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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

December 10th, 1996 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Len Taylor NDP The Battlefords—Meadow Lake, SK

Mr. Speaker, today the Minister of the Environment tabled the long awaited changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. As usual, what the government says about protecting the environment is very different from what it does.

CEPA used to be the supreme environmental law in this country, in that it could override other acts and other departments. The new act will now only apply if the substance of concern is not covered by any other act, and the minister can only intervene if a province fails to do so. This effectively downgrades CEPA from being the most important pillar and centrepiece of environmental law into a law of last resort when nothing else applies. This legislation will take us backwards, not forwards. It effectively forces Environment Canada out of the environmental protection business and allows the harmonization agreement with the provinces to take precedence over CEPA.

The environment committee last year called for the act to be strengthened and revamped, not weakened in the manner proposed by the Minister of the Environment.

Housing ConstructionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Lavigne Liberal Verdun—Saint-Paul, QC

Mr. Speaker, in November we saw an impressive increase in the number of construction starts in Quebec.

Our government is delighted that its economic policies have produced results. Thanks to the lowest mortgage rates in the last 30 years, Canadians who want to buy a home can now make their dreams come true.

In the Montreal area, there were more than 748 active construction sites, 54 per cent more than last year during the same period. Construction starts have increased by 288 per cent in the Sherbrooke area and by 108 per cent around Chicoutimi.

If it were not for the political uncertainty in Quebec today, all these figures would be twice as high.

Research And DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbia is taking the lead in the research of new forms of transportation fueled by battery power.

We welcome the recent federal investment in fuel cell research in co-operation with Ballard Industries. It will help to prepare Canada for the transportation challenges of the future. Research and development of new technologies will be essential as Canada and British Columbia take a leadership role in trading organizations like APEC.

As evidence of the important role played by the federal government in B.C., it now funds 30 per cent of the research in British Columbia.

Research builds new links between industries. Shared research can help to build a strong country from coast to coast. New job opportunities will be created if we work together to transfer the research into new products and services.

These are the challenges we face and the opportunities we have in Canada. Let's take advantage of them.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, Saskatchewan is vitally interested in the future of agricultural research. Farmers, food processors, marketers and the academic community are all working in partnership with Agriculture Canada for the national good.

Through Agriculture Canada research labs, important work is being conducted to ensure the safety of the national food supply, to develop new crops, to investigate environmentally friendly and economical herbicides and pesticides to improve crop production and to identify new markets for Canadian produce and agri-food products.

Leading the way in the area of research and development, especially in biotechnology, the research labs have developed better methods for growing and storing Saskatchewan produce. Innovation Place, through its harnessing of government, academic and private sector resources, is an excellent model for the effective partnerships that ensure the successes we have seen in research and development.

They underscore the continued importance of the federal government's leadership role in the area of research and development in western Canada, a role to which my Liberal colleagues and I remain committed.

Universal Declaration Of Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I would like to draw your attention to the determination and courage shown by several women's groups who established the permanent Arab tribunal on violence against women this week in Rabat, Morocco.

Recent events in Afghanistan are a clear indication of the need for such a tribunal. In fact, the first ones to suffer as a result of the political situation in Kabul are women. They have been excluded from public life and fired from their jobs and are compelled to abide by medieval customs.

The rights of women have been ignored in Afghanistan for many years. The restrictions imposed by the Taliban, such as closing girls' schools, prohibiting women from leaving their homes to go to work and the rule obliging women to cover themselves from head to foot are dramatic examples of violence and crimes against women in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world.

I wish the permanent Arab tribunal on violence against women all the courage and energy it needs to proceed with its difficult task.

Town Hall MeetingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, tonight the Prime Minister will be holding a town hall meeting to be aired on the CBC with Peter Mansbridge.

Town hall meetings should be an opportunity for Canadians to share their concerns with their federal representative or the leader of the country. However, participants in the Prime Minister's town hall meeting will not be allowed to ask their questions or voice their concerns. Instead Liberal organizers are controlling participant questions to fit the Liberal agenda.

An individual from my riding was not allowed to ask a question on his issue of concern and instead was given a directive on what he could ask.

Obviously the Prime Minister's town hall meeting will be nothing more than a staged event, a puppet show, a pre-election announcement from the Liberal government.

Shame on the Prime Minister and the CBC for the misuse and abuse of what should be a democratic process. If the Prime Minister is so confident of his success to date, why will he not allow Canadians honest participation in this town hall meeting and open the floor to real debate?

Research And DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, in today's highly competitive global economy, the need for co-operation between government, universities and the private sector in the area of research and development has never been greater.

One of the best examples of the importance of such research is the RH Laboratory at the University of Manitoba which specializes in blood plasma refractionation. The RH Laboratory is a world class facility which has contributed much to the successful treatment of children with blood disorders. Not only have they produced cures for very serious diseases, but they also produce high quality permanent jobs for Canadians.

