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House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was firefighters.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

Every so often we have an opportunity to hear some truly magnificent Canadian voices. We are going to add our voices to theirs. I have asked the St. Michael's Boys Choir to lead us in our national anthem. I know that an hon. member should have led us today, but perhaps next week he will lead us. If the choir is ready, I invite them to lead us in our national anthem.

International DevelopmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of a fantastic international development project being undertaken by Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

Lakehead, the lead university in the project, in partnership with Tribhuvan University in Nepal and the University of Guelph, received $746,000 from CIDA to undertake a conservation and community outreach project in Nepal.

Among other objectives, the project aims to upgrade the qualifications and skills of Nepal's forestry professors, elementary and secondary school teachers and practising foresters and resource managers. Ultimately the goal is to improve current land use practices and management.

This project is an excellent example of how CIDA and Canada are helping the world to improve its environment and its quality of life.

Antonio Grediaga KieffStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, the renowned artist Antonio Grediaga Kieff recently very kindly gave the town of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville one of his sculptures.

This modern work entitled "Totem '85 with Spirals and Triangles" is the first piece of outdoor art to be set up around the town. The sculpture, which is bronze and valued at $160,000 on the international art market, measures 5 metres high and weighs a little over a tonne.

Mr. Kieff's sculptures may be found in major art collections around the world. Two former American Presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, are proud owners of his works. The people of Saint-Bruno will have the privilege of admiring a work by one of their own, who is, moreover, world renowned.

I would like to thank him for his generosity and congratulate him on his work.

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, for two years I lived on an Indian reserve at Wollaston Lake, Saskatchewan serving as the principal of the local school. I saw the damage done by the paternalistic aboriginal policies of past Liberal and Conservative governments.

I am deeply disappointed that the Liberals are so quick to dismiss the equality alternative for aboriginal people. One national newspaper concluded that the recommendations of the royal commission would lead to "separation, both political and economic". I agree.

We should replace the Indian Act with the equality for Indians act. We should give grassroots Indian people real choices about their future. Give them the option of the system of local government they want to live in. Give them the option of owning their own land or having it held communally. Give them the option of receiving their treaty benefits directly. Give them the option of negotiating a personal compensation package in exchange for treaty entitlements.

For the past 130 years, individual aboriginal people have been denied the opportunity to see how well true equality works.

Credit Card Interest RatesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, as we watch Liberal backbenchers led by the hon. member for Fundy-Royal foam about credit card interest rates as if only the banks need to be challenged on this issue instead of the Liberal government, those of us who have served in previous Parliaments feel like we have seen this movie before.

In almost every Parliament, government backbenchers grandstand about credit card interest rates but are unwilling to criticize their own government on the issue, even when as is the case presently, the government is actively defending and repeating the banks' position.

New Democrat MPs were glad to sign the letter challenging the banks but we warn Canadians not to be distracted by such all-party strategies from the fact that it is the Liberal Party that runs the country. It is the Liberal Party that is refusing to act. It is the Liberal Party that could act if it wanted to. Liberal backbenchers who evade this painful truth give no credit to the political process.

Job CreationStatements By Members

December 4th, 1996 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a fine example of co-operation by the federal and provincial governments and the private sector in creating jobs.

Motor Coach's recent inauguration of its luxury coach production line christened "La Renaissance" has created 114 jobs in my riding, with the possibility of another 150. The new prestigious coach to be manufactured there represents the greatest research and development project yet launched by Motor Coach.

The project received $5.1 million in western economic diversification funds. It will have a profound and sustained economic impact.

International Nickel Company Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, last Friday, International Nickel Company announced the establishment of a smelter and refinery in Argentia, Newfoundland located in my riding of St. John's West. The proposed operations will create hundreds of jobs and is expected to inject millions of dollars into the local economy over the long run.

I want to applaud the efforts of the Argentia/Long Harbour Partnership for their part in presenting the region's viability and promoting the area as the most suitable site. I would also like to point out that the economic and environmental feasibility of the area were central to INCO's decision.

As the member of Parliament for Argentia, any project which creates work and jobs for my constituents is welcome but a project of this scale is of immeasurable importance. It is a very positive economic sign for the people of St. John's West and I am delighted to share this news with the House.

St. Michael's Choir SchoolStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the visit to the House of Commons of the world famous St. Michael's Choir School.

The school, situated in Rosedale riding in Toronto, was founded in 1937 by Monsignor Ronan to provide a choir for the liturgical services of St. Michael's Cathedral. Since its modest beginning the school has grown to 374 students, some of whom are with us today. It is now recognized as the most famous choir school in Canada.

The enthusiasm and joy of the choir school performers, which we were privileged to share in this House today, bring great pleasure to their audiences and speak clearly of the commitment to excellence that is the St. Michael's Choir School tradition.

Each year the choir goes on two tours which take the boys across North America and Europe. This spring the choir will return to Europe with a two week tour of Italy.

Mr. Speaker, having heard them sing in the House, I am sure you will agree with me that Canada could not ask for better ambassadors than the fine young men of St. Michael's Choir School.

