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House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agriculture.

Topics

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The next question is on Motion No. 1 as amended.

All those in favour of Motion No. 1 will please say yea.

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is that the amendment as just amended by the subamendment?

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is the motion, as amended. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried. I declare Motions Nos. 2 and 3 carried unanimously.

(Motions No. 1 to 3 inclusive, as amended, agreed to.)

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be read the third time and passed.

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, may I make a comment? There are quite a lot of members in the House on this Thursday night, and I would like to ask all my colleagues if they have signed their organ donor card.

If they have done so, I ask them to take the opportunity, during the holiday season, to encourage their relatives, their friends and their constituents to do so as well and, above all, to tell people that it can be done.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed.)

National Organ Donor Day ActPrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Ontario, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It is not very often that I am found without words. There is one person who should be smiling here apart from every member of Parliament and to whom I have to give so much thanks.

-especially members opposite and members on this side of the House.

If Stu Buddy is somewhere in the sky, he has a big smile on his face and he would want us to have champagne, so let's enjoy this. Congratulations everybody. Congratulations, Linda and congratulations, Tim.

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

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on November 28 I asked the Minister of Human Resources Development a question. I asked if in his discussions with the provinces regarding the transfer of labour market training from the federal to the provincial governments, he had taken steps to ensure that the principles of the Official Languages Act will continue to apply. In other words, will francophones outside Quebec continue to get training in French and anglophones in Quebec to get their training in English. There has been great concern over this matter because there were too many cases in the past when provincial governments denied services to their language minorities.

Recently, the Quebec government had bilingual signs removed from the Sherbrooke hospital and in the Ontario legislature, a government member insulted an opposition member for speaking French.

For matters coming under the federal government, services are now given in English and French throughout the country where there is significant demand. These rights should not be lost when training programs are transferred to provincial governments.

When airports were transferred to local authorities and when Air Canada was privatized, there were provisions in the legislation to protect these language rights.

I asked my question on November 28 and the government concluded the first formal transfer agreement with Alberta on December 10. In this agreement the following is stated: "In areas of significant demand, Alberta will provide access to the benefits and measures and national employment assistance service functions in both official languages".

These words are similar to section 22 of the Official Languages Act which reads in part as follows: "Every federal institution has the duty to ensure that any member of the public can communicate with and obtain available services in either official language in Canada or elsewhere where there is significant demand for communications with and services from that office in that language".

It is essential that the term "significant demand" is defined and interpreted in the same way as it is for the Official Languages Act.

In his answer on November 28 the minister said that the new Employment Insurance Act provided for service in either official language where there was significant demand. I looked through the

act very thoroughly and I was not able to find that article. I would ask the parliamentary secretary to identify the article in question.

I also want assurance from the government this evening that all the other agreements, including the one from my province of Quebec, have provisions similar to that of Alberta or even better, that they contain provisions to guarantee training in both official languages.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Pierrefonds—Dollard Québec

Liberal

Bernard Patry LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development, I am happy to give the government's response.

The Government of Canada strongly believes that minority official language communities are entitled to receive services in the official language of their choice. That is why under the Official Languages Act the Government of Canada as a whole is firmly committed to ensuring that any member of the public can communicate with the federal institutions and receive available services from these institutions in either official language.

The Government of Canada is also committed to ensuring that services provided on behalf of federal institutions are provided in either official language.

Since the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of this basic right, Part II of the Employment Insurance Act was amended to ensure that access is provided to benefits and measures in both official languages in areas of significant demand.

Since minority and community organizations are concerned about how they will be affected by federal-provincial negotiations on labour market agreements, I would like to reiterate that this question is part of negotiations and that any agreement will contain clauses guaranteeing that services will be provided in both official languages.

I asked all Human Resources Development Canada officials to translate this commitment toward respecting the rights of minority groups with respect to official languages into their day to day activities as well as to ensure that adequate and equitable resources are made available to serve these communities.

I hope this information helps to convince the member of the Government of Canada's commitment to ensuring the vitality of anglophone and francophone minorities and of our support for their economic, cultural and social development.

Our actions also reaffirm this government's desire to work closely with communities to ensure that the rights of minorities are respected throughout Canada.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 27 1996 I asked the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration a question regarding the abuse by immigration officers of Algerian nationals seeking refugee status, including excessively long detentions, intimidation, harassment and other arbitrary practices.

Just hours before I asked this question of the Minister, I had attended a press conference with representatives of the coalition for the respect of human rights to condemn this unacceptable situation which is unworthy of a democratic country such as Canada.

This coalition is made up of the Refugee Assistance Committee, the Office des droits des détenus, the Ligue antifasciste mondiale, the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Table de concertation de Montréal pour les réfugiés and the Civil Liberties Union.

The minister said she was surprised to learn about this press conference. She said she had never been informed of these "very serious allegations", which is not true since I had told her myself, in this House, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois. Immediately after I got her answer, I sent her a copy of the comments I made on last May 27 in this regard, here in this House.

Moreover, according to the coalition, the minister had been told about these abuses as early as last April and May, but she never followed through with these complaints.

The Bloc Quebecois has asked the minister on many occasions to stay the deportation of refugees to Algeria where violence is still prevalent. If returned, they face huge dangers. These nationals have every right to fear for their lives and safety.

I am heartened by the fact that as of yesterday the federal government has decided to put off for a week carrying out orders expelling people to Zaire. This country has now become a high risk country. Hopefully it will postpone doing so indefinitely.

