This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Yes, they think it is funny over there. They think this is the way to do business. They tell their members that if they disagree with them they should keep their mouths shut. "Get out of here. We will disband your organizations and you will never be allowed to come in here again". Is that democracy? I think not.

I have a feeling that underneath the propaganda machines that sit over there some of them could make what happened many years ago look very tame.

It has to make us wonder exactly how far some hon. members will go in order to get elected. It does not take me long to picture these people ringing the doorbells come the next election. They will say "We got rid of the GST, we harmonized it. It is still there. It is still sucking your paycheque, but we harmonized it".

When they go back to the people and say "trust me", I want everyone to understand that for sure their fingers will be crossed. They have not done anything above board yet.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Madam Speaker, before I start I would like to congratulate my colleague for his most excellent speech. We can always tell when a Reformer is speaking from the cacophony of bleating babble which comes from the other side.

We are talking today about another Liberal broken promise. There is a whole bunch of them. We have referred to them over and over again in our interventions on this bill and other bills.

First of all, we are talking about the promise to scrap, abolish and get rid of the GST. We are also talking about the Liberal promise to introduce democracy into this House. The people on the other side of this House yelled, screamed and ridiculed the Tory government for doing exactly what they are doing today.

I would like to respond to some of the comments made by the hon. member for Gander-Grand Falls. I have respect for this member and I am aware that on many occasions he has had the courage to stand up and challenge his own government, to challenge his own leader when there was an issue that was going to affect his constituents. He knew and realized that the government was wrong and he challenged it. I congratulate him for that. If more backbenchers in the Liberal government did that then possibly we would get better government. Unfortunately most do not have that courage.

During the intervention of the member for Gander-Grand Falls he was trying to paint this wonderful rosy picture of how great a job this government has been doing for the last three years. He referred to statistics with regard to the deficit and other industrialized nations. For the life of me I cannot understand why this member, who has been very lukewarm to his own government for the last

three years, is all of a sudden on side with it. I imagine he has his own reasons for that.

In a valiant but vain attempt he painted his government in the best light that he possibly could. He said the government's record is good. We know what the government's record is on the GST. We know what the government's record is on invoking closure. Let us talk about a couple of other issues, issues that are not only near and dear to me but near and dear to many people in my constituency.

Let us talk about the broken promise of the North American Free Trade Agreement for a few minutes. When this government campaigned in 1993 it said it would abrogate the North American Free Trade Agreement unless it worked for Canadians. It had some concerns about the agreement and it wanted to make sure it could go back and renegotiate it and make sure it worked for Canadians.

Let us examine the government's record on the North American Free Trade Agreement. What is the single most important trade issue between Canada and the United States? What is the single biggest net export to the United States that means the most jobs in Canada? It is Canadian softwood lumber. Canadian softwood lumber is the single biggest net export to the United States.

What has this government done in renegotiating NAFTA and standing up for Canada's interest in the North American Free Trade Agreement? When Mickey Kantor talked to the Prime Minister or his office or the minister of trade and said he wanted to do a deal that is going to limit Canadian imports into the United States, the minister said "how high do you want us to jump and when can we come back down again?" The government rolled right over on it.

This is an issue that affects four provinces significantly and every province either directly or indirectly. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs hanging in the balance. This government and this Prime Minister who promised Canadians they were going to make the North American Free Trade Agreement work for us have turned their backs on these people and allowed American trade officials, Mickey Kantor in particular, to dictate to us how we are going to run our softwood lumber industry.

I want to talk for a minute on who benefits from this. Most of the timbered land in Canada is owned by the crown and is granted as tree farm licences. Various sawmills and pulp mills get rights to harvest in these areas but the land is owned by the crown.

In the United States it is different. Most of the timbered land in the United States is owned by private individuals and corporations. Incidentally, most of the timbered land in the United States is owned by a handful of wealthy corporations that have the money and the power to go to Washington, D.C. and lobby for their interests. They are the ones who are benefiting. They are the ones whose asset value has increased as a result of this quota system. They are the ones who are able to demand more money for their timber in the United States.

And who is losing? The first big losers are the consumers in the United States who on average pay $3,000 more now than before the quota for the construction of a new home. The American consumers have been held up by their own lobby groups and by the wealthy timber owners in the United States. And the other big losers are the Canadian producers and the people who are employed in those industries. They are the ones who are paying for this.

I cannot understand for the life of me where the leadership is from the government benches, the Prime Minister and his trade minister. They allow the North American Free Trade Agreement to be abrogated by the Americans so that it works in favour of the Americans at every step and turn when it becomes an issue that is important to them. But when it is an issue which is vitally important to Canada, there is no leadership whatsoever. They roll over and play dead. This is another example of a Liberal broken promise.