We wish them good luck and bon voyage.

Reporter François PouliotStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Philippe Paré Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec and the Fondation du cercle des femmes journalistes awarded François Pouliot the Prix Judith-Jasmin in the short feature category.

I will remind you that this prize is given every year to a newspaper or television journalist based on the quality of investigation, the originality of the information and the relevancy of the topic.

François Pouliot conducted a very thorough investigation that eventually led him to American businessman Paul Morgan, who was involved in the cotton deal for which Tran Trieu Quan was unjustly sentenced to 20 years of forced labour in Vietnam.

I too want to recognize François Pouliot's outstanding job, as well as the tenacity and rigour he has shown in unearthing the important details of this sad story, which has already cost Canadian citizen Tran Trieu Quan two years of freedom.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, on November 14 Judge Campbell of the federal court in Vancouver ruled against the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in a question of jurisdiction and fairness in allocating halibut licences.

The written decisions confirm in this case what many west coasters believe to be widespread, that DFO pursues a senior bureaucracy driven agenda under the cloak of consultation and does not care how many people it hurts in the process.

This week there is a gill net mail-in ballot for fishermen holding north coast licences with a deadline to reach Vancouver by this Friday. This mailed ballot still has not reached many outlying area gill netters. These fishermen are concerned about losing their vote as part of another bureaucracy manipulated design.

I call on the minister to do two things today: one, extend the deadline on this vote; and two, ensure that faxed responses are allowed.

Economic RecoveryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the federal government takes steps to reduce its annual deficit and low interest rates reflect the confidence of investors in its ability to put its fiscal house in order, Quebec regions, and Brome-Missisquoi is but one example, must seize the opportunity to put together manpower, capital and programs to get the economy moving again.

In that spirit of co-operation and collaboration, we are pleased to welcome to Ottawa today the mayors and municipal councillors of Brome-Missisquoi. Our discussions will focus on small business, exports and tourism.

Speaking about co-operation, let me talk about the harmony that exists between the two communities-English 20 per cent and French 80 per cent-in my beautiful riding. Let me say how great are our people from Lake Champlain to Brome Lake to Lake Memphremagog.

I join with all my constituents in wishing everyone political peace and true economic growth in 1997 and in wishing you, Mr. Speaker, a very happy New Year.

Regional DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, on December 2, the Canadian government contributed $150,000 to the Secrétariat à la mise en marché pour la Gaspésie et les Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The role of this organization is to develop new export markets and to provide various technical assistance services to the region's small and medium size businesses.

The contribution made by the Quebec section of the Federal Office of Regional Development reflects the Canadian government's intention to give priority to community activities. Our government is encouraging people from the Gaspé Peninsula and the islands to take charge, so as to ensure lasting prosperity in the context of a better economy.

The Canadian government's contribution comes from the regular budget of the program designed to help small and medium size businesses. This is a concrete way for our government to contribute to regional development all across Canada.

Revenue CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, following the tour organized by our caucus last summer in the Gaspé and Lower St. Lawrence region, I am pleased to announce to the House that Revenue Canada has finally accepted the arguments of the stakeholders in the customs office matter.

Indeed, the Minister of National Revenue just decided that the customs office located in Rivière-du-Loup would remain open and be manned on a full-time basis by a customs inspector. The Rivière-du-Loup office will become the processing centre for claims coming from the whole region.

Raising Revenue Canada's profile in that region is great news for economic stakeholders.

While still complying with the need to cut costs, Revenue Canada has just demonstrated that it is sensitive to people's needs.

Magdalen Islands FerryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems the government is not very concerned about the safety of people travelling to and from the Magdalen Islands.

A study commissioned by Transport Canada estimates the cost of repairs needed to the Lucy Maud Montgomery at $12 million and points out that there is a danger of major incidents that could lead to loss of life if nothing is done.

In ignoring the conclusions of a study ordered by his own department, the Minister of Transport is showing a lack of responsibility. As for the member for Bonaventure-Îles-de-la-Madeleine who said that there would be consultations on this issue, no more has been heard from him.

Another consequence of the federal government's stalling is that hundreds of jobs at MIL Davie have disappeared, and this is not the only example of its inertia. It is imperative that the Minister of Transport reach an agreement with CTMA representatives in order to find a safe and lasting solution.

Barley PlebisciteStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, at the annual meeting of the Alberta Wheat Pool in Calgary, Michael Bury, an Alberta Wheat Pool delegate, asked the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food a question about the upcoming plebiscite on barley marketing. He wanted to know what percentage turnout and what percentage of the vote would be required to carry the plebiscite. The minister responded that he would decide after the vote what turnout would be required and what percentage of the vote would carry the plebiscite. Mr. Bury's comment was: "Sounds really democratic", but I do not think he really meant it.

A person who believes in democracy would set the rules before the vote, but not this government. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food will not announce whether the plebiscite will be binding or what percentage of voters will be required in order to carry the barley plebiscite.

