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

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our custom, we will now sing O Canada, which will be led by the hon. member for Vancouver East.

Pleasant View Junior High SchoolStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 14, 1996 Pleasant View Junior High School in my riding of Don Valley North held a special Canadian citizenship week to celebrate National Citizenship Week and mark the 25th anniversary of the school.

I salute Pleasant View Junior High on its silver anniversary and commend the principal, staff and students in choosing the symbol of reaffirmation of their Canadian citizenship as a meaningful way to celebrate this significant milestone in Pleasant View's history.

Congratulations Pleasant View junior high school and happy 25th anniversary.

The Deficit And DebtStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's throne speech touched on security for Canadians, yet this government continues to add to the debt at a rate of $90 million per day. One has to wonder how Canadians manage to sleep at night.

My province of Alberta has been able to balance its budget and enjoy strong economic growth. It did so by reducing spending by 14 per cent.

Just listen to this record of success: unemployment down; production up in both 1994 and 1995; continued diversification of its economy; and a budget surplus in 1995 with surpluses planned from now on.

This performance demonstrates that real growth can occur as governments get their finances in order. Believe me, Canadians will feel a whole lot more secure once the government puts a solid plan in place for deficit elimination and debt pay down.

Alberta has demonstrated how real long term jobs can be created by building confidence through a balanced budget.

Measurand Inc.Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Measurand Inc., a company from my riding of Fredericton-York-Sunbury that has been awarded a contract for a research and development project in strategic areas which will contribute to the advancement of new and enhanced space technology in Canada. The contract is part of the Space Technology Atlantic Initiative, a program jointly funded by the Canadian Space Agency and New Brunswick Canada Co-Operation Agreement on Economic Development.

Once again Fredericton is leading the way in the new economy. Measurand will be developing a high tech sensor actuator system that has numerous and varied space and terrestrial applications including tele-operations, robotics, smart structures, container level measurement and many others.

I wish Measurand the best of luck. With success stories in the high tech industry like Measurand, Fredericton, New Brunswick is fast becoming the silicon valley of the east.

Mirabel International AirportStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 9, 1995 an article appeared in La Presse under the heading ``Mirabel, an airport appreciated only outside Canada''. According to a survey of 30,000 air travellers carried out by the International Air Transport Association, Mirabel ranked fifth among world airports for efficiency.

According to this article, Mirabel's problems were a result of the federal government's decision to authorize air connections directly

between Toronto and Europe, thus stripping Mirabel of its exclusive status as the Canadian point of entry for transatlantic flights.

On February 19, the new Minister of Transport blamed Quebec separatists for the failure of Mirabel. I wish to denounce the minister's statement on behalf of all Quebecers, especially the people of Mirabel. This was just one more proof of how easy it is to gratuitously blame the people of Quebec for the mistakes of one's own government.

Unemployment InsuranceStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, after hitting Atlantic Canada the hardest in the last two budgets, the government proposed UI cuts near the end of the last Parliament that will tear the heart out of Atlantic Canada.

The Atlantic Canadian economy has a seasonal nature. We want the region's economy to grow and diversify. I also support programs that help Atlantic Canadian workers gain the skills they need to meet the challenges of the labour market.

Canadians across the country are worried about their jobs or the lack thereof. They want to be able to feed, clothe and shelter their families.

Even the premier of the province of New Brunswick said that he believes the government's proposed reforms will merely push people from UI to welfare.

I urge the government to reconsider. Do not put in place measures that discriminate against seasonal workers. People should not be punished for something they have no control over. We should be giving people a hand up so that they can help themselves. We do not need measures that drive more Canadians into poverty and take away their dignity.

The Late Sandy ScamurraStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Liberal Mississauga East, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 12 Mississauga lost one of its finest citizens and early pioneers with the passing of Sandy Scamurra.

Sandy arrived in Mississauga more than 40 years ago equipped with the kind of work ethic, energy and generous spirit that paved the road to a better life for so many in our community.

At Sandy's funeral more than a thousand people said goodbye to a friend who somewhere, sometime, somehow had touched them all and made a difference in their lives.

Like so many Canadians, including my own father, Sandy Scamurra came to this country as an immigrant labourer with nothing more than a future. He leaves us with a long trail of achievements surrounded by family and friends who will always remain inspired by his memory and enduring spirit.

Jennifer RobinsonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, once again Windsor proves itself to be a city of champions, a city where first place finishes are the standard.

Our new Windsor hero is Canada's figure skating champion Jennifer Robinson. Her next accomplishment will be to represent Canada at the world figure skating championships in Edmonton.

I know all hon. members will join me in congratulating Jennifer on her success and in wishing her well in Edmonton.

Cardiovascular DiseasesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of this House that February is devoted to heart disease. Close to 40 per cent of deaths in Quebec are related to heart disease. Continued investment in research, prevention and actions relating to this major cause of death is therefore of vital importance.

Considerable progress has been made in the past forty years. The proportion of deaths attributable to cardiovascular diseases has dropped markedly and the downward trend continues. We are on the right path, but we must continue our efforts.

Smoking is one of the many factors affecting cardiovascular disease statistics. The Bloc intends to keep a very close eye on what the Minister of Health does in relation to smoking, in order to ensure that all steps taken are appropriate and effective. The health of Quebecers and Canadians alike deserves nothing less.

Distinct SocietyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, a nation's laws should be based on its values, goals and aspirations, not its genes. With that observation I wish to read some excerpts from a letter to the Western Producer by T. A. Howe of Regina.

The continuing tragic ethnic wars of our world attest to the folly of promoting societies and distinctions based on ethnic heritage.

A wise and just society builds on the equality, creativity and unity of all individuals without regard to birth or background-

Entrenching `distinct society' status based on the dominant group in a nation or province cannot be justified (either by history or by urgency) any more than granting or continuing special status for any historically dominant gender, colour or creed.

Bell Of BatocheStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Metis people of Canada, the Metis Nation of Saskatchewan and in particular the Metis of Batoche suffered a great injustice in 1885 when the bell of Batoche was wrongfully removed from a Metis church, St. Antoine de Padoue, as a trophy of war. The bell is a symbol of Metis heritage and represents an important period in Metis history.

Since its removal from the church in 1885, the bell has been located first at the firehall in Millbrook and then moved to Millbrook Legion Hall in Millbrook, Ontario. However, the bell of Batoche disappeared from the legion hall about four and a half years ago and the current whereabouts of the bell are unknown. As a result, all Canadians are deprived of viewing this important Canadian cultural artefact which is a symbol of pride and hope of the Metis nation.

The resolution of this matter will take goodwill and a willingness to work together on the part of the Metis people and the Millbrook legion in order to ensure the bell's safe return to a location where once again all Canadians will be able to see an important part of Canada's cultural heritage.

Federal SystemStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, our federal system is constantly evolving. Day after day, our government works on increasing efficiency while reducing operating costs. In the speech from the throne we heard yesterday, there is a constant that runs through every aspect of the action plan our government intends to carry out by the end of its term. At every step, our government emphasizes co-operation and partnership.

Our government listens to the people and will continue to work on developing a genuine climate of co-operation with its partners in the federation. The recent successes of Team Canada have proved that by emphasizing co-operation and setting common objectives, our country can continue to be the envy of the nations of this world.

Speech From The ThroneStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our record after these first two years. Since the election we created more than half a million jobs, and the economic growth rate of our country ranks among the highest in the industrialized world.

The speech from the throne we heard yesterday highlighted the three broad objectives we intend to pursue during the second half of our mandate. They are complementary and fully reflect the tenor of the red book. These objectives are: job creation and economic growth, security for Canadians and modernizing the Canadian federation to strengthen Canadian unity.

Canadians want a united, prosperous and secure country for themselves and their children. Our government fully shares these priorities as indicated to us by the Canadian people, and we will do everything in our power to give them the country they want.

Official OppositionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of people on both sides of the House are saying that the Bloc Quebecois is not fulfilling its role as the official opposition.

However, a few weeks ago, Ed Broadbent wrote in the Globe and Mail that the strongest voice in Ottawa in defence of Canadians' social and economic rights was that of the Bloc Quebecois. I would like to read you the words of the Tsilhquot'in nation of British Columbia, who so warmly welcomed me:

"Never before has the Tsilhquot'in Nation-nor, we suspect, the other nations of Canada-been so well served by an opposition critic-The nations indigenous to British Columbia are proud of the work being done by the Bloc Quebecois in Ottawa-The speculation in the press. . . that it would focus exclusively on the affairs of Quebec has no foundation in fact".

To my colleagues in the Bloc Quebecois, who spend so much time and energy on work in this House and on its committees, I would say it is not only in Quebec that your work is appreciated.

Drunk DrivingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak in support of the private member's bill initiated by my colleague from Prince George-Bulkley Valley on the subject of increasing the mandatory sentences of those convicted of drunk driving causing death.

Drunk driving claims hundreds of lives a year. It is responsible for more than half of the serious motor vehicle accidents that happen.

Canadians are furious when hearing about neighbours and loved ones who have been injured or killed by this irresponsible behaviour. It is time that the criminal justice system started coming down hard on these dangerous offenders, most of whom are repeat offenders who have not learned their lesson.

This bill asks for a seven year minimum sentence for those convicted of killing someone while drunk behind the wheel. This amendment will improve public safety and act as a stronger deterrent to irresponsible members of our society.

I call on all members of this House to join me in supporting the bill.

CorporationsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, we hear a lot these days about the rights and responsibilities associated with Canadian citizenship. Increasingly Canadians are being called upon to take more responsibility for their lives, for creating their own employment, saving for their retirement and assuming more responsibility for their families' future.

While individual Canadians are doing just that, what about the corporate sector assuming more responsibility for our country's future? Corporate profits totalled a record $95.2 billion last year, up 19 per cent from the previous corporate profit record year.

Today a newspaper headline screams: "Bank of Montreal profit tops all forecasts". It is well beyond even the rosiest forecast, a profit of $296 million, up 29.5 per cent from last year.

Mr. Speaker and members of all parties of this House, is it not time that the banks and other profitable corporations assumed more responsibility to get Canada and Canadians working?

Black History MonthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, on December 14, 1995 the House of Commons declared February as Black History Month. From the earliest period of our history to the present, people of African origin have contributed toward making Canada one of the most envied nations in the world.

Black people, both as slaves and as free men and women, gave greatly of themselves in the development of our nation. As fishermen and domestics in New France, soldiers and labourers in early Nova Scotia, fur traders employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, prairie farmers at the turn of the century, skilled tradesmen, teachers, businessmen in pre-confederation British Columbia, black people have brought a wealth of skills to our country.

Canadians of African origin, both past and present, are as diverse as settlers from Europe and Asia but have been united by a common experience in history. With a desire to succeed in the face of adversity and weather hardship with an undaunted spirit, the history of black people will always be an integral part of Canada's history.

Shania TwainStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Thalheimer Liberal Timmins—Chapleau, ON

Mr. Speaker, Shania Twain, the most recent singing sensation from Timmins, Ontario was acclaimed best new artist at the 23rd annual American Music Awards on January 29, 1996. She was also nominated in the country music category for best female artist, best album and best new country artist.

This is not the first time that Shania Twain has been honoured for her considerable musical talents. Members will remember that on September 18, 1995 Shania won a total of five awards at the Canadian Country Music Awards including female vocalist and album of the year.

Shania Twain's star is not destined to fade any time soon. All eyes will be on Shania Twain at tonight's Grammy Awards where Shania has four nominations, including best new artist, best country album, best country song and country female vocalist.

I would like to congratulate Shania Twain on her success at this year's American Music Awards and offer her this House's best wishes tonight at the Grammys.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

February 28th, 1996 / 2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's throne speech, the government spoke of the next referendum in Quebec saying, and I quote:

But as long as the prospect of another Quebec referendum exists, the Government will exercise its responsibility to ensure that the debate is conducted with all the facts on the table, that the rules of the process are fair, that the consequences are clear, and that Canadians, no matter where they live, will have their say in the future of their country.

My question is for the Prime Minister or rather the Deputy Prime Minister, since the Prime Minister is not here.

Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the next referendum in Quebec will be held under the Quebec referendum act and thus the rules will be those set out in Quebec legislation and not those the Prime Minister might want to impose?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to congratulate the hon. member on his election as Leader of the Opposition. There are a lot of new people here today, including the new premier of Newfoundland.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that we expect the new premier of Quebec to keep his word and try to work with the Prime Minister of Canada to expand Canada's economy, something Quebecers and Canadians want desperately.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will agree that this new session is off to a strange start.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Yesterday, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said that the statement in the throne speech might even mean a cross-Canada referendum on the Quebec question. Today, however, the Deputy Prime Minister made some adjustments saying it was not a referendum. The minister himself backed down, saying it was not a referendum for the moment.

Probably someone is leading this government. I would like to know who, first, and I would also like to know who is telling the truth. Yes or no, is the government planning a cross-Canada referendum on the Quebec question?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate part about the approach of the Leader of the Opposition- I assume he heard what the mayor of Montreal had to say. When the mayor of Montreal came here, he asked us to stop talking about the referendum and to get to work on rebuilding the economy in Montreal and in Quebec.

I also assume he listens to commentators in Quebec, who are saying "Good Speech" and "Ambitious Program", in connection with our economic recovery program. That is what Michel Vastel said. The newspaper Le Soleil said: ``Finally, a government that governs''. Would the people across the way be so kind as to join us in working on the real issues: economic recovery in Montreal, in Quebec and in Canada?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am questioning the government on yesterday's speech from the throne. I am questioning the government, and the whole national press gallery has raised elements that are the point of my question. The Deputy Prime Minister is accusing me of talking about the referendum, when I am questioning her on what they said. They are in some other world.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister, and I would ask her to be clear. She and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs definitely contradicted each other on the matter of the cross-Canada referendum. Here is my question: Which one of them is telling the truth?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, there is no contradiction. The government, like the mayor of Montreal, like the premier of Quebec, is saying that we are not after a referendum, but rather economic recovery. We are waiting for the premier of Quebec to come forward to work hand in hand with the Government of Canada to create jobs, which is something all Canadians, including Quebecers, are in need of.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Deputy Prime Minister that the mayor of Montreal himself said we should stop talking about partitioning Quebec. According to yesterday's throne speech, the federal government is willing to withdraw from job training, forestry, mining, and recreation, among other things. This is somewhat reminiscent of the Charlottetown accord, which was rejected by Quebecers and Canadians as a whole in 1992.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister admit that his proposal merely recycles part of the Charlottetown accord, which, as you may recall, was massively rejected by both Quebec and Canada?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I think that, rather than doing something else, I will perhaps borrow from Claude Béland's analysis, according to which there has been enough decentralization to move forward, and Quebecers now have the powers they need to protect themselves. For several months, we have been asked to come up with programs. We proposed some innovative things, some new things with an open mind. All we ask from the opposition is some co-operation, precisely so we can go ahead with a plan that reflects Quebecers' real powers as described by Claude Béland.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, will the Deputy Prime Minister admit that her Prime Minister's proposal to withdraw immediately is nothing but smoke and mirrors, since the federal government will keep control over program policy and impose national standards? Let her give a real answer to this question if she can.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we showed how open-minded we are. For the first time, we proposed that the federal government not spend money in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction without the consent of the province concerned.

We also proposed to enshrine Quebec's veto and status as a distinct society in the Constitution.

These are specific demands that the Bloc Quebecois had made and I hope that, for once, the Bloc will be open-minded enough to work with us at building a better Canada.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's throne speech the government promised that "Canadians, no matter where they live, will have their say in the future of their country".

That is a big step forward for a government which shut out and shut up Canadians, even its own backbenchers, during the referendum campaign last fall.

Like most things concerning national unity, there is a great deal of confusion in cabinet and in the whole caucus over what this strategy actually is, and what giving Canadians a say really means.

My question is for the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs wherever he is. Will Canadians have a real say in the future of their country in a national, country-wide, binding referendum? Yes or no?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that the member is fixating on a particular issue.

If she were listening to the people in her riding, I think she would hear them say that the real job of the government over the next 18 months has to be getting Canadians back to work.

We have provided a blueprint for economic reform. We have shown an openness to change. We believe that Canadians do not want more constitutional wrangling. What they want is job creation. That is what we have delivered with the throne speech.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Exactly, Mr. Speaker. That is the point. Canadians want economic changes. They want to feel safer about it. They want to know that there is going to be a country here once the economy gets better. They want that security.

They saw no tax relief, no tax reform in the speech from the throne yesterday. They are demanding a real say in the future of the country. They have ideas that are worth listening to on the economy, on areas of personal security and safety and on areas of national unity which seem to take up a fair bit of the throne speech.

Is the government willing to bring Canadians in at the beginning of the unity process? Is it willing to listen to them truly? At the hind end of it, once all the plans are on the table, will the government say that it is giving the people the ultimate opportunity to say yes or no? At the end are these things going to make Canadians feel more secure? Will she commit to that, yes or no?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I do not want Canadians involved at the hind end. I want Canadians involved in the beginning. I want Canadians such as those I met last week on Signal Hill in Newfoundland who have pledged to do their bit to bring this country together, like the Canadians I met in Winnipeg who are fighting to keep this country together with innovation and new ideas. We want to listen to their ideas.

We want to listen to the ideas of caucus members, like the member from Toronto who put together a plan to bring Canadians to see each other from coast to coast. We intend to involve Canadians in every step of the process of nation building.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the Deputy Prime Minister commits to having them involved in every stage of the process, it means that the government can do nothing less than have a national, binding referendum at the end once it gets going.

I find this unbelievable. She talks about economic security. It is good to talk about but the track record of the government is such that it is not going to happen. Bringing people together is a great idea, except the Deputy Prime Minister said just the other day that we need to go back to the spirit of '67 and live it again.

The year 1967 was a wonderful year but we are in 1996. We are moving toward a new century. Let us move forward, not backward. Top down first ministers' conferences, distinct society status, special status and vetoes simply will not fly any more.

Why does the government insist on recycling the same Mulroney policies and problems for national unity, for the economy, for Katimavik-2 and all these wonderful things? When Canadians

rejected them, they thought once and for all in the Charlottetown accord, why the resurrection of these policies that did not work?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I may have been in politics for a long time but in 1967 I was not in politics. I was a Canadian who had an opportunity to understand for the first time the uniqueness of my country. As a high school student I went to Expo'67. I saw the city of Montreal. I saw the francophone nature and the spirit in the community.

If we can recapture the spirit of 1967 we will be well on the way to building for the 21st century.

[Translation]

Ui ReformOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development, whom I congratulate on his appointment.

In recent months, a wind of protest has been blowing across the country, even in the minister's own riding, against the so-called UI reform, which reduces benefits, limits access and penalizes young people, women and seasonal workers.

In light of the deep concern expressed by so many people, including some of his own constituents, and of repeated requests from the vast coalition, in Quebec and Canada, against this UI reform and those who support it, notably the churches, does the minister undertake to withdraw and review his bill to ensure that the bill that will be tabled meet the expectations of Canadians and Quebecers?

Ui ReformOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her question; indeed, it deals with a very important issue for people from coast to coast.

We have heard time and time again that this reform hits some people harder than others. I wish to thank my predecessor who, before the House adjourned for the Christmas recess, had made a commitment to ensure that those provisions that cause the most concern, that is to say those setting the benefit amounts and the rule regarding the number of weeks of work, are amended.

We must realize, and I hope my hon. colleague does, that the changes that need to be made to the whole UI plan are important and that they are supported by many people across the country.

However, I fully agree with my hon. colleague that certain aspects should be reviewed. And because, during the past two months, all the hon. members of this House have had the opportunity to listen to what people are saying across the country, I hope that, once committee work resumes, we will be able to put our heads together to resolve these thorny issues.

Ui ReformOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, the thrust of this bill is to make cuts that will eventually amount to $2 billion. And unless changes are made, a great many people will suffer.

Could the minister reassure the public, the men and women of my riding and his and every other riding in Canada, the ordinary people, by telling them today that those who have jobs and those who wish they did can rely on a real UI system, the one they are currently contributing to, wherever they live and regardless of their age?

Ui ReformOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I can assure my hon. colleague and anyone who is concerned about this reform that we will be absolutely fair and we will try to ensure that access to the UI program always remains tied to the ability to find a job or to obtain training.

I think that we can all agree that, try as we may to remedy the problems facing the jobless, the bottom line is that we really should find jobs for them.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, after the Deputy Prime Minister's little speech, I thought she would be announcing that Bobby Gimby had been appointed to cabinet. Obviously that has not happened yet.

Since 1989 Canadians have seen their disposable incomes fall by 8.6 per cent. Leading up to the election campaign the current government made many promises about scrapping the GST, suggesting it was going to reverse that trend. That was what it suggested.

However, yesterday in the throne speech it signalled that it has absolutely no intention of scrapping the GST. I would like to know from the finance minister why it is reneging on its promise.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, what was said in the throne speech is the exact wording, the exact spirit that was set out in the red book.

It is our intention to harmonize the taxes. Clearly it is a request of thousands of consumers across this country and the vast majority of small and medium size businesses. This would give us a single tax with much more fairness and much greater ease of administration, which is our intention.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, maybe someone in the finance minister's position does not understand why regular Canadians are so fearful about their economic futures.

Canadians want less taxes, not different taxes. I remind the finance minister of his statement in 1990 when he said: "I would abolish the GST".

Assuming the finance minister is a man of his word-I make that assumption-I ask him again why is he breaking his promise and not abolishing the GST?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is the government's intention to carry through on its commitment. That intention was very clearly set out in the throne speech yesterday and it will do so.

On the other hand, the hon. member had promised us the Reform Party's budget for this year and came up with five little words on a piece of paper. When is the Reform Party going to live up to its commitment?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

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

As we know, Quebec has been asking since 1965 that it be given full powers regarding manpower training. Yet, we learned this week that the new human resources development minister is giving himself three years to withdraw from this provincial area of jurisdiction.

Why is the minister refusing to immediately give full powers to the Quebec government, when all the stakeholders from labour and management, the various community groups, and even provincial Liberals in Quebec support that demand?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for any misunderstanding which may have resulted from my discussions with the Quebec minister responsible for this matter. I fully agree with the hon. member that there is a consensus in Quebec regarding the manpower issue, but there is also the commitment made by the Prime Minister of Canada. That commitment was reflected in the second part of the UI legislation that was before Parliament at the time of prorogation.

All I said, and I am repeating it, is that the act and the commitment made by the Prime Minister provided up to three years to withdraw from this area which, we all agree, should be transferred to the provinces.

That being said, I usually do not take longer than is necessary to do what is required. Consequently, as soon as negotiations with Quebec and other interested Canadian provinces are completed, I will be pleased to give effect to the Prime Minister's commitment.

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, my supplementary deals with a different but somewhat related issue. Will the minister confirm that manpower training is part of the government's constitutional plan A and that the government is deliberately postponing its withdrawal from that area to extol the virtues of federalism in Quebec, at the expense of thousands of men and women, mostly young ones, waiting to get adequate training?

Manpower TrainingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

The answer is no, Mr. Speaker.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the justice minister.

Canadians demand that the government address their concerns about personal security and they demand more than one measly paragraph in yesterday's throne speech. The immediate repeal of section 745 of the Criminal Code, which allows for the early release of first degree murderers, is one demand we are hearing from thousands of Canadians.

Will the minister respond by removing section 745 from the Criminal Code and ensure that first degree murderers spend at least 25 years in prison?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I urge the hon. member not to take the size of the paragraph in the throne speech as the measurement of the importance we attach to criminal justice issues.

I would rather have the hon. member refer to the eight strong, separate pieces of legislation that have already been produced during this Parliament to strengthen the criminal justice system.

I would rather have the hon. member bear in mind the important changes we brought to the sentencing process in the Criminal Code, to strengthen and toughen the responses in the Young Offenders Act to violent crime by young people, and to solid gun control. Those are the measures which make a difference.

As to section 745, in Alberta a week and a half ago I met with Darlene Boyd, whose daughter was abducted and murdered some 15 years ago. I spoke with her, as I have with so many other survivors of victims of murder about their concerns with section 745. We have already made changes and are considering others to make sure this section fulfils at once the interests of victims and humanity in the justice system.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister can show the people of Canada he is serious about the things he speaks about by the simple removal of this section from the Criminal Code, but he refuses to.

The prime suspects in the murder of Melanie Carpenter and Mrs. Salter from Edmonton were out on early release. The throne speech gave Canadians no reassurance that the early release of violent offenders will stop.

I ask the Minister of Justice if he will introduce legislation to eliminate immediately the statutory release of offenders which has allowed these atrocities to take place.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that in subjects that require certain rational analysis the hon. member resorts to a combination of oversimplification and distortion.

No one released from prison under section 745 to date has been implicated in a crime of personal violence. Second, the suspect in the Melanie Carpenter case was not released under section 745, but was on parole for other offences.

Third, we do not share the oversimplified view of the hon. member that the answer lies in scrapping the entire provision. That is one possible approach which we are considering. We also believe we should look at ways to improve the section and limit it to the exceptional cases for which it is intended so that we can achieve the dual objectives of protecting the public, including victims, and showing humanity in the system of justice.

Gender EqualityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

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

Last year, the government adopted a plan to promote gender equality. Among other things, that plan provided for a review of policies, in terms of their impact on gender equality. As we know, there is a major imbalance in the number of temporary and seasonal jobs held by men and women.

Could the minister tell us about the results of the review conducted under that plan?

Gender EqualityOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the question raised by the hon. member is a very important one. We are trying to apply, as a result of a lot of interest having been exhibited by individuals and groups very interested in this question, criteria to all of the programs we are considering as to what the impact would be in terms of equality across not just gender lines but also different age groups.

It is an extremely complex question. Although significant work has been done on it, I can only advise the hon. member that I am looking forward to discussing the matter with colleagues from around the world, members of the OECD countries. The capacity to analyze the impact through a variety of programs which we have the responsibility of administering is extremely difficult. I do not want to suggest in any way that we are delaying what we would like to achieve.

For example, I look forward to the parliamentary committee's being able to give us some direction on how we can address this extremely important question

Gender EqualityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, could the minister inform the House of the measures which he intends to take in the new UI reform project to finally bring into realization his government's plan to promote gender equality?

Gender EqualityOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I hope that when the parliamentary committee meets again and reviews the legislation formerly known as Bill C-111 we can show why we feel it is essential to change certain aspects of the proposed legislation, precisely because the impact of that legislation on some sectors and groups was not acceptable.

Those who will closely follow this issue will realize that the changes that we think we can make will correct, at least to some extent, a problem which has been in existence for a long time and which could not be solved by the bill. We intend to continue to work so as to create a balance and treat all those who work with fairness.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

Fishermen, their associations and their communities are concerned with increased licensing fees, the quota system and proposals to professionalize the fishery.

Will the new minister confirm to the House and to these concerned citizens in Carleton-Charlotte and across Atlantic Canada that he will consult with them and consider their recommendations when implementing new policy and not just listen to the DFO bureaucracy?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his first question this session in the House.