Their success shows what can be done through co-operation between the federal government, universities and industry.

The University of Manitoba exemplifies this type of co-operation, from mobilizing world markets with the research done on the canola breeding program to the centre for disease control, the centre of excellence in new composite materials, research on medical devices and the list goes on.

The payoffs from these initiatives have translated into high tech industries, economic prosperity and a better life for all Canadians.

Science And TechnologyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's task force on commercializing technology gathered the collective wisdom from western Canadians who know how to discover, develop and apply the science and technology created in our government labs.

We learned first that Canadians can be proud of the excellent work being done in our research laboratories; second, that we have the potential to be world leaders in many fields; and, third, that new partnerships are the key to unlocking this potential.

These new partnerships must include all those who are key to the successful transfer of technology. Each partnership must value the contribution of the others. Each partnership must accept that the main goal is to be successfully commercialized as science and technology in our lab.

New ways of getting research out of the lab, on to the factory floor and into the home will mean new jobs and new opportunities for Canadians. New technologies will allow rural communities to share in the latest research. New linkages between researchers and businesses across the country will increase the potential to compete in world markets.

I know our Prime Minister values the advice we have received and will act on it in the best interest of all Canadians.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in his remarks, the Minister of National Defence tried to minimize his department's responsibilities in the seizure of over 20,000 pieces of child pornography at the National Defence Research Establishment, a high security centre, with the explanation that it is not possible to monitor every computer in the Department of National Defence.

Understandably, but how can the minister make light of such events, when in fact the individual using the research centre's network was not only obtaining material, a very serious matter of itself, but was feeding a network, a very large international child pornography distribution network?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I agree totally with the Leader of the Opposition that we cannot make light of this situation. It is absolutely deplorable. It is disgusting. The individual involved was arrested.

What I was trying to explain in response to journalists' questions is that this phenomenon is occurring everywhere. The Internet, which should be a source of development and change, in the best sense of the word, has now become something that affects not only national defence, but also many people known to members of this House and children at home, because it provides access to totally repugnant information, photos and acts. There is absolutely no doubt about this.

I am hoping that everyone understands we recognize this is unacceptable, and that the person involved, if found guilty, should be punished to the full extent of the law. This morning, I met with departmental officials not only to inform them, but also to ask them to take all possible measures, to investigate and to find out how this sort of access may be controlled.

The whole question of pornography on the Internet will be not only a burden but a major challenge for everyone in all sectors: in government, in the private sector and even at home. I hope that together we will find ways to remedy the problem.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's explanations, and I will ask him the following supplementary.

How does the minister explain to the people who pay the salaries of the department's employees the fact that, in a top security centre of the Canadian army, an employee in an important position, a high level strategic position, can spend the bulk of his time over weeks, if not months, creating pornographic material without any questions being asked? Can the minister explain that?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I obviously do not know exactly how much time the person in question spent preparing his material and how and in what context he obtained it. Technology now enables us to do things we would never have dreamed of being able to do before.

I would say to my hon. colleague, that, under the circumstances, when we come across someone-because the man accused is quite sophisticated and well educated-someone who is sick and wants to obtain child pornography, we must obviously be much more careful in the way we deal with these problems. It is complex, not only here but everywhere.

All I can say by way of explanation is that the sort of people interested in this kind of activity do not share their interest with their neighbours or their colleagues at work. I am sure my hon. colleague would be just as disgusted to find out as I would. No one knows how he managed to use the system. We will find out. An internal audit has been requested.

Once again, I deplore the situation. It is unacceptable. However, it is first and foremost the availability of this sort of material on the Internet that presents the greatest challenge to all of us. Would anyone with a way to control it please let me know. I will give out my telephone number at the end of question period.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the minister is very modest. Everyone knows he may be reached at national defence.

More seriously, though, and this is in fact extremely serious, I would like to ask the minister whether, when it was possible for this employee, unbeknownst to everyone, his superiors and his colleagues, to carry on these activities for weeks if not months, using a Canadian army computer in a top security centre, the minister can be certain, with all the challenges of informatics, that the same thing is not happening with military secrets, for example, or information of strategic importance?

How can the minister assure the public that he has the means to control this if he is unable to control something like child pornography?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is an excellent question and one that crossed my mind when I was informed of events.

I am assured that, with the way communications work, the link with the service providing access to the Internet is totally separate from what happens on the system used to transmit information of a secret or sensitive nature.

I asked the same question. I was assured that it was a completely separate activity. The man in question was taking information off the Internet, he was trading, if my information is correct. For matters of security, however, the system is totally separate.

I recognize the importance of the question raised by the hon. Leader of the Opposition. I have checked, and the only assurance I can provide is that, right now, my informants are confident this sort of activity could not happen.

I am satisfied that this is the end of the story, but I assure you that we will be watching the situation closely.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

We have learned that an individual who is supposed to be working on top secret projects in a maximum security location, right inside an army research establishment, is able, apparently without difficulty and unbeknownst to anyone, to spend weeks and months using army computers to supply an international child pornography network. This lack of control is impossible to understand.