The Prime Minister takes these trade junkets all over the world and spends millions of Canadian taxpayer dollars doing it. He goes to South America, Europe and Asia, all the while telling people he is there to promote Canadian business and industry. He hands over millions of dollars in subsidies, grants and no interest loans to well heeled companies like Bombardier. However when it comes to an issue that is vital to British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, what does the Prime Minister do? He just rolls over.

A lot of potential jobs will be lost as a result of this. Sawmills in my riding, in Terrace, Smithers, Hazelton and Prince Rupert are on the verge of closing. They have announced closures and are cutting back or laying off people just before Christmas because of the lack of leadership from this government.

It reminds me of another Liberal promise. Does anyone here recall the promise about jobs, jobs, jobs? Well the jobs, jobs, jobs in my riding are going gone, gone, gone because this Prime Minister and his trade minister cannot represent the interests of Canadians when it comes to trade with the United States. That is the track record of the government.

I cannot believe it. I am ashamed as a Canadian. I am absolutely appalled and ashamed that the government is so weak-kneed and so willing to accept what Mickey Kantor and the trade department of the United States demands of us rather than standing up for our interests.

While we are talking about Liberal broken promises, the promise to scrap, abolish and kill the GST, the promise to introduce more democracy into Parliament and do away with votes on closure so that we would have the ability to debate these issues at length, there are other broken promises as well which are costing Canadians jobs

right now. Broken promises are costing my constituents their livelihood.

This is totally unacceptable. The government should demonstrate leadership. The Prime Minister should demand a meeting with the President of the United States and put this issue at the top of the agenda and work for the interests of Canada for a change instead of going on golfing holidays with his friend Mr. Clinton while Mickey Kantor beats up on our trade officials.

I am appalled and ashamed of being a Canadian today when I look at how easily American interests have rolled over us and forced us to do their will.

In closing, when the government brags about keeping its promises, when the government brags about how well Canada is doing economically, it is totally ignoring the unemployment rate in this country. It is totally ignoring the people who are concerned about losing their jobs, and there are a lot more of them now as a result of the softwood lumber issue. It is totally ignoring the cost to the people of Atlantic Canada for paying the harmonization cost of the GST. It is totally ignoring the fact that the rest of Canada is going to foot the bill for this billion dollar bribe.

The government is totally ignoring many of the most serious and important promises it made during the last election campaign. We will be reminding Canadians in the very near future of all these Liberal broken promises.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I must say at the outset that it is going to be a really tough act to follow. My hon. colleagues from Okanagan-Shuswap and from Skeena who immediately preceded me have done an absolutely superb job of representing their constituents and the views of Canadians on this very important topic.

I might hasten to add that there is a real problem in this House of Commons when we see the Liberal government bringing forward time allocation 26 times in this Parliament. This is the 26th time we have gone through this to date, where this government has limited debate, shut down debate, shut down the democratic process to ram through a piece of legislation.

And the Liberals have the audacity to go before the Canadian people and talk about democracy. And they will have the audacity in the next election to try to tell Canadians that they have lived up to their red book promise of restoring integrity, restoring credibility in Parliament and in the political process in this country. The Canadian people will reject that as the nonsense it has become.

When that party, the Liberal Party of Canada, was on this side of the House, its members ranted and railed. They criticized the Tories every chance they got for bringing in time allocation or closure. Yet, 26 times the government has used time allocation and four

times it has brought in closure for a total of 30 times it has shut down debate in this place in just a little over three years. Actually it is in under three years because the 35th Parliament did not start sitting until January 1994. It has shut down debate 30 times on 123 bills.

I am sure that at some point in time someone is going to do the arithmetic and figure out that on a percentage basis, this Liberal government in the 35th Parliament of Canada has used time allocation and closure more often than the Mulroney Tories. That is despicable. It is a disgusting record for a government that said it was going to restore integrity in the system.

On to the GST-

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Finally.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

I can hear all the heckling going on over there. They are amazed because they cannot face the truth of what has transpired in this Parliament. They cannot face the truth. That is the problem that exists over there.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

John O'Reilly Liberal Victoria—Haliburton, ON

Tell us the truth.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Okay, the GST. The hon. member says he wants to know the truth. I am here today to tell the truth, to tell the people in TV land exactly what the truth is.

What did the Liberals say during the 1993 election and in the time leading up to it? I will tell you what they said. Did they say they would harmonize the GST?