The fishermen in his riding and in adjacent ridings are concerned about a number of things, including licence fees. There have been tremendous consultations on that and many changes. The licence fees are set for 1996 but there is some flexibility for 1997.

On the criteria for reduction to a foundation fishery, the rules were basically agreed to in principle by the fishermen. There is some flexibility and so we can look at that.

Concerning quotas, we will be quite happy to look at that. My department is very sensitive to the needs of the people in the fishing industry.

We have told them over the last three weeks that we are looking forward to talking with them after they vacate the departmental offices.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, according to a survey by the conference board, Canadians are more pessimistic about their economic future than they have ever been except during recessions. A number of red book policies promised to restore economic prosperity and the confidence of Canadians.

I ask the Minister of Finance why and how did they fail to work?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the policies of the government have not failed to work.

The leading indicators are up, as the hon. member, an economist, well knows. We have reported this morning another record trade surplus for the country and retail sales are showing an improvement.

Perhaps the most important statistic of all is that during December and January last we created 123,000 private sector jobs.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Herb Grubel Reform Capilano—Howe Sound, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is strange indeed that apparently Canadians do not realize any of this. They must be stupid or something. Why would they be so pessimistic?

Canadians are likely to become even more pessimistic when they find out the throne speech has shifted the emphasis away from needed deficit elimination to costly subsidies and ineffective direct job creation programs.

Does this shift in the financial priorities of the Liberals signal a return to traditional policies in a prebudget mode of damn the deficit and future generations, full steam ahead, getting re-elected at all costs?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech reaffirmed the policies the government has undertaken since it took office, the policies set out in the red book. Those policies are a measured pace of deficit reduction that is giving us better results than almost any other industrial country. It is giving us the policies that will give us a framework for growth and jobs in terms of newer technologies, in terms of support from small and medium size business and in terms of our exports.

I am sure it was a misstep or a misquote by the hon. member. The Canadian people are not stupid. The proof is that they have rejected unequivocally the scorched earth policies of the Reform Party and have accepted the balanced approach of the Liberal Party.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

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

This week it was made public on the Radio-Canada program "Enjeux" that, in 1992, a special Canadian forces unit simulated a terrorist attack on the Citadel in Quebec City in order to test its security. It would appear that, because of the excessive force used during this exercise, a tragic outcome was avoided by only a hair's breadth.

How can the minister explain these events, and how can he justify the fact that the senior officers who authorized them are not only still in the employ of the Defence department, but have even been promoted since then?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, an incident did occur at the citadel in Quebec City on February 6, 1992. A full military police investigation was launched and measures were taken by the military in terms of disciplining some of the people involved.

New evidence came to light subsequently in 1994 and the investigation was reopened. Since there is somewhat of a connection because of individuals involved with this incident and the deployment to Somalia, the matter will now rest before the Somalia commission and I should not speak any further on it.

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, further to the minister's answer, would the minister confirm that the newly appointed Brigadier-General Daigle, who was promoted despite what occurred at the Citadel and in Somalia, has been approached to command the new peacekeeping mission to Haiti? If so, how can he justify such a decision?

National DefenceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, a debate will take place later today on the question of deployment to Haiti. It is premature to be talking about that in terms of who would command if Canada has not even agreed in

principle to accept such an engagement, which will depend on the request by the United Nations.

With respect to the individual the hon. member has maligned, a man recently appointed as a general officer, General Daigle of Montreal, a member of the royal Van Doos regiment, the chief of defence staff and I have full confidence in this individual.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, last night on "The Fifth Estate" Canadians saw how a big drug company affected a decision of the health protection branch by downplaying research on calcium channel blockers. This stinks. It seems that a faint odour follows this minister around, however.

What will the minister do to clean up the HPB and protect Canadians when lives are at stake?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

The allegations contained in the report are very serious. I am sure that is the reason the hon. member is making these allegations on the floor of the House of Commons.

I have asked my senior departmental staff to provide me with a complete and comprehensive report with regard to the allegations.

I hope that when I provide the information to the hon. member, if he is inaccurate in his assessment of those officials at Health Canada he will have the courtesy to apologize.

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, a very similar thing happened a few years ago with the silicone breast implant issue. Scientific data were suppressed. Thousands of women suffered because of that decision, and the minister knows that.

Now a similar cover-up surfaces in the HPB. The minister is responsible. The HPB is important to the health of Canadians. When will he clean it up?

HealthOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I do not share the premise of the hon. member's questions.

These are serious allegations and I take them seriously. I have asked for a comprehensive report on this matter.

The hon. member must state his case clearly. If he is inaccurate in his assessment, will he do the honourable thing and apologize to the officials involved?

Energy Efficiency RegulationsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

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

In November new energy efficiency regulations were announced which set energy efficiency standards for fluorescent and incandescent lamps. These regulations will be extended to all lamps imported into Canada and even those traded interprovincially.

Can the minister shed any light on the effect these regulations will have on Canadians and our environment?

Energy Efficiency RegulationsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Edmonton Northwest Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a very important question. The regulations to which she refers are an example of the kinds of regulations that make sense.

These regulations were developed from the outset with all stakeholders involved, in particular the lighting industry. They make both economic and environmental sense. Those who use the lamps will enjoy significant savings on their energy bills.

In terms of the environment, which is perhaps most important, the use of these lamps will lead to a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. By the year 2000 the use of these lamps will lead to the equivalent of taking one million cars off Canadian roads.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the throne speech the government indicated its intention to reduce its deficit to 2 per cent of the GDP by 1998.

My question is addressed to the Minister of Finance. How does he intend to reach that objective? By continuing to attack the unemployed? By dumping on the most disadvantaged and on students? By shoving our seniors over the poverty line? Or, as he has already suggested, by adding to the burden of taxpayers already being smothered by Revenue Canada?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it is our intention to do so by continuing the highly beneficial policies put in place by this government, that is to say investment in research and development, assistance to small business, export development, all measures aimed at job creation.

As we have seen, we created 123,000 private sector jobs in December and January, the bulk of these in the province of Quebec.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I am to understand the Minister of Finance correctly, he has just informed us that he will continue to go after the least well-off in order to reduce his deficit.

I would like to know just when he intends to table his new budget.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

At last, Mr. Speaker. It is my intention to bring down the next budget on Wednesday, March 6 at 4.30 p.m.

I will be bringing down the government's budget on Wednesday, March 6, at 4.30 in the afternoon.

MiningOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the throne speech the government talked about how it hoped there will be jobs for Canadians.

In the upcoming budget the minister may be putting at risk the viability of the mining industry by discussing tax increases, changes to the resource allowance, that will have the effect of raising that industry's tax rate by up to 10 per cent.

Will the minister promise the House that any changes to the resource allowance will be revenue neutral, thereby assuring the mining industry that it will be able to provide the jobs Canadians are demanding?

MiningOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, having just announced the date of the budget I am sure the hon. member understands that I will wait until the budget is brought down before giving any indication of whatever kind of measures the government intends to bring in.

On the other hand, I can assure the hon. member the Minister of Natural Resources takes her job very seriously. She has certainly made her views known to the Minister of Finance.

MiningOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if that is reassuring or not. What we need assurance of from the government is that its idea of tax fairness is not to tax and gouge everyone equally.

Since he took power, this minister has increased taxes in each of his budgets. The resource industries need to know that this resource allowance will be revenue neutral.

Can the minister assure the industry today that whatever changes he makes will be revenue neutral, and that the industry can go ahead and create the jobs Canadians want?

MiningOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have already answered the hon. member's question. He knows that I am not going to reveal the budget piecemeal, that I am not going to answer his question today.

I really wonder why he finds it so necessary to create strawmen, to create fears. Is he playing politics? I would find that absolutely unspeakable behaviour.

The BudgetOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I hope we never see politics in the House of Commons ever again.

The BudgetOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The BudgetOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance indicated that he is going to introduce his budget next Wednesday. Since he has been consistent in setting targets for deficit reduction and for the rate of inflation, would the minister give some consideration in the upcoming budget to setting targets for job creation for the first time so that we could have a goal to work toward?

Also, would he call on the corporate sector now to begin playing its role in becoming more responsible in creating jobs and getting Canadians back to work?

The BudgetOral Question Period

3 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, if you look at the record of job creation since the government took office, it is close to 600,000 jobs. It really demonstrates that the government would prefer to be judged by its actions rather than by predictions at some far flung date.

In terms of challenging the private sector I believe the member's point is very very well taken. In the throne speech yesterday, the government indicated very clearly that as the Canadian people are in the process of cleaning up the national balance sheet and as a number of provinces are doing the same, there is no doubt the hon. member is right. The time has come for the Canadian corporate sector to do its share.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am sure hon. members will agree with me that the last few months have been very eventful not only for us as members of the House of Commons but across Canada. I want to introduce today a former colleague of ours who has returned for a very short visit. I refer of course to the Hon. Brian Tobin, premier of the province of Newfoundland.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, before we proceed to the business of the day I have received notice of two questions of privilege. The first one is from the hon. member for Beaver River.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to point out something which happened today that violated my rights and privileges as a member of Parliament.

Joseph Maingot's Parliamentary Privilege in Canada states:

When any of these rights and immunities, which are known under the general name of privileges, are disregarded or attacked by any individual or authority, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under the law of Parliament.

Yesterday I was handed a copy of a document entitled "SFT Communications Briefing Book". There was no author. There was no copyright, no confidential wording on it at all.

As caucus chairman, I sent my staff to Printing this morning and ordered 60 copies of it for our caucus, for our research staff and for the press. I got a call later in the day saying that a Mr. Simpson in the Prime Minister's office told Printing not to reproduce or release copies to anyone except Liberal MPs.

After caucus, I immediately called Mr. Simpson in the PMO and asked the reason for this ridiculous action. He said that someone in the Prime Minister's office had told Printing not to go ahead with my request and not to release the 48 copies that had already been run off. Mr. Simpson said that he did not know who gave the edict to deny my rightful request, but someone would get back to me.

At 1.10 p.m., just before question period, I received a call from Printing saying that there was a mix-up and my job would be delivered to my office. And it was.

I had also been requested some time during the morning to provide a copy of my "With compliments of Deborah Grey" slip to be reproduced with the document. Had I wanted that on there, I certainly would have sent it on to Printing. I did not send it down and it went ahead.

When I make a request of Printing, I make the request hoping it will-

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I must tell the hon. member that I was briefed on this matter before question period by my staff. The error that occurred was the fault of the House staff, therefore my staff.

This has been corrected. We regret any inconvenience. We are glad that this matter has been cleared up. I assure the hon. member that we do not take our direction from anyone else. It was an error on the part of the House staff.

As the spokesperson for the House staff, I apologize for it. I am glad that it has been cleared up. I do not believe that there is any need for a question of privilege to pursue this matter. I believe that I have been fully briefed. I believe this is the answer. I have looked into it. I wish to assure the member of that.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege of considerable importance. As members well know, a prime facie question of privilege arises when the rights of this House are transgressed, breached or usurped. What I raise is clearly a prime facie question of privilege.

I refer the Chair to Standing Order 8:

At the commencement of every session, or from time to time as necessity may arise, the House may appoint a Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole and also an Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole-

The phrase relevant to privilege and rights of the House is "the House may appoint".

A press release dated February 26 on the letterhead of the Prime Minister's office reads: "Prime Minister appoints"-and then the name of the member for Madawaska-Victoria-"as Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole".

Standing Order 8 is clear. This appointment is the right of the House as a whole, yet the Prime Minister has claimed the appointment as a power of his office. I contend that the Prime Minister has usurped and interfered with a vote of the House on this appointment, making and declaring the appointment as a fait accompli.

Mr. Speaker, if you find this to be a prima facie question of privilege I will move the appropriate motion to have it referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for deliberation.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, first, I think you will have recognized that this is not a question of privilege. Perhaps the member could argue that it is a breach of the standing orders but it would not be that either, although it would be the relevant thing for him to have raised.

Second, this issue is presently awaiting a vote of the House. Deliberation on it by the House has concluded and the vote will take place later this day. Therefore I would argue that the Chair cannot even entertain the point in question had it been raised as a point of order which it was not. It was raised as a question of privilege.

Finally, I am sure the House knows that when the Prime Minister proposes the name of a candidate he does so on behalf of the majority of MPs in the House of Commons, those MPs being the supporters of the Prime Minister and the government. In any case, the point will become moot by the end of this day once the issue is voted on.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I understand that after this announcement was put out there was a clarification within 24 hours. We would hope this type of thing would not cause any inconvenience. I would rule that this is, in this case, not a question of privilege.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like clarification from the Chair. I am not trying to challenge the ruling here. However, I want to ask a very definite question of you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to know about censorship of individual members and I want to know about a breach of confidentiality. When I send something to Printing why in heaven's name is someone from the PMO or the Speaker's office even wondering what is in that document?

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I well understand that the member raises this as a point of clarification. However, I thought I had explained the issue. I believe it was a series of compounded errors. It is the responsibility of the staff who answer to me. This type of thing will not happen again. I take full responsibility. No one is going to be able to censor what members of Parliament get or what they ask for if that is the clarification the member wants.

Board Of Internal EconomyOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, it is my duty to inform the House that, pursuant to the provisions of the Parliament of Canada Act, Chapter 42 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, 1st Supplement, the Board of Internal Economy is now made up of the following members: Mr. Gray, Windsor West, and Mr. Gagliano, members of the Queen's Privy Council; Mr. Boudria and Mr. Hopkins, representing the government caucus; Mr. Duceppe and Mrs. Dalphond-Guiral, representing the Bloc Quebecois caucus; and Mr. Ringma, representing the Reform Party caucus.

Standing Orders Of The House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I have the honour to lay upon the table a reprinted copy of the Standing Orders of this House dated December 1995, which encompasses all the changes made to the Standing Orders since September 1994 as well as a revised index.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:

That the membership of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs be as follows:

Bélanger, Mauril; Boudria, Don; Catterall, Marlene; Dalphond-Guiral, Madeleine; Frazer, Jack; Harb, Mac; Langlois, Francois; Laurin, René; Loney, John; Milliken, Peter; Parrish, Carolyn; Ringma, Bob; Speaker, Ray; Zed, Paul.

That the associate members of the said committee be as follows:

Bertrand, Robert; Brushett, Dianne; Cummins, John; Epp, Ken; Fewchuk, Ron; Grey, Deborah; Guimond, Michel; Hanrahan, Hugh; Harper, Stephen; Harris, Dick; Jordan, Jim; Solomon, John; Stinson, Darrel; Tremblay, Suzanne; Wayne, Elsie; White, Ted; Williams, John.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order regarding the question raised by the hon. member for Beaver River. I understand that you have settled the issue by saying that it was a mistake on the part of your staff, who refused to print the document. But the real question is this: are we to understand that there are people at the printing shop who make it their business to communicate to the Prime Minister's Office all the documents that members send over to the printing shop to have them printed?

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

As I said, it is a question that I raised myself. It is something that was done, but that will no longer be done. It was a mistake, and it should not have happened. It is as simple as that. You can be sure it will not happen again because I say so.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think all of us would acknowledge that this is a difficult time for our country given the problems we have experienced with respect to national unity, et cetera. I think all Canadians would want to know that in the House of Commons as wide a spectrum of views as possible generated by them through elections and the electoral process is expressed. In view of this, I rise on a point of order to seek the unanimous consent of the House that following the spokespersons of the three official parties in the House in the address in reply to the speech from the throne that a representative of the New sDemocratic Party be allowed to speak. With a view to increasing the representativeness of the House at this difficult time, I think everyone should be heard.

I ask that we be allowed to be heard after the first three speakers.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. In fact in the same spirit that my colleague made his comments and in the same spirit that we heard comments from representatives of the Reform Party yesterday on the issue of fairness, I rise today to ask the same consent.

Today is the day when the leaders will have an opportunity to reply to the speech from the throne. There was a lot said about national unity in yesterday's speech, and you certainly know that last November, when we-the New Democrats and the Conservatives-tried to take part in the debate on the distinct society resolution, we were denied unanimous consent by the opposition parties, namely the Bloc and Reform.

Since that time, and I will be very brief here, I am happy to say that the present leader of the Bloc Quebecois has promised publicly on the radio in Sherbrooke to see to it that the leader of the Conservative Party has the opportunity to speak more often in the House of Commons. Therefore, it is in that spirit that we are now asking the consent of the House to have an opportunity to reply today to the speech from the throne.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, as far as the government is concerned, we would be willing to allow a twenty minute period to each party, as was requested, for speeches. We will pleased, for our part anyway, to accept this request.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we stood in the House during the last session to explain that judgments were made on this question following the arguments put forward by NDP and Conservative members at the time. I believe that the same judgment must be made today. We will not give our consent, and the leader of the Bloc Quebecois explained, or tried to explain, to the leader of the Conservative Party that if he wanted to take part in the debate, there was an essential condition: he had to be here more often.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent that the members be permitted to put the motion?

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament I am sure that I have made errors and staff members have made mistakes.

I want a ruling from you, Mr. Speaker. The fact that someone makes a mistake, does that exempt it from being a breach of a member's privilege? I would like clarification from the Chair. Is an honest mistake or a dishonest mistake not cause or not eligible to be a breach of privilege?

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I have already ruled on this particular matter but I would invite the hon. member if he would like to pursue the conversation with me to do so in my chambers, as I would any other members on this particular issue.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I would like the record to show that when a chance came for a federalist party to be heard on the floor of this House of Commons, given all the crocodile tears by the Reform Party, they were silent.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, speaking to the point of order, the status in this House of any party was determined by rules when the Reform Party came here. The hon. members that have-

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Points Of OrderRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the House leader of the New Democratic Party that I am prepared on behalf of the Reform caucus to have discussions with him. The hon. House leader has extended a letter to me. I intend to follow that up and look at possible ways we can facilitate his involvement in the House.

I would also like to say to the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that my leader extended an invitation to him to discuss how he could participate in the House in a further way and he rejected that offer. That offer was rejected so why should I open the door today?

The House resumed from February 27 consideration of the motion of Mrs. Sheridan for an Address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his Speech at the opening of the session.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, today will be my first speech in this House as the new Leader of the Official Opposition. I imagine hon. members will be interested to know where the member for Roberval will be coming from.

Let me reassure the House, first of all, that I intend to continue the tradition of respect and deference for the institution. Above all else, we in the official opposition want to contribute towards raising the level of the debate. We look forward to a debate that is calm and respectful of the rules of this House, in the same democratic spirit that has always characterized the Bloc Quebecois, even when addressing its fundamental opposition to this country. We expect and look forward to seeing the same respect and a similar spirit among our colleagues opposite and of course among the members of the third party.

I may add that while we will undoubtedly represent the interests of Quebec, we also intend to promote and defend the interests of Canada as a whole, as we have done for the past two years. We will do this systematically, case by case. In other words, although mindful of our roots, we are the official opposition and we willingly accept a role that goes well beyond the party line.

Yesterday when we heard the speech from the throne read by the Governor General of Canada, we had the distinct impression the government does not realize something has changed profoundly in Canada since the Quebec referendum on October 30.

Since then, the final outcome of that battle has led many Canadians to see the sovereignty of Quebec as inevitable. The reactions of Canadians to that event were at times diametrically opposed to those of their leaders.

We saw our English speaking fellow citizens getting together to form new interest groups such as Dialogue Canada, British Columbians for Canada, Canadians Together and Civitas Canada.

Their members meet to discuss ways to define a new Canada, often without Quebec. The reactions of political leaders, however, have been immature and sometimes inconsistent. Verbal overkill and aggressive language have reached heights never equalled in the history of a country that has enjoyed such a long tradition of democracy. We saw ministers contradict each other, even today. We even heard a new Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs mention the partition of Quebec as a possibility.

We saw a good example of the conciliatory approach in a recent statement by Ovide Mercredi, the Chief of the First Nations, who in no uncertain terms condemned the remarks of the Minister of Indian Affairs, and I quote:

"The minister of Indian affairs does not speak for the Indian people when he raises the spectre of violence. I take great exception to that. He had no business to heighten the tension between us and the people of Quebec".

At the same time he launched an appeal for a dialogue with Quebecers and the government of Quebec. That is the kind of consistent approach this government has sadly lacked during the past few weeks.

However, one would expect our leaders to set a premium on wisdom and calm, especially the Prime Minister, who now seems unable to control either his ministers or his own actions. We on this side of the House draw some consolation from the fact that English Canada does not resemble its leaders and has shown it understands what is really at stake: the need for coexistence of the two peoples.

The inevitability of Quebec's sovereignty is only a first step. For us in the Bloc Quebecois, sovereignty is as unavoidable as partnership is desirable in the interests of Canada and Quebec. We know that partnership implies respect for the other partner and it is that new wisdom we would like to see demonstrated on the part of the government.

The inevitability of Quebec's sovereignty is only a first step. For us in the Bloc Quebecois sovereignty is as unavoidable as partnership is desirable in the interests of Canada and Quebec. We know that partnership implies respect for the older partner and it is that new wisdom that we would like to see demonstrated on the part of the government.

Sovereignty and partnership are both part of the same equation and part and parcel of the strategy of the Bloc Quebecois. Meanwhile, we have a mandate to defend the interests of Quebec and condemn the inequities and injustices that are often its lot. We must not forget it was the exercise of democracy that made the Bloc Quebecois the official opposition, a status we fully intend to keep.

But what will it take for the other side of the House to start to recognize that federalism cannot be changed?

What will it take for the other side of the House to start to recognize that federalism cannot be changed?

Stéphane Dion said not long ago that the Massé Committee had A and B plans to deal with the problem of Quebec. Is he not aware of all the commissions and committees we had in the past: Laurendeau-Dunton, Pepin-Robarts, Charest-Spicer, Castonguay-Dobbie, Beaudoin-Dobbie, Beaudoin-Edwards? The federalists have had as many plans as there are letters in the alphabet. The real solution, the longlasting solution, the real plan is sovereignty for Quebec with an offer of partnership.

Following the referendum result, we have to wonder at the attitude of the Prime Minister of Canada. He has knowingly kept Canadians in ignorance of what is happening in Quebec; the increase in the number of sovereignty supporters caused in part by the dissatisfaction of Quebecers. With the federal government policies this very significant phenomenon has been concealed by the Prime Minister.

This refusal to explain the situation clearly to Canadians during the referendum campaign largely explains English Canada's reactions now.

The Prime Minister acted like nothing had happened in this country in the past 15 years, as if he himself had not had a major role in the course of events. He is, however, an integral part of Canada's problem; he seems to have forgotten that. Maybe he was not involved in the unilateral patriation of 1982. But he was one of the signatories as we well know. Maybe he did not speak out on the Meech Lake accord, but he was one of those who helped bury it. Maybe he played no part in the Charlottetown referendum; except that we know he did everything possible to reduce Quebec's share in this agreement, which was rejected. And, while we are at it, maybe there was no referendum in Quebec. Maybe the surveys are not indicating that support for sovereignty continues to rise.

This irresponsible attitude coupled with the deplorable prevarication so ably exemplified by the Minister of Canadian Heritage in her remark to the effect that it was the fault of the separatists that the unemployed were demonstrating all across the country. Any unemployed individual in the Prime Minister's way deserves to be grabbed by the throat, as are all the unemployed as the result of the minister's reform. In any case, it is always the fault of the separatists, and for the Deputy Prime Minister this justifies all actions.

We can only hope that cabinet pulls itself together and returns to an analysis of the situation that considers what is really going on.

Until Quebec becomes sovereign, we will play by the rules, especially because it is our best interest to have our future partner in optimum political and economic health. The fact that Canada's economic health is of concern to us is in large measure due to the actions of the present government, which, in 1993, made firm and specific commitments it subsequently failed to keep for the most part. Had it done so, our economy would have grown, but it did not. Two years later, let us have a look at what the government did with its own commitments, those in the red book and those in the first throne speech.

Quebecers and Canadians thought there was hope when the Liberals undertook in their red book to, and I quote, "-redistribute opportunity more broadly so that many more people have a decent standard of living and can build good lives for themselves and their families, allowing them to live with dignity and respect-". Yet, with the first Liberal budget, barely a few months after an electoral campaign waxing passionately over the disadvantaged, our fellow citizens were blown away.

The Minister of Finance announced up front that he was going to cut $5.6 billion from the unemployment insurance program. Last fall, he added to that by introducing into this House Bill C-111, commonly and cynically known as the employment insurance bill. It too provides for major cuts in funding to those who are or could become the victims of this scourge of underemployment.

Never once, during the electoral campaign, in the fall of 1993, or in the speech from the throne was there any hint that the fight against the deficit would involve humiliating those in need, who are trying desperately to avoid abject poverty.

Quebecers and Canadians did not suspect that, when the government said it wanted to achieve sustained economic growth by counting on human resources, it meant that it would, through Bill C-111, launch an attack against the unemployed now and in the future, as no Canadian is immune from this plague.

No one suspected that Quebecers and Canadians would face a substantial increase in the number of weeks of work required to qualify for benefits, that this government would drastically reduce the level of benefits, or that it would force tens of thousands of households onto welfare in the next three years.

This government did not make a commitment to attack women. Yet, women are the big losers of this reform. It did not make a commitment to rob the UI fund-to which the federal government

stopped contributing several years ago-of its annual $5 billion surplus, which comes solely from worker and employer contributions. Yet, that is what it has done.

Few people would have believed that the Liberals who solemnly rose in this House to condemn the Tories' actions would do worse in two years than their predecessors did over two mandates. It is certainly not on that basis that the Liberals gained the trust of Canadians in October 1993.

As for the commitment to keep the deficit under control through sound management of government finances, we are far from it. They are reducing the deficit mostly by unscrupulously using UI fund surpluses and by cutting $7 billion from transfers to the provinces for health, post-secondary eduction and social assistance. In Quebec alone, these drastic cuts will translate into an additional tax burden of $650 million in 1996-97 and a $1.2 to $2 billion shortfall in 1997-98, depending on how the cuts will be distributed. If it is done based on the population, Quebec alone will sustain 40 per cent of all cuts.

On October 20, 1993, during an interview on the television program "Canada AM", the current Prime Minister had this to say about transfers to the provinces, and I quote:

"We said in our platform we do not intend to reduce the transfer payments. What I said in the program, and I intend to keep my word, is we do not intend to cut further".

In fact, budget targets are not pursued through sound management but by cutting benefits to the unemployed and transfers to the provinces.

The Minister of Finance's commitment is to limit debt growth. Our debt will exceed $600 billion this year.

As far as employment is concerned, the promises made to Canadians and Quebecers have not been kept, although the Liberals had made it the cornerstone of their election platform. But what really happened on the labour market, while Quebecers and Canadians were hearing that tune ad nauseam? Decline and stagnation.

Our economic difficulties have had serious consequences on the employment situation. In the last 12 months, only 120,000 new jobs have been created in Canada, almost four times less than the year before. Not only was employment stagnant, but participation in the labour force dropped. This situation cannot be tolerated in the long term, because it would impoverish the entire population.

