House of Commons Hansard #3 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Dear colleagues, since we are all back, could you please address your remarks to the Chair; it will be less complicated next time.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.


Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lachine—Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the hon. member for his comments. However, I did not come to the same conclusion as he did after reading the throne speech. I read this speech very carefully. I saw very positive measures. There is no mention of a referendum. We said that, should it ever happen, we would seek Canadians' views on their country. I think this makes perfect sense. At the same time, what we said on most pages of this throne speech is that we would take concrete action to promote employment among young people, double the number of summer jobs, and avoid introducing programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction without first holding extensive consultations with the provinces and obtaining their consent.

The Prime Minister has invited all the premiers to meet with him to try to set an agenda for the future, to put Canada back to work. The throne speech touched on science and technology, the environment, employment, on putting Canada back to work. In fact, this was the central theme of the throne speech.

I urge all my colleagues to get together and focus on the positive effects of the throne speech. The upcoming budget will indeed focus on the economy. There are so many things we can do together to revitalize Montreal, to revitalize the economy. I fully agree with the hon. Bloc member for Chambly that, if we put the Quebec referendum behind us and declare a moratorium on all this, all of us will benefit, especially those who need it the most, that is to say, those who will be looking for work tomorrow morning.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.


Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Could you tell me how much time if any I have remaining, Mr. Speaker?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

If I am not mistaken, we are through with questions and comments. This leaves just five minutes.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.


Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

We are through?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Yes, as far as questions and comments are concerned. Is there unanimous consent to extend?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.


Laurent Lavigne Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

I would have liked to ask a few questions but, if we ran out of time, so be it.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Very well, then. Resuming debate. I give the floor to the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

11:55 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to set the record straight in relation to what the Deputy Prime Minister said earlier in responding to one of my colleagues and have her know that we in Quebec are so much a distinct society that our legislative assembly is called the National Assembly.

This decision was made by federalists who agreed unanimously to change the name of our legislative assembly to National Assembly. Mr. Johnson Sr. was the premier at the time and he had the unanimous consent of the House to do so, which means that Jean Lesage agreed. The separatist PQ party did not even exist back then. This is a matter of tradition that I hope the Deputy Prime Minister will recognize.

There is also the issue of June 24. All over the world, people celebrate midsummer day on June 24. It comes from an old aboriginal custom that we all share; it was being celebrated in countries as far away as Peru, in Machu Picchu, thousands of years ago. So, there is nothing new about celebrating the summer solstice on June 24.

Now, this day is celebrated in many countries around the world in a similar manner; people sing folk songs, dance traditional dances and have fireworks or light bonfires on the beach or in an open field, where there is no beach.

That said, June 24 is also the feast of St. John the Baptist. It is in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, which is almost 2,000 years old, and St. John the Baptist is the saint to whom we pay tribute on that day. However, there is a difference in Quebec's case. Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is Quebecers' national holiday, regardless of their origin.

So, in Quebec, we celebrate the 24th of June. It goes without saying that we do not object to French Canadians outside Quebec celebrating the 24th of June in their own way and in accordance with their culture. We certainly do not object to that. We do not even object to having English Canadians come to Montreal, paying the full fare this time, and celebrate June 24 with us, if they so wish. We have no objection to that.

They can do like I did last year when, for the first time in my 58 years, I came to see for myself what Canada Day means to Canadians. I must say I learned a good lesson in that I truly felt it was English Canada's holiday. I did not feel at home; I did not think it was my holiday. I also found it amusing that, when speakers spoke French and made jokes, nobody laughed. People had to wait for the English version to laugh. I realized that I was

one of the few who could understand jokes in both languages and that people had to wait for the English version to laugh.

What I find even more surprising in the deputy Prime Minister's speech is that, all of a sudden, she starts raving about Canada's francophones and wants to protect them. Let me remind her of some recent events.

It is true that she was just recently appointed Minister of Canadian Heritage and that she may not have had the time yet to become familiar with all the issues and to go through all the documents that could enlighten her about the situation of francophones outside Quebec, among other things. The commissioner of official languages released his report in February 1996, which is rather recently, and he once again came to the conclusion that Canada's official languages policy does not work. The commissioner reminded us that sections 41 and 42, in Part VII of the Official Languages Act, were a dismal failure.

Yet, the heritage minister attended with great pomp the world congress held by Acadians on the Acadian peninsula. She stated loud and clear that the masterpiece of her department and government was an act that was passed when Mr. Bouchard, Quebec's premier, was secretary of State. Yet, the commissioner talks about a dismal failure.

He says that, according to his study, nothing indicates the existence, even after August 1994, of a systematic effort to ensure compliance with section 41 in the restructuring process of the government's institutions and programs, including through a transfer of responsibilities to the provinces or to volunteer organizations.

The commissioner points out that, in fact, this restructuring was sometimes done in a way that reduced, instead of increasing, support to the development of minority official language communities, or recognition of the status and use of French and English.

The commissioner says that the heritage minister's appeal to his colleagues to do their homework as regards sections 41 and 42 of Part VII of the act was made in vain.

So it seems the policy is a failure, at the very moment the Deputy Prime Minister is about to make a 50 per cent cut in subsidies for francophones in Saskatchewan, in the agreement between the francophone community of Saskatchewan and Canada, and also at the very moment the assimilation rate ranges from 10 to 70 per cent. I think that instead of getting emotional and defending francophones or the francophonie or anything that is the slightest bit French, the Minister of Canadian Heritage should sit down at her desk, sign some decent documents and make sure her colleagues promote sections 41 and 42 of the policy I mentioned earlier, a policy that goes back to when the new premier of Quebec was secretary of state under the Mulroney government. Laws may be passed in this Parliament, but people do not care whether they are enforced or not.

