachers, doctors, old people and yes, there were young people. They had all gathered to express the same concern, that something needs to be done to address the fact that the Young Offenders Act seems to do more to protect the youth who commit crimes than it does the victims of violent youth crime.

As a result of the meeting of the Penticton Court Watch, Darlene Harder and her workers have put together a petition which when it is completed I will be pleased to present in this Chamber. The petition prays that the government amend the Young Offenders Act to change the age of young offenders down to 10 years from 12 years. The petition prays that the names of those convicted under the act be published and that individuals charged with repeat offences of violent crimes be automatically transferred to adult court. There are already 3,500 signatures on that petition.

I know that we are a very long way away from my beautiful riding of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and it is very hard for the Liberal government to hear the voices of their friends in British Columbia, but I hope it will listen today and join us in the Reform Party in supporting this motion. Every member of this House crossing every political line feels the same concerns that I am speaking about today from their constituents in their ridings. They are facing the same difficulties and the same problems of the good people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt with the Young Offenders Act.

A precedent setting case in Canadian case law occurred in my riding last June. The Young Offenders Act was failing to protect people in my riding so crown counsel sought to take action on their behalf.

A youth 17 years of age was convicted in the unprovoked shooting murder of a complete stranger, Edward McDermott of Keremeos in 1993. The young murderer was sentenced to three years in jail for the killing after which he would normally receive conditional release for a two-year probation period. However, in this particular case, several forensic psychiatrists said the accused was simply too dangerous to go back out onto the streets. Crown counsel in my riding applied under a never before used section of the Young Offenders Act to have the man kept in prison until the end of his term of probation. The crown won its case and this young offender will not be allowed to enter our communities.

This success story is the exception and not the rule. It is a sad comment that the crown had to go to such lengths to protect our society from someone who is protected by the Young Offenders Act. This is why we need these long overdue amendments to the Young Offenders Act.

Roy O'Shaughnessy is the clinical director of British Columbia's youth court services and youth forensic psychiatric services. He says that it should come as little surprise that the propensity for violence can extend even to the very young. He says that anti-social behaviour is a continuum which begins in its worst forms around the age of five or six, so there are a few kids starting to display aggressive violent behaviour even in preteen years. This group accounts for only about 20 per cent of adolescent offenders but commits the majority of serious crimes.

The first warning signs of this appear in the school yard among children who frequently fight, bully others and steal. As they approach their teenage years, they may already be engaged in violent criminal behaviour. What these youths also have in common is a stunning lack of empathy for their victims.

Most of these traits were clearly evident in 1993 in a case that focused the world's attention on the potential brutality of preteens. In Preston, England two 10-year old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, lured two-year old James Bulger away from his mother in a shopping centre and brutally beat him to death.

Let me refer briefly to a recent and equally infamous Canadian case that highlights the need for the reduction in age from 12 years to 10 years. This case also addresses the need for transfers to adult court, but I will be touching on that subject a little later on in my speech.

The case to which I am referring is that of Sandy Charles. In early August of this year Sandy Charles was found not criminally responsible by reason of mental illness for the murder of Johnathan Thimpsen, age seven, of La Ronge. The point of the story is not to highlight the brutality of some youth crimes but to remind members of a less publicized fact about this case. Sandy Charles had an accomplice who was eight years old. We can only refer to the accomplice as Mr. Charles claimed that M masterminded and motivated the killing.

Let me highlight one case that demonstrates how our streetsmart youth are all too well aware of how the Young Offenders Act serves as a shield to protect them.

In July of this year in a Toronto case a 13-year old girl told a hushed courtroom how an 11-year old helped two other boys, ages 13 and 15, to rape her. She testified that the older boys were about to let her go when the 11-year old insisted that they finish the job. Following the arrest of the 11-year old, he taunted police by saying: "You got me, so what are you going to do?" The reason he got off scot-free is that the Young Offenders Act does not apply to offenders of his age. This needs to be fixed.

If we support my motion today we can move to redress this obvious and glaring flaw in the Young Offenders Act.