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

No.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Yes, read the red book.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

Page 22.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

No, of course not. Did they say they would hide the GST? No. Did they say that they would blend the GST? Of course not. That is not what they said.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Read it into the record.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Resume your debate, hon. member.

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for attempting to restore the decorum in the House. It was getting a little loud on the other side.

I am sorry that the government did not decide to use the term blended sales tax. I am quite sure of the reason it decided to go with the harmonized sales tax instead of the blended sales tax. I am kind

of sorry about that because they would have had the BST. Canadians would have really appreciated having the letters BS attached to tax, the BST, especially in regard to the promises made by this government during the 1993 election. That describes exactly their promise to get rid of the GST. They should have called it the BST.

Now that we know what the Liberals did not say, what did they really say on the hustings, on the doorsteps and in the all-candidates forums during the 1993 election campaign? We know what they said. They said they were going to kill the GST. They said they were going to abolish the GST. They even said that they were going to get rid of the GST totally. That does not sound much like harmonizing to me.

It is ironic that the Liberals are no different from the Tories. That is why we hear Canadians from coast to coast to coast saying Liberal, Tory, same old story. It does not matter which party they vote for. Once they get into power they do exactly the same thing. There is no difference.

Do we want to see exactly how much difference there is? Let us refer to the notes from a speech by the hon. member for York-South Weston.

I am pleased to see you in the chair, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps we will see some decorum restored to this Chamber. I am pleased to see you there.

The member's speech was entitled "Honesty, Ethics and Accountability: Does it Exist in Canada's Political System". This is what the member, who used to be a Liberal, said:

So the problem with today's political system is not the people we have in place, but rather the problem with our system in Canada is the system itself. The system is what is fueling public cynicism and distrust.

My removal from the Liberal caucus in April is the perfect example of the reward/punish system I have referred to. I was removed for voting against the federal budget because it failed to fulfil the Liberal Party's election promise to replace the GST. Prior to the vote, I wrote to the Prime Minister to advise him that I would be voting against the budget. I reminded him that while we were in opposition our efforts to eliminate the GST was one of the most significant battles we fought during the Mulroney administration. While in opposition, the Liberal Party vigorously opposed the GST in the House of Commons. Liberal senators undertook an unprecedented effort to kill the legislation and we forcefully campaigned against it in the last election.

It is trite to say that every government has a moral obligation to keep its major election promises. In my view, the last federal budget represented the final retreat from the promise to replace the GST. I think that the government's announcement that it intends to harmonize the tax has verified this. Voting against the budget was the only way that I could reconcile what I had said and done in the past in the House of Commons and what I had said to my constituents on their doorsteps with the fact that the government-

Excise Tax ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his compliment to the Chair generally in his remarks. The four of us are very appreciative for any compliments that come our way.

As it is now almost two o'clock, we will proceed to Statements by Members.

Jason Brown And Darren VickersStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, this past Saturday I had the pleasure of joining the Goodine family in Woodstock, New Brunswick at a special reception in order to pay tribute to two young boys who through their quick actions and calmness under pressure avoided a tragedy for their 13-year old friend Billy Goodine.

Jason Brown and Darren Vickers were honoured for the responsible action that they took in July during a serious biking accident when Billy Goodine was seriously injured.

To elaborate further, Billy Goodine's neck was broken in the fall which could have led to full paralyses or even death. However, Darren and Jason's refusal to move Billy, coupled with excellent ambulance care by the St. John Ambulance and several weeks of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Billy was able to return home and to school on September 27, 1996.

We hear much about today's youth but-

Universal Declaration Of Human RightsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, December 10, 1996, we celebrate the 48th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This important document sets out basic international standards concerning fundamental human rights and freedoms and promotes the respect and dignity of all human beings.

During the last half century, we have observed considerable progress in this regard: the Berlin Wall came down, a number of dictatorships were replaced by democratic governments, and the end of apartheid in South Africa gave new hope to the African continent as a whole.

However, many countries are still living under oppressive regimes, and, in some cases, in states of civil war. Over 25 million refugees worldwide are the victims of persecution.

It is our fervent hope that Canada will devote more attention to defending human rights and freedoms, at home and abroad.

Drunk DriversStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, with the holiday season fast upon us, I want to remind Canadians who contemplate getting behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking of one sobering statistic.

Each year on average in Canada, drunk drivers kill two and half times more people than do murderers. In 1994 alone this meant that 1,400 Canadians lost their lives because someone decided to have one more for the road.

I want to remind Canadians that the Liberal justice minister has done nothing to address this obscenely offensive situation. The government has had ample opportunity to redress the problem. Most recently this opportunity has come in the form of a private member's bill presented by my colleague, the member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley. The bill would have mandated a minimum sentence of incarceration for those who kill as a result of driving while impaired.