To get down to the throne speech, the centrepiece of this government's second session, earlier the hon. member for Lachine-Lac-Saint-Louis was terribly depressed to see that we in the Bloc Quebecois did not understand.

In this document, which is about fifteen pages long-twice as long as the first one, which does not mean it will be more effective-the speech is divided into three parts. Part I is about ensuring opportunity and refers to a strong society, a strong economy. In the next four pages, the government tells us how it intends to make the Canadian economy strong. It says, for instance, that it will double the number of federal summer student jobs. So while the government is laying off 45,000 public servants, all of a sudden it can double the number of student summer jobs. Why? To make sure these students get a cheque with a maple leaf and remember that in the next referendum.

Science and technology. The government promises to take care of that, but it will have to be a quick study, because the Canadian government is way behind. For instance, it has done nothing to protect Canadian culture during the two years it has been in power. I wonder how it will be able to catch up in science and technology, especially where the information highway is concerned.

As for trade, I would love to see how specific the government will be about dealing with the threats aimed by the Americans at all those who trade with Cuba, because this will affect thousands of jobs in Canada.

Finally, several measures have been announced to strengthen our economic framework, including the 1 per cent. The Prime Minister thinks he can, well, not force but at least encourage businesses to spend 1 per cent of their payroll on jobs for young Canadians. That remains to be seen.

As for the second part of the throne speech, which is called ensuring opportunity: security for Canadians, this is a prime example of not practising what you preach. There is all this wonderful stuff down on paper, but you wonder what the government is actually doing to protect the environment. For two years, all the talk about the environment has centred on the Irving Whale , which is still at the bottom of the ocean, off the coast of the Magdalen Islands, and it is still a threat to the ecology and environment of Quebec and Canada.

So what does a government that managed to do nothing for the past two years think it can do in the next two years, when there is an election down the road? It makes you wonder.

As far as personal security is concerned, that is quite an incentive the Canadian government is prepared to provide, when

you realize it is cutting transfer payments and the government says it wants old age pensions based on family income. As for unemployment insurance reform, which everyone objects to, the minister told us yesterday that he would table the same legislation again, with the former minister's promises to amend some very minor clauses that will in no way change the principle of the Unemployment Insurance Act.

Finally, Part III is the most interesting one and also the longest, notwithstanding the hon. member opposite, who said earlier that my colleague was right to remind him it was the present Canadian government that was elected because it said: "Vote for me, and I will never mention the Constitution". It has been doing just that for two years. A bit more than a third of its second throne speech is about just that and, since the cabinet shuffle, the ministers have been heading off in all directions and we are not even able to figure out any more where the government stands on the future of Canada.

However, one thing is that it has acknowledged the 50.4 per cent win, which means it would be prepared to acknowledge a yes victory of 50.1, as we have always said it must. Perhaps the figure could be 50.5, maybe even more. But, and perhaps this is the most interesting aspect of this speech, we might be led to conclude that the Prime Minister could reverse his antidemocratic stand and perhaps accept any outcome in excess of fifty plus one.

It is hard for us to swallow, in the post-referendum context, that the government is informing us that it will be restricting its spending power to some extent with the consent of the majority of the provinces, while diverting-I do not wish to make accusations of fraud, which might be a little too strong-but I do not know what label one can use for taking five billion dollars from someone else's pocket, money that does not belong to you and to which you have not contributed a red cent, appropriating that money and saying: "These five billion dollars belong to me".

That is more or less what they are doing with the unemployment insurance fund. They never put a penny into it, having arranged things so that workers and employers were the ones to contribute to it, and now they are saying: "Thanks so much for having contributed so generously. You have been such good little workers and good little employers that now I am going to take off with the surplus as if it were my own. I am going to reduce my deficit, and it will not show too much". In the meantime, it thinks we are not aware of it and that the people do not know about it.

We are tired of expenditures. In the speech from the throne the government says it is still going to spend on programs; it is going to double things, but for that it will need the approval of the majority of the provinces. Those that do not want to take part can choose the famous course of opting out, so long as they meet the standards. We can see what it means in the case of the transfer payments at the moment, in having to meet health standards with cuts in transfers. The provinces are having to cut back in post-secondary education and in welfare in an effort to meet, with less money, requirements in the area of health first, because they are subject to standards set by someone paying less and less of the bill.

There is another interesting point here, where it reads-I cannot tell you the page number, because it was probably printed quite quickly and they forgot to number the pages, but it is on the second last page of the French version, top paragraph-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.

Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition tried to find out what the government meant. One minister says it means a cross-Canada referendum, another says it means no such thing. I really wonder what else the government should do to make sure all the cards are on the table, the rules are fair, and the consequences clear.

What did the federal government do during the last two referendums, in 1980 and 1995? It spent many millions; we do not know exactly how much it spent on these two referendums, and we have never been able to find out. As far as clearly outlining the consequences, the federal government told fibs to the people of Quebec, and used scare tactics; first, there was the Brink's episode; then, the elderly were going to lose their pension; troops would leave for God knows where; health care would be jeopardized. The federal government used every trick in the book.