Scott Newark, the executive director of the Canadian Police Association agrees that the age needs to be dropped from 12 to 10. Our Liberal friends across the way should listen to his advice.

The Prime Minister is a tremendous champion of British parliamentary tradition. In England and Wales, guess what the age for young offenders is. Ten years is the age of criminal responsibility. The Liberals and their Prime Minister should follow the lead of their friends across the ocean and support Reform's motion to reduce the age from 12 to 10 here in Canada.

Let us move on to the publishing of names. The principles of the Young Offenders Act establish its intent. I must disagree with the first principle of the act that puts the interests of the accused and convicted ahead of the interests of the victims and society at large. It is that disagreement with the act which motivates my interest to have published the names of violent young offenders. I believe that publishing the names of violent young offenders will go one more step toward protecting society.

The act states in its declaration of principle that "society must, although it has the responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent criminal conduct by young persons, be afforded the necessary protection from illegal behaviour". Many learned commentators have pointed out the tensions within these principles. Nowhere in the principles are the rights of victims mentioned. Further, the reference to protecting society is ambiguous. The act needs to be amended to fix this problem.

The principles of the Young Offenders Act allow the names of violent young offenders to not be published. I do not believe that the names of all young offenders should be published, but the names of violent and dangerous young offenders should definitely be published. In all cases the protection of society as a whole should be paramount. To that extent a young offender should

sacrifice some privacy when he or she has committed a violent and dangerous crime.

When we have violent young offenders, their privacy rights should be subordinate to the rights of society to be protected. In some cases information should be made public or at least available to the public in order that people in positions of authority, like teachers and parents, can make informed decisions to protect their charges and their children. A school principal may not know if a student has been convicted numerous times of drug trafficking. A parent may not know that his child is associating with an offender who has been convicted of a series of rapes.

The young man next door, entrusted with babysitting children, could be another Jason Gamache. Gamache was a young offender convicted of multiple sexual assaults. He began to babysit the girl next door. Gamache was a convicted repeat sex offender and by law, thanks to the Young Offenders Act, his name was never made public. Gamache lured the girl into the woods, sexually assaulted her and then murdered her. She might be alive today if his name had been allowed to be published. The parents of that little girl were not able to make an informed decision to protect their child and as a result she fell prey to a predator who this system protects.

The first penalty paid for committing a criminal offence against society ought to be full disclosure of who the person is, where they come from and what they have done. Names should be published.

Let me quote from my hon. colleague from Crowfoot who said on June 20, 1994, about publishing the names of young offenders that the names of victims and the horrific details of the crimes perpetrated on them are open to public scrutiny, but the names of the offenders remain a state secret. The young faces in Canada's courts and jails are like masks. They hide society's ugliest scars, scars that will fester unless they are exposed.

Let me speak to the issue of transferring violent young offenders to adult court. Statistics Canada reports that only 94 cases of young offenders were transferred to adult court in 1993-94. Of the 94 youths transferred to adult court, six were charged with murder. It is important to note that in the same year six youths were transferred to adult court to be tried for committing murder, 24 youths were not transferred to adult court after having committed murder. In 1993-94, of 30 youths who were charged with murder, only six, or 20 per cent, were transferred to adult court.

The Liberals amended the Young Offenders Act in 1995 affecting the transfer to adult court of young offenders. The amendments caused 16 and 17-year-olds to be presumptively transferred to adult court if they were charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or aggravated assault. However, the youth or the crown may seek to transfer down to youth court. This is a faint hope clause for young offenders.

We want those youth who demonstrate a lack of interest or ability to rehabilitate themselves after having committed a crime of violence, those youth who reoffend, those youth who repeat violent crimes to be automatically transferred to adult court. That is one of the key components of this motion today.

Statistics Canada reported in early August of this year that the violent youth crime rate has continued to increase and last year it stood at twice the rate it was in 1986.