In fact, Canada's unemployment rate has not budged and, if we take into account the reduction in the labour force participation rate, it has even risen by half a point. It is not the federal government but exports that drive the economy and keep it from sinking into a recession.

As for Montreal, the Liberal government did nothing to improve the situation in that area and to prevent one of the worst employment crises in its history. What did the government do to help Montreal restructure its economy? Nothing, Mr. Speaker.

Two years after the Liberals came to power, the people of Montreal are still waiting. In light of this neglectful attitude, is it any wonder that the greater Montreal area, which was to be the driving force of the Quebec economy, has the highest unemployment rate of any major urban centre in North America, or 10.1 per cent? That is unacceptable.

Is it any wonder that the labour force participation rate has dropped from 67 per cent to 63 per cent since 1989? This means that four per cent of the labour force, or 40,000 people, have given up all hope of finding a job. They do not even show up in official unemployment statistics any more, but they remain jobless, discouraged and underemployed, and are gradually being dragged into the vicious circle of poverty.

If you include those who have stopped actively seeking work since 1989 because they have given up hope, the unemployment rate in the Montreal area actually rises from 10.1 to 15 per cent. What is the federal government doing about that? Absolutely nothing. This is one more promise the Liberals have broken.

What has become of the promise to eliminate the GST? We will recall that the red book stated, on page 20, and I quote:

-the GST undermined public confidence in the fairness of the tax system.

The GST has lengthened and deepened the recession. It is costly for small business to administer and very expensive for the government to collect.

What did this government do? Nothing. What did the government do in 1993-94 to collect $6.6 billion in unpaid taxes? Nothing, or almost nothing. Only $250 million was collected on $6.6 billion in unpaid taxes. A mere $250 million amounts to almost nothing in that case.

Also, what has become of the fairer tax system we were promised? We will come back to it later because this is a very important issue that needs to be discussed further.

As for culture, we would have expected such a significant vote for a sovereignist party to bring about a more open-minded attitude toward the people and culture of Quebec. What did the government do about that? Nothing. The Canadian heritage legislation totally overlooked the existence of a Quebec culture.

The Liberals promised $1 billion would be earmarked for the science and technology policy. God knows how important it is to invest in that area, for the future of the Canadian economy and our

ability to create good steady jobs. We are still waiting. Nothing has been done.

The list goes on and, while listing all the promises this government has not kept during the first part of its mandate is certainly tedious, it is nevertheless necessary in order to see the extent to which they failed to honour their commitments. Canadians deserve to know where they stand in this regard.

The January 18, 1994, throne speech read in part, and I quote:

On October 25, 1993, Canadians chose a new Parliament and a new government. The Government has made a number of commitments to the people of Canada. They will be implemented.

That is what the last throne speech said, yet the list of commitments that were not fulfilled appears endless.

How can the people of Quebec and Canada believe in the policies and commitments set out in this speech from the throne? How could they be expected to trust a government that trampled most of its commitments underfoot? That was the government's record of unfulfilled undertakings.

Yet, some things needed to be done in the last two years. We kept saying that, to put our fiscal house in order, a tax reform was necessary, particularly as regards tax expenditures, which include all the exemptions granted to individuals and businesses.

Mr. Speaker, do you know that, in a December 1993 document on tax expenditures, the Department of Finance listed 288 tax exemptions available to businesses? The department candidly admitted that 176 of these exemptions cost over $17 billion, adding that it did not know the dollar figure for the other 112 exemptions. This is unbelievable. And what has the government done since? Absolutely nothing.

The lack of accurate information on tax expenditures compels us to demand that a review and a reform of the taxation system be undertaken. In fact, we suggested that even before this comprehensive reform the government should set a minimum tax on corporations' profits, not to unduly increase their tax burden, but to ensure that each and everyone of them makes a contribution to the Treasury.

Last December, the International Monetary Fund, which is not recognized for its social-democratic convictions, proved the Bloc Quebecois right as regards corporate taxation. The December 8 issue of La Presse provided a summary of the IMF report, which made a comparison between Canada and the other OECD countries. The article read: ``Corporate taxation represents a smaller proportion of the GDP in Canada. This leads us to believe that it may be possible to reduce some of the tax benefits granted to companies''.

Let me also say that, under my leadership, tax reform will be, in 1996, the official opposition's main target as regards public finances. We do not seek to impose an unfair tax burden on businesses. We simply want them to pay their fair share. Corporate income tax now accounts for a smaller proportion of the federal government's tax levy, while the contribution made by individual taxpayers has increased.

This means that the government is overburdening the middle classes with taxes, while also targeting the poor in order to reduce its deficit. This does not make sense. Contrary to what was said in yesterday's speech, this lack of compassion for the poor is, in the case of this government, also accompanied by a tax avoidance policy that benefits the most powerful people, this at a time when major companies are reporting record profits and laying off people.

The government's approach, which is patterned on what is being done abroad, protects the corporate tax system in the hope that large corporations will create jobs. But the fact is that, while profits are increasing, jobs are disappearing.

GM Canada reported record profits of $1.39 billion, while at the same time laying off 2,500 employees. Total profits for the five major banks reached $4.9 billion, but 2,800 jobs were cut. In 1995, Bell Canada recorded profits of $502 million, but also eliminated 3,200 jobs, this in addition to the 8,000 already lost since 1990. Petro-Canada's profits totalled $196 million in 1995, but the company eliminated 564 jobs.

In conclusion, the time has come for the government to review its analyses and its priorities, so as to ensure that all businesses do their share as regards taxation and job creation. We have no choice but to say that, in this regard, the Liberal Party's economic program is a dismal failure.

Unfortunately, in light of yesterday's speech from the throne, the government seems to be deliberately pursuing a tax avoidance policy which benefits large corporations and which even condones such practices as the use of tax havens, practices that are questionable, to say the least.

In the July 1995 issue of the trade journal of the Canadian chartered accountants-not so long ago-it was recognized that almost all of the major multinational corporations of Canada used foreign affiliates as part of their financial strategy.

In plain language, one could say that a Canadian corporation that operates a foreign affiliate under certain conditions can practically get away with paying almost no tax on the profits its affiliate made outside of Canada. However, we do have a few indicators that give us an idea of the amount of tax revenue that can be lost this way. The auditor general told us that, according to the most recent statistics, Canadian companies invest billions of dollars in non-resident corporations and that these corporations have received

hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends they do not have to report.

These tax havens, which are well known to the financial establishment, have very nice names like Barbados, Cyprus, Ireland, Liberia, the Caiman Islands et even Switzerland.

Tax havens have never been so popular. Here are some figures I hope the Prime Minister and the government will take time to consider.

According to International Privacy Corporation, a company specializing in tax havens, it deals with hundreds of Canadian clients. Moreover, of the 16,000 companies incorporated in Turks and Caicos, the majority belong to Canadian interests. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested outside Canada.

A few years back, the tax section of the Harris & Harris law firm, in Toronto, had 30 to 40 client companies set up for tax avoidance purposes. It now has more than 300.

Interestingly enough, of the 119 branches of the six major Canadian banks, 57 are operating in the West Indies, in the Cayman Islands. Over there, they have 28,000 corporations for 30,000 inhabitants. The number of companies increases by 4,000 every year.

Under these circumstances, the Minister of Finance could have a more balanced tax policy and go easy with cuts to the Canada assistance plan and established program financing. He could show some compassion, let the unemployed and the welfare recipients breathe a little easier and go after the right targets.

In 1996, in what the United Nations call the International Anti-Poverty Year, it is deplorable that the federal government chooses to go after the poor instead of tackling poverty. Given the employment crisis, this is not a good time to reduce the deficit by cutting programs for the unemployed, especially since there is a surplus in the unemployment insurance fund.

As for the shortage of jobs, the performance of the Liberals has been worse than that of the Conservatives. The rates under the Liberal government are worse than what we saw under the Conservatives. This same Liberal government has tried in almost every way to show its interest in the jobless and its commitment to job creation.

At the end of 1995 the major Canadian urban centres, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, had unemployment rates higher than that of the large American cities.

The situation in Canada is worse than anywhere else in North America. The deficit shovelling into the provinces' backyards, undertaken by the Conservatives and carried on by the Liberals, has led to an increase in welfare recipients. The number of welfare recipients in Canada went up by 800,000 between 1990 and 1994, an increase of 35 per cent. In Ontario, their number rose by 45 per cent over the last five years. To make matters worse, provinces have had to cut benefits because the federal government has reduced its transfer payments. In 1993, the Liberal Party promised to give Canadians the dignity of a job. Can you imagine that, Mr. Speaker.

What it did, really, is introduce a new poverty culture. In 1980, 16 per cent of Canadians were below the low income cut off. In 1994, 17.1 of them were, and that is more than 5 million people. Not only is poverty not declining, but the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider.

There is no improvement in sight either for those most in need, that is single parent women. In 1994, 56.4 per cent of them were below the low income cut off, a percentage that has not fluctuated for years.

As if things were not bad enough, Statistics Canada reported on January 24 that poverty is a status that is hereditary. Those who are poor have every chance of staying poor.

The feature that used to set Canada and the U.S. apart, that is our safety net, is collapsing. More and more, in both countries, poverty breeds poverty and wealth breeds wealth, and the middle class in slowly but surely sinking into poverty.

The Bloc Quebecois does not oppose social program reform. Indeed, it repeatedly reaffirmed that all social programs should be modernized, and adjusted to our way of life, to the labour market and to the economy of the 1990s.

The government has to acknowledge the consensus that has emerged in Quebec that it should be the sole policy maker as far as manpower and occupational training are concerned. This means that Quebec must regain control and administration of employment and manpower services. These matters should be under Quebec jurisdiction, unconditionally. I certainly hope the federal government will finally understand that.

That is why the official opposition asks the government to do its homework, and not reinstate Bill C-111. We think this bill is unjust, regressive, detrimental to jobs and a source of poverty. Let the government drop that bill.

Instead of cutting social programs, the Minister of Finance should turn to the national defence budget. There, he would find plenty of savings to be made. For example, the government should give up this idea of buying or leasing, at any price, submarines it has never been proven we need; it should replace only a limited number of shipborne helicopters and it should not insist on submarine warfare capability for them. In the current state of world affairs, it is a luxury we cannot afford. We could have saved $2

billion by not ordering the new armoured vehicles. That purchase was never really justified. And what about the 1,600 new anti-tank missiles, ordered at a cost of $23.6 million in an overall weapons acquisition program of $230 million. These are expenditures a government that respects its citizens could reconsider instead of cutting benefits to the unemployed.

Instead of taking money away from the unemployed and the welfare recipients, the government should review its strategy, impose a moratorium on new purchases, and allow its acquisition projects to be debated in the House so that members of Parliament can discuss them and indicate to Canadians why the government should stop pouring their money into projects of dubious importance.

In foreign affairs, the Liberal Party has, in the last two years, put an end to the very old Canadian tradition of giving top priority to human rights.

The new foreign policy statement "Canada in the World" confirms the about-face of the government which is now pursuing only its commercial interests at the expense of promoting democracy and human rights, as is shown by Team Canada's commercial missions.

From now on, human rights will come after commercial imperatives. Let me give you two examples that clearly show this new attitude on the part of the Canadian government. While in India, the Prime Minister was reminded by a young Canadian of the mass exploitation if not the enslavement of children. It is appropriate here to pay special tribute to this 13-year old Canadian, Craig Kielburger, who, by his courageous condemnation, reminded the Prime Minister that Canada's foreign policy used to promote human rights.

Everybody recognizes the importance of opening our country to international markets. Exports are the backbone of the Canadian economy. But, even when he is doing what is best, the Prime Minister has to turn everything into a show. During his trips abroad with Team Canada, the Prime Minister makes sure that human rights are well out of the spotlight and takes care to surround himself by a huge propaganda machine that streeses the form rather than the substance of the agreements. That is the lesson that the young Kielburger taught the Prime Minister.

Finally, the Bloc Quebecois will be the defender of the cultural uniqueness of Quebec. In North America, Quebec's culture is unique and must be treated as such. As communications and new information technologies become more and more important, Quebec's culture must take the place it deserves. Quebec must not be kept out of the decision-making process in this area. Yet all the powers in the area of telecommunications, which is vital to the future of Quebec's culture, are in the hands of the federal government.

Quebec must no longer be considered as a province just like any other province. The Bloc Quebecois must force the federal government to recognize Quebec's cultural uniqueness. It intends to hound the federal government until the funds allocated to francophone cultural institutions are readjusted to reflect the need to protect Quebec's culture which is constantly threatened in a mostly anglophone environment of more than 250 million people.

Right now, at the CBC, the English network receives double what the French network receives on average for one hour of production. This inequity is unacceptable and unjustified, especially considering that, in 1976-77, the average hourly cost of programming was shared equally between the two networks. Equity must be restored.

The Bloc Quebecois must also ensure that federal decisions relating to the information highway preserve the cultural uniqueness of Quebec. The federal government is giving private businesses complete freedom for defining the content of the information highway. Yet the government has certain means at its disposal for the development of a Canadian and a Quebec content in the area of radio and television broadcasting. The Bloc Quebecois must see to it that the federal government does not rob Quebec's culture of its importance by lowering it to the level of a Canadian subculture. Quebec's culture is the culture of a people, of a real people.

In its speech from the throne, the federal government has finally admitted that it has interfered, and still does, in areas under exclusive provincial jurisdiction. In the same breath, it undertakes to withdraw from certain areas and it even has the nerve to claim that it will turn over these areas of jurisdiction, which are not its own, to municipal governments or to the private sector. This is a strange way indeed of reversing policy.

This behaviour is in line with the federal government's historical tendency to mess up federal-provincial relations.

Once again, the federal government is trying to isolate Quebec, by suggesting that it could use its spending power to create new cost-shared programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. What takes the cake is that creating new programs would only require a simple majority of provinces.

Worst of all, the government is intimating that it might hold a cross-Canada referendum. It must be clearly understood that Quebecers will never let their future be settled by a Canadian referendum.

In conclusion, we believe it to be essential for the House to be presented with a plan containing the following elements. This might provide the Prime Minister with food for thought and it might steer him in the right direction. First of all, the federal government must put its fiscal house in order by reducing its expenditures and eliminating waste; re-establishing tax justice in this country, especially with regard to big corporations; implementing a true and moderate reform of social programs instead of cutting them; creating jobs, especially in the high tech sector, since Canada is the OECD country which invests the least in this area. This is incredible. Should the government be reminded that grey matter is this country's main resource?

Consequently, we want to move the following amendment to the throne speech. I move, seconded by my colleague, the House leader and member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie:

That, the following words be added to the Address: This House deplores that Your Excellency's advisers have demonstrated a lack of vision in the face of the fundamental issues confronting Quebec and Canada, such as job creation, better administration of public funds, the re-establishment of fiscal justice for all, the recognition of Montreal as the economic hub of Quebec society, the need to protect Quebec culture;

And show a lack of sensitivity toward the poor by proposing a reform of the social programs that strikes at those who are unemployed or on welfare, as well as seniors and students;

And show a total lack of understanding of the referendum results.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

4:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating the member for Roberval on his appointment as the Leader of the Opposition.

I must tell you that, in my student days at the Séminaire de Joliette, the students from Roberval and Saint-Félicien who had been requested to leave the Collège de Chicoutimi for being somewhat over-exuberant transferred to Joliette, and I became very good friends with some of them. In those days I would never have believed for a minute that one day I would be sitting in this House, as Prime Minister, across the way from a leader of the opposition from Roberval, almost next door to my riding. I felt I must make particular mention of this coincidence, and I offer the traditional wish of good luck to the Leader of the Opposition-not too much, but just enough to make the debates interesting and profitable for us all.

I would like to congratulate the member for Saskatoon-Humboldt-

-and the member for Ottawa-Vanier, for their excellent presentations yesterday in the House of Commons.

They took me back in time with a bit of nostalgia, because I was a rooky MP for Saint-Maurice at the time of the Pearson government's second throne speech, and had the privilege and honour of speaking on that occasion. I know that they both have done their constituents proud.

We were very pleased with the member for Saskatoon-Humboldt. I would like to congratulate her on the quality of her French. It was pretty good. We were all impressed. She was probably not born when I made my speech but my English was not as good as her French is.

The member for Ottawa-Vanier is a Franco-Ontarian. There are a million francophones in Canada who are not Quebecers and who are deeply attached to, and proud of, their culture and their language. The member's speech yesterday demonstrated the vitality of the francophone community outside Quebec. We on this side of the House will never abandon francophones who have shown such courage and been so ably represented here.

This new session of Parliament marks the mid-point in the mandate of our government. We are halfway through our term, setting new goals, meeting new challenges and building on the accomplishments of two years and four months in office.

It is often said that to know where you are going, you must remember where you have been. I will add that you should remember where you started. I remember where this government started just over two years ago.

We inherited a country which was indeed in economic trouble. Unemployment was more than 11 per cent, the deficit was $42 billion and growing every year. The economic malaise that we inherited was only half of the picture. As deep and destructive was the distrust and cynicism that Canadians felt toward their own government. Ministers served in the federal government who did not even believe in Canada. The taint of scandal forced the resignation of minister after minister and the business of government was dominated by lobbyists and fixers. This was the scene when we took office in 1993.

This government rolled up its sleeves and got to work to turn things around. And turn things around we have.

We came to government with a plan, the red book. In the last session of Parliament we passed almost 100 government bills and implemented almost three-quarters of our red book commitments. But these statistics do not tell the whole story: That more than half a million new jobs have been created in the Canadian economy since we took office; that the unemployment rate has fallen by two

points to under 10 per cent for the first time in half a decade; that after years of empty promises and deferred actions, the federal government is finally getting its fiscal house in order.

At the end of the new fiscal year we will have reduced our deficit to GDP ratio from more than 6 per cent to 3 per cent as promised in the red book, from $42 billion to $24 billion. Next year it will be 2 per cent, another per cent lower, the lowest level in 20 years and it will keep going down. This has been accomplished not against the will of Canadians but with their active support.

It has not been easy. I salute the work of the Minister of Finance who has been able to garner support for tough but fair budgets. And I want to thank the Canadian people for their understanding and commitment. We made it clear to Canadians and Canadians understood that deficit cutting is not an end in itself. We have not pursued it because we want to nor because we are driven by ideology, but because it is a necessary step in restoring the economic health of Canada in ensuring long term growth and jobs for Canadians.

Accepting high deficits year after year has meant accepting high interest rates. That has meant higher mortgages for Canadians who own homes and it has made it more difficult for young families to buy their first home. It has meant that thousands of small businesses and farms cannot grow and expand and create jobs.

Accepting high deficits year after year has also forced us to borrow money from abroad just to finance our debt. This has made us too vulnerable to the foreign money markets. It has limited our own economic sovereignty and every single Canadian has paid a heavy price.

These are the reasons we have worked so hard and will continue to work hard to reduce the deficit. Our success so far is translating into real lasting benefits for all Canadians. Much has been accomplished. We are not yet at the end of the road, but for the first time in a long time the end is in sight as the Minister of Finance will show next week in the budget.

In the red book, we wrote that: "The Liberal two-track policy of economic growth and fiscal responsibility will make possible a monetary policy that produces lower real interest rates and keeps inflation low, so we can be competitive with our major trading partners".

That is exactly what is happening. Interest rates have come down dramatically. Inflation in Canada is lower than it has been in decades-and lower than in virtually any other industrialized country.

Since March of last year, short term interest rates have dropped by three percentage points. This decline is 2.5 percentage points more than the decline in the United States. Today there is virtually no difference between Canadian and American short term interest rates.

The way we are putting our fiscal house in order says a lot about our values as a government and as a society. We could have gone after spending with a meat cleaver-hacking everyone and everything with equal vigour. But that would have been unfair. As Canadians, we cherish the values of community, of equal opportunity, of tolerance and understanding, of compassion and support for the most vulnerable. We believe in simple decency and respect. Canadians want deeply to win this important battle against the deficit. But they absolutely refuse to do it on the backs of those in need of help. So does this government. And we are proud of that.

That is why, for example, we have cut military spending, but we have actually increased spending on employment programs for young people. That is why we have cut subsidies to business by more than fifty per cent, but invested in a national infrastructure program that is resulting in capital projects in every province of Canada that have created tens of thousands of new jobs and will have important economic benefits for decades to come. That is why we have closed loopholes for family trusts and imposed a special tax on bank profits, but funded new programs such as the pre-natal nutrition program and the aboriginal head start program and restored the national literacy program.

That is also why we eliminated the $100,000 capital gains exemption, and increased the Small Business Loans Act ceiling to $12 billion. That is why while we have worked to reduce the size of the federal public service, we have also created programs such as youth service Canada and the youth internship program to give thousands of young people the work experience they need to earn-and keep-that important first job.

It is this sense of balance and priority that has been the hallmark of our government: tough, no nonsense deficit fighting, which frankly has broken the back of the deficit, combined with compassion, understanding and a willingness to invest in people, as we set out in the red book. We have proven that a government can be a tough, fair and effective financial and economic manager and that it can also be progressive and human. That more than anything else is the balanced approach Canadians voted for when they voted for us to lead Canada over two years ago. I am proud to say that, more than anything else, has been the accomplishment of the first half of our mandate.

I mentioned earlier that our government inherited not just a fiscal deficit from our predecessors but a credibility deficit too. Canadians had given up on their public institutions. They had

stopped believing in their government and they had stopped trusting elected officials.

One can agree or disagree with our policies but no one, after more than two years in office, can question the honesty and integrity of the government and its ministers-no one. That is an accomplishment that not only makes me very proud but which has given Canadians a reason to believe in their government again. Canadians know that when the government gives its word, it keeps it.

Restoring the Government of Canada as a competent fiscal and economic manager and restoring people's faith in government as an honest institution are our cumulative accomplishments half way through the mandate, accomplishments of which we are deeply proud. They set the stage for the second half of our mandate.

Yesterday the throne speech announced the broad initiatives the government will take in this session, initiatives that continue the work we began two years ago, initiatives promised in the red book that promote economic growth and job creation, unity and the security of individual Canadians and their families.

We were elected to restore the economic well-being of Canada. Unemployment is down considerably from the time we took office in 1993 but it is not down low enough for our liking or for the liking of Canadians. Too many Canadians are still out of work. Too many more are still worried about holding on to their jobs.

Above all, we want young Canadians to become active participants in our economy. They want jobs. They deserve jobs. Young people want to embrace the future, not fear it. It is up to all of us to create that hope and opportunity for them.

Youth unemployment is not unique to Canada. We see it everywhere in the industrialized world today, in every country, most far worse than here. However, that comparison should give us little comfort because we should not measure the success or self-fulfilment of our young people against those of other countries. We should measure them by our own hopes and ambitions and by our sense of obligation as the custodians of the society they will inherit. If we want Canada to continue to grow and prosper, if we truly want a country of hope and confidence, young people working hard in meaningful jobs, jobs with a future, is our only guarantee.

In our first two years the government has done much to actively foster a climate of job creation and it has met with success. Government does not create jobs; it creates the climate for the private sector to create jobs. That is what we have done and continue to do, laying the foundations for long term sustained job growth. Now we need the active partnership of the other levels of government and the private sector to make that job growth happen.

We have had a preview of how well that partnership can work with the right amount of commitment and effort. Nothing in many years has given Canadians a greater sense of pride in accomplishment than the Team Canada trade missions to foreign markets such as China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Indonesia.

These trade missions, combined with the Latin America trade mission I led a year ago, brought home more than $20 billion in deals for Canadian businesses. That means tens of thousands of jobs in Canada and an important foothold in some of the fastest growing foreign markets in the world.

Even more important than the impressive statistics of the Team Canada missions was the impact on Canadians of seeing their Prime Minister, their provincial premiers and leaders of businesses large and small working together to bring home jobs for Canadians. There were politicians from just about every party, representatives of just about every kind of business, small and large, all pulling in the same direction. For once the politicians stopped pointing fingers at each other. The business people stopped blaming government and everyone pulled together, working on the same team with the same goals.

Canadians were used to seeing governments compete, first ministers bicker, but with Team Canada they saw us working together. They liked what they saw and they want to see more it.

We can and must prove to Canadians that we, federal and provincial governments and the private sector, do not need to leave Canada in order to work together. Team Canada worked well in Beijing, Bombay and Buenos Aires but it can work as well in Burnaby, Brampton or Bromont. We should put the same Team Canada spirit to work here at home creating jobs in a true national partnership. I commit here and now before the eyes of the nation every resource of the federal government to creating that partnership. I urge the private sector and the provincial governments to join with us.

To the private sector I have a very specific challenge. For many years you have urged the federal government to get its fiscal house in order. You have campaigned against deficit. You have warned us of the negative impact of too much government spending on the economy and you have urged us to get out of areas that are better dealt with by the private sector. You said that when this is done the private sector would create jobs. I say to you that the federal government has delivered. Now Canadians want the private sector to deliver.

Now it is your turn to show your confidence in Canada and Canadians, especially young Canadians, to recognize that just as we have taken the lead in eliminating the fiscal deficit, you have a responsibility to eliminate the human deficit of unemployment. No true balance sheet can ignore the heavy and growing cost of chronic

unemployment. It is wrong. It is wrong on a human level. It is wrong on an economic level. It is wrong on a commercial level. It is wrong on a moral level.

You have a responsibility, just as surely as I and my colleagues in government have, to invest the energy and commitment it takes to solving this problem. That is why in the throne speech yesterday we announced that the federal government will be doubling its contribution to summer job creation this summer and urged the private sector and provincial and municipal governments to do the same. We need to encourage and help young people who are putting themselves through university and this is an important way we can do it.

[Translation]

Today I want to announce another initiative. In the weeks ahead I will be calling on businesses to join in launching a domestic Team Canada focused on creating jobs for young Canadians-primarily in the private sector. I will be appealing to businesses large and small to invest just one additional per cent of their payroll budget into jobs for young Canadians. This would create many tens of thousands of new jobs. It would further promote economic growth and consumer demand. And most of all, it would prove to millions of Canadians that Canada does work-not just for the powerful and the privileged, but for ordinary Canadians.

And to the provinces I issue a challenge as well. I challenge you to join with us in rekindling the spirit of Team Canada-and making it work on a permanent basis. As we work on redefining and clarifying our responsibilities, let us work together on this jobs agenda. It may not be as exciting as picking fights with each other. It certainly will not be as easy. But we have proven we can work together for jobs and economic results. We owe it to Canadians to give it the effort it takes.

We also owe Canadians the security that is provided them by our social programs. A healthy, growing economy means healthy, viable, sustainable social programs. That is why getting our fiscal house in order is such an important key to preserving the social programs we as Canadians hold so dear.

But that is far from the limit of this government's commitment to social programs. We also know that if we want healthy social programs not just today and tomorrow, but ten and twenty years from now, we must plan for them now. And that is a responsibility that this government takes very seriously.

In no area is this more important than in the public pensions system. Everybody recognizes that demographic changes in our society mean that we will have to make changes to ensure that our pension system remains sustainable for future generations of Canadians.