Reform's message is: Don't drink and drive. But Canadians are wondering if the justice minister has a different message.

Softwood LumberStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Gilles Bernier Independent Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of sawmills in Quebec are unhappy with the softwood lumber quotas they were assigned in late October under the agreement negotiated with the United States in the spring of 1996.

They are questioning the way in which the quotas were arrived at by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. How is it that, according to the Financial Post , BC sawmills were given quotas representing between 75 and 85 per cent of their 1995 production, while Quebec's were between 60 and 65 per cent?

While many sawmills were going to reduce their production by 10 to 15 per cent, many are now thinking about shutting their doors. The whole quota assignment process must be reviewed. Otherwise, there will be more loss of employment in Quebec. Or better yet, I suggest that there be a review of this agreement, which has left people unhappy on both sides of the border, both in the United States and in Canada.

Bell CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know that small businesses are the backbone of the economy. In Guelph-Wellington more than half the businesses have less than 10 employees. Many of these barely weathered the recession and they welcome good economic news. That is why the proposed Bell Canada rate increases will be an unfair burden for small business leaders in my community and in ridings across Ontario and Quebec.

If the proposal is accepted, telephone rates in my riding for business customers will nearly double. Over 1,500 of my constituents have signed a petition, distributed from my office, opposing these increases.

Small businesses deserve our support. Fifteen hundred people in Guelph-Wellington have joined me in saying that the proposed Bell Canada increase is a wrong idea at a wrong time.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I recently hosted a public policy forum in Fredericton on Canada's finances. The discussion included dealing with the deficit, the role of the private and public sectors with respect to economic growth and the HST.

The majority of individuals at the forum expressed the view that the country's social services cannot stand another round of cuts, that the government has hit expenditures as much as it can. They proposed we look at high end tax reform as there is a sense that large corporations and Canadians in the higher income brackets are not paying their fair share.

Discussions about the role of the public and private sectors in the economy focused on whose role it is to create jobs and how to do it. Forum members suggested government does have a role to play in intervening in the economy to protect disadvantaged Canadians and regions, to show leadership in dealing with global adjustment, school to work transition and lifelong learning.

I thank all who participated and in particular my colleague from Parry Sound-Muskoka. I advise the House that I have forwarded reports to the Minister of-

Quebec PremierStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, Lucien Bouchard dismissed the constitutional position of the Quebec

Liberal Party as "old hatM", adding that he could not believe in it. In his opinion, "Quebecers have moved far beyond that position. It has become totally irrelevant".

The PQ leader ought to read what his old friend and political advisor Daniel Turp had to say recently, and I quote: "The ultimate solution for Quebecers is renewed federalism, and a greater transfer of powers to Quebec. It is their solution of choice".

The QLP's constitutional position is a fairly faithful reflection of what Quebecers want, as expressed in the 1980 and 1995 referendums. When will the leader of the PQ, who has nothing else to propose except the separation of Quebec, accept this? At least the crown prince, Daniel Turp, has seen the light.

Universal Declaration Of Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 10, 1948, the members of the United Nations Organization signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In so doing, the political leaders of the time wished to record their determination to ensure that the horrors of the second world war would never be repeated.

The countries which have joined the United Nations since that time have also been bound by this declaration, which is as valid today as it ever was. One needs only to glance at a newspaper to realize that, in many parts of the world, numerous human rights violations are still taking place to this day.

On the occasion of this anniversary, we must recall to mind the events which prompted the international community to adopt this declaration, and we must remind ourselves that human rights are an integral part of every human activity, whether political or economic.

In this era of universalization, where world wide trade turns its back on social considerations, we must keep the commitment that joins us together clearly in mind, and we must make sure that our actions are in line with our words.

Softwood LumberStatements By Members

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

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, during the last election Liberals made a campaign promise that they would abrogate the North American free trade agreement unless it worked for Canadians.

What is Canada's biggest net export to the United States? Is it designer jeans? Is it electric shavers? Is it toasters? No, it is softwood lumber, by a wide margin.

How are the Liberals handling the single most important trade issue on Canada's behalf? The Prime Minister went on a golfing holiday with President Clinton while Canadian trade officials rolled over and meekly accepted a quota on softwood lumber. This was after Canada won three separate arbitrations on softwood lumber disputes.

While the minister brags about keeping promises and spends millions on trade junkets to Asia, sawmills in my riding, in Terrace, Smithers, Hazelton and Prince Rupert, are cutting back and laying off people.

It reminds me of another Liberal promise about jobs, jobs, jobs.