I cited earlier an expert in British Columbia. Allow me to do so again. According to Roy O'Shaughnessy, the perception that a segment of young people is becoming more brutally violent is well founded. He said: "The type of crime we are seeing now is different from what we saw 10 years ago. We are seeing more use of weapons, more gang related activity, more violent behaviour". Canadians do not have a problem believing this.

I read some of the headlines from my riding. It was not long ago that we saw a story about a school bus that was hijacked in my riding. The hijackers were young offenders carrying a gun. Thankfully, tragedy was averted and all the children were safely returned to their parents. However, this type of incident is not isolated and youth who repeatedly commit violent crimes of this kind should be automatically transferred to adult court. While the motion we are debating today deals predominately with young offenders, it proposes a means of amending it in ways to better safeguard society and more fairly treat people who commit crimes.

Let us not forget that the challenge still remains of how to develop a co-ordinated response to youth crime while respecting the different roles played by child welfare, health, education and the youth justice system.

I thank the House for its time today. I would like to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to consider Motion No. 278 to be a votable motion.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There is no unanimous consent.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion M-278. I have just listened to the remarks of my colleague on this side of the House. He has mentioned some incidents that I, and many people in this society, find very sad. They are extremely reprehensible, I agree, and we

can see that there is a malaise in this society. But I do not agree with him on the way to resolve these problems.

I will begin my speech by summing up the member's thinking as follows: "My son, if you play with fire, I will punish you". I do not think this is the route to take. Rather, let us say: "My son, I am going to teach you that you must not play with fire and why you must not do so". What I am getting at is that legislation will have no effect on these young people. It will certainly not steer them away from criminal behaviour.

Recently, I was talking with a street worker in Alma, a city in my riding. The way she works with young people, who are sometimes in difficulty, who have completely lost hope, is not by saying to them: "Listen, if you do that, you will be punished, so you should not do that". I do not know if some members here are cut off from the real world, but young people, I would not say all of them, but many young people, get a kick out of breaking the law. We will not improve matters by bringing in tougher legislation.

I am inclined to think that the member on this side of the House wants to block out the world. Some people shut themselves up in their houses because they are afraid, the world is crazy, and they think they must bring in tougher laws to put these young people back on the straight and narrow. It is my belief that we must try to help them, rather than bring in even harsher legislation. They must be given hope.

When the member says that the public must be protected by laws that make people think twice, laws that will improve things, I have my doubts. It looks more to me like we are putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. This is not the answer. We must find the courage to treat the wound itself.

I know that sounds easy to say, but there are ways. In my view, rather than bring in tougher and tougher legislation, we must approach these young people and try to understand why they are turning to crime. The essence of my speech is more or less this: let us not just put on a bigger band-aid, particularly since young people are not familiar with the law.

Of course, there is talk of dropping the age limit of young offenders to 10 years, from 12. Come on. Even at 14, I cannot give any specific statistics, but how many people of any age are familiar with the laws of this country? When all is said and done, people do not know much about them. So imagine a 14-year old. We will not accomplish anything by throwing more severe laws at them.

It is extremely difficult, I agree, to propose concrete solutions. They are very much at the grassroots level.

I believe that street workers play a very significant role. I do not know if they can be found in every city in the country, but these individuals have the courage to approach young people who might be in trouble, to speak to them, to give them hope. In Quebec, we have help groups such as Tel-Jeunes, which allows young people to talk to someone about their troubles when they are having a rough time.

In the end, we must ask ourselves what is happening to our society and how come it is the way it is, instead of pointing our finger at young people, saying they must be punished. It is not their fault if they are the way they are, I believe there are other problems. To study all the reasons why they commit such serious offenses might lead us to an in-depth sociological debate. We must be careful.

I am certainly not saying I approve of the offenses committed by these young people, far from it, but I seriously doubt a stronger law can convince young people to behave. I seriously doubt it.

What are we talking about in this case? When a young person between 12 and 18 commits a minor crime or the kind of crime committed by most young offenders, he comes under the Young Offenders Act, which is a little different from the laws applying to adults. Younger children are, considered perhaps not careless, but easier to talk into repeating an offence.