Would we not all like to be able to pick our 649 numbers after the draw?

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, we all recall that 14 young and talented women's lives were snuffed out, gunned down at École Polytechnique in Montreal seven years ago. This Friday we observe the anniversary of the tragedy of their deaths on December 6, 1989 as Canada's national day of remembrance and action on violence against women.

This reminds us of how important it is to work together and respect each other as equals, with the goal of building an inclusive society where there is zero tolerance for violence against women.

The world has finally lifted the curtain surrounding violence against women, and in this regard Canada has played a leading role nationally and internationally.

Let us not forget the pain and the incredible loss of this senseless massacre. I call on all Canadians to mobilize together for action against violence.

Status Of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to address comments made by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam and her attack on Status of Women Canada.

The member said that Canadians do not want more spending on what she called status of women's extreme agenda. This extreme agenda includes: working hard to stop violence against women; working hard on women's health issues, especially breast cancer; working hard to recognize the value of women's work in the home and outside, in the fields of engineering, space technology, medicine, law, and even politics.

Status of women and this government make a difference. This difference was recognized by the UN conference in Beijing when Canada won the international award for the country that has done the most for the status of women.

I am proud of Status of Women Canada, but I am ashamed of the member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, perhaps our colleagues sense that a storm is brewing. Let us hope so, as it is not long until the holiday season. If there is one person who is stirring up a storm at this moment, it is the Minister

of Human Resources Development. Yesterday, in fact, this minister told my colleague from Mercier that the transition period in the new employment insurance program had started in January. He said:

It is time the hon. member for Mercier realized that the reason why some provisions of the act were implemented on July 1 while others will take effect January 1 is precisely to give people time to adjust to the reform.

Now, there is a little problem; it would be hard to have something in application since January 1, when the act was passed in June. The minister has a problem. In the spirit of fair play, however, I will give him the chance to correct himself today. Yesterday he told us that there would be changes to the regulations, which he described as minor, in order to effect the transition between the old and the new systems.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development confirm that these minor changes to which he referred include a hypothesis that, effective January 5 and for the application of the new system, weeks worked prior to December 1996 are all deemed to have been 35 hours in length for the purposes of eligibility for the new system? Can the minister tells us whether or not this measure exists?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what I said yesterday on the employment insurance reform is that, for several months, our government has been working very hard to inform Canadians so that they may adjust to the new system.

We have run a national advertising campaign for Canadians since this past July 1. We have set up a 1-800 line so that Canadians can get information on the conditions of this employment insurance reform. We have printed a leaflet announcing passage of the legislation, which was mailed out to all recipients in July. We have, therefore, fully done our duty in informing people about the new system to start this coming January.

What we want is for Canadians who work part time to be covered, starting January 1, from the first hour worked, because we see this as a reform of considerable interest to a great number of Canadians.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have a big problem here in the House, and the minister has a really big one. The minister tells us that the government is doing its best to inform Canadians. Could the minister start by informing the House, since he is being asked questions.

I will ask him very, very precisely what we want to know. I cannot speak to him directly. I will do it through yourself, Mr. Speaker; however, I would like him to listen in order to understand the question. Can the minister tell us whether he is, or is not, in the process at this time of examining the hypothesis of a transition which would consider all hours worked during 1996 as 35-hour weeks? Is he, or is he not? That is the only thing we want to know.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is not my habit to comment on each and every hypothesis which could have been presented to me on what the Leader of the Opposition tells us.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about is a system which represents the bread and butter of a good many Canadian families starting in January.

Huge numbers of people are in danger of being excluded from the system by the transition rules, which would appear to require 35-hour weeks. Huge numbers of people will no longer have access to the employment insurance plan. They would qualify under the old system, they would qualify under the new one, but they would not qualify under the transition rules.

First, is the minister aware of this and, second, will he take this into account when making a decision?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, would the opposition be opposed to a system which, in Quebec alone, will enable 73 per cent of employment insurance contributors working for under 35 hours a week at the present time to be eligible? Is he aware that 127,000 Quebec part time workers will, in future, be covered for the first time? Does the opposition not accept a system which will enable 500,000 more Canadians to be covered by the employment insurance system, including 270,000 women? That is what the new system starting up January 1 will be like.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

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

Either the minister does not understand, although there are enough officials in his department to explain the matter to him, or he does not want to understand, which is unfortunate for the Canadians and Quebecers who depend on his judgment. I will try two simple questions.

Does the minister realize that if there are no transitional measures to transform weeks under the old system into hours under the new system, in other words, one week of work equals 35 hours, a young person who worked 26 20-hour weeks in 1996 will not be entitled to employment insurance on January 5, if he loses his job? Does the minister realize that without transitional measures, this young person will go on welfare?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to see the opposition in fine fettle, despite its lack of programs, especially constructive programs. We will try to do better than the opposition, which is

simply there to obstruct but has nothing to do, obviously, because it will never have to run this country.

What Quebecers want and what all Canadians want is an employment insurance system. A-