That is why we have begun discussions with the provinces to ensure that the Canada pension plan, which we run in partnership with the provinces, will be there for Canadians who work hard and contribute to the plan. The public has been asked to participate in these discussions.

The next step is to ensure that the support provided to seniors through the old age security and guaranteed income supplement program is sustainable and will be there for future generations as well. You have our commitment that we will do it. We have an obligation to plan for the future. We do not take that obligation lightly.

As we do that we will honour another commitment, a commitment I undertook in the House on behalf of the government. I made a promise to current seniors that I will repeat today. The OAS and GIS payments that you receive will not be reduced. We will also continue to ensure the health and sustainability of medicare, the most cherished social program of all.

The government will ensure that the health system will be there for all Canadians, rich and poor alike. We will maintain substantial cash transfers through the Canada health and social transfer to ensure that the federal government always has a strong say in medicare and is able to preserve free, universal access to health care anywhere in Canada for every Canadian.

Medicare is as much a part of our country as the air we breathe and the water that runs through our rivers and lakes. It defines what we are and who we want to be. It sets us apart from other countries. It draws us together no matter where we live in Canada. We will work to ensure it continues to draw Canadians together for a long time to come.

Bringing Canadians together and keeping Canada united in common cause and purpose must be the number one priority of any government. The referendum on October 30 last year showed us that we can never take our magnificent country for granted. We need to remind ourselves every day why it is so good to live in Canada. We need to remind ourselves of all that we have in common: the values that we cherish, tolerance, respect, generosity and sharing. We need to remind ourselves what many generations of Canadians have accomplished to make our country the envy of the world. We need to remind ourselves of the genius of federalism and how it has accommodated our diversity while building on our strength.

A united Canada is a far nobler enterprise than the narrowing of vision proclaimed by those who want to break up this country.

Canada is a vast country occupied by a diverse population. Thirty million people of diverse origins who live peacefully together in a land that the United Nations ranks as the very best for its quality of life.

It is a great success on the world stage, a success that we cannot simply take for granted, a success which we must continue to build.

In the community of nations, Canada is seen as a young country that is constantly evolving in an environment of rapid change. The global economy is transforming itself and becoming more and more interdependent as larger blocs of nations are formed, as in Europe. Canada itself has become a large collectivity as more and more provinces and territories have joined over the years to make us one of the seven leading industrial powers in the world. Canada has grown very quickly. It is only natural for us to review the way that our country functions. Economic globalization is forcing governments around the world to redefine themselves.

The one constant in Canadian history has been our ability to adapt to new circumstances and new realities without sacrificing our principles and values. The Fathers of Confederation provided a framework that is as valid today as it was 130 years ago. They provided for strong, autonomous provinces capable of delivering services and of adapting them to local circumstances. They provided for provinces that could grow and flourish in their own individual ways. For example, all of Canada is richer because Saskatchewan invented Medicare. All of Canada is richer because British Columbia makes us a Pacific nation. And at a time when people are told to think globally but act locally, strong provinces are more important than ever.

But the Fathers of Confederation also provided for a single national government, elected directly by all Canadians that speaks and acts directly for all Canadians on the great issues of the day. In the 21st century that national government will be as important as it has ever been.

We will preserve the role of that national government in strengthening our economy and economic union to ensure a prosperous country for ourselves and our children; in enhancing social solidarity in Canada, in preserving and modernizing the social union so that the caring and sharing society is truly Canada-wide in scope; in pooling our national resources to achieve common goals efficiently and effectively; in protecting and promoting Canadian values and identity while celebrating our diversity; and, in defending Canada's sovereignty and in speaking for Canadians collectively on the world's stage. Together we will modernize our federation with respect for our diversity and with confidence as we head into the 21st century.

Clearly, Canadians face particular challenges following the referendum result in Quebec. This is not a time for major constitutional change. We must continue to adapt, modernize and develop our federation. I believe we can do so by focusing on practical steps within a spirit that respects the principles of federalism.

The operation of our federation should be responsive to our common needs and diversity. It should show respect for each other and our institutions. It should involve partnership and dialogue between governments and citizens. It should be flexible. It should aim for efficiency and effectiveness in addressing our problems. The fact is Canada has largely operated in this way in the past. The federation has proven remarkably flexible and responsive to Canadians.

What I propose now is a concerted effort between the federal and provincial governments to address a number of outstanding issues in the operation of the federation with a particular focus on strengthening our economic and social union. Our effort should focus on practical, concrete steps rather than a grand design or the emotional symbols of major constitutional change.

Canada's economic union has been one of our greatest successes. Canadians underestimate the depth of our economic integration, which goes far beyond the economic integration we have with any foreign country, including the United States.

Over the past generation we have seen regional disparities in Canada diminish. We have largely closed the gap between Canadian and American standards of living but we have still have not taken full advantage of our economic union. Maximizing the advantage is key to ensuring Canadian competitiveness internationally.

I invite the provinces and all Canadians to consider how we can improve our economic union to enhance labour mobility between provinces, to reduce internal barriers to trade, to improve our internal capital markets, to enhance the sharing of technical knowledge and to co-operate better abroad.

There is a strong consensus in Canada to promote our social union. The people want governments to work together to modernize our social safety net to ensure that it is sustainable in the long term and continues to reflect the values of Canadians from coast to coast. Working with provinces and individual Canadians, beginning with the principles that we have in common, our government will explore new approaches to social policy issues.

The development of our social union needs to respect the spirit of our federation as well as the fiscal realities we confront. In recognition of this, the government makes a formal engagement that any new national cost-shared programs in areas of exclusive provincial responsibility will require prior agreement of a majority of provinces. Such programs will be designed so that provinces choosing not to participate will be compensated provided they establish initiatives which are equivalent or compatible with national objectives.

This is the first time any federal government has undertaken formally to restrict its use of the spending power outside a constitutional negotiation. Our undertaking recognizes that the use of this power for shared-cost programs has been a source of tension with the provinces. We believe we can build our social union within this spirit, as well as through other, non-financial means.

Canadians want their governments to be flexible and to work effectively as partners so that the country functions well. We will work with the provinces to ensure that Canadians are served by the most appropriate level of government. In a number of areas, the federal government no longer has to be involved in order to serve its citizens effectively. We have made a start on transferring transportation infrastructures to municipal authorities and the private sector. Then, for example, we had a tourism program managed by the Department of Industry. Last year the tourism industry recommended that the private sector be made responsible for managing this program in co-operation with the public sector. We agreed. We withdrew from our own program and the Canadian Tourism Commission was set up. It is managed by the tourist industry in co-operation with the federal and provincial governments, with all parties working together. This has been a remarkable success which serves as a model of partnership between the various levels of government and the private sector for the 21st century.

The federal government is also prepared to withdraw from its functions in such areas as labour market training, forestry, mining and recreation, that in the 21st century will be more appropriately the responsibility of others-provinces, municipalities or the private sector.

There are a number of fields in which both levels of government have a genuine role to play. In those sectors, we must achieve maximum efficiency in our actions, to ensure that taxpayers get value for money. The government will ask the provinces to increase their efforts to eliminate duplication and overlap and identify other grey areas that could be discussed.

In the months to come, a first ministers' conference will consider better ways of working together for job creation in Canada, how to secure the social safety net, and how to put in place a common agenda for change to renew Canada.

Preserving and enhancing Canadian unity requires more than a rebalancing of roles and responsibilities of levels of government. It requires us to remember what we have in common, by promoting culture, the arts and our heritage.

Preserving Canadian unity requires us to offer, to Quebecers tempted by an alternative, a nobler vision of a Canada in which Quebecers-like all Canadians-feel at home wherever they are in the country; a Canada that believes it is the best assurance of the French fact in North America.

Democracies endowed with more than one official language, and accordingly a broader window on the universe of cultures, make special arrangements to help their linguistic groups live together in harmony. Our Official Languages Act and the recognition of language rights in the Constitution are a model of such arrangements. We need only go further and recognize as a strength, as a piece of good fortune for Canada, that anglophone America contains a society that functions in French and takes action so that it can continue to do so.

On a continent where only one person in forty is francophone, we must all appreciate the concerns of many of our francophone fellow citizens in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. They are worried not only about the survival of their language and culture, but also about their development.

Quebec wants to be recognized as a distinct society through its language, its culture and its institutions. The House of Commons has passed a resolution in those terms, and a regional veto guaranteeing that there will be no constitutional change without the consent of every region of Canada was also approved here in this House.

We want to entrench these changes in the Constitution. We know it will not be easy. We must convince and explain that recognizing the distinctness of Quebec society does not take anything away from anyone but simply reflects reality. A reality that represents an asset for our country.

Last week, we all found out what the former premier of Quebec, Mr. Parizeau, would have said if the result on October 30 had been in his favour. The result was irreversible; democracy had spoken; the page had been turned; everyone had to support the choice. Why not accept that Quebecers chose Canada for the second time in 15 years?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Why not concentrate all our energy and resources on building the future of our country together?

Canada needs political stability to ensure its economic stability, so that Montreal will find the road back to prosperity, Toronto will develop further and Vancouver will continue its growth. In fact, every Canadian city, town and region needs it. Political stability benefits all Canadians, and that is very important.

Let us work together to preserve what we have built together. It will not be easy, but it was never easy to build this great country in which we have the extraordinary good fortune to live. Canada was built with courage and determination. It was built with the desire to live together, recognizing our differences are also our strengths. That is our heritage. It is up to us to preserve and to build on it.

There are different ways of measuring greatness. Some measure the greatness of nations in terms of wealth or power. I believe we in Canada have found our own special definition of greatness by achieving the greatest balance between economic success and social justice of any nation.

I have had the privilege of travelling to foreign countries, representing Canada and Canadians to the world. I have had the opportunity to see how the world sees Canada. What it sees is very much a real country, un vrai pays, make no mistake about it.

What it sees much more is a large and diverse society that has turned diversity into prosperity. It sees a country of promise and integrity built by people from every corner of the world. It sees a land where each individual citizen has the opportunity to be the best they can possibly be but where there is also a true sense of caring and compassion, a true sense of community.

We have seen that when the world looks to Canada. What it sees is the future, or rather the best hope for the future of the world. Together let us build that model of hope and confidence, that model for all mankind.

When I was in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago I realized what Canada is all about. I was invited to visit the two biggest towers in the world, which have just been completed. They wanted to link the two towers together but they needed the best technology. They have problems with weather there as well, but not snow. They needed a bridge very high in the air between the two towers. They came to Canadians to test the technology. When we crossed from one building to the other they told us this is their Canadian connection; it was build by Canadians.

I was also invited to visit a construction site in Kuala Lumpur for a light transit system.

SNC Lavalin and Bombardier were there, who were building this advanced system in co-operation with companies from Vancouver and Toronto. They were all working together, all these Canadians, who are all proud of this French- and English-speaking country selling an outstanding technology a few days after we left Pakistan, where they were awarded the contract for the construction of a similar system in the city of Karachi.

I saw everybody there, French and English, east and west together, and the joy when one government was on the stage with the business community of that province signing contracts. The premier of Ontario was congratulating the socialist premier of B.C. when he was doing well. Others were turning to the premier of New Brunswick because he had made a great deal for a farming community of New Brunswick. It was such a good deal that he was telling me he will need some cattle from Quebec. I said fine, we will talk with the Bloc and send some there, and even from Manitoba. There were congratulations from each other and the people were looking at us.

They were not buying Canadian goods and services because we were Canadian. A lot of them remember that we were there at the time of the Columbo plan. They remember that. They were buying Canadian goods and services because they are the best on the market.

If we can build a bridge in Kuala Lumpur between the two highest towers in the world, we will build a bridge that will keep the greatest nation in the world together.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to respond to the government's second speech from the throne in this 35th Parliament, or we could refer to it as its second kick at the can.

This second try is full of words, hope and promise. We certainly have just heard an hour's worth of them from our Prime Minister. It is an indication that at last the government seems at least to be hearing the anxious voices of Canadians and recognizing that Canadians are scared. They are scared for their own futures, the future of their country and the future of their children.

It is a speech that gives an indication that at last the government seems to recognize and is attempting at least to remedy the past mistakes and strategic inaction of the last couple of years.

This second speech from the throne is in many ways an admission of failure by the government, but it is an attempt at a jump start.

When the Liberals came to power in 1993 expectations were high right across the country. At last the Conservatives had paid the ultimate price, the price of arrogance and the Liberals were promising hope, jobs and a bright secure future.

In 1993 Canadians were told not to worry, the mighty Liberal Party was back in power. Today in 1996 though, two and a half years later, the hope has faded. The real, long term jobs have never really materialized. It is one thing to say that jobs have been

created but the Prime Minister did not note how many jobs have been lost in that amount of time.

The Liberal promises of a bright future were shown to be nothing more than empty election rhetoric. Any sense of security and hope that Canadians had in 1993 withered away as the months and months of Liberal do nothing government drifted by.

Yesterday the throne speech talked about giving Canadians hope and lifting them out of the despair they feel right across the country. What it did not acknowledge however was that the Liberal government's inaction, its lack of a plan, lack of innovation and lack of vision contributed to that overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair in the country.

This is where we stand now in 1996 and it is why the government is beginning again. It has shown in the throne speech that it can speak the words of the Canadian public, but the question of course, and one which we will be asking time and time again is: Can it deliver? This is what we have to analyse today as we sift through the guarded wording and cloaked phrases of the Liberals' second try.

Everyone deserves a second chance, even if they make an incorrect ruling. Everyone deserves a second chance. Do not get me wrong. That is something with which I am sure Canadians agree. But three strikes and your are out. That is the way it is done in baseball and that is the way I think it should be done here.

So in the spirit of second chances and second tries, let us look at what the Liberal government in this speech has promised the people of Canada. Let us look at what it is intending to do to restore hope, confidence and security to Canadians, all of which we so desperately need in these times of uncertainty and fading hope.

Jobs and financial security are of concern. In an attempt to convince Canadians that the government is working toward long term economic growth, it is heralding its new and improved deficit reduction target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product. Low targets are always easy to reach. We need deficit elimination and a balanced budget. Quit digging the big debt hole deeper. The digging must be stopped period before starting to fill in the hole.

The government still stubbornly refuses to produce its firm timetable for totally eliminating the deficit. Two year rolling targets are rolling along. As we come to the end of the century I am wondering how long they are going to continue to roll.

Without totally eliminating the deficit or the yearly amount which we are spending more than we are bringing in, the federal debt continues to increase at an alarming rate and interest payments continue to eat more and more of the money that government needs to spend on securing our essential social programs. Billions and billions of dollars every year we are spending just on interest on the debt. There is something inherently wrong in that and we need to get that totally under control.

By the government taking this go slow approach it might just as well be promising to raise taxes because that would be the result. If we are going to continue to overspend, there is a way that we have to be able to feed that appetite and there is nothing more than increasing taxes when we are going to do that.

Elimination of the deficit on the other hand as Reformers have proposed will stop the further unnecessary erosion of our social programs. It will enable the government to begin paying down the massive debt, a debt that successive Liberal and Conservative governments have piled up incidentally over the last 32 years while our Prime Minister has been on the public scene. It will enable the government to give much needed tax relief to Canadians.

We saw nothing about tax relief in the throne speech. If there is anything that is going to cheer Canadians up it is the promise of real live tax relief so that they will have more money in their pockets.

Elimination of the federal deficit will not just give us a light at the end of the tunnel; it will bring us out of the seemingly endless tunnel and finally into the light, not just a glimmer at the end of it. Canadians will once again control their own destinies. Social programs will be financially sustainable. People will have more money in their pockets. With that money, they can use it to pay down their growing debts, buy new houses, new cars and have a plan for the future of their families.

Another thing that would improve consumer confidence and even voter confidence in this government is scrapping the GST. The throne speech back in 1994 promised it. It is promising it again now. It talks about progress on it, but time is running out on this Liberal government and on the political career of the Deputy Prime Minister. This is an actual quote from her. During a CBC town hall program on October 18, 1993, one week before the last federal election, she said: "If the GST is not abolished under a Liberal government, I will resign". We are still waiting for it. It would be easy for her to stand up and say that the Liberals are planning to abolish it. In my estimation from what I know of the English language, abolish does not equal harmonize, or make a few changes, or rename it, or whatever. Abolish means abolish.

The Deputy Prime Minister has said that the Liberals will abolish the GST. They will not just harmonize it with provincial sales taxes. In my province of Alberta we do not have a provincial sales tax. That is the last thing on their minds, harmonizing

something on the GST, on which the Deputy Prime Minister said she would resign. I say, we are waiting.

On April 4, 1990 before the last election when the present finance minister was in opposition he said this which I thought was kind of excellent: "I would abolish the GST". There is that word again, abolish. Not harmonize, not change, not rename, not whatever, but abolish. That means over, done with, toast. He would abolish it. "The manufacturers' sales tax was a bad tax but there is no excuse to repeal one bad thing by bringing in another". Oops, how times change. How things change when one moves across the aisle. I suspect you know that feeling, Mr. Speaker. You have been in government and I have not yet but we are working on it.

This is what is particularly painful. When something comes from opposition it is one thing but when it comes from right within government it is painful. Just yesterday the Liberal member for Mississauga West said: "I keep hearing from the finance department that Canadians are getting used to the GST and they now accept it". She went on to say: "If anyone really believes that, I don't think they are in touch with reality". That is a Liberal backbencher.

Most of the insecurity and worry being felt by Canadians today relates to their jobs and job security. Instead of addressing this genuine concern however, the government has decided to embark on programs that create artificial jobs or, as they have been so aptly termed, bubble jobs; they are here and gone just like that. That is not long term. That is not something people are working toward.

The government has announced a plan to double for one year the number of federal summer student jobs. Unfortunately though, with youth unemployment stuck at a staggering 16 per cent, although well intentioned, it will do little to ease the job prospects for thousands and thousands of our struggling youth. It looks good on paper and I am sure people will appreciate it in the short run, but the question I and I am sure many young people would like to ask is: Why is the government going to give young people money now and then yank it back later from them plus interest? That is what is happening. It is easy to say the cash will be given out now, but because our interest payments are just so incredible the government is going to yank it back later from those people and from their kids when they get to be my age and later at your age, Mr. Speaker, but not that much later.

What else is this government going to do to create jobs and job security for Canadians? From this it does not look like very much. Without eliminating the federal deficit, growing interest payments on the national debt continue to endanger social spending, continue to endanger the health, education and pension systems of Canadians.

When it comes to the Canada pension plan, the government is planning to dramatically increase the amount snatched from Canadians' paycheques while at the same time lowering the benefits. Such actions will further depress the job market adding undue payroll tax stress on Canada's small and medium size business. This is stress that neither the job market nor Canadian business can afford. Such moves will do nothing to increase the security of Canadians. In fact it might depress them even more.

Reformers encourage the government to look seriously at our approach to address Canada's pension crisis through the introduction of super RRSPs. This does not need to be partisan. We need to get out of this mess we are in. Mandatory contributions into self-directed retirement funds will ensure that all generations will get their fair share of benefits without dramatic contribution increases. At the very least, it would be great if the finance minister would have the political courage to at least put it on the table for discussion.

The government states it wants to co-operate with the provinces in establishing new national standards in the area of social policy. The government however has a record of confrontation not co-operation, of inflexibility not accommodation. We need to correct that problem. If the government is serious about co-operating with the provinces in social policy areas, it should transfer tax points to the provinces; that is, let the provinces determine what their taxation levels should be. That would not just ensure stable funding for health, education and welfare, it would also provide a mechanism for the growth of funding in these areas. Heaven knows, we need that in this day and age.

Canadians wanted firm measures to improve their financial security and bold initiatives to stop the drain on their social security. Unfortunately, in the throne speech they heard nothing more than half measures. At least in these two areas the government is making some positive moves. When it comes to personal security the throne speech lacks both substance and rhetoric.

Criminal justice is another area that at least was touched on in the throne speech but it was one single paragraph out of the entire speech. That is all the government felt the fears of Canadians for their safety and the safety of their families and property warranted.

The government has spent half of its mandate harassing law-abiding farmers, hunters and gun collectors and is now feebly paying lip service to addressing the criminal element. Let us spend more energy, time and resources hitting the criminal element and leave the law-abiding citizens alone.

If the federal government really means business on criminal justice reform, it must make the protection of life and property the number one priority of the criminal justice system. The law must reflect the values held by the majority of Canadians that all offenders must be held accountable and responsible for their criminal acts and the rights of victims must supersede the rights of criminals always, every time.

The government must amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to ensure that violent offenders serve their full sentences. Once released, some violent offenders and all repeat offenders should be under parole supervision for the rest of their lives. To allow for the indefinite incarceration of dangerous offenders, the government should amend the current dangerous offenders law to allow for the designation of "dangerous offender" prior to, during, or at the end of that offender's sentence. Such offenders have no right to live in society and the people of Canada are right to demand protection. They are right to demand their indefinite incarceration. Canadians want and need to be freed from fear.

Canadians want security so their kids can walk home after school or over to a friend's house and not have to worry about what is going to happen to them on the way, so women can walk to their cars, as we do all the time, so they can wander through airports and hotels alone across the country, so we would feel safe, so we would not feel threatened of being mugged or assaulted.

Canadians need the assurance that violent criminals, whether they are at home or on the street, are being dealt with by a criminal justice system that knows and understands the severity of their crimes, and will protect Canadians from them always.

Regarding national unity, the government has begun to realize that over centralization, bringing the power to the centre, in large measure has contributed to the frustration and alienation Canadians have felt toward their federal government. Any movement on this front is welcome.

The government is to be commended for expressing its desire to strengthen the economic situation and lower internal trade barriers, but it has to go beyond just desire. The federal government should seek more power in this area in exchange for giving other powers to the provinces, powers they originally had vested in them that federal governments have taken away over the decades.

Canadians from coast to coast have indicated that they want Canada to be a balanced federation in which Ottawa would play a co-operative role but not a dominating role. Reform has advanced 20 new Confederation proposals that help to establish this arrangement for the long term.

There have been longstanding concerns about the arsenal of centralizing powers, that power that is used by the federal government under the Constitution, and about the over concentration of power in the hands of the executive in the cabinet. The throne speech indicates a willingness to address some of those concerns but of course it does not go nearly far enough.

Now is not the time for half measures and tinkering. Canadians want leadership. They want to know where they are going as they get closer to the next century. Future governments have to be able to respond more effectively to the needs of ordinary Canadians through a revitalized federal system, one that addresses the historic concerns of dissatisfied Canadians, both inside and outside Quebec.

There are dissatisfied Canadians right across the country and I think it is time we realized it. National unity is more than a rebalancing of roles, responsibilities and levels of government, as the speech from the throne has pointed out. The ending of over centralization must be coupled with substantial democratic reforms to federal institutions, reforms that will ensure that Canadians themselves have more input into the way the federal government runs, the directions it takes and the decisions it makes.

Democratic reforms such as referendums, an elected Senate, citizens' initiatives, recall and freer votes in the House of Commons are all needed to ensure the long term unity of our country, to put an end to political uncertainty and to make Canada one of the most progressive democracies in the world. Sadly, we saw nothing about that in the throne speech.

Again, we are encouraged by the signs in the speech that the Liberals have finally recognized that any constitutional change must be put to the people directly for ratification in a referendum. It is one thing to say "people will have a say on it".

As I said earlier in question period, when people are told they will have say they equate that to having a vote. The Charlottetown accord changed everything in this country. Since people were given an actual vote on that issue, they will never again put up with anything less. That was the best thing about the Charlottetown accord.

Reformers and all Canadians must also be pleased to see the government has learned its lesson from the last Quebec referendum. The government will take its responsibility seriously with any future referendum in the province of Quebec to debate the consequences of secession based on a real or possible scenario that there may be a yes vote.

The federal government should develop now a Canadian position on terms and conditions of secession rather than what it did last time, nothing. If that would have been on the table, if the people of Quebec knew there would be real consequences of a yes vote, they would have said: "Wow, there are serious consequences and I think my vote is going to be to stay with Canada". We hope that happens next time.

However, the government needs to lay out on the table that if the people of Quebec decide to vote yes, they had better be prepared for some hard answers and some hard negotiations. "These are the terms and conditions of secession. We want you to think again". I

think Quebecers will vote strongly to remain a part of Canada. We are confident that this can and will happen if the government responds to it, rather than leaving everyone out of the debate as it did last October. We can all live together and prosper.

In the end, where has the government left Canadians? That is the question people are asking. There appear to be glimmers of hope and I want to give the government credit for those glimmers. The Liberals are learning from their past mistakes, however reluctantly, and the real concerns and fears of Canadians for their own security and the security of their country are finally being heard. That is a good move.

The real question is, can they deliver on these promises? We will watch during the second session of this Parliament. Where progress is made, we will encourage it. Where they fail, we will propose constructive alternatives so that they can rethink their positions.

We truly feel for Canadians and the stress that all are under during this time in our history, the sense of insecurity in their lives and jobs, and the constant threat of the break-up of our country. These things must be dealt with once and for all.

Reformers will do everything in their power to ease this stress and to calm the worry Canadians have about the future of their country. We share their feelings and we will never give up their cause.

Therefore, I would like to amend the Bloc amendment by adding the words:

-and in particular, providing more personal security; the need to effectively reduce the budget deficit; simplifying the tax system and balancing the budget; greater personal social security by providing a permanent and stable source of social program funding in the areas of health, education and social assistance; greater public safety; understanding the need to communicate to Quebec honestly and openly what will be the stance of the rest of Canada concerning separation; understanding the need to pledge their unconditional commitment to protect and defend our rights and freedoms as Canadians wanting to remain Canadians in Quebec both before and after a possible yes vote in the future.

I have signed that Deborah Grey, member of Parliament, Beaver River.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Generally the amendment seems to be in order. I wonder if the hon. member might give the Chair the liberty of adding three small words at the end of "and in particular does not address". We have to have a verb in there. Being old school teachers we happen to know that.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre.

It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to take part in the debate on the throne speech. This is an exciting time in the history of our country. As we approach the 21st century, a world of opportunity lies before us. We must continue to build a strong economy to secure our communities, and to strengthen our country to take advantage of those tremendous opportunities.

The government has been laying the foundation for a strong and prosperous economy. In the last two years, 497,000 full time jobs have been created. Inflation is low and interest rates are declining.

In Hamilton, my home town, the unemployment rate is 6 per cent. This is down from a rate of 11.3 per cent two years ago, a 5 per cent decline since this government was elected. The low unemployment rate is a testament to the advantage of co-operation between business, unions, schools, community groups and government that exists in Hamilton. Organizations like Mohawk College in my riding have been co-operating closely with unions and management and the federal government to develop training programs for workers that have increased productivity. Increased productivity is leading to more jobs as resources are used more efficiently.

Through hard work and co-operation among everyone in Hamilton over the last five years, we have turned Hamilton into a world recognized model of sustainable community development. It took a lot of hard work, which is continuing, but the achievement was well worth it. I am sure that similar effort and co-operation among all Canadians can be equally successful across the country. That is the government's goal, as we heard the Prime Minister state earlier this afternoon.