What Reform is proposing is to reduce the minimum age from 12 to 10, which is harsher in the end.

I would also point out that Canada's crime rate is dropping. I feel we are trying to alarm the population by saying it does not make sense. Perhaps it is true that it does not make sense, but we have to see the positive side of things, such as the fact that the crime rate is going down in Canada. Is it necessary to make our laws harsher? I doubt it very much.

Local discussions involving stakeholders who see this current loss of hope among our young people will do a great deal more to revive young people's hopes. Young people do not commit crimes for the sake of it. Recently, I recently had a discussion with a criminology professor, who told me that the rise in crime is like a message sent by our young people to the rest of society. They also want their share.

In the animal world, those who are hungry are prepared to attack the stronger ones to get their share of the food. What is happening throughout the world is a bit alarming. Young people are losing hope and these extremes push them to commit criminal acts. Again, I do not approve such acts. However, instead of resorting to punishment, we should hold out our hand to them and lead them toward much more constructive solutions.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to Motion M-278, wherein the hon.

member moves that the government should amend the Young Offenders Act to reduce the age for whom it applies down to the age of 10 from 12, to allow for the publication of the names of individuals convicted under the act, and to require the immediate transfer to adult court of individuals being tried for the repeat offence of violent crimes.

I want to address each of these suggested amendments to the Young Offenders Act in turn. In my opinion this is quite a surprising motion in the sense that the mover belongs to a party which at a recent policy conference three months ago stated that the Young Offenders Act should be repealed. Now we are starting to snip around the edges of the Young Offenders Act with this motion.

I am surprised by some of the statements I heard made by the mover of this motion. In particular I am referring to Dr. O'Shaughnessy. As a member of the committee I heard Dr. O'Shaughnessy speak.

My recollection, and I think the record will show this clearly, is that Dr. O'Shaughnessy agreed that the age for young offenders should remain at 12. It is very easy to selectively refer to witnesses and experts who have a particular opinion, but at the end of the day, as decision makers and legislators, we have to decide what is best based on the evidence presented to us and not be selective and say: "Well, expert A said that it should be lowered to the age of 10 and my mind is made up and that is good enough for me. I want to lower it to the age of 10".

I am very surprised by this because it is almost an Old Testament world where it is an eye for eye, a tooth for a tooth. I think as a society we have moved beyond that.

The other part of this whole concept of tinkering with the Young Offenders Act begs the question where do the provinces fit into this. If we follow the motion that was passed by the members of the Reform Party at their policy convention, we will find that it is very consistent because we do not have to worry about the provinces. Everybody who commits an act that is deemed to be criminal is dealt with in the criminal courts regardless of age.

Therefore, if one asks the question where the provinces are in all of this, the answer is, if we follow their logic, the provinces have no place in this. Everybody, regardless of age, is capable of being a criminal in the worst sense of the word.

The provinces do have a role in this. There is no question about that. The provinces have child welfare legislation. I will certainly concede that it is not a uniform code across this country. Unfortunately that is the reality, but one can certainly suggest that there ought to be a uniform code across this country in terms of child welfare legislation.

We have heard references to the fact that an 11-year old will say to the police: "You cannot touch me. There is nothing you can do about it". In fact, that is an absolute fallacy because there are actions the police can take. I have no doubt that 11-year olds will say that. Certainly as a parent, children at various ages will say various things. It is part of their development into adulthood. However, to suggest that because they fall below the age of 12 that nothing can be done is quite frankly not true.

I want to first say that this motion is premature because the issues raised in this motion are three of the issues that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs will be reporting on shortly.

As members know, the standing committee has been travelling across Canada and has heard submissions from average Canadians, expert Canadians and Canadians from all walks of life and all positions within and without the criminal justice system. To move ahead now with this motion and to accept it without the benefit of the opinion of the standing committee, which in turn has benefited from the many Canadians who have appeared before it and have taken the time and energy to make submissions to the committee, would be an absolute insult to the people and would not show the committee the consideration that its opinion should deserve.