In 1980, all departments joined in a vast propaganda campaign. We were deluged under tons of propaganda extolling Canada, its beauty, greatness, grandeur, wealth, etc.

In 1995, the government went so far as to appoint a minister in charge of the referendum. Many toured Quebec. In 1980, there was the Centre Paul-Sauvé. It could not be used again in 1995 as it had been demolished in the meantime. So instead, they went to Verdun. One must wonder if there is not some hidden symbolism in the fact that Verdun was chosen as the site for a memorable gathering. But that was not enough. A great outpouring of love was organized; from sea to sea, Canadians came to show their love, taking advantage of extremely low fares which were never accounted for by the no committee as election expenses.

Regarding the next referendum, when the government talks about putting all the cards on the table and making sure that the

consequences are known and the rules are fair, one has every right to wonder whether the House will vote a $50 billion budget for the no committee to ensure a victory this time, and give each Quebecer a little something so that, when the time comes to vote, they will remember where the cheque is coming from.

When we witness such things, it is extremely hard to know where the government is going and where it wants to take us. It makes promises and, the very next day, gives us a distinct society which is distinct from nothing at all and is not negotiable, and grants us a veto that gives us very little rights. They speak of a modern and united country. We certainly have a long way to go before we can calls ourselves modern, because our country is bankrupt. It is so easy to declare bankruptcy here that you can do it one day, turn around and start your own business the next day, and nobody will do a thing about it. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

People say we have a great country. Of course it is vast. As far as the total area is concerned, it is the largest country in the world since the dismantling of the U.S.S.R. Canada is probably a few square miles larger than the new Russia. But it is a country which does not react to demonstrations. It is a country which does not hear its population; it does not see how much people do not agree with the current policies of the government, it cannot listen to its workers when they say that the new employment insurance is really poverty insurance and they do not want it. It was said from coast to coast that we do not want that program , yet the government still promises to bring back the bill, maybe with a new number and a new title.

I know my time is almost up, but if you look at the first throne speech and at the red book, you can see they amount to several pages of unkept promises. If the past is any indication of the future, this throne speech offers little hope to Canadians, unfortunately.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. House for giving me the opportunity to participate in this most important debate. I feel honoured to be able to offer my comments on the government's upcoming policies. I also wish to bring to the House what we as elected representatives have heard during the last recess in conjunction with the throne speech. In order for us to formulate policy and bring forth proposals it is important that we convey to our caucus and to our colleagues what the people who have elected us and who have given us the opportunity to be in the House have to say.

As stated in the throne speech 28 months ago, Canadians elected a new Parliament and chose a new government. I was one of those people newly elected. I felt then as I do now that I have been given a great responsibility to represent those who elected me and to serve them to the best of my ability.

In 1993 I campaigned on the promises made in the now famous red book. I felt very strongly that we would make a difference for the country, that we would help build a stronger and more united and fiscally sound country. I am pleased today to state without a doubt that we have to date kept most of our promises.

In the past two years the Liberal government has delivered on the majority of the promises made in our last speech from the throne. One of the most important commitments we made was to make jobs a major priority. We have remained true to our word to date.

I want to repeat a quote from our red book which speaks volumes: "A Liberal government will put jobs and economic growth in the forefront of its objectives. We will also take long term measures to create jobs and growth by focusing on small and medium size businesses, setting the stage for an innovative economy, investing in people through training and apprenticeship programs, encouraging research and development and fostering trade initiatives".

We can only reflect on the unprecedented trade missions the government has taken over the last couple of years. They have resulted in billions of dollars of contracts and several hundred thousand jobs. A couple of weeks ago I was in Apollo Business Machines to repair a calculator. A gentleman approached me and said: "We have just opened a facility in the riding of Scarborough Centre employing 65 people". It specializes in refrigeration equipment. Had it not been for the trade mission 65 people would not be working today. I commend the Prime Minister, Team Canada, and I hope this effort continues in the future.

As we move from a resource based economy to an information based economy the programs we have brought forth will with no question prepare the students of today for Canada's future. Nevertheless, as these programs unfold we must remember it takes two to tango, as we have often heard.

Our record in the first half of our mandate speaks volumes. We have focused on job growth. The results speak for themselves with nearly half a million jobs, two hundred in the past year alone. Notice these statistics are not from any Liberal press release. They come from the pundits who on a daily basis analyse each move the government makes. They come from the media, not from Liberal press releases.

We have had to date the lowest level of unemployment in the past five years and one of the highest growth rates in the industrial world. We have worked hard to get the fundamentals right. We have reduced the deficit from over 6 per cent of gross domestic product in 1993, not to the targeted 3 per cent we initially committed to in our red book but, as we heard the other day, to a projected 2 per cent by 1997-98.

We have avoided increasing personal income taxes, a promise made and another promise kept. We have cut the red tape and streamlined government services so that small and medium size businesses can concentrate on achieving better productivity.

I am also proud to report that we have taken several initiatives to help small and medium size businesses, an important issue especially in my riding of Scarborough Centre which has an abundance of small and medium size businesses on which we depend very heavily at the municipal and national levels. These businesses are the engine of our economy and we must continue to find ways to support their efforts.

I was a small businessman prior to entering the political arena. I realize how important business is and the role government must play. Over the last year and a half the corporate world has asked us to streamline our activities, to address our financial problems, to reduce the deficit, to downsize government, which we have done in a compassionate and humanitarian way.