At the present time, only Burundi, Rwanda and Afghanistan are considered high risk countries. I hope Algeria is included, for there have been some damning reports on human rights abuses in that country.

I am seriously concerned about the behaviour of the immigration officers accused by the coalition. Among the actions listed are: excessive use of detention, the use of false information, denial of

the right to a lawyer during deportation procedures and rejection out of hand of any claims relating to the risks of returning.

In response to my question, the minister promised to act on this matter. I am asking her, once again, to immediately put an end to these odious, discriminatory and arbitrary practices by her immigration officers, and to order a thorough investigation into this matter. The officials responsible for these acts ought to be dealt with appropriately.

In closing, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas, and all the best for 1997, to all immigrants and refugees in Canada and in Quebec, and to all my colleagues in this House.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Beaches—Woodbine Ontario

Liberal

Maria Minna LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Lib.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Bourassa has spoken of allegations of illegal or improper behaviour by immigration officials. These are grave accusations which the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration takes very seriously.

This government firmly believes that the immigration enforcement program must be carried out with the highest level of professionalism and respect for individuals. It must also operate within the law. CIC is committed to maintaining and defending the integrity of Canada's immigration and refugee determination system.

Let me make it perfectly clear to the hon. member that any substantiated allegation of improper behaviour is investigated and acted upon by CIC, and I say substantiated. There is an effective mechanism in place whereby instances of wrongdoing can be reported and are addressed.

We have repeatedly invited anyone with documented knowledge or substantiated allegations of incidents of abuse of authority by our officials to come forward.

The minister has asked departmental officials to meet with members of the coalition in order to obtain further details of their allegations.

With regard to the hon. member's other assertions that we do not offer adequate protection to refugees fleeing civil wars, I can only say that we have a good refugee determination system in place which is universally recognized as among the very best in the world. We are the only country to be awarded the Nansen medal for our commitment to helping people in need. Just a few weeks ago the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sent a letter congratulating Canadians on the 10th anniversary of the awarding of the medal. Our proud tradition of humanitarianism continues today.

Let me assure the hon. member that when we deal with difficult refugee cases, we look at each file very closely before any decisions are made.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, on October 28 I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage about the raising of $200,000 in water lot licence fees along the Trent-Severn waterway. There is a great concern that marinas will be liable to millions of dollars in municipal taxes if these fees are levied. I asked the minister what was going to be done to help the Trent-Severn operators in this matter.

A group of marina operators, many of them from my riding of Peterborough, worked all summer to find a fair way of raising these moneys. Just when they were close to an agreement, they were given a legal opinion that this method of levying the fees puts them at risk in the future for additional municipal taxes. Before commenting on this situation further, I would like to discuss the merits of the Trent-Severn waterway.

This waterway is a series of natural and artificial water bodies which links the upper and lower Great Lakes. It was completed almost 100 years ago following a route used for thousands of years by aboriginal peoples. It is part of our national heritage. That is one of the reasons that Parks Canada manages the waterway on behalf of all Canadians.

The waterway is also the centrepiece of a corridor of tourism, recreation and other economic and social activities. The presence of the system helps generate tens of millions of dollars in that corridor. The Trent-Severn waterway is also an elaborate system of water, including flood control.

The waterway is much more than a canal. Its worth cannot be estimated simply in terms of its cost effectiveness as a route for boats. Yet in a recent auditor general's report, that is how the waterway was treated.

The auditor general said that it would save money if some locks were closed. This would destroy the waterway as a system. It would take away from its heritage role and it would have serious economic impacts on all communities and for all residents in the corridor around it.

I was delighted that in response to the auditor general's report the Minister of Canadian Heritage publicly stated her support of the Trent-Severn waterway as a complete system from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay.

In times when governments are all downsizing, there is a great danger that the federal government will give up or neglect powers and obligations that it has in policy areas which affect the lives of all Canadians, Canadians alive today and Canadians yet to be born. This is one of those areas.

Taking all this into consideration, is it any wonder that marina operators as well as the entire Trent-Severn community are concerned about the proposed water lot licences and their impact. Most

operators recognize that they have to help support this wonderful waterway but the method of payment must be fair and equitable.

I trust that the parliamentary secretary will have some encouraging and reassuring words this evening.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Restigouche—Chaleur New Brunswick

Liberal

Guy Arseneault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, last March in response to commercial water lot operators' concerns that insufficient consultation had occurred regarding the new rates, the Rideau and Trent-Severn canals were instructed by the Minister of Canadian Heritage to undertake further consultations with commercial operators.

Over the summer, canal staff gathered input on the proposal from operators by visiting all known commercial operations. The minister stated at that time that revised rates would be made public only after those consultations.

The minister shares the member's concerns. That is why discussion groups were formed for each canal. Their mandate was to determine fair rental rates that will allow canals to reach their revenue objectives.

Staff gathered comments from all known operators over the summer.

The groups proposed and recommended a rental structure that would set new rental rates for primary water lots at twice the old formula plus a base fee of $150 annually. The rental rate for secondary water lots would remain at the old water lot rate. The formula developed received general support throughout the business community.

The application of municipal property taxes to water lots on federal property became a very important issue, particularly on the Trent-Severn waterway. To assist in resolving a municipal taxation issue, canals staff have sought clarification from the appraisal branch of Ontario for a provincial interpretation of the Assessment Act with regard to commercial water lot licences on the canals.

Now that the consultations with the marine operators have been completed, it is the intent of the government to announce new commercial water lot rental rates effective April 1, 1997 in the very near future.

National Organ Donor Day ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

A motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 6.55 p.m.)