It seems to me that the appropriate solution in the circumstances is to wait merely for a couple of months until the committee tables its report.

I agree with my colleague that these are issues that are of concern, but with all due respect they are more complex than they at first appear. The issue of how to address violent activity by young people under the age of 12 is a particular difficult one, there is no question about that. I believe there is good reason for selecting the age of 12 as the minimum age for criminal responsibility under the Young Offenders Act. It is because of the concern that many children under the age of 12 lack the knowledge and experience to fully appreciate the nature and consequences of their actions or the ability to fully participate in the proceedings against them. These two capacities are fundamental to a fair and just criminal prosecution.

This is not to say that nothing is done, which I have already referred to, when children under 12 commit a criminal offence. In many provinces the commission of criminal offences by children under the age of 12 is a ground for intervention by child welfare authorities. These persons in conjunction with the family and the community can best determine how the long term interests of both the child and the community can be met.

In many cases, unlike the criminal proceedings, there is no open trial; not a trial in the sense of the law. In fact, it is a decision made

by child welfare authorities, a decision which we would hope would be in the best interests of the child. That is how it is dealt with.

To suggest the police could do nothing with an 11-year old is absolutely true. If we also follow the logic that we should lower the age to 10, what would happen when we have a 9-year old saying the same thing? If we keep following their logic, we are going to go right down to some mystical age like one or two and we will be able to lock them up.

Similarly, the issue of allowing for the publication of names of individuals convicted under the act is also complex. I want to remind this House that recent changes to the act which came into force on December 1, 1995 under Bill C-37 provide for greater information sharing among professionals like school officials and police to ensure compliance with the youth court orders, or when the safety of others is at stake. In addition, there can be a youth court order that the identity of a young offender found guilty of an offence involving serious personal injury be disclosed to designated person when the young offender poses a risk of serious harm to others.

At the same time a number of reasons support the prohibition of publications such as preventing barriers being imposed which could stand in the way of a youth becoming more positively involved in the community, including employment and educational opportunities.

The motion would require the immediate transfer to adult court of individuals being tried for the repeat offence of violent crimes. I know and the Minister of Justice knows that the commission of serious crimes by persons of any age is a cause of grave concern to all Canadians, but the best research available suggests that focusing merely on harsher treatment is neither going to be effective in deterring most youth from committing crimes in the first instance nor in preventing their reoffending and therefore offers no protection whatsoever to the public. Flexibility in the law to address the individual circumstances of each case is extremely important.

I will address the issue of the immediate transfer to adult court. I remind the House that in respect of most serious offences committed by older youths, this issue was already addressed in the amendments that came into force on December 1, 1995.

I emphasize that amendments to the legislation alone will not solve the problem of youth crime because it is tied to poverty, unemployment, family violence, racism, illiteracy, alcoholism, drug abuse and many other factors contributing to criminal behaviour in young people and in adults.

For a number of reasons this motion is premature. It is inconsistent with its mover's party position. It would be inappropriate for the House to adopt it without waiting for the full report of the standing committee on justice. Therefore I cannot support this motion.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for bringing this motion forward at this time. As the member who just spoke indicated, some members of the standing committee have just finished a cross-country tour to examine various aspects of the Young Offenders Act under the direction of the justice minister. He asked us to look at lowering the age from 12 to 10, and from 17 to 15. He asked us to look at the whole business of disclosure.

This motion is not a votable motion because my colleagues from the Liberal Party voted against that. It gives us an opportunity, at least those of us who have spent the last month or so travelling across this country listening to experts and others expressing their views on these issues that the justice minister asked us to examine, to examine what we have heard in light of the possibility of some of these amendments. The people who are going to finally decide on these issues of course will be the electorate in the next election. If we are going to make recommendations for changes, I have always looked for balance in the presentations that appeared before the committee, and sometimes they were balanced and sometimes they were not. Some members or witnesses were totally concerned with the rehabilitation of the members and they did not believe that the disclosure of names would aid and abet the rehabilitation of those individuals.