We have streamlined. We have reduced our spending. We have done our share. However, as the throne speech indicated, the corporate world also has an obligation. The throne speech was not just a statement but a signal to the corporate world which I believe has not been a good corporate citizen over the last couple of years.

There have been record profits. We have all heard the banks have been reaching numbers like never before. The automotive industries have reached record profits but what is hurting here is that these corporations are continuing to downsize. It is just not fair. We are allowing the investors, the speculators to trigger the economy. What about the average individuals? Where do they go? Where do they seek job security and how can they do long term planning?

I am concerned and I am also extending this challenge to the corporate world. I have no problems about companies making profits but they have an obligation to offer long term job security to the Canadian worker.

I have heard from my constituents how they are sick and tired of being nickelled and dimed to death by the banks. Everywhere they go it is service charge this, service charge that. The banks and the financial institutions also have an obligation to lead the way. Working together with this administration we will be able to recapture a healthy economy.

It is not the government's responsibility alone to create jobs. A government cannot hire the people but the government's responsibility is to create a climate in which business and prosperity can flourish. The government has set such an agenda.

We can look to the interest rates, the lowest they have been in decades. We can look to the deficit reduction that has been projected as we hear from the Minister of Finance. We can look at the formula unfolding and supporting small and medium size businesses. We have done our share. The corporate world once again has to step forward. There is, however, only so much that a government can do to encourage job creation and job growth. Without the help of the private sector the economy will continue to stall.

The Liberal government has promised that it will continue to work alongside the private sector so that more jobs can be created. The government's mandate during the second half will continue to work with the province as well to bring down the trade barriers which are often stumbling blocks in creating more jobs.

The partnership the Prime Minister indicated yesterday must be a real partnership because everybody can benefit from this type of partnership. I am concerned about our youth. I had the opportunity recently to speak to several students in my riding. They are concerned about their future and about the programs they are now into and whether there will be a job for them tomorrow?

What I said to the students is, first of all, stay in school, complete your education, get the proper skills. I am encouraged about the apprenticeship programs the government is now enfolding. The co-op program, the training session they would get while in school certainly will help them get that first job. Those on the job skill sets are crucial to that first job opportunity they are seeking.

If talking is a remedy, listening makes us a healer. The government is listening. Over the last month and a half or so which we had the opportunity to spend in our ridings, we heard what the people are saying. The throne speech has covered most of those areas. I was very pleased to hear that when and if we have another referendum, not only Quebecers but the rest of the people in Canada will have an opportunity to participate in that debate. I was also pleased to hear that the question and the process in the next referendum will be transparent, a clear and fair question.

I say to my brothers and sisters in Quebec that we have the best thing going for us. We have Canada, recognized once again as the number one country in the world. We have the skills, we have the people, we just simply have to put it in motion.

In addition to our youth initiatives, we will focus on investments in science and technology. This area is the way to go in the future. Twenty-five and 35 years ago, 75 per cent of the jobs that were created were resource based. Today we are moving onto the information highway. High tech is the way to go.

In conclusion I congratulate the Prime Minister and this government for having the foresight to take this initiative today that will benefit the generations of tomorrow. It is with pleasure that I give

my support to all the initiatives that were brought forth in the throne speech.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.

Richmond B.C.


Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the hon. member's statement I would like to share some of the concerns of my constituents in Richmond, B.C.

When I talk to my constituents they are worried about their future and their children's future. They want the federal government to get the deficit under control and they want a say in the future of our country. During and after the referendum, people in Richmond, British Columbia expressed their frustration at the way in which it was conducted. I passed this on to the cabinet and my caucus colleagues.

This throne speech shows that the federal government is listening. Our government has made a commitment to ensure that in any future referendum all the facts will be on the table, the rules of the process will be fair, the consequences will be clear and that all Canadians get a say in the future of their country.

The 1996 budget will set out the government's plan for hitting deficit reduction targets, bringing the deficit down to 2 per cent of gross domestic product in 1997-98 and ensuring that further progress is made in 1998-99.

Deficit reduction is a major concern of my constituents and I am pleased to see that our concerns are being heard. Our government has come a long way in reducing the size of the deficit from 6 per cent of GDP to 3 per cent, but we still have work to do.

On behalf of my constituents I urge the finance minister and the government to continue its steady but firm approach to deficit reduction to reach our ultimate goal of deficit elimination and paying down the debt. This throne speech is an excellent reflection of the discussion I have had with constituents about where our country should be going.

I appreciate the statement from the hon. member and I congratulate him for a good statement.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague put it so right. We have to address our finances. We have to bring them in order. We are on track in doing so, but at the same time I urge this government to keep focusing on job creation. The more people that are working, the quicker we are going to take care of our deficit.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:30 p.m.


Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to address the second throne speech of the 35th Parliament.

When our government came to power in October 1993 the Canadian people had elected us on a platform of promises and commitments to the voters that we believed in strongly enough to print boldly for the whole world to see in the famous red book.

The greatest commitment that would affect all other commitments was to restore financial confidence in Canada and reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP by the 1996-97 fiscal year.

When this government came to power the annual deficit was more than $42 billion. By the end of the 1995-96 fiscal year, which will end in just a few weeks on March 31, we expect to reach the deficit reduction target of approximately $32 billion. We will be on target of the original goal and we will by the end of fiscal year 1996-97 be around a deficit of $25 billion to $27 billion. The Minister of Finance has already set new rolling targets to take us into the second half of our term and that will reduce the deficit to 2 per cent of GDP by fiscal year 1997-98. By the turn of the century I personally hope to see a deficit of zero and a balanced budget.