Given the appalling weaknesses in the army's security system, how can the minister assure us, with any credibility, that there are not other similar activities, or even espionage activities, going on within his department or within the armed forces?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as far as espionage goes, it is obviously very difficult. We know that this is an environment in which there are many secrets. We do not know if anyone knows what goes on in an espionage environment.

When my hon. colleague asks me whether this could be going on elsewhere, I am going to be very frank, because you are talking about the integrity or the credibility of the minister and of the department. With over 80,000 people working in the department, I would be very reluctant to give you any assurances that there were not among them the sorts of people who visit, here in Ottawa, and throughout the country, as you are all aware, sites that sell very

explicit videos or advertise their availability. The Internet continues to provide this kind of information, not just to people working in the Department of National Defence, but to people in all sectors of society.

This is not a phenomenon associated exclusively with the Department of National Defence. It is a phenomenon that must be addressed. As I told the hon. Leader of the Opposition, we do not have all the answers as to how to control access, or to be certain that no one will abuse this kind of system.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, I would remind you to always address your comments to the Chair.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, just because it goes on elsewhere does not make it acceptable in this case.

Despite the military police, despite the additional measures that must be part of normal routine in a military research establishment, it was not until the OPP got involved that this scandal finally came to light.

How can the minister explain that, in his department, the same department that held a monumental search a few months ago-they looked in all the files, all the computer files, all the filing cabinets, and they even turned the waste paper baskets upside down, in order to find the missing documents-nobody saw anything then, and that it was not until the OPP investigation that this situation came to light?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously the hon. member was wondering how these things could have gone on for a period of time. Clearly, no one knows, because if the hon. member or myself had seen this kind of material, we would have taken action.

As for the research establishment in question, it would have been surprising to find any information related to the Somalia inquiry there. But I want to assure my hon. colleague that this will not end here. The issue goes much further, and we will be using the means at our disposal to try to avoid a recurrence of this kind of situation.

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister told me in question period that distinct society was something to which he subscribed all along. How soon he forgets: the Prime Minister certainly did not believe in distinct society strongly enough to support the Meech Lake accord when he was running for the Liberal leadership in 1990. Even John Turner was recently surprised at the Prime Minister's conversion to the idea of distinct society in the Constitution.

My question is very simple. Why the flip-flop? Why is he supporting distinct society and special status for Quebec now when he would not and could not support it in 1990?

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the text and the premise of the hon. member's question are simply false.

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that but I was quoting from yesterday's Hansard .

We were both here in 1990. She was busy busy with the leadership campaign and knows exactly what the Prime Minister was saying on the campaign trail in 1990.

That was flip-flop number one. Let us look at flip-flop number two. It is also from Hansard ; I am not dreaming it up.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said that he had ruled out a nationwide referendum on distinct society. This flies in the face of the Prime Minister's promise to give Canadians a say in the future of their country. It also flies in the face of his commitment back in 1992, which I am sure the Deputy Prime Minister will remember, to put any major constitutional change to a referendum.

Will the Prime Minister keep the promises he made in 1992 and in the recent throne speech to hold a national referendum on any attempt to entrench distinct society in the Constitution?

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, again the premise of the hon. member's question is false.

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, there is something far more serious at stake here than someone standing up and just saying that the premise of the question is false.

I was quoting yesterday's edition of Hansard and quoting something the Prime Minister of the country said in 1992 before he was Prime Minister.

It is easy to toss this off, but when the Prime Minister is going directly against things which he said earlier, that he is about to entrench distinct society with the support of only seven provinces and 50 per cent of the population, surely the Deputy Prime Minister remembers what the Prime Minister did only a year ago, which was to entrench the veto for the five regions in the country.

Since B.C., Alberta and Ontario all have serious reservations about entrenching distinct society and special status in our Constitution, I would like to ask this one more time. How do the government, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister expect to entrench distinct society in the Constitution? How in the

world will it ever pass the five region veto which this government brought forward last year?

Distinct SocietyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when we hear the poisonous rhetoric emanating from the Reform Party it is no wonder it is in the position it is in the current polls.

The hon. member, instead of lecturing the Prime Minister on his commitment to recognize the distinctiveness of Quebec, a recognition that he has characterized throughout his career, would be better off if she talked to some of her own colleagues.

I have a quote of the kind of poisonous rhetoric that is emanating from the member for Simcoe Centre who, in a recent unity forum, said: "French Canadian prime ministers have led this country down the road to ruin. The mood is that they are not doing their job".

I would like to point out to the member what the member for Simcoe Centre heard from one of his constituents: "If you dump on French Canadians you are going to send this country down the road to separation".

You are sending this country down the road to separation. That is the kind of vicious rhetoric which pits Canada against Quebec and we will not stand for it.