They would not take into consideration the other side of the equation which was of course the safety of the public in the case of a sexual offender or on those rare occasions when it might be necessary and in the best interest of the public to disclose the name of the repeat violent offender or the sexual offender so that not only would groups in society have that information to defend themselves and their children from the actions or potential actions of those individuals but also there are groups and individuals in society who may want to come forward and offer assistance and help to those individuals. Without that knowledge they would not be able to do so.

There is one point I would like to touch on in my examination of this motion, the area of reducing the age from 12 to 10.

The Canadian Police Association supports lowering the age of criminal responsibility in recognition of the fact based on experience that there are offenders under 12 years of age who currently slip through the system and go on to be full fledged youth criminals because the justice system cannot deal with them.

As mentioned by my colleague, in the spring of this year an 11-year old Toronto boy with accomplices aged 10, 13 and 15 abducted and raped a 13-year old girl. This young offender was well known to the police because they had picked him up on more

than one occasion in the past. This juvenile individual taunted police with the fact that they could not charge him.

If the Liberal justice minister and his government believe that 10 and 11-year olds should be held accountable for their criminal actions and if they had heeded our well founded advice and amended the YOA under Bill C-37 to include 10 and 11-year olds, there may have been one less rape victim in the city of Toronto. One less person may not have been so brutally traumatised as this 13-year old girl.

The Liberals may have ignored us and our recommendation to lower the age to 10 and 11-year olds but they cannot ignore the experts. They cannot ignore the Canadian Police Association and they cannot ignore Professor Nicholas Bala, associate dean of the faculty of law at Queen's University. On May 9 Professor Bala testified before the justice committee. Contained in his comments were a number of statistics which I would like to reiterate.

He stated: "I summarized the work of a 1992 StatsCanada survey of 27 police forces in Canada. The data indicated that offending behaviour by children under 12 is a significant problem, although it is a relatively small part of Canada's total crime picture. The study indicates that children under 12 committed about 1.2 per cent of all crimes compared to 20.8 per cent by young persons and 78 per cent by adults".

During his deliberations Professor Bala referred the justice committee to a paper he wrote on behalf of the Department of Justice. This Queen's law professor's paper was not circulated to members of the committee and I have yet to ask the committee why the paper was not made available. I question whether or not this paper was to meet the same fate as Terrance Wade's report which was also commissioned by the Department of Justice. Wade's incriminating paper regarding the handgun registration system was not made public, nor was it easily attainable until some members including myself inadvertently received a copy.

Fortunately I have obtained a copy of Professor Bala's paper entitled "Responding to Criminal Behaviour of Children Under Twelve: An Analysis of Canadian Law in Practice". This report provides some additional statistics which Professor Bala did not reveal to the committee during his appearance before the committee.

The report states: "While some of the reports of the offender behaviour involved children as young as four or five, the police reports indicate that almost two-thirds of the offences by children under twelve involve 10 and 11-year olds. Males accounted for 89 per cent of the children involved. While most of the crimes were property related, one major offence of concern is arson. About 13 per cent of all arson cases involve children aged 12. About 6 per cent of the offences by children under 12 involve violence, for a total of 275 victims. Only 4 per cent of the victims of these assaults were family members of the offender; 2 per cent were close friends; 12 per cent were strangers and 82 per cent were acquaintances; 74 per cent of the assaults involved physical force; 8 per cent involved knives; 7 per cent involved clubs; 10 per cent other instruments and 1 per cent guns".

Referring to a paper released by the Department of Justice in 1994, Professor Bala said the paper raised: "Some disturbing questions about sexual offending by children under the age of 12. Based on police records, about 20 per cent of all sex offences were committed by youth under 18. Of these, about 10 per cent were committed by children under the age of 12. Many of the acts committed by this youngest age group were such highly intrusive acts as oral sex and vaginal penetration".

This is information provided in the study commission by the justice department and paid for by the taxpayer, a report that was not circulated to members of the committee.