Why is this so important? It is important because it has reduced interest rates. It has reduced unemployment. It has reduced mortgage rates and has provided a healthier financial environment. It is important also to let Canadians know that we have set realistic targets and that we have made the tough cuts in spending to meet those targets.

Our finance minister has shown strong leadership and our government has shown great political courage to do the right thing, not always the politically popular thing. I am proud to be a member of the Standing Committee on Finance and I am equally proud of the advice and support that the Canadian people have offered us in the consultative process.

The kept promise of financial responsibility was of number one importance in order to keep the promises of our government programs. As well, the greatest promise of all, the all encompassing commitment was the contract with the Canadian people to insist on the highest standards of integrity and honesty of all ministers performing their duties in this 35th Parliament. Our Prime Minister has kept that promise.

By setting and meeting realistic goals and by delivering an honest government with integrity, we have restored credibility and confidence in our elected representatives. This is not only good for Canada at home but it is very good for us globally as other countries view Canada with great respect. What is it about Canada that causes other countries and the United Nations to declare it to be the number one country in the world to provide the best quality of life?

We as a government have shown leadership in getting our financial house in order, in reducing the public service and in doing the business of government more efficiently. Now we can ensure the continuance of our highly valued social justice system that provides this high quality of life that the world views in awe.

The throne speech highlighted the fact that our government respects the values that Canadians hold dear. In respecting those values our government must ensure economic opportunity as well as security for all Canadians. Economic growth alone does not make a nation. Canadians have told us what defines greatness in nationhood is: the opportunity to work; the national health care system; a fair judicial system; and compassion and respect for all human beings to live in one united Canada.

We have delivered on what the majority of Canadians asked for in the first half of our mandate. Now we are committing to those values that Canadians have identified and asked for, values that bind this country together in Canadian unity.

We are committing to income security for the elderly and the availability of old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. Measures will be taken in this Parliament to ensure the sustainability of our elderly benefits system into the future. Let there be no doubt that we will look after our elderly.

We are committing to our youth, to double the number of federal summer jobs this year immediately, which will help them pay for their post-secondary education. We will challenge the private sector and other levels of government to create opportunities in assisting young people in finding their first job. Our youth must be our priority.

Recently I was honoured to announce funding to establish a new Bachelor of Science degree program in aquaculture, that is fish culture, at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College in Truro. This program is extremely important to the Atlantic coast as it provides an opportunity to train our young people in a new field that has tremendous potential for growth in world markets for Canadian fish products.

We have committed in the throne speech to the five principles of the Canadian Health Act. We will work with the provinces to ensure the future of our publicly financed health care system which remains the number one health care system in the world.

We have committed to the security and protection of our environment and we will modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. We will introduce an endangered species protection act and legislation to ratify the UN straddling stocks agreement and the law of the sea convention.

Canada will continue to participate in the G-7, in NATO and in the United Nations for a more stable and peaceful world. We will commit to advancing human rights and the dignity of all people. We will work vigorously to eliminate the exploitation of child labour and child prostitution throughout the world.

Many people listening to my voice today will know that very often I speak in this House on issues on rural Canada. I was very pleased to see that this throne speech addresses the problems facing rural Canada and acknowledges the fact that our government must tailor policies to meet those needs.

Quite often the problems of urban centres overshadow rural needs and we lose sight of the great richness of the human resources and the great contributions made by rural people to this country. The Prime Minister has heard our voice speaking on behalf of rural Canada. I feel confident that he recognizes that in a strong, united Canada we must ensure that both rural and urban needs are met and that both rural and urban Canadians benefit from the wealth of this great country and share in its economic prosperity. I look forward to seeing the words rural Canada becoming key words in all of our policy proposals in this session of Parliament.

These past two years have created much anxiety as many programs were cut to take swift action against the deficit. It has not been easy for anyone and it is not over. I am sure members will agree that had we not taken the prudent steps of compassion, if we had taken the steps of slash and burn as recommended by some parties, it would have been even more painful. We have shown compassion while being responsible and accountable in fiscal matters.

There is still much to be done. When the hon. Minister of Finance presents his budget next Wednesday afternoon, we will need the co-operation and the continued trust of the Canadian people. We need their support so that we can create the economic climate for investment and job creation while still funding programs that represent Canadian values.

We will serve the Canadian people in the second half of our mandate with the same integrity, honesty and dedication as we have in the past two years. We will pass legislation that ensures and serves all Canadians with a sense of fairness and equality in a united Canada.

I look forward to hearing the views from my constituents of Cumberland-Colchester. I thank them for giving me the privilege of serving them in this 35th Parliament of Canada.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:40 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Edmonton Southwest.

I am pleased to rise in the House to reply to the speech from the throne. I might start by saying that some of what I heard in the throne speech, such as the government pledge toward the devolution of power, was encouraging. Unfortunately, it also appears that once again this government is relying on reworked policies from the failed Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. Once again it is relying on half measures.

I do not know what it is about this government but it cannot seem to bite the bullet on any of the big issues that face us, whether it is really coming to grips with the justice system, the Young Offenders Act, the debt, the deficit or parliamentary democracy. These things are not confronted in proper style. It is half measures and that is all that we are about to get.