Just as the Team Canada approach to external trade promotions is paying dividends, Team Canada co-operation can pay off in job creation. As was said in the throne speech, it is time to harness the energy of the Team Canada partnership to create hope, opportunity and jobs.

The government's balanced and steady approach to deficit reduction has led to a steady reduction in the deficit and in interest rates. Careful spending cuts, coupled with a well thought out restructuring of the government will lead to a stronger economy and to job growth.

Members of the business community have often stated that if government would get it finances in order, private industry would create jobs. The government is putting its finances in order and is challenging Canadian businesses to move forward on job creation, particularly for our young children.

Of course, getting the government's finances in order is not an end in itself. The steps we are taking are necessary to defend and maintain social programs, such as medicare, that embody the

values that Canadians hold dear such as caring for the less fortunate and maintaining a high quality of life in all areas of the country.

As was stated yesterday in the throne speech, the government will continue to defend the principles of the Canada Health Act: comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. The government will maintain the sustainability of social programs by putting a floor under the cash component of the Canada health and social transfer so there is a steady level of cash transfers to the provinces. The government will also be working with the provinces to develop common standards to maintain our social programs.

Youth unemployment is a major challenge to the government and it is addressing this through programs such as the youth internship program and Youth Service Canada. The proposal to double the number of federal summer jobs this coming summer will be a great help to students. These programs help young people make the transition to the working world giving them the experience they need to get their first job.

Whenever I visit Mohawk College or the high schools on Hamilton Mountain, I am impressed by the intelligence and enthusiasm of these students. Canada's young people are tremendously talented and have a great deal to offer our country.

It is our responsibility through programs such as Youth Service Canada to give young Canadians the opportunity to put their talents to use. In my riding of Hamilton Mountain a $150,000 youth service project, which will help to reduce the incidence of car theft and vandalism, is co-sponsored by the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police and the federal government. Along with improving community safety this project will provide young Hamiltonians with valuable experience in planning management and communication skills. The government has also taken steps in the throne speech to reassure all Canadians that their retirement years will be financially secure years. The benefits of current seniors will be protected. Adjustments to the Canada pension plan will be made to ensure that future seniors can enjoy their retirement.

Canada is the best country in the world to live in. In order to keep making our country even greater we must take steps to enhance the security of our communities as well as improve our economic security.

Recent reforms of the justice system such as amendments to the corrections act, gun control legislation and amendments to the Young Offenders Act will help ensure the safety of our streets and neighbourhoods. Proposed changes such as legislation on dangerous offenders, improvements to the stalking legislation and the establishment of DNA data banks will future enhance safety for Canadians.

Security of our communities does not simply refer to personal safety. Environmental protection is equally important. The health of Canada's air and water is vital to our quality of life. In recognition of the importance of our environment, the government is committed to modernizing the Environmental Protection Act. We must take steps now to ensure our children can still enjoy a clean environment in the future.

The Liberal government is determined to work with all Canadians to build a modern, united country to face the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. For all our differences, Canadians live in peace and we have together built a successful and prosperous country that is the envy of the world. Our shared values unite us more than our differences divide us. Our success in the world is proof of the wisdom of continuing to build on those common values.

Canada is more than the sum of its parts. Together we can and we will build on our common achievements to create an even better country in the years ahead. Canada is a country committed to international co-operation, open to the world and open to new citizens of every heritage.

Canada must continue to engage in the events of the world and promote peace, economic development and environmental protection on a worldwide basis.

While continuing efforts to reduce economic barriers around the world, we must continue efforts to reduce trade barriers among our own provinces. All Canadians have a role to play in modernizing our country. Every single citizen can and must have a say in our future. We must not let the voices of disaffection dominate the discussion or convince us that we would be better off divided and separate rather than united and working together.

Working together, we can build on our wonderful heritage, our incredible blessings, our amazing diversity and our limitless opportunities to ensure that Canada will always be a beacon to the world of hope, of freedom, of human dignity, of peace and of decency. It is a very exciting future that Canadians can and will chart together. That is the message of the speech from the throne, for that is the real message of Canada.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:45 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there has been negotiation among the parties and I believe you will find unanimous consent that the House continue to sit this day after 6.30 p.m. in order to consider the following motion:

That this House take note of Canada's current and future international peacekeeping commitments in Haiti, with particular reference to Canada's willingness to play a major role in the next phase of the international community's efforts to sustain a secure and stable environment in Haiti.

That, during consideration of the said motion, no member shall speak for more than 10 minutes and no dilatory motions or quorum calls shall be receivable; and

At 9.30 p.m., or when no more members rise to speak, whichever is earlier, the Speaker shall adjourn the House until the next sitting day.

(Motion agreed to.)

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

5:50 p.m.

Liberal

David Walker Liberal Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, before beginning my speech in response to the speech from the throne I would like to take a minute to thank the House for the co-operation I received as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. It is a heavy workload and requires the patience of the Speakers and of the table officers to make sure the work gets done.

I would like to thank the Bloc Quebecois member who will sit with me on the finance committee. I think we will have a great time working together.

We are proud of our record for the first two years of our mandate. We have fulfilled the vast majority of the commitments made in the red book and our first speech from the throne. We have focused on our plan to promote job creation and economic growth. As a result, 500,000 jobs were created and our growth rate is one of the highest among industrialized countries.

This throne speech outlines our plan of action for the second half of our mandate. Our goals remain unchanged. We want to build on what we have accomplished so far. This throne speech has three main thrusts: job creation and economic growth, the security of individual Canadians, and streamlining the federal system to strengthen Canadian unity.

We will put special emphasis on three major areas, namely young people, science and technology, and trade.

We will continue to foster a healthy economic climate by strengthening the basic parameters of our economy. To this end, we will meet our deficit reduction targets and work together with the provinces at harmonizing sales taxes and eliminating domestic trade impediments.

We will therefore rely on the Team Canada partnership between federal and provincial governments and the private sector to create jobs for young people; double the number of federal summer student jobs as early as this summer; support technology development in the aerospace industry, in environmental technologies and in biotechnology, and launch a Canadian technology network; expand the access to the information highway, particularly in rural communities; undertake further Team Canada missions under the leadership of the Prime Minister; and finally, announce new measures to enhance export development and financing.

I will also spend some time today addressing the very real issue facing Canadians, the Canadian pension system, an issue that perhaps has been discussed the most in the time leading up to the speech from the throne and next week's budget, as announced by the Minister of Finance today.

I cannot think of anything that hits more at home to the security of Canadians than what they believe their pensions will be as they retire. Because of great media speculation the government has decided to take the initiative to bring security to the system.

I as a Canadian and as a Liberal and now as a parliamentarian am very proud of the progress made among our seniors since the mid-1960s. The cornerstones of that program are the Canada pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement.

We have designed a program which, more so than any other country in the industrial world, has lifted literally millions of people from the edge of poverty or in dire straits during their retirement years to having a secured monthly pension.

Any discussions in public debate, whether from the government in the House, from the public in general or from researchers, that insinuates the Canada pension plan cannot be secured and that old age security is about to be taken away creates an insecurity among older Canadians that reverberates across the country. My constituency of Winnipeg North Centre is one of the areas in which many elderly live in very poor conditions. This worries people.

Let me assure the House on behalf of the government that we are making every effort to secure and modernize our pension plan. Perhaps the best way to think about this is to realize that people my age, in their late 40s, the baby boomers, will be hitting retirement age in approximately 15 years. That means an effective planning system has to be set in motion and we literally need a 15-year countdown. We have to facilitate and maintain the security of those who are already in retirement because they have the least flexibility to respond to new situations.

That is why our low inflation strategy, our price stability strategy, helps so many seniors. It gives them the security that their monthly pensions will not be eaten away at 5 per cent, 10 per cent or 15 per cent per year, rates which are not just a nightmare but rates we have already had in our own lifetime.

The purpose of the Canada pension plan review, which will be launched in March with the co-operation of the provinces, done jointly with them, is to ask Canadians how they want to secure their Canada pension plan. Do you want to see any cuts in benefits? Do you want to see increases in contribution rates? Do you want to see

changes in disability pensions? Do you want to see changes in the age of entitlement?

None of the 11 governments involved, as well as the two territories, is coming with preconceived ideas as to how it should be changed. However, they are coming with the one idea that it must be changed and that it must be done jointly. I am very optimistic that by the time the new year rolls around again we will have a resecured Canada pension plan with a new structure that will enable Canadians to understand that long into this 15-year horizon they will have a plan that is stable and able to finance their own retirement.

On the issue of government funded pensions, not the CPP which is paid for by the employers and employees but the general pension plan, it is incumbent on all parliamentarians to enter into a debate with the retired and also with people in their 40s and 50s about the retirement plans they have, how we can best structure all the components, whether RRSPs, the OAS or the GIS, and what sort of package can we put together that will help them in their retirement plans.

I can think of no other purpose for parliamentarians, no higher calling right now, than the accomplishment of security for seniors. This will require work at a time when the government maintains its deficit reduction strategy. The less call we make on the public purse the better off the country will be.

Because we are a Liberal government we have priorities. Our priorities are to focus on social security. We will have negotiations with the provinces this year to jointly set out a framework for the continuation of social and health transfers. We will make sure that social policy has direction and that the right thing is done for Canadians from sea to sea to sea.

We will also ensure, as outlined in the speech from the throne, that the cash component of the transfer does not disappear and that Canadians know that real money will continue to be put in the system by the federal government. This will bring upon us a new level of co-operation among the provinces so we can be assured that we have a transfer which is flexible, which allows the provinces to do what they think is best and is done in the framework agreed to by all of us and with the declared values we have as Canadians toward the health system, social assistance and post-secondary education.

These are the parameters of the government. This is what we are trying to do. The social agenda is evolving. It began with the former Minister of Human Resources Development. It is being continued with the present minister who is being assisted by the Minister of Finance and is being led by the Prime Minister. This is the cornerstone to providing social security for Canadians of all ages and turning our attention to the youth.

I say to the people of Winnipeg North Centre, this speech from the throne addresses issues of prime concern to you. We will have in front of us an agenda that treats people as fairly as possible and gives us a sense of purpose in our social policy.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Reform

Elwin Hermanson Reform Kindersley—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could share the optimism that the hon. member had for the future of the Canada pension plan. He seems to think that some minor adjustments and a slight increase of the contributions to the plan will salvage it.

He also talked about the baby boomers in his presentation. I happen to be in that group and one of many millions of Canadians who wonder whether there will be a CPP around when we reach eligibility age.

Another factor that he did not discuss in his speech should be considered. When we baby boomers were teenagers at the time of the centennial, the federal debt was only $17 billion. The population was about 20 million. Twenty-nine years later, 1996, the debt has multiplied 34 times. It is now $570-odd billion and is growing by over $90 million per day. This debt will be borne by the baby boomers as well.

How does the hon. member expect the younger generation, the children of the baby boomers, to make higher contributions to the CPP to fund our retirement while heaping on them a debt that is continuing to grow by $90 million a day? There are already three Liberal budgets or another $100 billion to add to that debt.

If it were just the CPP contributions that were going to go up, maybe the younger generation would be able to shoulder it. They will have to shoulder the interest on the increase of $100 billion in three years and no plan to balance the budget in the near future. The projection now is 2 per cent of GDP and 2 per cent is still billions and billions of dollars added to our debt every year.

We are handing this over to the baby boomers' children as well. They are going to be shouldering higher CPP deductions or premiums or however we arrange it, plus paying higher taxes to pay the interest on the debt which continues to grow.

Certainly it is not a fair burden to place on our children. I do not really think they will be able to shoulder it unless we take more responsible actions sooner.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Liberal

David Walker Liberal Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not share the total pessimism of the opposition spokesperson but I understand his frustration. If he thinks he is frustrated, I can say what it is like being a parliamentary secretary in the Department of Finance for the last two years and having to deal with reality every month.

The reality is that the government has made tremendous strides in the steps of reduction strategy and that it will in the next couple of years reach the targets that are acceptable to all Canadians. It will show tremendous progress on that front.

It has to be remembered that the drain being put on young people is untenable unless we change our ways. We agree with members opposite 100 per cent on that issue. It is hard to imagine that the Government of Canada will probably have to have a cash excess each year of about $50 billion to match interest rates for a while. That is a tremendous burden.

Having said that, the reductions that we are making in public expenditures and in interest rates, and the modest economic growth that we are seeing, are still contributing to a more positive cash flow situation for the federal government. I am optimistic that we will be able to hit these targets and give people enough tax base so that they can accommodate any changes in the CPP.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6 p.m.

Reform

Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, we also are very concerned about what is happening with CPP money. We hear the government is floating ideas such as the age of qualification is going to have to change, the amount of premiums that are collected are going to have to increase and perhaps benefits decrease, or a combination of those.

Looking at the money that is collected, I understand that it is then loaned back to the provinces at non-market rates. What is the government suggesting that it do? Perhaps the money that is collected can receive a proper return on the international market rather than be given at non-market rates to the provinces.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Walker Liberal Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Government of Canada has not made any of these proposals but all 11 governments, including the 10 provinces, have agreed to discuss these ideas. What Canadians tell us will be the way that we decide to go.

On the question of the money being available to the provinces, that is true. One of the questions in the discussion paper that has been circulated is whether or not that should continue. If premiums change, for example, there could be quite a pool of capital and I think we should all take an interest in how it should be invested.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate on the throne speech. What surprised me most in the throne speech the governor general made yesterday is the way in which the truth was doctored. In the speech from the throne, the government is doctoring the truth when it says that is has honoured its commitments. This is the first comment that came to our minds and it is crystal-clear.

When you examine the speech from the throne, you realize that some of the commitments mentioned in there are somewhat similar to the commitments the federal government made in its inaugural speech, on January 18, 1994. Let us review some of these commitments, one by one. The first commitment made by the government, and it was even mentioned in its platform, was to control the increase of the national debt and to control, through sound management practices, the deficit, year after year.

But, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, to control the annual deficit, the Minister of Finance is not using sound management practices, but rather measures to get out of his responsibilities in terms of public finance. The first of these measures, as we keep telling everyone, is to reduce the deficit by shovelling part of it into the provinces' backyards. These cuts already represent $7 billion in Canada, and almost $2 billion in Quebec, which the provincial government will have to make up for in the next two years.

We also know that, far from controlling the deficit by efficiently managing public finances, the Minister of Finance is stealing the surplus in the unemployment insurance fund, surplus that should reach in the next few years an average of $5 billion a year. What the Minister of Finance is not saying and what does not transpire in the speech from the throne is that the federal government stopped putting money into the unemployment insurance fund several years ago. Since the surplus in the unemployment insurance fund is used for this purpose, I guess we can say that the government is using it as a hidden tax to control the deficit.

Otherwise, the deficit control we were promised in the first speech from the throne and again in yesterday's speech would never come about, because nothing has been done to reduce the deficit in a correct and fair way, through good fiscal management. Nothing has been done to reduce the deficit. This is the first commitment that has not been honoured.

The second commitment that has not been honoured, and we see it again in yesterday's speech from the throne, is the abolition of the GST. The Prime Minister had even made this a major campaign issue in the fall of 1993. The government is dragging its feet. It is searching for a solution to this commitment made by the Prime Minister, and Quebecers as well as Canadians are still waiting for this promise to be fulfilled. So that is another commitment that has not been honoured.

Third commitment. The government is speaking as if it had just arrived in this House.

It says that we need a research and development policy, a policy in the bio-food industry. It says we need a research and development policy because Canada is lagging behind. Canada has been lagging behind for ten years and it has been nearly three years since government members had made this a major issue in the 1993 campaign, even before being elected. I remember the Minister of Finance making a speech in Montreal, as early as 1989, on the

importance of research and development. I remember him saying that year that Canada was lagging behind considerably in this area, which undermined its ability to create in the medium term steady and meaningful jobs.

This government and its spokesperson, the Minister of Finance, are making empty promises. The research and development policy never became reality, the money was never spent, the billion dollars that were promised during the election campaign were never invested, and the government is now telling us in this speech from the throne that it is going to do all that.

What is another commitment from the Liberal government worth when it did not honour its previous commitments in the first half of its mandate? As for the fourth commitment, the government promised to help Montreal get back on its feet. As the Leader of the Opposition was saying this afternoon, Montrealers are still waiting for concrete measures that will help them get out of the slump.

Another commitment, and it struck me as soon as I heard the speech from the throne. Not only have the Liberals not honoured their commitments, but they also have shirked their responsibilities. Regarding the environment, the speech says that "The solutions to many environmental problems lie outside our borders". It is shameful to say such a thing. At the present time, we have a major environmental problem called the raising of the Irving Whale . The Deputy Prime Minister, who recently held the environment portfolio, spent over $12 million on a solution which we knew would fail; now, we have to go back to square one and the whole shoreline of the Magdalene Islands might be polluted. When I see such statements, I am ashamed of this government.

This afternoon, I listened to the Prime Minister. I listened to him religiously since he is the chief of state, the Prime Minister. He urged us to follow up on Canada's success story. He said: "A success which we must continue to build". But on which foundations? The foundations can be found in the throne speech; the first one is national unity. The government wants to continue to build this country by refusing to recognize Quebec's specificity, Quebec's identity, and the existence of a people in Quebec.

The throne speech is nothing but a frame-up; it says that the government wants to entrench the distinct society in the Constitution. But what the Prime Minister does not say, and what the governor general did not say yesterday while speaking on his behalf, is that entrenching an empty shell does not change the fact that it is still an empty shell. This is the kind of distinct society the Prime Minister would eventually like to entrench in the Constitution while trying to convince the other provinces that it would not deprive them of anything. This is what the Prime Minister was saying this afternoon. However what the Prime Minister overlooked is that if that concept does not take away from other provinces and does not offload anything in the provinces' backyards, maybe it means nothing to Quebec. That is what we understood and that is what Quebecers understood last October 30.

Now we see that the Prime Minister did not get that message. Quebecers are no longer looking for symbolism, they want real actions, real measures, a true recognition, and the Prime Minister will not be able to fool them. He asks us to continue building Canada's prosperity on another basis. We find the same thing again in the throne speech on the continuation of jurisdictional fights. What a wonderful program. What a fine perspective. In two different places in the throne speech, they announce that, first of all, the federal government will withdraw from certain areas of jurisdiction it now occupies. We should thank the government, but at the same time, it announces that the measures taken in those areas could be transferred to municipal authorities or to the private sector, that it could bypass the provinces and go directly to those instances.

When the federal government speaks about withdrawing from certain fields, certain areas it now occupies illegitimately, because they are areas of provincial jurisdiction, of Quebec jurisdiction, like occupational training, forestry and mining, it is not offering us a gift. And it is certainly not offering a gift when it says: "Not only do I recognize that I was occupying these areas inequitably, but from now on, I will go over the head of the Quebec government and contact directly its own creations, the municipalities, or I will simply give more power to the private sector in areas falling under Quebec's jurisdiction".

This does not make any sense. We should also thank it for asking us to continue to build on the success of Canada when it more or less says in the throne speech: "From now on, I will continue invading jurisdictions that are exclusively provincial and I will do so with the help of a majority of Canadian provinces".

What it means is that if Quebec, a distinct people, does not want the federal government to implement a Canada-wide program in an area which is its exclusive jurisdiction, it will be isolated if a majority of provinces decide otherwise. This is a way of isolating Quebec. This is what the government calls an invitation to build on this country's success.

The government is also inviting us to continue building this country on the basis of a smaller social security net. Let us not kid ourselves. I almost blew my top when I read that in the speech from the throne. The Governor General started the speech by talking about compassion, he said the government showed compassion. The truth is, this government has shown less compassion that the Conservatives during their nine year rule. Liberals did their utmost to shrink the social security net. How else would you interpret the reform of social programs? How else would you interpret the general dissatisfaction throughout Canada about this reform of

social programs? How else would you interpret this systematic attack against the unemployed?

Quebecers, like Canadians, know that between talk and action, between commitments and what is actually being done, the government has left a large gap, and it will remain during the second part of its mandate.

How could it ask us, ask Quebecers, to continue to build a country on the basis of a systematic squandering of public funds? How can it ask us to continue working within a system which has recently allowed spending $2 billion to buy armoured vehicles in peacetime? We should be grateful that we are at peace. How can we continue building a country which is buying 1,600 antitank missiles at a cost of $23.6 million out of a total program of $230 million in peacetime? Is this the way to success, to continue building a country on the basis of continuing fiscal inequities? We can only repeat that popular phrase: "No thanks".

It is incredible that a government whose spokespersons have been talking about compassion, social justice, fiscal justice and equity for two years, would have come to a point where it refuses to examine the whole system of tax exemptions, a system benefiting mostly large corporations which have the means to take advantage of it. The government readily accepts that Revenue Canada does not even know how much half of the more than 250 such exemptions are costing the federal government. We know the value of about half of these exemptions.

According to the Department of Finance, these exemptions to large businesses cost taxpayers in Quebec and Canada more than $17 billion a year. But for the other part, the other hundred or so exemptions, the finance minister and all the government representatives have systematically refused for the last two years and a half that the House examine their content, their scope, their objectives and their costs. Why? In order to continue to build this country on the flouting of democratic rules. We also say no thanks, Mr. Speaker.

A country where, from the very first pages of the throne speech, the government says that it respects the October 30 verdict and then says: "But if that happens again, we will not respect it, we will not allow Quebecers to choose their future for themselves, we will hold a referendum or a Canada-wide consultation to do that", is a country that does not make any sense. It is a country I have more and more trouble relating to. It is a country that accepts a democratic verdict one day, when it suits it, and at the same time decides, through its political representatives, that, if Quebecers were to decide tomorrow to choose a country for themselves, perhaps it would not recognize this verdict or perhaps it would hold a Canada-wide consultation so that Canadians from the other provinces can determine Quebecers' fate and future.

In conclusion, I was listening to the Prime Minister who was saying earlier, and I quote: "The world sees Canada very much as a real country". I wondered that he meant by that. We never doubted that Canada is a real country. But what the Prime Minister has failed to understand is that, next time, Quebecers will also choose a real country for themselves, a country where they will feel at home, a country where they will not feel increasingly crowded in, for a increasing majority of them, a country that they will also be proud of, a country where values of compassion, fairness and social justice will be expressed in policies on employment, the fight against poverty, economic growth and tax reform. That will be a real country.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the hon. member's speech. He had all sorts of complaints about Canada, but he did not make any comparison to show the relative importance of all these problems. It is true that we, in our country, have many problems. There are always problems. The way to solve them is to find solutions. Before saying that we must leave this country, however, we should first look at the options. We should look at how other countries operate. Otherwise, we work in a vacuum. The hon. member has not taken that into consideration. I feel that Canadians should always consider our position in the world.

I have seen very poor countries in the world, such as Haiti. Haitians would love to trade their problems for ours, because ours are much smaller than theirs.

It seems the hon. member is a bit like the airline passenger aboard an aeroplane in mid air who decided it was too noisy and so he decided to get out. This country may not be perfect. It has a lot of problems. It is probably the worst there is, except for all the others. The United Nations said it is the best country in the world to live in.

This member does not want to consider that. He wants to look only at the negatives and only at the problems. Yes, there are problems and yes, we are committed to working on those problems. In the throne speech the government talked about how it is very important that we focus on problems like job creation even more than we have in the past.

We have to keep focusing on deficit reduction. It is important we get our economic fundamentals right so the economy can create jobs. We have interest rates down. We started two years ago. Our

interest rates were three points above the American's. Now they are about the same. That is a great improvement.

However, there are still problems. We still need to create more jobs. People in my riding of Halifax West are looking for jobs. The government has to keep focusing on that. We have to focus more on that in the next couple of years. I was glad to hear in the throne speech that we will do that.

It seems the throne speech sets the government in the right direction. The priorities set in the throne speech are Canadian priorities. They are priorities of the people of Canada from coast to coast, from sea to sea to sea, and they are the priorities of the government, as they should be.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised several points, as comments rather than as questions. I will deal with two of those. To be sure, there are problems in Canada and everywhere in the world. I am not saying that there are more problems here. I am saying, however, that in Canada we are creating our own problems.

Your government creates problems. Producing a speech from the throne that promotes all sorts of measures likely to lead to constitutional friction and jurisdictional disputes, regardless of how cautiously the government wants to proceed, that is creating problems.

The other point is the reference to Canada as the best country in the world. To say that there is a best country in the world is to insult other countries. It is insulting to other countries, because if you live in the best country, it means that the others are not as good. The fact is that countries are different. The best country is the one we have in our heart; it is the one we will build in Quebec.

We must understand the real and durable solution for Quebec and Canada, for Quebecers and Canadians, is sovereignty for Quebec and the development of a new relationship between the two peoples.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am specifically interested in the member's comments earlier regarding the armed forces.

CFB Chilliwack in my riding is now doomed and destined to be closed. It is, unfortunately, the last armed forces base in British Columbia. It has brought a lot of consternation and concern to many British Columbians that we no longer have an armed forces base in British Columbia.

The member said we should not be spending money on personnel carriers or on weaponry in peace time. To follow that logic, would he be willing to give up some of the military establishments in his province?

Perhaps he could encourage the premier of his province and his own party to consider the closure of perhaps Saint-Jean, perhaps the F-18 service contract, some of the things that were taken from the west. If he finds it offensive, we are willing to look after those military establishments in the rest of Canada. I wonder if he thinks they should be shut down and moved out of his province or what he has in mind for the military.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have this answer to the hon. member's two questions. First, as far as Quebec and National Defence are concerned, Quebec gets far less than what it pays in taxes to the federal government. We get about 13 per cent of the spending-

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Look at the figures instead of acting like your minds are already made up. Look at the Statistics Canada reports, look at the figures for spending and investment by National Defence in Quebec and compare them with the figures of the other provinces, and you will realize what is going on. You say you are pragmatic, so be pragmatic for once. Check your information. Quebec gets 13 per cent of National Defence spending although it pays 25 per cent of the tax bill.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would appreciate it if hon. members would address the Chair. I get very lonesome when you speak directly to the other members.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

I apologize, Mr. Speaker. They were talking about downsizing at the Department of National Defence. Downsizing should not mean closing bases right and left but taking a long hard look at what should and should not be done.

Does it make sense that at Canada's Department of National Defence, there are ten times more officers in the senior ranks than in most industrialized countries? These senior officers are paid salaries ranging from $75,000 to $150,000, or more, plus a chauffeur and a limousine, in some cases. Could there be too many of them? Does it make sense to spend money on anti-tank missiles in peacetime nowadays? Does it serve any purpose to invest in very sophisticated submarines?

Downsizing also means looking at the mandate of the Department of National Defence. In peacetime, it should be peacekeeping. Peacekeepers need training, they need bases and all the infrastructures, but they do not need anti-tank missiles.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I recognize the hon. member for Kootenay East. The hon. member will appreciate that the debate ends in two minutes. There will be two minutes remaining until next time. He has a minute and his colleague will have a minute to reply.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the two years that we have been here we have heard the Bloc Quebecois

members consistently talk about their vision of Quebec, which I suppose is fine except when they are the official opposition.