On page 5 of the report Bala concludes: "Present legal responses are not totally adequate and serious consideration should be given to lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 10, with restrictions to ensure that a criminal response is used in an appropriate and restrained fashion".

Professor Bala told the committee that his paper is: "Probably one of the most exhaustive, recent treatments of the issues by an academic in this country. It traces the history, the variation in provincial offence rates and responses and some of the problems that are there and comes up with the ultimate conclusion".

Professor Bala cited the findings of Dr. Peterson-Badaili and Dr. Rona Abramovitch. Dr. Peterson-Badaili gave 144 students in grades 5 to 8, roughly ages 10 to 14 a series of questions about hypothetical criminal offences committed by children and adolescents. She found that all of the children were: "Reasonably accurate at identifying specifically what the transgression was. These results suggest that at least when the offence is relatively straightforward, children are capable of understanding what constitutes a criminal action. This is an important point since comprehension of wrongdoing is a prerequisite to criminal responsibility. It is already acknowledged in our juvenile laws that it does not make sense to hold a child responsible for an action that he or she did not know was wrong".

The work of the Canadian psychologist, Thomas Dalby, Alan Leschied and Susan Wilson was also referred to by Bala.

I see that I am running out of time. The report is there for all members of the House to read. It recommends, based on findings and exhaustive investigation into this particular area, that the age of criminality should be reduced from 12 to 10. I hope that when the committee looks at its final report and considers this particular

area that the justice minister asked us to examine, it will consider Professor Bala's testimony and his report together.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join in the debate because it gives me an opportunity to respond to yet another Reform simple minded, facile, quick fix proposal.

Reform Party members have already made up their minds about the Young Offenders Act. The thought that they want to amend it now certainly rings hollow. The Reform fresh start pamphlet says under the category of safe streets that Reformers promise to eliminate the Young Offenders Act and replace it with laws making juvenile offenders accountable for their actions. If they want to eliminate it, I have no idea why they want to amend it at this time. Inconsistency, I suppose, is not something that they have any trouble dealing with because they are inconsistent in many ways.

They claim that the people of Canada are obsessed by youth crime. They use inflammatory rhetoric and, quite frankly, misleading information or misinformation to support that claim and to fire up the public who listen to them without realizing that they do not have the statistics, the numbers or the research to back up what they say.

What is interesting to me is that the member for Crowfoot, who is the only member of the Reform Party who travels with the justice committee which I chair, has said from the very beginning that he thinks the age should be lowered. He thinks we should change the publication terms of the act. He is still saying the same thing after five weeks of touring the country and listening to people on all sides of the issue. Members of his party are still saying the same thing they were saying during the last election campaign. They have not listened to Canadians.

In an absolutely unbelievable act yesterday, those members moved to try to prevent the justice committee from completing its deliberations by hearing from Canadians across the country. I am happy to announce to all of Canada today that their little, cynical act did not work. I can announce that the justice committee, on November 22, will spend a day with 40 experts and ordinary citizens from across the country trying to reconcile the different views on the issue of youth justice.

Members of the Reform Party tried to prevent us from hearing from Canadians. They tried to prevent us, at the same time, because the hearings will be televised, from sharing this massive information and discussion with all of Canada. They tried to prevent us from doing that. They tried to stifle debate. However, we caught them and we stopped them. Fortunately for Canadians, we will have an excellent chance to review all of these issues.

Members of the Reform Party have tried to pre-empt debate today by bringing this motion, knowing that it is their intention to eliminate the act altogether. But I have it figured out. They know they will never form a government, so they will never get a chance to eliminate the act in any event.

The first speaker from the Reform Party talked about and quoted an eminent psychiatrist from Vancouver, Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy. Dr. O'Shaughnessy also said what the member for Crowfoot and the mover of this motion have conveniently not included. Dr. O'Shaughnessy commented on the age of 12 years as being the cut-off age in the Young Offenders Act. As a developmental psychiatrist with an expertise in child development, when I told him that age 12 was a fairly arbitrary selection that was a compromise among the different provincial views, he said to me: "Oh, is that not funny? I thought it was chosen because in terms of child development it is the perfect age. It is the average age at which one could attribute some form of culpability". It is funny that the member for Crowfoot did not quote that.