I was also disappointed that the speech contained such vague and fleeting references to a subject that I have tried very hard to implement since being elected in 1993. I speak here of participatory democracy.

The speech mentioned this subject on only two occasions. With reference to national unity, the government says in the speech: "The government welcomes public participation in the debate about Canada". It goes on to say: "Canadians no matter where they live will have their say in the future of their country". Good words. I would that the government would invoke them and truly reach out to the people of Canada and say we want your opinion.

I have heard the Deputy Prime Minister on the one hand saying one thing about the possibility of going to the people of Canada in a referendum on national unity and I hear the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs saying something quite different. I have heard the same dichotomy between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. I would that the government could make up its mind. Does it want to go to the people or does it not?

The government puts forward nice words but if we examine the Liberal track record it is quite clear that they have little meaning.

In the 1994 throne speech two years ago the Liberals promised: "A national forum on health, chaired by the Prime Minister, will be established to foster, in co-operation with the provinces, a national public dialogue on the renewal of Canada's health system". That was the promise made two years ago in the throne speech. In reality that committee met only once, said nothing and will not report before the next election.

While this in itself is evidence of the government's unwillingness to keep its promises, the February 13 Calgary Herald report on the forum's visit to Calgary shows the Liberal's promise of public dialogue was nothing more than lip service. According to that report the health forum consultations are ``restricted to selected participants and are closed to the public and the media''. So much for consulting with the public.

The government is not living up to the promises it has made and it is certainly not interested in participatory democracy.

While I am saddened by this turn of events, I am certainly not surprised, for this government often talks of involving Canadians in the decision making process but seldom walks the talk. Instead we have a Prime Minister who punishes his own MPs who have the nerve to vote the will of their constituents on issues such as gun control or sexual orientation. In fact he has even gone so far as to threaten not to sign nomination papers for those in the Liberal caucus who have the integrity or nerve to vote on behalf of their constituents rather than blindly toe the party line.

To someone who believes as strongly as I do in participatory democracy, these actions are an affront to the very principles of democracy. Yet to the Prime Minister it is just business as usual. What else should we expect from a man who feels his views are more important than those of the people who elected him?

Two years ago on February 16, in response to a question from a Reform colleague on the issue of voting the will of constituents, the Prime Minister said: "This notion that we should be replaced by polling is revolting to me". How interesting that what I see as the legitimate right of Canadians our Prime Minister views as revolting.

Based on these example, I fear that even the vague government promises of consultation contained in this throne speech are merely more Liberal smoke and mirrors.

However, against the remote possibility that the Liberals are now willing to live up to their promises of consulting, I would like to offer them some advice on how true participatory democracy works. For the past two years, voters in my riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan have had an opportunity to express their views on numerous issues through the use of a telephone voting system.

On a monthly basis, voters respond to questions posed on the public opinion survey system. Their input helps guide me on both local and national issues. It has also assisted me in the decision making process on such issues as international travel by MPs.

My constituents, indeed all Canadians, deserve to be heard in the House and all of us have a duty to do what we can to make this process as simple and as transparent as possible. That is why I have taken the basic voting system that I have just described to the next level. Through the use of state of the art Canadian made computer software, participatory democracy is fast becoming a way of life for voters in Nanaimo-Cowichan.

As a result of the initial vote late last year, I will soon be introducing a private member's bill in the House calling for a national referendum on reinstatement of capital punishment as part of the next general election. Again, reach out to the people, get their opinions and then do something about it. This will be the second private member's bill that I put forward after soliciting the input of my constituents.

Next month, my constituents will have their say in the unity issue as participatory democracy takes yet another step forward in Nanaimo-Cowichan. I will once again bring their views forward to the House. Since I am a believer in true democracy it is my duty to do so, even though the Prime Minister feels that such behaviour is revolting.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:50 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague for his fine speech. I would also like to tell the House that my hon. friend is displaying some of the finest elements of democracy by asking his constituents what they think about the issues of the day and enabling them to have an effective role in this House through their elected member. Other members of Parliament should take heed of what my hon. friend has done in his riding and in how he employs those ideas.

My hon. colleague brought before us an area that is of some great concern to me professionally and also to members that live on the same island as both of us. In fact, it affects all Canadians: health care in this country.

One of the great disappointments of the throne speech was its inability to put forward any constructive solutions to the problems affecting the health and welfare of Canadians. The situation is unsustainable, which has been admitted by both the government and all members of this House. It cannot continue to go on as is. When it falls apart, it will only hurt those who are in greatest need, those who are sick.

We have to put forward constructive solutions to put publicly funded health care on a long term sustainable footing. I saw nothing about that in the throne speech. It is a great disservice for us to sit here and argue on the basis of philosophical grounds to maintain the Canada Health Act as a status quo. The government has mentioned that it does not want the status quo but it has not provided any alternatives.

Does my hon. colleague support choice in health care, enabling Canadians to choose alternative ways of getting health care through a two-tiered system which would enable them to buy their health care if they so choose while maintaining the status quo in publicly funded health care. This would give individuals the ability to get their health care free of charge in a publicly funded health care system but in a health care system that provided all Canadians with essential services in a timely fashion? Would my hon. colleague support such a move?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in response to my colleague, absolutely. If we have the ability for Canadians who have money to go and purchase health care that they wish, it would simply shorten the line for other Canadians who are forced to stand in line.

The government is unable to give the subsidies to the provinces that they require, therefore the lines get longer and longer. It would shorten the lines.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

12:55 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join this debate, the first in this second session of the 35th Parliament.