In the context of the majority of the member's comments, would he not agree that they are all virtually focused on the whole issue of the province of Quebec as a province of Canada and that is it? In other words, in his judgment what purpose is he or his party serving in this House in the role of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, my answer to my Reform Party colleague is simply this: During the past two years we have spoken to Canadians across Canada, from east to west, and recently we heard from Canadians who said they liked the Bloc Quebecois as the official opposition and even hoped we would win the three byelections in Quebec, so there would be no more of this talk about the Reform Party claiming to be the official opposition on the right.

Those house resumed from February 27, 1996, consideration of the motion that Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais, member for the electoral district of Madawaska-Victoria, be appointed Assistant Deputy Chairman of Committees of the Whole House.

Committees Of The WholeRoutine Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It being 6.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred division on Motion No. 2 under the heading "Government Business" standing in the name of Mr. Chrétien (Saint-Maurice).

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion which was agreed to on the following division:)

Committees Of The WholeRoutine Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

My colleagues, this is the first opportunity I have had since the new session started to thank you all for the support you have shown for me in my role as the Chair.

I appreciate your renewed confidence in my abilities and will endeavour to do my best to ensure your confidence has not been misplaced.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

moved:

That this House take note of Canada's current and future international peacekeeping commitments in Haiti, with particular reference to Canada's willingness to play a major role in the next phase of the international community's efforts to sustain a secure and stable environment in Haiti.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I remind all colleagues that each intervention will be only 10 minutes without questions or comments.

Ten minutes without questions and comments.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to open this special debate on Canada's participation in another peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

First of all, I would like to thank my fellow members of this House, members of the Bloc Quebecois, the Reform Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party as well as those of my own party, the government party. This debate would not have been possible without your support, and I thank you for it.

I am sorry this debate was held on such short notice. As you know, things are happening very fast in New York, at the UN, and the Canadian government may have to make a decision in the very near future. I appreciate the co-operation of all parties in this new Parliament. This way, the people of Canada will be able to express their views to their elected representatives on an important foreign affairs issue.

I also want to point out that today's consultation will not the last on Canada's foreign policy or on Haiti. And I promise that, as far as possible, future debates will be held under better circumstances.

We all know how important the situation in Haiti is to us as Canadians, to the Haitians and to the world community as a whole. It has in the last several months been a remarkable demonstration of a country under a major process of democratization. For a country that used to be dominated by dictatorship, severe police, autocracy and by a total elimination of human rights and economic hope, it has now had some of that restored.

Now that the euphoria of the first months of freedom is beginning to set into reality, we must dedicate ourselves to the continuous building and construction of that country.

The new president, Préval, was sworn in on February 7. I am pleased to say my new colleague, the hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of International Co-operation, attended the inauguration. The president made a representation to the United Nations of the need for continued assistance while his country does the rebuilding. The first necessary condition is long term stability.

Haitian police force members, many having been trained by our country and by others, are ready to ensure their responsibilities. However, they are young and inexperienced and still need time to learn on the job. As a result there has to be a complementary international presence to ensure stability and security for the population to allow its fledgling institutions of democracy to be formed. It they are left on their own at this crucial stage, the likelihood is that the problems would mount and there would be no backup or security for their initial efforts.

Over the past few weeks I have had a number of consultations on the issue of Haiti. My first trip as foreign affairs minister was to the United Nations where I consulted with the secretary-general and

officials of the UN to ensure that any continuation of mandate in Haiti would have sufficient resources to meet the task.

We have learned our lessons. We realize that when the United Nations takes on a role there must be proper and effective resources to meet the needs.

I have also had the opportunity to hold consultations with members of the opposition parties in the past two weeks to talk to them about what their concerns would be.

Last week, I met with members of the Haitian community in Montreal. They show great solidarity. They are also quite inventive in coming up with solutions to the problems facing their home country.

I also brought the views of Canadians to bear by opening up this question on the Internet so we were able to ensure that Canadians from a wide variety of perspectives could let us know what their thoughts were. The vast majority are very supportive of the continuation of Canada's role of support.

As members know, at the present moment the security council is still debating the issue. The secretary-general has made a request that Canada would take leadership as the mandate of the Americans comes to an end at the end of this week.

The security council is considering the questions of the size of the force and the length of the tenure. Certain members of the security council have raised questions, as they have a right to do. However, because we believe so strongly in the need to continue and maintain a UN presence, an international presence in Haiti, we have come forward with proposals and solutions we think will allow that force to continue and allow the deadlock to be broken, once again demonstrating that as a country we are in a unique and special position to provide leadership, to put forward ideas and to help create bridges, as our Prime Minister said earlier, for solutions to this problem.

What we are suggesting in effect is that if the size of the UN force is not sufficient to meet the task, we could provide auxiliary forces still under the control of a Canadian general, under the UN rules of engagement admission, to ensure that fully adequate resources are available when necessary to maintain the full and adequate positioning of the international forces there and to maintain the security and stability required.

It is our hope the proposals we have put forward will serve as the basis for the resolution of this matter.

At this moment the UN security council has not made its final decision. It is looking at these proposals and although the time is getting short we are confident that because of interventions we made we will find an adequate, proper and effective response to the request of the Haitian government.

We still need and want the expressions of opinion of members of Parliament on what they think would be the most effective, adequate, proper, constructive way for the force to continue its leadership.

When the official decision is made by the security council we would be in a position to make a proper and immediate response. Our will is there. Our inclination and disposition are there. We are finding the solutions but we need to have the views of members of Parliament.

If the decision is made by the security council for Canada to take on its leadership and for us to provide the kind of resources required, I will maintain constant communication and discussion with the new foreign affairs committee so that it will be fully informed on an ongoing basis.

I have had discussions with members of the opposition and they have expressed to me their interest in having the committee as a monitoring agency able to maintain a constant overview and assessment of Canadian overseas operations. We will make that initiative with the committee once it is established, report on a periodic basis and receive responses so that Parliament is a constant partner in this very important mission.

Canada will not be alone. Other countries are making their own interest known. The Pakistan and Bangladesh governments have indicated their willingness to continue the missions. The French government has told me that it is continuing to be involved in the training of police forces and the maintenance of that area. The Americans are maintaining missions of economic development and support in that country.

Beyond the pure maintenance of order we must also ensure rebuilding, economic development, social development, development of a civil society in Haiti, building up judicial institutions and proper ways the government is allowed to conduct its efforts.

Canada cannot try to solve every problem everywhere in the world but this is a place where we can make a difference as Canadians. We have been asked to take a role. We have the reputation and the experience.

Our country is a bilingual country capable of providing peacekeeping services in French. Since Haiti is a member of the Francophonie, this special role played by Canada will make a difference for the people of Haiti.

I hope we as Canadians can offer hope to the people of that country. They are looking for help. They want support. They are starting an exciting process of rebuilding a country, rebuilding a democracy. Canada can make a difference to those people in terms

of expanding and enhancing the role of the United Nations, giving the international community a place and once again demonstrating to the world that Canada is the real peacekeeper.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, for some time now we have been given the opportunity to participate in debates on peacekeeping missions. In that regard, I want to tell the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, whom I congratulate on his appointment, that we are pleased to once again take part in a debate on peacekeeping missions in which Canada might take part.

In light of previous debates on this issue, of the Minister of Foreign Affairs' speech, and of the motion, it goes without saying that, as a matter of principle, the Bloc Quebecois supports this type of motion, which proposes that Canada play a role in helping to maintain peace in Haiti whose population, as we know, was ruled by dictators for many years.

However, I remember that we asked on several occasions, including the two debates on Bosnia, that the government come up with specific and well-defined criteria before holding a debate in the House.

In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs shows a great deal of compassion and goodwill, reflecting Canadian values regarding peacekeeping missions, and the Bloc Quebecois fully agrees with those. We have no problem with that.

However, we also said on several occasions that some specific criteria should be set, that the duration of the missions should be determined, as well as the mandate, the number of troops to be sent, and the cost of these missions. It appears that nothing has yet been decided, even though cabinet apparently agreed, based on the information that we have, to send some 750 peacekeepers to Haiti to carry out that mission and to ensure the establishment of a democracy.

But nowhere is there any mention of what Canada's mandate would be. It was assumed that Canada might take over command of the UN mission and that American troops would leave, to be replaced by troops from other countries.

As I said, we readily support this principle but I may have to play the killjoy here and say that, in my view, not much has changed in the preparation of peace missions. We seem to answer requests by the UN without knowing in advance what the real needs are or what we can offer.

It even happened a few times that we exhausted our own peacekeepers. I see the Minister of National Defence sitting in the front benches, and I remember quite well that we often heard him say that if we were to provide more peacekeepers we would not have enough soldiers for the turnover. Some of them were on their fourth or fifth tour of duty in Bosnia. And here we are, committing to yet another mission. Far from me to suggest that we do not agree with that except that, in the last debate on Bosnia, we had asked for exact figures and we still have not received them.

The planning seems to be somewhat improvised. I would say this is rather what we have come to expect from this government over the last two years. There is no shortage of great ideas and grand principles, but there does not seem to be any planning. Right now in Bosnia and in Haiti there are almost 6,000 peacekeepers, Americans, a few French, Canadian, and Dutch troops, etc. I will not give a full list. There are also almost 800 police officers. Yet in spite of all that aid, there are problems. It is very difficult to disarm the Haitian putschists. In fact, Haitian citizens have complained about the non-application of these standards.

Considering the scenario that is slowly unfolding, and this is my reservation on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, if the Americans withdraw from Haiti and Canada takes over command of the UN force with some 2,000 peacekeepers and 500 to 600 police officers, how can we expect as Canadians to disarm the putschists? Moreover, the UN expects, and this is mentioned in the motion, the problems to be solved within six months. Unfortunately, I do not agree with that when we see all the problems that have occurred since 1991-92. I have a hard time acknowledging that simply by arriving with a new mission we will really get what we want.

We could support the principle for another reason. During the defence policy review, the Bloc Quebecois suggested in its dissenting report that Canada should also consider whether its universal mission was not overly ambitious and whether it would not be more appropriate for it to concentrate its efforts in areas of the world where its presence is more natural, such as in America and the Caribbean. We said that, by establishing a regional profile, Canada could better manage and plan requests from the UN while giving Canadian military peacekeepers better and more thorough training. This suggestion was made in a dissenting report tabled in October 1994. We repeated it in the debate on Bosnia and it seems to have gone unheeded, unfortunately. Here is another instance of lack of planning.

I say again, in terms of the principle itself, the Bloc Quebecois supports the Canadian mission without hesitation. We would even say that-as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said-it is really Canada's role, in the end, given that Haitians are part of the francophone community. Obviously, being French speaking, troops coming from the Val-Cartier base, in my riding, will find it easier to relate to the Haitian people than American peacekeepers did due to the language barrier.

On the other hand, I do have other reservations regarding this mission. This afternoon, during question period, I asked the defence minister to confirm the information we had to the effect that General Daigle might be appointed the commanding officer of the UN force in Haiti.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to raise the issue again since the defence minister told me that he would comment on it during the emergency debate. I am referring to the problems in Somalia, to the attack on the Quebec Citadel, and other problems the minister is probably aware of, including the incidents in Gagetown when General Daigle was not yet general. There seems to be a trend as revealed by the inquiry on the deployment of the airborne regiment in Somalia and all the problems surrounding certain individuals. This causes me some concern and my colleagues are of a same mind. We are concerned even though the minister told us he has full confidence in the new general. We are concerned about the history of problems which have been more or less fixed and, I would say, sometimes covered up. This is another reservation I want to mention, Mr. Speaker.

In conclusion, I will say that the Bloc agrees in principle, with a few reservations: we do not know the costs, and we do not know the mandate nor the criteria, and this is not the first time we are saying this. I believe the time has come to present a more specific plan before making any further commitment.

To conclude, I would like to say there is no doubt that the Haitian people needs this and that Canada, because of its geography, must take part in this mission. However, as usual, I would appreciate if we could have more detailed information, as we have requested, in order to apprise the people of the role our peacekeepers are going to play in Haiti, as well as the costs and the means provided to carry on this mission.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:25 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin my speech I want to comment on the minister's statement. He said that he would consider using the foreign affairs committee as a vehicle through which members could discuss this sort of thing. That should be very positive. If foreign affairs is not an area that we can approach in a non-partisan way, then there probably is not an area where we can. I look forward to that co-operation. I certainly hope it works.

A few areas must be talked about with regard to Haiti and this decision. As the last speaker mentioned, this is in our hemisphere. We have a great deal at stake in maintaining stability within the Americas and can set an example that hopefully the Europeans will look at when considerations come up later in the year regarding Bosnia.

We have to talk about the leadership role we can play in Haiti. I believe we are giving an important message which I hope will be

picked up by everyone. Obviously we are doing a favour for the U.S. It is election year but we will not talk about that issue. However, we expect this should weigh rather heavily when the US. considers setting policy in such matters as international trade and removing anti-Canada provisions in the Helms-Burton bill. We expect the Minister of Foreign Affairs to make very clear to the Americans the help Canada is providing them in this area and that certainly we need consideration in other areas-wink, wink.

We need to talk about the problems, the factions that exist in Haiti and their long history. Guns are still in the hands of people, particularly in the countryside. We could talk about the hatred that has built up in this country. These are all issues that could be talked about.

As I understand it, Canada will have control of this mission. That was something that really bothered us in Bosnia where we were not even part of the contact group. This is a move forward.

I want to tell the minister that I was at a town hall meeting last night which over 300 people attended. I gave a 20-minute presentation on Haiti because I knew this debate was coming tonight. That is just about as grassroots and as immediate as one can get. A wide range of people were there, not simply party members. I think the group was a typical cross section of Canadians.

I was rather surprised at the message which was: "You're cutting our health care, you're threatening our pensions. Now what about this going off to other places?" I was rather surprised that the message was quite as blatant as this, that it was so outspoken.

Two people said that Canadians should go but that we should be sure the soldiers have the right equipment and the right training. They put qualifications on their going. However, a huge number of that 300-person crowd said: "We have real concerns. We think you should hold back until you have all the criteria".

What should those criteria be? The message certainly included the length of stay. The resolution in the UN very clearly says that this is an extension for six months. I listened carefully to the minister, making sure that he emphasized that part of the mandate in the UN resolution. I trust it will be made clear that in fact it is six months. Conditions could arise that would cause us to reconsider but there is a six-month period in there.

The government should tell Canadians the cost of this. If on September 30, 1996, the government tabled in this House what this mission cost us, that kind of openness would help to build the confidence of the public, certainly the 300 people I talked to last night.

Is there a contingency plan? When the Americans were there they had a carrier in the harbour. They had attack helicopters that could be brought in. That is a pretty big stick to hold over anyone.

My question is: Do we have any kind of contingency plan, any kind of big stick that we might use to keep people in line?

I bring forth again the U.S. election situation. Obviously this plays very heavily on why the Americans want to leave. They want to leave because they cannot afford to have any ripples and obviously this is a major issue.

I also want to ask about the OAS. I want to know what the OAS has said, what it is going to do, how strongly it is supporting this sort of mission. Can we count on the OAS for support and help and what sort of help will that entail?

It seems to me that the OAS should become a much more important body. If we talk about the regional nature of the Americas, the OAS should be the one that helps monitor problems within that sphere. Obviously Europe is another area and possibly Africa is in their sphere. In southeast Asia there is the whole area of the Asia-Pacific. If we have these spheres we can then start to create a more peaceful world in which all of us can live, trade and get along.

I also would like to know about the reconstruction. Haiti is a country that does not have an education system, that does not have the services, the social system. Certainly there are the problems in the countryside which we have read about. What sort of plan does the UN have, if it has a plan, for the reconstruction of this country? We need a long term solution. We do not need to go back in a few months, years, or whatever. We need a plan.

In conclusion and in talking about this take note debate, I know the minister is aware of my concerns that we do not have a sham of a debate. We must have a true debate where all members take part and represent their constituents on a non-partisan issue like this one, where they can actually hear the pros and cons of the debate. They would then have the duty in a free vote to vote on what this assembly has heard on an issue like this one.

Let us take the politics out of it and put it into the area where we are really representing. This would be a perfect area to do that. If we are sending over 100 troops we should have that sort of debate.

As well, it is important that the government at least 48 hours prior tells us of the tentative budget, the mission's mandate, the size and duration of the commitment, the rules of engagement and certainly the rotation and so on planned for those troops. We owe that to Canadians. If we cannot get that information then we should not be signing a blank cheque. If the UN is so disorganized that it cannot provide it, then perhaps we should not be going.

These sorts of things are the big issues for Canadians and they are asking these questions: What is the mandate? Would you send your son or daughter on this mission? Is it safe? Do we have the equipment? Do we have the mandate? We owe it to Canadians to come up with the answers to those questions.

I believe the House will respond to that in a very positive way. That is how we build up the feeling as Canadians that we are proud of our peacekeepers, that we are proud of our missions abroad, that we are proud to be Canadians. We tend to be shy when we talk about ourselves. I know that all members on all sides of the House would agree it is time that we became proud Canadians. We can demonstrate it through missions like this one provided we have the confidence of the people. The way to have that confidence is to make it transparent, make it open, let them be part of it, let the members of Parliament be part of it and ask the people.

I welcome this opportunity to deliver this message. I know that our new minister is listening.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:35 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to take part in this debate because it is crucial to Canada's peacekeeping mission.

It is appropriate that Canada was called upon to play an important role in Haiti because we have for a long time participated in the peacekeeping missions of the UN and we have made great efforts to ensure the security and the stability in the western hemisphere.

Our participation in Haiti also reflects the reality of bilingualism in Canada and our role as a leader within the francophonie.

Canada helped in many ways: members of the Canadian armed forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police participated in the UN mission in Haiti; Canada trained Haitians who would form a national police force in Haiti; finally, we offered bilateral financial help in order to facilitate the social and economical stabilization of the country.

We have assisted in the last number of months in Haiti. I visited our forces last fall in Port-au-Prince and also on a mission to Gonaïves.

The forces have been composed of about 600 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, some army, but largely air force. I underscore this because people often think that peacekeeping missions are simply the reserve of the army. The fact is that the navy and the air force do participate in these missions and of course the air force has carried the load so far in Haiti.

What we are talking about this evening and my colleague the Minister of Foreign Affairs has talked about the ongoing debate in New York, we are talking about a force that Canada might send of up to 750 personnel. It may be configured in an imaginative way,

perhaps not all under blue berets, perhaps under green berets. The fact is that what is envisaged is to have a Canadian commander.

On that point I do regret the comments made by the hon. member-

-for Charlesbourg because he criticized one of our generals. It is unfortunate because, as I said during Question Period, I trust all the generals in the Canadian forces and I also trust the person who raised that question this afternoon and this evening.

The decision as to who commands the Canadian force should we participate is a decision for the chief of defence staff. That is an operational decision and is one that I shall support.

A lot of good work has to be done in Haiti. The reconstruction of Haiti is needed. The force in the last six months under the leadership of the United Nations has established a degree of peace in that area. The crime rate has gone down. Democratic elections have been held. Really it has been quite successful.

I understand the reservations some members have with respect to Canada participating yet again in terms of the length of the mission and especially the cost of the mission. I stood up in this House sometime ago and I gave an approximate cost for IFOR. I have been quite amazed that not the incremental costs on the Canadian side but the costs on the NATO side have escalated.

I think the hon. members for Red Deer and Charlevoix have raised very good points about getting a better handle on the costs before we go into these missions. I will not be able to give a full accounting of IFOR for a few weeks. I will come back to the House and give that information but we do have to be very very careful.

With respect to the rules of engagement, we have to be very sure that we know under what auspices we are operating there. We have had some unpleasant experiences before, one in Somalia, and we have learned a lot of lessons.

As I mentioned in the IFOR debate before Christmas, it was because of the lessons that we had learned in the past that we were able to work with our colleagues in NATO to develop rules of engagement that were applicable to that particular situation. We want to make sure that the rules of engagement for any mission in Haiti are certainly ironed out and that we know what we are getting into.

With respect to the resources devoted to the development of the Haitian national police, that is also something we want to know about. This is just not a Canadian Armed Forces operation; the RCMP have been involved and involved in a terrific way. Inspector Pouliot of the RCMP has been well received and has been widely congratulated for the efforts he has given to the Haitian police force.

However we would like to know what the UN has in mind in terms of financial resources for that force. The mandate has to be appropriate and achievable under the circumstances. We have to know the rules of engagement. We have to know what the ultimate force size and composition are and they are the subject of negotiation, as my colleague just said, and we do not really have a clear handle on that. When we get all the costs and conditions, we will be in a position to know if the mission is viable. I think it will be viable but the questions raised here today have to be answered.

The hon. member for Red Deer talked about the public meeting in his constituency. I applaud him for having that kind of grassroots debate before we came here this evening. He made a statement that I would really like to challenge, which is that Canadians, despite our own financial woes, despite our own domestic pressures are unwilling or unable to help less fortunate nations.

Those of us on this side of the House believe that no matter what belt tightening we have to do as a government or as a people, the generosity of Canadians and the richness of our society is such that we must continue to do our bit in helping less fortunate patrons in the world. From time to time we run into doubting Thomases so to speak about our involvement and where it gets us. We have a track record, whether it has been in Somalia, whether in Bosnia, Croatia, Rwanda, Haiti in the last number of months, I think the UN missions have been successful. They have been worth participating in and the UN has made a difference. It has made a difference because it has been able to count on the dedication of forces from around the world.

We have heard the Prime Minister say in this House how highly regarded the Canadian men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces are, how highly regarded men and women of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are, as are other civilian officials who monitor elections, are involved in overseas development work, are involved in bringing aid, in monitoring and are involved as observers. All the Canadians who have been involved in missions in the last few years have done an excellent job. That is why the UN needs us.

The UN frankly needs Canada. We have been in the forefront of peacekeeping development and overseas development generally in the last 50 years. If Canada is asked, if the conditions are right and if my colleague and I are satisfied that certainly the conditions under which we want to operate which we described this evening are met, then we should entertain participation in that force.

We owe a helping hand to Haiti. It is the poorest country in this hemisphere. I know the country well. I have been there at least a dozen times on various business and overseas development missions. It is a tragic case of where a people and a country have been exploited unduly. We as well as others in the United Nations are trying to make a difference to at last get Haiti back on the right path to democracy and to the improvement of its economy and the lot and lives of individuals.

The hon. member for Red Deer raised a very good point, that is, the whole question of what guarantees there are if there is a problem. This is not quite like Bosnia or Croatia but there are precedents where the United States particularly was willing to extract forces from Somalia. The U.S. was certainly willing with the allies to extract forces from UNPROFOR last year. In fact, we were part of that planning. The hon. member should rest assured that should anything untoward happen, we have the means, we have the ability, we have the equipment and we have the belief that our friends and allies would make sure that if there were any undue emergencies, they would be there to help us in a difficult situation. The precedents have already been set.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, the motion introduced by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, providing that Canada assume control of the UN Mission in Haiti shows, first of all, that the United Nations Organization has a great trust in Canada and its peacekeeping missions.

I would like to stress that the Bloc Quebecois is pleased to see that the new Minister of Foreign Affairs is willing to consult members of Parliament regarding the Canada's involvement in this mission. The goal is to continue the peace mission already in progress in Haiti. As I said previously, Canada shows a great deal of openness towards countries in need of humanitarian help, or support in re-establishing democracy and respect for human rights, or help in maintaining a stable and peaceful society, in short, help in their peacebuilding efforts.

We are currently living in a world where a country cannot ignore what other countries are doing or experiencing, and even more so when such a country is a friend and almost a neighbour. The need to live in peace in the world requires actions and initiatives which promote better conditions. Some would tell us, wrongly, that we should take care of our deficit and our own problems before giving any help to foreign countries. This would be a shortsighted view when faced with a problem which might endanger our own security.

To get a better understanding of the context which led to the motion we are debating today, I would like to review briefly the various interventions of the UN in Haiti. In December 1990 the long awaited first democratic election brought President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. The success of that election was in part the result of the good work of an international mission of observers under the direction of Pierre F. Côté, director general of elections in Quebec.

Less than a year later, a coup perpetrated by the Haitian army forced the new president into exile. Following the coup of September 30, 1991 and until the President's return, the people of Haiti were under a military regime that scorned the fundamental principles of democracy. During those three years, more than 3,000 people were killed by putschists in summary executions, over and above others acts of torture. In the absence of any willingness on the part of the military to restore democracy, severe economic sanctions were imposed on the country by UN and OAS members.

Quebecers and Canadians were among the first to call upon their elected representatives to make major efforts in order to restore democracy and ensure President Aristide's return. Canada also took part in several humanitarian missions under the UN and the OAS.

Furthermore, more than 500 police officers and peacekeepers from Canada and Quebec were involved in the UN mission to Haiti, known as UNMIH. That mission was launched pursuant to Resolution 867 of the Security Council. It was aimed at implementing the Governors Island agreement in order to ensure the President's return as soon as possible. In July 1994, just a year and a half ago, the UN mission to Haiti being unable to give effect to that agreement, Canada took part in setting up a multinational force under U.S. command, in order to hasten the departure of the Haitian military leaders.

The UN Security Council then gave increased capabilities to the multinational force, which would give over these powers to the UN mission to Haiti once the situation had been stabilized. As of March 31, 1995, Canada had provided 100 RCMP officers and 500 members of its armed forces to the UN mission. Since then, the UN mission has taken over from the multinational military implementation force. It includes a military contingent of 6,000 soldiers and a police component of 800 officers from 30 countries.

The Haitian people gave a warm welcome to the troops and police officers, and there has been a substantial drop in the crime rate over the past 12 months. Peaceful demonstrations are now allowed. Journalists are free to do their job. The international community, however, still has one concern: the mandate of UNMIH expires tomorrow.

Since the situation in Haiti is still precarious, the Secretary General of the UN, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, recently indicated that a smaller transition mission would be desirable in order to strengthen the young Haitian democracy. This mission would focus on

supervising the new Haitian police and supporting the civilian institutions. The military aspects of its mandate would be reduced.

We must be assured that this new national police force, which would be trained by Canadian instructors among others, will be able to maintain order after the peacekeepers leave. The newly elected President of Haiti, Mr. Préval, has already stated his intention to ask the Security Council to extend the mission.

The challenge of democratization has not been won yet. It seems that the disarming of the former supporters of the putschists is far from over, and that there is still a risk that hostilities will resume after the international forces leave.

Despite its reservations, the Bloc Quebecois feels that the presence of UN troops, which will be under the direction of Canada for a while, will undoubtedly be a great help in rebuilding Haiti. Maintaining foreign troops is desirable until we have more evidence that democracy prevails in that country. However, before committing Canadian Forces any further and responding to the UN's request, we wish to express certain reservations.

First of all, the government must set the rules and criteria governing its intervention and assess the resources needed to carry out this mission. The minister seemed prepared earlier to take into account what his colleagues were saying, and I hope it was not idle talk.