The mover of the motion said that Liberals have done nothing with respect to the Young Offenders Act and, by inference, with respect to youth justice. Let me quote Sean Durkan who is a columnist with the Sun chain of newspapers. In the Ottawa Sun in July 1994 Mr. Durkan said the following: ``Jean Chrétien's red book brigade has introduced more tough law and order legislation in a little under nine months in office than the Tories did during nine years in power''.

Under our red book commitment we said this: "Every person has a right to personal security and a Liberal government will move to protect that right, with particular attention being paid to those who today, by virtue of gender, sex, religion, age or sexual orientation, are more likely to be targets of violent crime".

We then introduced Bill C-41, which was given royal assent in July of 1995 to provide that in sentencing a judge must consider those characteristics.

Did the Reform Party join us in trying to make the streets of Canada safer, in trying to make the homes of Canada safer? No, instead it focused on the words sexual orientation in that bill. Its members voted against it.

We promised in the red book to strengthen gun control: "A Liberal government will, among other measures, counter the illegal importation of banned and restricted firearms into Canada and prohibit anyone convicted of an indictable drug related offence, a stalking offence or any violent offence from owning or possessing a gun". We had massive public backing for this, including the active support of the Canadian Police Association. Did the Reform Party support it? No.

We promised to reform the Young Offenders Act to increase sentence length for violent crimes, to ensure that treatment and rehabilitation services are available to all convicted young offenders and we promised to review the act. Bill C-37 amended the Young Offenders Act. Are Reformers commenting on that? No.

Nor are they admitting that it created longer sentences in youth court for young people where first or second degree murder applied; that it transferred 16 and 17-year olds charged more easily to adult court; that it provided better rehabilitation for lesser crimes; that it improved measures for information sharing, which they are talking about today. Did they admit that? No.

This motion is somewhat disingenuous. It is inconsistent with their party policies. It is inconsistent with their participation in the justice committee review of the Young Offenders Act, another promise that we are keeping, and it is inconsistent with anyone who is concerned about family values and about safer streets. Why do they not just play ball?

I will tell members why. It is just politics as usual with the Reformers. They do not care about anything but getting re-elected.

We are very busy in the Commons justice committee trying to make the streets safer for Canadians and trying to deal honestly, openly and fairly with young people who go astray in our society.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Liberal Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been moved to say a few words in the last two and a half minutes of debate.

I too have been a principal, a teacher and a superintendent. I taught both elementary and secondary school. I find that the characterization that my colleagues from Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt and Crowfoot have put on young people in the last hour is totally without foundation with respect to the majority of those young people.

I found them almost completely and totally honest, ready to learn, ready to admit, ready to be compassionate people. I also met some who, because of upbringing or lack of love in their own life, perhaps nutrition, perhaps the experiences they had suffered which were not of their own doing, were confused and, hence, reacted violently sometimes to the due discipline which we tried to bring out. However, to suggest that we are somehow going to cure this problem by punishing them even more severely totally escapes me.

My colleague from Windsor-St. Clair used the word inconsistent. I find it most inconsistent. My colleague from Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt mentioned a meeting in a church, which came up with the suggestion, it seemed to me, that we should ignore the teachings of Christ, we should ignore our forgiveness of sins, we should ignore allowing the little children to come unto us, we should ignore doing unto others and asking us to forgive our trespasses by making perfectly sure we made it clear that we branded everybody under 12 who committed a violent, sexual or otherwise untoward crime for the rest of their lives.

We had enough of that this week when we saw an eminent Canadian damned for something he did at 19, like wearing a swastika. If we are going to continue to run our country, our government or make our laws on the basis of what happened 50 years ago, 100 years ago or 1,000 years ago, we are never going to reach the promised land.

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

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

Young Offenders ActPrivate Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

It being 2.30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, November 18, 1996 at11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.30 p.m.)