I would like to confine my comments on the throne speech debate to two items that in my opinion are serious land mines in the future of our country. These are land mines planted by the government and referred to in the throne speech that, sooner or later, our country will encounter going down this road and boom, we are going to have an explosion the likes of which we have not envisioned.

The problems to which I refer are two. That is the notion of enshrining within our Constitution a veto and the concept of distinct society.

When I was first elected a couple of years ago, along with everyone here, I received a letter from a constituent. The constituent's letter was to wish me well. It was a letter of support. The constituent wrote in the body of that letter that there are two kinds of people who get involved in politics. There are politicians and statesmen. The distinction was drawn between a politician and a statesman thus: a politician thinks about the next election and a statesman about the next generation.

I thought about the words and the feeling put into that letter by that family from Edmonton Southwest. A thought occurred to me as I was watching my four and a half year old grandson last week as he was speaking on cellular phone to his uncle at the same time as he was shutting down a Windows '95 program on a computer. He is four and a half years old.

I was thinking about our responsibility as statesmen, what my responsibility is as a statesman and what our collective responsibility is to future generations. Our responsibility is not to our grandparents. Our responsibility is to our grandchildren. Our responsibility is to the future, not to the past and that is where we should have our eyes firmly fixed.

I was thinking about my responsibility to my grandson and to our grandchildren, the future generations of Canada. I was thinking about this veto. I was thinking, what does that do? I put it into the context of the great debate that raged in the land south of us in the United States.

About 220 years ago, they were in the midst of putting together their constitution. It starts with the words: "We, the people-". One of the architects of the American constitution, Thomas Jefferson, had as one of his primary advisers a man by the name of Thomas Paine, who wrote the book that many will know,


Rights of Man. I believe the central thesis is contained in the phrase: "Each generation has the right and the responsibility to govern for its time and should no more bind future generations than past generations should bind today". He referred to the notion of binding future generations to decisions of today as the greatest tyranny of all, the tyranny of ruling from beyond the grave.

We in our generation and the generation that preceded us are already ruling from the grave in one respect. We will be saddling future generations with a debt we ran up, a debt we used so we could live beyond our means and live better today at the expense of future generations of Canadians. That is wrong. That is tyranny.

To put a veto for any particular group, no matter how well meaning or no matter how well deserving, into the Constitution of the country binds future generations to decisions of today. It will be virtually impossible to change our Constitution. The beauty and the majesty of a Constitution is its ability to change and to evolve, to represent the people of today.

By putting a Constitutional veto into our Constitution we remove the ability of future generations to adapt and to change the Constitution and our relationship one with another in the future.

What is the natural consequence of removing the ability to accommodate change in the future? Imagine today if we did not have the ability to evolve, to change the relationship one province to another. Would we be able to even sit at a table with Quebec and say this is how we think we can make the country work better for everyone? We would be removing the ability to be flexible in the future. That is a significant road block, a significant land mine in the future destiny of the country.

In the immediate future the effect of a veto for regions in the country that do not include every single coequal province is this. I guarantee House and the people of Canada that the day Albertans become second class citizens because we do not have a veto, just as the individual provinces in the maritimes do not have a veto, or the Northwest territories or Saskatchewan or Manitoba, all hell is going to break loose.

Guess what, folks? We in Alberta get to give, give, give: "You are just about equal but you do not have a veto like everybody else. You do not have a veto like Quebec, but by the way, send money". How long do we think that will last? That is a very real and a very significant problem which the government does not seem to want to address.

It is wrong for future generations because it ties their hands; it makes it impossible to change. It is wrong because it puts a red flag in front of one of the most prosperous, dynamic provinces in the country which will be so upset that if the government thinks it has a problem with Quebec, it will look back at its problems with Quebec now as the good old days. I guarantee that is what will happen.

I did a little figuring the other day. The Prime Minister once again mentioned that he has been in the House for 32 years, which is quite remarkable. I added the number of hours in 32 years. If we divide the number of hours he has been an elected politician by our national debt it works out to $2,090,000 an hour for every hour he has been elected. We cannot stand any more of that. It is too expensive. We must have some fiscally responsive leadership. Two million dollars an hour for the last 32 years; that is our national debt.

The other real problem is distinct society. I am not raising this for the first time. I have raised it before and I use as my authority of the problems with distinct society Eugene Forsey. Eugene Forsey, as many people know, was Canada's pre-eminent constitutional scholar. There is no single Canadian acknowledged to have a better understanding or who has done more work in determining or considering what brought Canada together.

Eugene Forsey left the New Democratic Party at its founding convention because the New Democratic Party embraced the notion of two nations. He could not abide that and he left the party because of it. The New Democratic Party at the time was trying to make inroads in Quebec. It figured that if it embraced the notion of two nations somehow it would help. Look what happened to the New Democratic Party in Quebec-nothing. It did not help.

Eugene Forsey constitutionally went right back to ground zero and the Fathers of Confederation, especially the French speaking Fathers of Confederation, including Cartier. They made the point that Canada did not work as two separate entities. That was the whole reason we came together.

Let me read a quote from his book: "The Canadian Fathers of Confederation, French speaking, English speaking, made it plain emphatically in both languages that they considered they were founding a new nation, a single great nation, a political nationality independent of national origin. Cartier and Macdonald spoke of joining these five peoples into one nation". The five peoples being the French, English, Irish, Scottish and others, perhaps the aboriginals.