The government must immediately specify what the mandate of our troops will be in Haiti, to avoid repeating the ad-libbing that has taken place during other missions. We believe that their primary task should be to consolidate democracy by supervising and training local forces and reinforcing civilian institutions.

Since the American troops are scheduled to leave next month, the Bloc Quebecois questions whether this new mission will be able to keep the peace in Haiti. We think that the Canadian government should negotiate with the UN and the U.S. government the withdrawal, possibly over a six-month period, of the American and Pakistani troops currently deployed.

The multinational force under U.S. command included 6,000 troops. Canada should know from the start how many troops we will be able to count on when we will take over command, and make sure that the UN will provide all the resources we will need to fulfil our mandate properly.

As for the Canadian troops in the field, the Bloc Quebecois is of the opinion that no more than 750 peacekeepers should be sent to Haiti, as my colleague, the defence critic, indicated. More than 1,000 Canadian military have already been assigned various tasks with regard to the implementation of the Dayton accords in Bosnia. While being generous and compassionate, Canada must also take into account what if any resources are available.

So far, the government has not told us much about the costs involved in this mission. Again, the minister seemed to take that aspect into consideration. For the sake of transparency and integrity, taxpayers in Quebec and Canada must know what expenses the government will incur during this mission.

In June 1995, I took part in an observer mission for the verification of parliamentary and senatorial elections in Haiti. I saw for myself that the presence of foreign forces was absolutely necessary if an atmosphere of detente and security was to prevail over there. For far too long, the people of Haiti have been afraid of walking in the streets, of speaking, singing and expressing themselves freely.

Democracy is a wonderful means of integrating citizens in the society to which they belong. This can take place provided that citizens can play an active and responsible role in society. The democracy emerging in Haiti deserves to survive, if only it will be given a chance.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for the first time in this new session of Parliament to debate the role of Canada in Haiti. We all recall that an emergency debate on our peacekeepers was among the first topics discussed in the first session of this Parliament. It was also my maiden speech in Parliament. Since then the government has consulted, as promised, this House on several occasions because it believes in hearing the opinions of its members as representatives of all Canadians.

Today, once again, the Liberal government is turning to us for our views on the subject of Haiti where Canada has played a fundamental role in helping to restore peace and democracy. More than ever, Canada continues to be asked to assist in such missions as the one we are debating today. The reason for this, as the Prime Minister said in his speech this afternoon, is because they see Canada as a model for hope for the future and they aspire to achieve what we have in our country.

I feel it is our duty as well as our responsibility to help these nations, which I will call also our brothers and our sisters in need. After all, we live on this planet earth together and we are all a global family.

Haitians see us as a partner and a strong ally who has never let them down. As for the UN, it sees us as an active participant in a multilateral system, and also as a country with a deep respect for peacekeeping. Today, both of them are showing the great confidence they have in our country and its citizens.

I want to focus on two themes that, I think, justify our participation in that mission: to help strengthen the civilian authorities in Haiti, and to ensure the safety of individuals.

On February 7, our new colleague, the Minister for International Co-operation and Minister for Francophonie, went to Port-au-Prince to represent our country at the swearing-in ceremony of the new President of Haiti, René Préval.

This was the minister's first trip, which is an indication of the importance given to the Haitian situation by our government. The minister was able to see first hand the rebuilding going on, as well as the magnitude of the job that awaits Canada and other donor countries willing to help Haiti meet the basic needs of its population.

Canada has played, and continues to play, a major role in the march of the Haitian people towards democracy. Our immediate concern is to maintain a stable and safe environment in Haiti. In order to do that, the UN peacekeeping mission must remain in Haiti. Canada will continue to support the development of the rule of law in Haiti and help strengthen the civilian authorities in that country.

In the long term, this will not only mean helping Haiti reorganize its courts, but also train its judges and help reform its whole legal system. The Canadian International Development Agency is currently developing a program that will help Haiti train judges as well as court officers. That program will also help the Haitian government reorganize trial courts and develop its own training capabilities. Technical assistance is currently being provided to the Haitian justice department through that program.

As a Montrealer, I am pleased to know that over 245 police officers from Montreal's urban community volunteered to spend three to six months in Haiti, where they will join the 15 or so officers who are already there, to help train their new Haitian colleagues. This type of exchange shows the value and the strength of international co-operation.

This program will not only help the new Haitian police force, but will certainly work to bring together the SPCUM and the cultural communities of Montreal. This shows what co-operation can do. This is a fine example of what international co-operation can bring to all of us in Canada.

We need to help Haitians not only to overall their justice system, but also to discover and protect their rights. With its Human Right Education and Promotion Program, CIDA is teaching the Haitian people, at the community level, how to exercise and protect their rights. This program will promote a sense of civic duty and try to make the Haitian people more responsible, while the lack of such a sense of civic duty has only led to violence and fear in Haiti.

We will help Haiti to further develop this sense of civic duty by revitalizing its co-operative movement. The Haitian people will gain a better understanding of the true value of participatory democracy. The co-operative movement has been in existence in Canada for a long time. Whether it is in Quebec with its caisses populaires or in Western Canada with its wheat pools, we know the many benefits this movement can bring to the community. The co-operative movement helps to create and protect jobs and to distribute wealth, but also teaches its members about democracy and gets them involved in society. This is why CIDA implemented a five-year program to promote the co-operative system as the key to economic growth and to the social and financial security of its members.

Strengthening democracy in Haiti will lead to social development. The Haitian people had the courage to take the first steps in what will be a long and difficult march. Haitians have let go of their painful and violent past and are working hard to build a peaceful society where all their fellow citizens will share the benefits of development and progress.

They can be proud of what they have accomplished in such a short period of time. We agree with President Préval, when he said in his inaugural speech that, in the end, it will be up to the Haitian people to take responsibility for their future.

Even if they have taken their future into their own hands, we must continue to stand beside them and to give them a hand. We cannot let the gap between aspirations and reality get any wider in Haiti. The longer people have to wait for real change, the greater the potential for violence and instability. For this reason, Canada's two priorities in Haiti are to seek and maintain a stable and peaceful environment, and to reduce poverty and foster economic growth.

Canada is convinced that Haiti must have sustainable development. If there is to be any chance of that development fostering any hope, it absolutely must integrate all of the environmental, social, economic and cultural challenges that face Haiti. This holistic approach is the key to reducing Haitian poverty. Too often poverty, coupled with inequality, injustice and systematic abuses, leads to violence. We must break that vicious circle, and this we can do if we create the necessary conditions for growth and for job creation.

If we contribute to maintaining the current atmosphere of stability in Haiti, and if we can consolidate it still further, national and international investors will be more inclined to make investments there. In the meantime, Canada has concentrated its efforts on small labour intensive infrastructure projects throughout Haiti, such as rebuilding schools and nursing stations, repairing roads and improving irrigation and drainage ditches.

In addition to supplying technical assistance in various forms, since 1994 Canada has provided more than 300,000 tools such as hoes and shovels-simple, but in scarce supply-to allow these projects to take shape. So we have a grasp on the magnitude of the task Haiti has before it.

In conclusion, Canada is aware that the Haitian people have great confidence in us. On behalf of myself, and of all Canadians I believe, I wish to thank them for their confidence and to assure them that we intend to show ourselves worthy of it. We and our ministers will work hand in hand with them, while respecting their differences, at fulfilling their aspirations for peace and development.

I wish once again to applaud the efforts the Liberal government and our ministers have made in helping to restore democracy in Haiti. It is important for us to continue to do all we can to strengthen our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:05 p.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt to speak to the motion of the House, this take note debate have before us tonight, on Canada's current and future international peacekeeping commitments in Haiti, with particular reference to the United Nations aspect for Canada to take military command of the United Nations mission in Haiti.

To me and other members of the House this take note debate is purely smoke and mirrors. Although we would like to see pure consultation with members of the House of Commons, we recognize there will be no vote with respect to the information that comes out of this debate tonight. The Reform Party deplores the hypocritical attitude the Liberal government has toward the Canadian people in this regard.

For several weeks now the media has been reporting that the government has decided to commit troops to Haiti. The chief of defence staff advised the cabinet that we have the capability to participate, and military preparations have been underway for some time now.

The Liberal government even referred to this mission in yesterday's throne speech. Despite the hypocrisy of the government, the Reform Party supports in principal taking command of the UN mission to Haiti. Canadians recognize the importance of stability in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere, and Canadians support the principle of democratic reform.

This is a dangerous mission and Canadians should be fully aware of that fact. It is dangerous and this is not a traditional peacekeeping mission. We will not be monitoring opposing armies but playing a role in maintaining political stability in Haiti. Canadians recognize that our armed forces are ready and capable of success in this mission because we have a trained, combat capable, professional armed forces to do the job.

However, the Reform Party is concerned about the government's handling of Canada's defence policy. One of the most important tasks of any national government is to support the existence of sufficient combat capable armed forces to match the nation's defence policy. This is not something that is just desirable, this is a responsibility and a requirement of any sound national government. It would be an abdication of the government to fail in this regard.

In 1994 the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy, after careful consideration, identified that we must maintain at least 66,700 military personnel. Yet the minister in his white paper stated that he intended to reduce the size of the armed forces to some 60,000, almost 7,000 fewer than identified during the eight months the special joint committee was working on this very issue.

The commitment capability gap does not stop there. In the white paper the Minister of National Defence also announced the government intends to cut the primary reserves to 23,000 from 29,000 personnel. This is strategically and fiscally irresponsible for this minister. The militia provided more than 20 per cent of the UNPROFOR mission to the former Yugoslavia. The militia cost the Canadian taxpayers only 4 per cent of the entire armed forces budget. The militia is a very cost effective way of having a national defence plan.

If the Liberal government accepts the recommendation of the 1995 Dickson commission report on the restructuring of the reserves, 50 per cent of Canada's militia units will be disbanded across the country.

Only two weeks ago the Liberal government changed 50 years of Canadian defence policy by saying that Canada does not have nor does it need to maintain combat capable land forces. On February 13 the new chief of the defence staff told Canadians that land forces are unfit to fight in a serious war: "If the government asked me to go into a high intensity theatre with the equipment I have today, I would have to say I can't do it".

The Minister of National Defence, contradicting his own white paper, said that General Boyle's comments were pretty fair. He added that General Boyle's comments reflect the 1994 white paper on defence. Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs went even further in reversing the defence policy of the government, stating: "A lot of defence purchases have been geared toward the peacekeeping effort because that is the changing nature of the world. The notion

that we might re-engage in a major conflict like the second world war does not seem to be there".

These statements, in a matter of a 10-second news clip, by the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs destroyed the work of the special joint committee, destroyed the work of the Minister of National Defence's own white paper on defence.

In Gaza in 1956 Canadian General Burns said you can always turn down a fire hose to water a garden but you can never turn up a garden hose to put out a blazing fire. General Burns was telling Canadians the Canadian Armed Forces must be able to tackle a variety of challenges in the dangerous and unpredictable world we live in today. Our armed forces personnel must be first and foremost combat capable professionals which then and only then enables them to be the finest peacekeepers in the world.

The Minister of National Defence should take heed of General Burns' illustration. If the minister would listen tonight I would say stabilize the size of the Canadian Armed Forces and make sure the resources go toward making it first and foremost combat capable. He should live up to the combat capability which he committed an entire chapter to in the white paper.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also must consider the illustration of General Burns. It is fine and dandy for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to commit our armed forces to Liberal government foreign policy objectives. However, they must not be trained only for peacekeeping; they must remain combat capable professionals, as they are today.

The Reform Party supports in principle taking command of the United Nations mission in Haiti. Canadians are confident in the ability of our armed forces. However, Canadians are not as confident in the Liberal government. Canadians call on the government to stop abdicating its responsibility. We have reached the critical mass where further cuts and reductions to our armed forces will make them an impotent marching band.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

8:15 p.m.

Don Valley West Ontario

Liberal

John Godfrey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to rise in this House today to support the government's motion for increased Canadian involvement in the UN mission in Haiti.

But first of all, let me stress the fact that this motion is moved in the context of the government's willingness to consult Canadians and parliamentarians on broad foreign policy issues.

This House has been given the opportunity to discuss the government's new foreign policy and, on several occasions, the involvement of our troops in UN missions in Bosnia and elsewhere.

As the minister said, this debate is something of a last minute proposition. I know some members would have liked to have more time to prepare for this debate. I want to say to hon. members that the government will make every effort to give more notice of future debates such as this one, whenever possible.

The government's foreign policy review has indicated that Canadians want to be more involved in the making of our foreign policy. For the first time, the government has asked Canadians to express their views through Internet on Canadian participation in the UN mission in Haiti. I am pleased to report that, out of about a hundred responses, 75 were in favour. We got many relevant comments and useful suggestions.

I am pleased to see that today's debate gives us once again the opportunity to talk about Canada's participation in a mission led by the United Nations. We have the chance not only to reaffirm the unique role our country plays within the United Nations system, but also to review the special contribution Canada has made these last few years to help the Haitian people on its way towards democracy.

In 1990, the Haitian people took a first big step towards democracy when they elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The 1991 coup led by the Haitian army served to show how fragile the movement towards democracy was. The determination of the world community, of the United Nations, of the friends of Haiti and of the president in exile showed however that that was the only way the Haitian people could go.

The Canadian population and the Canadian government never wavered in their support for the Haitian people and for its fight for democracy and freedom.

Besides helping to organize presidential elections in 1990, we worked for the return of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, we were there to welcome him back to his country, we helped Haiti to hold legislative and presidential elections last year and we were there, a few weeks ago, to assist for the first ever handing of power from one democratically elected president to another.

Our new colleague, the Minister for International Cooperation and the Minister responsible for Francophonie, Mr. Pierre Pettigrew, went to Haiti to attend this event. It was his first official trip, which goes to show how important the Haitian issue is to the government.

And now that a new president has been elected and that Haiti is on the way toward building its civilian society, Canada will still be supporting the Haitian people.

We can be proud of what the international community and Canada have accomplished in Haiti in such a short time after President Aristide's return. We have quickly identified the most urgent needs of the Haitian people and coordinated the activities of all donor nations to provide adequate assistance.

Canada has helped to restore power supply in Port-au-Prince not only by fixing the actual power stations but also by providing back-up stations. As well as providing emergency food aid, we have helped the Haitian people to build schools and health care units.

The sad episode of the de facto government served to show the harsh reality: democracy is fragile in Haiti. It is still threatening for certain interests. That is why we must try to consolidate it so that it can put deep roots in the Haitian society. It must allow all groups in the Haitian society to express themselves and get involved.

To this end, we must continue to favour the onset of a secure environment, to rebuild the judicial infrastructure of the country and to help Haiti embark upon the economic transition it needs to ensure its future and its stability.

As the government stated yesterday in its speech from the throne, the future of our societies depends on the safety of their citizens. This sums up Canada's action in Haiti as well as in other developing countries.

We must give the Haitian people the time it needs to bring about these changes. The more the months to come will be stable and the more the democratic institutions will have the time to develop and to consolidate, the stronger the economy will be.

Haiti is facing huge challenges. And yet, I am sure it will be able to rise to them. Just think about it. Only two years ago, Haiti fell prey to political violence. Haitians were afraid to walk in the streets and rightly so. It is estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 Haitians were killed during the Cédras regime.

Today, there is almost no more political violence. Arbitrary action is a thing of the past. A year ago, setting up a professional police force in Haiti seemed an impossible dream. Let us consider the challenge taken up by the Haitian government more than 12 months ago: abolishing the army, and training and deploying 5,000 police officers, with the help of Canada, among others, before the end of the UNMIH, which is scheduled for tomorrow. Nonetheless, a few days ago, the lastest graduates of the Haiti police academy were deployed throughout the country.

During the next few months, Canadian police officers will continue to help the new Haitian police force learn community police techniques and field methods. At the same time, they will continue to train the new recruits.

I know Canadians will be happy to learn that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, of which we are all proud in this country, has agreed to play an even more active role in Haiti. There is still much to be done, including providing adequate training to senior officers to ensure that the police can face with all kinds of situations in a professional and disciplined manner.

Canada's participation in the multinational police force in Haiti is a good example of what Canadians from all regions of the country can accomplish when they work together. More than 100 police officers from the RCMP and several municipal police forces across the country worked together to train their new Haitian colleagues.

I was impressed to learn that more than 245 police officers of the Communauté urbaine de Montréal applied to serve in Haiti. For me, that enthusiasm shows that the officers of the SPCUM see that exchange as an excellent opportunity to share their knowledge with their new Haitians colleagues, but also, to learn first hand about the harsh reality in Haiti to better understand and interact with the Haitian community in Montreal.

This illustrates perfectly well how international co-operation is not for the sole benefit of others. It must also allow us to learn from others.

A few months ago, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. I believe that what the UN is doing in Haiti is nothing short of remarkable. The United Nations never undertook such a complex mission. It is not the kind of traditional peacekeeping mission Canadians got used to long ago. It is much more than that: it goes from ensuring a stable environment to establishing a new police force, from the reform of the Haitian justice system to the organization and supervision of two elections in less than one year, from meeting basic human needs to establishing the foundation of a civilian and democratic society.

But we must admit that the mission will not be an easy one. There are risks involved. Democratic and social development in Haiti will continue well after the UN have left. Stability in Haiti remains fragile.

However, our successes in the last two years are encouraging for the future, not only of Haiti, but of the UN itself. Canada is eager to play a greater role for the United Nations in Haiti and to help that country to reach its full potential.

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8:25 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Haiti, I am always reminded of the hundreds of priests, nuns, missionaries and young volunteers who have gone there at some point in their life to try and give these people a little more happiness in this world.

I am also reminded of my former colleague, the late Gaston Péloquin, a member of the Bloc Quebecois, who spent two years in Haiti and who adopted a young Haitian child who now lives in

Quebec. Pascal must be 18 now. I am also reminded of all these Haitians who have come to live in Quebec and elsewhere, mainly in Montreal, and who may be watching us tonight on television. I take this opportunity to say hello to them.

The Bloc supports and salutes the government for its present and future international commitments with regard to the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Because of our concern for Haiti and of our peacekeeping policy, Canada is now called upon by the United Nations to take military command of the UN mission in Haiti.

I am also very happy with the foreign affairs minister's decision to consult his parliamentary colleagues about Canada's participation in this mission. We, members of the Bloc, believe that it is very important.

This consulting of Parliament is very much in line with the recommendations made by the Bloc Quebecois in its dissenting report on Canada's foreign policy in November 1994.

In this report, on page 4, under chapter 1.2, the Bloc Quebecois insists that the government should, and I quote: "submit any decision to participate in peacekeeping missions to a vote in the House of Commons, as rapidly as possible, where time allows".

I think it is important to note that fact because it clearly demonstrates that, as the official opposition, the Bloc Quebecois is doing its job conscientiously, adhering to highly democratic values.

As the Minister of Foreign Affairs is demonstrating today, members of the Bloc often make recommendations which are very practical and reflect current events.

As a matter of fact, I believe that one of the main roles of Canadian forces on the international scene must be to support peacekeeping operations by taking part in them. Such participation is undeniably an asset for Canada and one of its major international accomplishments.

Canada must learn from previous operations. The case of Haïti reminds us that our interventions must absolutely be based on the legitimate democratic system that is gradually emerging in that country.

As my colleagues on this side of the House and myself have already said, the development of democratic institutions in Eastern Europe and closer to us in the Americas is crucial to the preservation of social peace and to economic development in the world.

I believe that reinforcement of democratic institutions and respect of human rights are necessary pillars to the security of the new international environment.

This is a major foreign policy concern that must be shared by stable democratic societies likes ours.

When something like the United Nations mission in Haïti takes leading to joint action, that concern yields results.

The end of dictatorship and restoration of democracy in Haïti are largely the result of the tenacity of the international community, which put its democratic ideals above everything else.

We, as members of this House, must take good note of this fact but we must above all make sure that Canada will give it a leading role in its foreign policy and also in its domestic policy. We ought to be able to practice at home what we want to implement elsewhere.

I understand that cabinet has already agreed in principle to the deployment of 750 peacekeepers from Valcartier, which means an additional 250 troops and a six-month extension of Canadian participation in the United Nations mission in Haïti.

This means Canada will take over command of the mission from the United States.

As I see it, the presence of UN troops under Canadian supervision for a limited time will undoubtedly be very helpful to a country formerly known as the Pearl of the Antilles.

The new responsibilities taken on by Canada may also help to restore a credibility that was damaged by the events in Somalia. However, we can allow no recurrence of what happened in Somalia. That would be unacceptable and an outrage in the eyes of all those who put their trust in these missions and who send people over there.

Our participation will help to rebuild democratic and economic institutions in that country.

Our support for the newly-elected President of Haiti, René Préval, and his brand new Prime Minister, Rony Smarth, is a continuation of our support for the democratic process triggered by none other than Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

In his quest for democracy, Mr. Aristide managed to give back to the Haitian people their dignity and independent institutions which are a guarantee of a lasting peace.

According to the Bloc Quebecois, the mandate of Canadian troops should consist mainly in co-ordinating reconstruction efforts and supporting the current process of democratic growth so that there will be a viable system by the end of that mandate.

Since this transitional mission will be smaller in size, it should concentrate on training the new Haitian police and on supporting civilian institutions. The military aspects of the mandate should be substantially reduced.

If the government wants the Official Opposition to support its decision, it should make it clear that this particular mission will be carefully planned, that its objectives will be realistic and clearly identified, and finally, that adequate means will be provided to achieve those objectives.

In concluding, I want to say again that when Canada and Quebec, because as you know we are still part of Canada, when we send Canadian troops as UN peacekeepers, I think it is important, and everyone in this House will understand, that these people are well prepared and above reproach. After all, they represent us, and as long as they do that well, we are proud of them. If they break the rules, we all bear the blame.

And finally, I want to say that our young people, our young soldiers who are over there, our young policemen who are over there and who are helping a country that is discovering again what democracy means, this is fine, we support and encourage them, and we support the government's motion.

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8:35 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

Christine Stewart LiberalSecretary of State (Latin America and Africa)

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the debate this evening. The government has asked Parliament to convene to discuss how Canada should participate in the extension of the United Nations Mission in Haiti, UNMIH.

The government is requesting that Parliament support Canada's participation in the extension of UNMIH with a leading role. Haiti has requested this UN mission be extended. The Secretary-General of the United Nations also has asked that the mission be extended. In fact he has asked that Canada head that extended mission. As I have said, I am very pleased the government has suggested that Canada participate, and we wait this very evening for the security council to finish its deliberations on the resolution before it.

I have some personal attachment to the debate tonight, having served in my pre-political years in a capacity where I assisted in some of the development programs that Canada supported in Haiti. I am certainly very aware of the chronic oppression and poverty that so many thousands and thousands of people in Haiti have suffered for far too long.

Now that progress is being made as a result of the United Nations' participation in the process of the development of democracy in Haiti, it would be a sad day if Canada were to come away from this mission at this time.

As we all know, Canada has had a long history of participation in UN peacekeeping missions. We have been the one nation in the world with the record of participating in all of the UN peacekeeping missions around the world. We do so in reflection as well on our new foreign affairs policy which states that two of our objectives are to protect security here in Canada, security in the world and also to project our values.

It seems extremely logical that with those two key objectives in mind we would look to Haiti as a very important place for Canada to play a continuing role, to make sure those objectives are attained, that we are doing our part. Because we feel so strongly about Haiti now that we have joined the OAS and are fully integrated members of regional hemispheric organizations we place a special emphasis on Haiti. This has also been reflected by the visit of the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister for International Co-operation, to the inauguration of President Préval shortly after his installation in cabinet.

It is also logical to participate in this mission because Canada has a long tradition of supporting multilateralism in the world. We do not believe, especially in a fast changing world, that Canada or any other nation can achieve important objectives alone. Therefore we support multilateralism.

We have in Haiti proof that a multilateral system can work, that we can learn from past successes and failures, that the United Nations can be efficient and creative. The UN mission in Haiti has done an excellent job and the security of the people of Haiti has greatly improved in recent months. Elections were held in a calm atmosphere and democracy is starting to take root.

A new pluralistic civilian regime is beginning to emerge, based increasingly on law and on respect of the individual, and this is happening because of the courage of the Haitian people and the assistance of Haiti's friends, such as Canada and the UN.

Haiti offers proof to the whole world-the USA in particular, who made a constructive contribution to the multilateral efforts there-that multilateralism works if countries are committed to making it work. Canada wants that success to be ongoing.

There are several other reasons Haiti holds particular importance for Canada. By working with the Haitian population to make the development of democracy a durable and solid phenomenon, we are demonstrating the importance Canada attaches to a broader role in Latin America and the Caribbean. This is a region which has made remarkable advances in the areas of economics and democracy, and one which has provided Canada with immigrants who make up an increasing large part of the Canadian social fabric; it offers us new outlets for pursuing Canada's objectives.

As well, our assistance to Haiti also demonstrates our commitment to partnerships between francophone countries. Canada and France in particular, two of the key French spraking nations, are working together in Haiti to ensure the establishment of a

democratic and peaceful civilian society, one which can continue to develop once the peacekeeping operation is over.

Canada would not go into this peacekeeping operation or suggest that this operation be extended if the government did not feel that it was important, if it did not believe that the troops were qualified, adequately equipped and safe. We cannot always guarantee the safety of our troops but the government can guarantee that it is doing its best to assure that every precaution is taken. With my colleagues around the House I can share as well my great support for the remarkable work and the courage of our troops in the field.

I could go on about how Canada has been involved in not only the training of police in Haiti, involved in the peacekeeping mission in Haiti but how we have helped to restore energy services to that country, how we are helping to rehabilitate lower court buildings so that the rule of law can be provided. We have helped to provide the basic human needs in that country.

The foreign minister referred to the fact that given Parliament was not in session when this topic was much within the public realm, we provided the facility for Canadians to provide the government with their comments about our involvement in Haiti via the Internet.

I thought it would be appropriate, rather than to go on from our own point of view about what Canada was doing, to share some comments from a Canadian NGO, non-government organization, that Canada has been supporting in its important work.

The following statement appeared on the Internet from CARE Canada:

CARE Canada supports the proposal that Canadian Peacekeeping forces play a continued and expanded role in the United Nations mission in Haiti.

Canada should accept this leading role and exercise the knowledge gained through its many international Peacekeeping efforts in general and build on its specific recent history in Haiti. As a close neighbour, with intimate links to the Caribbean, Canada has an unquestionable role to play in the security and peaceful development of Haiti.

The establishment of democratic institutions is essential for the health and growth of a nation. Such activities support and mirror the efforts of aid agencies like CARE which are working with Haitians to improve economic self-sufficiency and social services.

With support valued at $3 million Canadian from the Canadian International Development Agency, CARE is managing the monetization of Canadian food commodities which will be sold to private merchants in Haiti. The revenue from the sale of the food will be used for an integrated development programme in Departement du Sud. The programme will include activities in primary health care, water and sanitation and agriculture and natural resources.

Development projects alone cannot ensure a secure social environment. In situations like Haiti, emerging from years of turmoil and conflict, the efforts of all partners of good will are required to develop a peaceful and secure environment.

Canada must continue to play a leading role. CARE Canada hopes that the government of Canada will accept the UN's request to take the lead in the next phase of its very successful mission.

In the course of this debate my colleague from across the floor asked a question about the role of the OAS. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with the secretary general of the OAS in Washington. We talked in general about security issues in the hemisphere. Again, Canada supports the multilateral approach. We encouraged the secretary general of the OAS in his efforts in security. In fact he told me he had just returned from New York where he had met and talked with the UN Security Council about the situation in Haiti because he believes as we believe that the OAS has an important role to play in the follow up to a peacekeeping mission which we hope will come to a successful end some day.

Finally, we hope to be able to show that our country, Canada, can make a difference in the world and that not only the government, but all Canadians can make this a reality. Tonight's debate, our use of the Internet to get Canadians' comments on this question and our other consultations indicate that the government is committed to involving Canadians in major foreign policy decisions. In Haiti, Canadian personnel, peacekeeping troops, non governmental organizations and ordinary Canadians are putting this principle into effect through their hard work and their devotion.

With the guidance of our government, our commitment in Haiti will, I am sure, show that Canadians are still capable of doing great things internationally when they work together.

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8:45 p.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Reform Swift Current—Maple Creek—Assiniboia, SK

Mr. Speaker, as one who is somewhat pedantic about the use of language, I look around this vast almost empty Chamber and I wonder why what we are doing here tonight is called a debate.

I would call it a series of monologues, commentaries on decisions previously made by the government. I suspect that even as we speak there are similar discussions going on in several bars in Ottawa that would be equally productive and have equal effect on the decisions that this government may ultimately make.

Haiti was the second nation in this hemisphere after the U.S.A. to gain its independence. Unfortunately from that point onward nothing seemed to go right. That was their last success. It has been an unremitting history of bloodshed, brutality, poverty and misery for almost two centuries. The only prolonged period of peace and

stability was during the occupation by the U.S. marines during the 1920s and 1930s.

Even when I was working in Haiti, which was only about 15 years ago, the infrastructure that we had was almost entirely the legacy of the U.S. occupation and any that was left had been built by foreign aid within very recent times.

It is a sad commentary but those are the magnitudes of the problems which Canada or other countries will be facing trying to pull Haiti perhaps kicking and screaming into the 20th century and trying to build a democratic state there.

As Canadians, we do have a vested interest in maintaining political and economic stability in the Caribbean. We do have a vested interest in creating a democratic state in Haiti. There are two very important reasons why we have this vested interest. One is that we have trade and investment links in this area not so much with Haiti itself but with its neighbours and most particularly with the Dominican Republic which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Therefore, if Haiti blows it up, it will have a direct influence on our well-being in this country.

The second big interest we have and one we share with almost every country in the hemisphere is the question of refugees. If Haiti again does not succeed and everything turns upside down there will be another great flood of Haitians trying to get out of the place in unseaworthy boats going willy-nilly to whatever shore they may find. These people, by the thousands or the tens of thousands, will then become a burden on the recipient countries.

How much better to send some aid and a few people into Haiti to try to straighten out the situation there than to end up with another disaster equivalent to the one we had about four years ago? I do support Canadian intervention. I do support our sending additional troops there to take command now that the Americans have decided it is time for them to leave.

Besides being in our national interest, there is a certain moral imperative for our continued presence in that unhappy country to preserve life and also to provide or assist in the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Finally, unlike the situation in Bosnia, this is an assignment that is well within the capability of our poorly equipped military. There are no heavy weapons to contend with and no well organized opposition. Although, like in any military operation there is always a risk, that risk will not be high unless we do not have adequate rules of engagement. If the rules of engagement are adequate and clearly defined and if our troops will not be unduly restrained from defending themselves, then we should be there. If they are going to be unduly restrained then they should not go. We do not send our people overseas as human sacrifices. That is my primary consideration. The only caveat I would add to my support for this project is that if our military are there they must be able to defend themselves. I have that small reservation.

I will at this time lend my support to the ministers in whatever they have decided to do, whether they are going to send 500 or 750. I know the decision has been made but we will give it our blessing.

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8:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the minister and to the government for providing me with an opportunity to participate in this debate.

I will begin by sending my congratulations to the new Minister of Foreign Affairs, the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. I had the opportunity to work with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs when he was the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition in a previous Parliament and I was as I am now the foreign affairs critic for the NDP.

We had the opportunity to work together on the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade. We also worked together as members of a much smaller committee, the Special Committee on the Central America Peace Process, which was created around the time of the peace process in 1988.

The special committee made recommendations for Canadian participation in Central America with respect to the training of police and to create in countries where the police have not always had it, the political neutrality one would expect from police. Canada had a role in training police forces in that part of the world.

By way of extending that conclusion we came to with respect to Central America, I have no problem listening to the minister's arguments being offered tonight about the need to consolidate and to amplify what progress has already been made in Haiti with respect to the training of police with a view to creating further stability in that country.

It is a very new democracy which exists in Haiti in spite of the fact that it has been independent for almost 200 years as a member just mentioned. That new democracy when it first came into being with the election of former President Aristide did not last very long. One of the reasons it did not last very long was that the political culture and civil infrastructure and all the things that are necessary to support the democratic experiment were not there. It was not long before the military, who were used to running the country, decided that they did not like this experiment. The next thing was that the new president was in exile.

I am convinced that President Aristide was in exile a lot longer than he had to be. The Americans were not in any hurry to have President Aristide back in power in Haiti because of his ideological leanings. They took their sweet time knowing that the constitution in Haiti prevented President Aristide from running for re-election. The longer they took, the less time President Aristide would have when he actually returned to Haiti.

I feel it was only in the final analysis that the Americans were embarrassed into doing something about Haiti. As a result we have had a new election in Haiti and we have a successor to President Aristide, a man who I understand has served as President Aristide's prime minister.

In a way the will of the people of Haiti, which was expressed in that first election but which was overthrown first by the military and then by the delay in doing anything to get President Aristide back has been expressed again. We hope this time around it can be expressed not only in terms of the election but also in terms of giving that government the opportunity to implement policies consistent with what the people thought they were voting for in this most recent presidential election.

We therefore support in principle the government's apparent decision to respond to the call of the UN to take over command of the UN operation in Haiti. Like others who have spoken here tonight, we wish we had more details in front of us, some cost estimates, rules of engagement. We wish we had specific numbers as to what troops will be sent and how many in addition to the people already there, all those kinds of things.

We understand it might have been difficult for the government to come up with this information by now, although one wonders about that. We do understand this matter has been in dispute at the United Nations and therefore the government might not want to second guess the outcome of the debate at the United Nations or at least it might not want to second guess it until necessary. In effect we are doing that tonight.

The government was in some difficulty with respect to the timing which is why we were willing to co-operate with the minister in order to permit this debate tonight. In spite of the fact that member for Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia thinks more productive discussions might be going on in bars somewhere in Ottawa, this is nevertheless the beginning of a good tradition that whenever Canadian troops are deployed there is an opportunity to discuss it in Parliament.

We are discussing the issue in the sense that there is no real proposal to debate and there are no real details to debate. There is no motion to vote on. Nevertheless this is a worthy procedure that perhaps if improved could be something we do with more detail, in a more timely fashion and that we do not just do as a gesture to parliamentary accountability. Rather, we should have something more substantive in nature.

Having said we support this in principle, we enter the caveat that we reserve the right to be critical of the government in future if we come across ways this is being implemented that we find to be inadequate.

The minister said he was thinking about having the committee act as a sort of monitoring agency for this Canadian operation and perhaps for others. I welcome that gesture on the part of the minister. I am not exactly sure what he has in mind for the committee, but certainly the idea of there being some kind of parliamentary oversight on this kind of thing is worth exploring.

I regret to say that as much as I think it is a good idea, since New Democrats are not allowed to be full members of committees, we might not be able to participate in this to the extent we would like, perhaps not at all. That is a shame. A number of us have had a lot of experience in the House, in foreign affairs, on that particular committee, and on special committees struck to deal with external affairs issues. Yet we find ourselves frozen out of the process. That is regrettable.

As we commit these Canadians to this task in Haiti for six months, presumably-although it is not clear exactly how long because these things have a tendency to grow or to be extended-we need to commit ourselves to a way of understanding the situation in Haiti and in other countries that realizes the limits of electoral democracy. It is not just enough to have elections.

The government has recognized that to some degree by saying we need a police force trained in ways of policing that are not politically motivated. Too often police forces and the military in that part of the world are an extension of the political agenda of the government of the day. To some degree the limits of elections in and by themselves have been recognized by the government.

I also hope the government would be working not just with respect to Haiti but with respect to a number of other countries in that area of the world, particularly Central America, to do what it can to put pressure on those governments which have been legitimately or democratically elected but which continue to permit, to encourage, to turn a blind eye to or however we describe it, which would vary from country to country, human rights violations in spite of the fact that elections have now been held and the presidents of various countries are democratically elected.

I am thinking of Guatemala. Hardly a day goes by in my office that I do not get a letter from some Canadian concerned about what is happening to Guatemalan refugees returning to Guatemala. There is a great deal of concern about some of the things that have

happened recently in El Salvador and in Nicaragua. These are all countries which became democratic in the 1980s.

I hope the attention of the minister could be turned to what the Canadian government could be doing in that respect as well. In the meantime, what we are committing ourselves to in Haiti seems to be something we all must collectively hope works out for the best for the people of Haiti and for the future of democracy in that region.

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9:05 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have followed this debate with great attention and I care about this issue, because I come from Latin America, which is very close to Haiti. That country has been through some very difficult times. All Latin-American countries have had difficult years, especially Haiti, which fought for years to get rid of the Duvalier dictatorship.

Second, I am the member for Bourassa, including Montreal North, which has the highest number of Haitians per riding in Canada. This vibrant community is very well organized and makes a great contribution to the city of Montreal North, to Quebec and to Canada, despite a few problems that we have noticed, especially in the area of immigration. It is currently difficult for Haitians in my riding or in Montreal, in Quebec, to bring their families over. Many problems arise at the Canadian embassy in Haiti, which requires all kinds of medical exams to prove that the people are related. These blood tests are very expensive. Many improvements are needed to help Haitians immigrate to this country.

The Haitians in my riding and in Quebec in general remain very attached to their homeland. They pay frequent visits whenever they can afford it. It is close to Quebec, and they experience the events in Haiti as though they were there. I remember that when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President of Haiti, people in Montreal North and Montreal were overjoyed because he had been elected by a vast majority of the population and also enjoyed the support of the Haitian diaspora in Quebec and Canada.

As you know, the armed forces were not happy with this very democratic president who cared about the majority of poor people. Haiti is the poorest country in Latin American, in the Caribbean. There was a military coup and President Aristide had to go into exile. He came to Montreal, where I had the opportunity of meeting him. He also visited Ottawa.

Luckily for the Organization of American States, they did a good job and actively restored democracy in Haiti, as did the United Nations, Canada-it must be said-the U.S. as well as certain Latin American countries. Many Latin American countries were instrumental in restoring democracy to Haiti. I will only mention Argentina and Chile today. While facing economic difficulties of its own, Chile set up a special assistance program for the people of Haiti.

I should also point out the outstanding help Quebec has provided the people of Haiti. A person was named to oversee Quebec's aid to Haiti because Quebec has close relations with that country, and it is not only because they are both French speaking nations, but also because there is a strong solidarity and an unfailing generosity in Quebec toward the poorest nations of the world.

I was also very happy when President Aristide decided to dismantle the Haitian army, a dictatorial army that did not respect the regime in place, that did not respect the Constitution. We, in Quebec, particularly myself, have also worked hard to get rid of the army in Haiti. It was not necessary to have an army there, and we followed the example of two other democratic countries that do not have an army, particularly Costa Rica. That country has not had an army for decades and it is the most democratic country in Latin America. It has also been the case with Panama for a number of years and I do hope that other developing countries will follow the same path and do away with armed forces which have no justification in the present context.

I must support the motion of the government. I agree to a six month extension of the UN's mandate in Haiti. As my colleagues of the Bloc have already said, I believe it is important to define precisely the mandate of our troops in Haiti, the duration of their mission and its costs.

I believe Canada and Quebec have an obligation to contribute to the construction of a democratic society in Haiti, a society respectful of human rights, a society where everyone, including the poorest, have opportunities and decent living conditions.

For all those reasons, I agree with this motion and I support an extension of at least six months of the UN's mandate in Haiti.

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9:15 p.m.

Liberal

Len Hopkins Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this very important debate on Canada's role with the United Nations in Haiti. Haiti has had a very tumultuous past.

Canada has an immense national interest in the Caribbean area. That is why it is very important for Canada to be associated with the United Nations in the very important task of helping to establish a permanent democracy in Haiti. The national interests of Canada are served by what the Canadian Armed Forces are doing in that region because we have a tremendous relationship with the countries throughout the Caribbean and in South America.

I want to give an example of the respect with which Canada is held in the eyes of countries in the Caribbean. I remember a number of years ago when Lincoln Alexander, a former member of this House and former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, and I went to the Caribbean to a meeting as Canadian observers.

There were about 64 delegates from around the Caribbean at that meeting. At the beginning, one of the Prime Ministers who was chairing the meeting said that he wanted Canadians to know that not only were they welcome, but even though they were observers, he wanted them to feel free to participate in the discussions at any time they wished to do so.

The Prime Minister of one of the countries went on to say that it was because Canada was its greatest friend in the world. Britain came second and after that, he did not even enumerate them.

It is very important that Canada look after her interests in the Caribbean. As we know, Canada is really synonymous with peacekeeping excellence. Over the past 50 years, our peacekeepers have served throughout the world and their experience and expertise remain unsurpassed.

The Canadian forces are always combat ready. They are peacekeeping ready. They are also diplomats when they go abroad because they do so much good work while there on a volunteer basis. They are well trained. They get along well with the people wherever they are. They help those people out.

As we debate this issue, let us remember that every time a peacekeeper goes abroad on duty there is a family back home. I want to pay tribute tonight to the families that remain at home and the challenges they face while a spouse, a father or mother, is abroad with a peacekeeping force. Let us remember them as well in this debate.

It comes as no surprise to any of us that the international community is looking to Canada to assume a significant role in the ongoing work in Haiti. Our peacekeepers have already shown that they are well suited for this mission. They may now have an opportunity to go a step further in assisting Haiti and its people during a difficult period of transition.

My purpose today is to review Canada's peacekeeping record and remind members of the superb qualifications that Canadian forces personnel bring to this job. They have the skills necessary to meet the demands of modern operations.

Peacekeeping began modestly for Canada. In the late 1940s the UN began deploying unarmed military personnel to observe peace agreements in some of the world's conflict ridden regions. Canada's participation in two of these early missions continues to this day. I am referring to the UN truce supervision organization in the Middle East and the UN military observer group in India and Pakistan.

Peacekeeping moved beyond observing and took on a more demanding role with the Suez crisis of 1956. Lester B. Pearson, Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs at the time, recommended placing a UN force between the warring parties once a ceasefire had been signed. The multinational force would then police the ceasefire, setting the stage for a negotiated settlement. Mr. Pearson argued his case with skill and determination, overcoming the scepticism of some of the UN members. The United Nations Emergency Force was thus born and Mr. Pearson was awarded the Nobel peace prize.

The first commander of the United Nations emergency force was a Canadian, Lieutenant-General E. L. M. Burns. General Burns, operating in unfamiliar territory, was often forced to chart his own course as he carried out the difficult job of keeping the peace between Arab and Israeli. In the end he excelled in this delicate task. Why? Because he was well trained for the job in the Canadian military community.

Suez was an important precedent for the United Nations. Over the next three decades most peacekeeping missions rested on the principles established by the United Nations Emergency Force.

Peacekeeping forces were expected to be lightly armed and impartial, and enjoy the consent of the warring parties. During this period Canada established herself as a leader in the peacekeeping field. We participated in virtually every UN mission and some outside the UN as well.

By the end of the cold war more than 80,000 Canadian forces' personnel had served in peacekeeping operations: from the Congo and West New Guinea to Cyprus and the Golan Heights. Canada's peacekeeping excellence did not disappear with the end of the cold war. Indeed, in recent years our expertise has been more in demand than ever.

Since 1989 the United Nations has become a much more active and interventionist organization. It has become more involved in interstate disputes and it has tackled human rights and humanitarian issues on a greater scale than ever before. As well, it has played a larger role in helping states embrace democracy and recover from the ravages of war.

Our soldiers, while serving on UN duty, quite often on a volunteer basis build bridges, roads, schools, homes. They teach people trades and occupations. They teach people how to farm, how to grow their food. This is all done on a voluntary basis. These are the things for which our forces very seldom get credit in the public media.

As a result, the number of UN peacekeeping missions has increased dramatically because of all the ravages of war in the hot spots that exist around the world in recent times. What is more,

these missions have become more complex and even more demanding.

Modern peace support operations, as they might more accurately be labelled, include preventive deployment, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, peace enforcement and peace building in addition to traditional peacekeeping.

These operations are multi-functional and multi-disciplinary, encompassing both military and civilian activities. Whether it is police officers, election observers, humanitarian workers or engineers, civilians are playing an increasing role in peace support operations. They are part of the new peacekeeping partnership.

Canada and in particular the Pearson International Peacekeeping Training Centre at Cornwallis are helping pave the way for greater co-operation between military and civilians working together in support of peace.

Canada has taken other steps to help improve peace support operations. Our study looking into ways to enhance the UN's capability to respond rapidly to a crisis stands out. But our greatest contribution remains our people in the field.

Modern peace support operations demand a full range of military capabilities on the ground, in the air and at sea. Canada, with its combat capable, multi-purpose forces, has been able to respond to this demand and play an important role in many of these new missions whether in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia or Central America.

In the former Yugoslavia, for example, Canadian ground troops performed a wide range of humanitarian tasks while the conflict raged. Currently we have nearly 1,000 troops in Bosnia, many of whom come from Petawawa, my home community. They are serving there with the NATO-led peace implementation force.

In Cambodia we have personnel serving with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre which is responsible for mine clearance operations.

At sea, Canadian naval forces have participated in operations off the coast of the former Yugoslavia, enforcing economic sanctions and arms embargoes.

We also have had Canadian personnel involved in naval peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, the Middle East and Central America. In the air we have had personnel serving aboard NATO airborne warning and control system aircraft, AWACS, enforcing the no-fly zone in the former Yugoslavia.

At present there are about 2,000 Canadian forces personnel participating in peace support operations worldwide. They continue to carry out a broad range of activities.

In all these operations, Canadians carry out their tasks with skill and professionalism, proving once again that fully trained soldiers are the best peacekeepers. Combined with specialized instruction in such areas as cultural sensitivity, combat training gives Canadian forces all the tools required to meet new challenges.

Given this impressive record, there should be no doubt that Canada can make a significant contribution to a mission in Haiti operating under a new mandate. We have been an active participant in attempts to restore Haitian democracy since 1991. Canadian ships helped enforce economic sanctions in an effort to convince Haiti's illegal regime to step down and Canadian forces personnel have been participating in the United Nations Mission in Haiti since March 1995.

Canada's participation in the United Nations Mission in Haiti currently includes about 500 Canadian forces personnel with helicopter transport and engineering support, and almost 100 civilian police to help establish a professional Haitian police force.

Canadians know the country, they know the people, they know the challenges that must be faced. Canada is also no stranger to commanding multilateral military forces. Finally, Canadians know a great deal about being a civil, democratic society.

We could play a critical role as part of the international community in helping maintain a secure and stable environment and pave the way for the full restoration of democracy in Haiti.

Since 1947, more than 100,000 Canadians have participated in over 30 peacekeeping and related missions, a contribution which remains unmatched.

Over 100 Canadians have lost their lives in the line of duty and many more have been wounded. Canada, in short, understands peacekeeping like few other countries. We understand its effectiveness in promoting international peace and security. We understand its ability to help lay the groundwork for democracy. Perhaps most important of all, we understand how it works.

The world has always looked to Canada for peacekeeping experience and know how. In the case of Haiti it is doing so again. We can help Haiti build a better future and in doing so continue a long and proud peacekeeping tradition.

Tonight as this debate goes on, Canada's name has been carried around the world in much of the good work that has been done by the Canadian Armed Forces. Whatever the decision is we wish its members well with the United Nations. I know they will do a good job for Canada.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I confess to not seeing the clock too rigidly, particularly to the last member who spoke. I admit in great part it was out of respect for his sincere interest and expertise in this area.

I wonder, in the spirit the House has demonstrated all evening, if I might seek your agreement to not see the clock so the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca could be given the full 10 minutes by the Chair. He will conclude the debate on this issue this evening.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for its consideration. I very much appreciate entering into this debate on Haiti.

The people of Haiti have endured over 150 years of tyranny, bloodshed and destitution under successive dictators and bloody regimes. However, the Haiti we see today on the eve of the U.S. pull-out is not much different from the Haiti of the last 150 years. There is still a desperate population and an economy in ruins.

In this land that teeters between anarchy and hope we have been asked by the United Nations to take over from the United States in managing the peacekeeping force. However, the role the United Nations has completed there is far from complete.

I am very disappointed in the government for bringing this debate to the House in a less than meaningful fashion. If this debate is to be meaningful it has to be votable. The people of Canada through us as their elected representatives must have the right to have these issues debated and voted on so their democratic rights can be exercised. They must know when, if and how their sons, daughters, husbands and wives will be sent to far off lands to potentially lay their lives down in the name of peace.

There is no question in my mind that we should engage in this role for a number of reasons. It is our responsibility with Haiti lying within our sphere of geopolitical influence. The consequences of inaction are huge. As my colleague from Swift Current-Maple Creek-Assiniboia mentioned, if we do not act on this and Haiti descends into anarchy and bloodshed, there will be a mass migration of people to other shores, not to mention the basic humanitarian needs of these impoverished individuals for which we as Canadians are known to champion.

Conditional on our involvement is that a few questions must be answered: first, the length of stay; second, we must have parameters in terms of the cost of the involvement; third, we must have a well defined mandate. These three principles should be applied to any subsequent peacekeeping operation we as a country dare to entertain.

I have some suggestions for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. President René Préval cannot govern properly and bring peace to his country if he cannot govern safely. Therefore law and order must be restored to Haiti.

We must engage in training a constabulary in the form of a police force. The United States was engaging in training these individuals not as a police force but as a military force. That is a can of worms that will explode in its face.

There must be a stable judiciary in Haiti, and this is where Canada can involve the United Nations and the World Court in helping to train a fair, equitable and democratic judiciary in Haiti.

We must have a demilitarization of the army and paramilitary groups. As we look at the history of Haiti in the last 150 years, successive paramilitary/military groups have wreaked havoc in that country and have driven it repeatedly into a state of utter destitution and bloodshed.

We need the help of the United States. That is why we should take the request of President Préval and ask the United States to stay on for another six months. We will need it for that and also for a number of other interventions if peace is to take hold in Haiti for the long term.

We have to stop the shipments of arms that are clandestinely taking place into Haiti. This has a huge destabilizing effect on the country. We have to utilize international financial institutions, the World Bank and the IMF, to involve an integrated international approach for restructuring the economy in Haiti. If there is not a viable economy in Haiti, then there is a desperate people. If there is a desperate people, there is anarchy, bloodshed and it ends up exactly where it started.

One may argue this is a heavy handed approach but even with President Aristide before President Préval, moneys given to Haiti for aid and development went into the pockets of corrupt officials and were spent in a completely useless fashion. It will require very much an interventionist approach from the international financial institutions to make sure that economic restructuring and moneys designated for economic restructuring go where they are supposed to.

The restructuring of this land will be complex and will involve the multifactorial approach with the IFIs and the Organization of American States, as the secretary of state mentioned earlier. We need to take a leadership role in this because nobody is actually pushing these groups to take this multifactorial approach. We should be pushing these groups to do that for the long term.

This issue is too large for any one country to deal with, particularly ours. We must do our part because international security, our security, is intimately entwined with the ability of international structures to provide for umbrellas of international and regional security. We cannot provide this on our own.

I recommend again that the government involve the international financial institutions with a co-ordinated plan that involves economic restructuring, internal security and the construction of good governance and democratic institutions in Haiti if it is to get on its feet in the future. If we do not, it will again descend into a bloody mess.

All one has to do to see how unbalanced this situation is is to scratch the veneer on Haiti today and see that democracy is only skin deep.

As an extension of the problem in Haiti, I warn the Minister of Foreign Affairs of an impending problem in the Caribbean, particularly germane with the shooting down last week of the two planes from United States by Cuba. Cuba will be a huge security problem for Canada if we do not act in a preventative fashion. I urge the foreign affairs minister to do all he can to convince Mr. Clinton to defeat the xenophobic rhetoric forth by Jesse Helms and Mr. Burton in the United States.

Their mandate is driven by the rich Cuban expatriate groups in the United States trying to manipulate the situation in a presidential year. It is definitely the wrong thing for the people of Cuba and definitely the wrong thing for Canada. The implications of this bill will have a widespread effect also on our companies trying to operate in Cuba in a constructive way.

The quickest way to end the destitution and the communist structure in Cuba is for Canada along with other countries in a constructive fashion to build up the economy of the middle class in Cuba. If they do not, when Mr. Castro dies there will be a power vacuum left in a country that is economically destitute, which will cause anarchy and bloodshed in exactly the same way as in Haiti.

I put that out as a warning for the minister. Again, I support what the government is doing in Haiti and I hope in future we will have further meaningful debates in the House.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I noticed that your vision had been obscured by the eloquence of the members of the House in terms of seeing the clock at the end of the Chamber. If I might suggest that hon. members grant the hon. parliamentary secretary to the minister an opportunity to speak to the issue. I know he intends to be very brief. I think it would be appropriate if he followed up on the debate.

I ask the permission of hon. members to enable you, Mr. Speaker, to have the obscured vision you were good enough to have for the last speaker.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It seems that my obscured vision is coming into question again even after a long career in hockey refereeing. Is there unanimous consent?

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Cape Breton Highlands—Canso Nova Scotia

Liberal

Francis Leblanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for granting me this short period of time to wrap up the debate.

It is clear there is broad agreement on all sides of the House for Canada to assume a leadership role and continue its work in Haiti with the UN mission and to help restore democracy and security.

We on this side of the House have received some very valuable contributions from the opposition to guide the government in the decisions it will take on this subject. As the foreign affairs minister announced earlier this evening, he will make sure the House is kept informed of the government's progress in Haiti regardless of how this unfolds in the next few hours or days, as the case may be.

I thank all parliamentarians who contributed to the debate tonight for their interest in this very important subject. I assure the House on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we will keep Parliament informed of our role in this matter.

Foreign AffairsGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

In the spirit of blurred vision, as it is 9.30 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier this day, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.

(The House adjourned at 9.43 p.m.)