He added: "We make the confederation one people and one government instead of five peoples and five governments, with local governments and legislatures subordinate to the central government and legislator".

Mr. Forsey said if we recognized a distinct society for anyone, it is not to say we do not understand there are differences in Canada, that we have special status for different provinces. We do. The maritimes have special status. Different provinces have different requirements. To base a distinct society on race and language is in

itself racist tribalism. That is the bottom line. If we have a country based on race and language, that is what it is.

Eugene Forsey's point was that the minute we as a nation give the official imprimatur to the notion of two nations, we are giving it legitimacy. Guess what? He was right. We gave the nation of two nations legitimacy. Now we will give distinct society legitimacy so that every law, every consideration based on the province of Quebec will be based on its notion as a distinct society. It might as well be a different country.

What we are trying to do is form a country of equal people in equal provinces where equality is the defining feature, not differences. We need to get rid of the hyphens.

There are a lot of things in this throne speech, most of which are motherhood window dressing that do not mean a whole heck of a lot.

In debate we have heard from time to time references to the fact that government has cut back all this spending and how it did its part and now it is up to the private sector to carry its burden. To some degree that is correct. The problem is that the cuts really have not taken place yet and the business of the private sector is to create profit. Profit is not a dirty word.

When corporations make a profit and if their profits are excessive what we should be doing is ensuring there is competition because competition keeps prices down. Competition prevents excessive profits and creates employment.

Let us be very cognizant that we are in real trouble with distinct society and the veto.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned competition. I do not think anybody is against competition. I do not think anybody is against corporations making profit. However, when we look at the consolidation and the financial institutions today, they are trying to move in on the insurance industry. We are talking about thousands of jobs in communities that have been served for years.

What is the member's answer to that? What is his answer to the banks and auto companies making profits, although I am glad they are? How does he respond to the downsizing still taking place today?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, we cannot on one hand say we want to have the most efficient world class industries and businesses and on the other hand say by the way, do not make a profit. The business of business is business.

Let us talk about the banks because banks are organizations that people love to hate, by and large with good reason. Why are the banks making these outrageous profits? Are they making these profits because of their lending practices or because they are so smart at what they do and they are finding opportunities to make money? Partly. However, every time we go to the bathroom we end up paying the banks something somehow. It is like a utility. They have service charges on everything. There is a service charge for opening the door. They are also making huge profits because of the amount of credit we are all using through bank credit cards.

One of the reasons business is slow is the per capita consumer debt in Canada is 88 per cent of the average Canadian's expendable income. Everybody is in debt. Ten years ago it was 65 per cent.

The way to ensure there are not obscene profits in any industry is to ensure fair, open competition. Bank are owned by shareholders who then get the profits and reinvest in the country. If we think the banks are making too much money, let us open up the flood gates of competition.

I do not think the banks should be in the direct selling of insurance unless insurance companies can be in direct selling of banking. We can open up the competition of the banking industry to everybody in the insurance business by saying if you want to be in business, fine, get in the business. However, the new people who get into business should not do it on the backs of the taxpayers. If I am to get involved in a business I should be paying for that. I should be able to reap some of the rewards and I should be able to keep some of the profits, which is the nature of free enterprise.

It seems when we get involved in and start talking about this we have to look at our tax system. We need to see if everything in our tax system motivates people to invest and risk their lives, their livelihood, their security and their capital in getting more, which then creates employment. That is the kind of foundation we should have if we want to create jobs. We need a foundation that rewards entrepreneurship, risk and initiative. We do not need a foundation that rewards passive investment.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:10 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague mentioned the tribalism that has descended into the country through offers such as constitutionalizing the distinct society clause and vetoes to one province and not to others.

What would he would do to bring Canada together under the framework of equality for all Canadians?

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is stop this whole notion of lists. We are all equal by virtue of the fact that we are human beings.

When we gathered under the oak tree and decided that for our mutual comfort and support we were going to have governance and that we were going to work as equals together for this governance, we did not say: "Oh, by the way, you are going to be separate because of the colour of your skin, your sexual orientation or because you are male or female". We said that for our common

good as human beings we were going to come together and have governance.

In my opinion that would be the single thing we should do to make us work together and to say we are all equal, period.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:15 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from St. Boniface.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak in response to the speech from the throne, no doubt the last before the next federal election. I would like to focus on some areas that I find especially important.

Much has been said about the values, the beliefs, the hopes, the expectations and the personal and community goals that we all share. Being common to most of us, they act as a unifying force that helps to give us a sense of identity, a distinct perception of what it is to be Canadian.

I expect and anticipate that my friends, my neighbours and my fellow citizens would be as compassionate, understanding and as caring about others as is humanly and realistically possible.

The term others has far reaching connotations. It is a word that includes everyone. No one is excluded because of race, religion, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

Thus I turn to the Liberal Party of Canada, the only political party that is broad minded and all encompassing in its basic beliefs and policies to include all Canadians from sea to sea to sea. All other political parties cater to the agendas of special interest groups at the expense of all other Canadians.

Members can see why I am pleased in general with the content of the speech from the throne. It continues to build on that stable, solid foundation of liberalism that has been maintained and reinforced by not only the present Liberal government but by all Liberal governments in the past.

In particular I am proud of our commitment to aid Canadian youth in their quest for employment. We will be implementing initiatives which will allow our youth to make the move from school to the workforce. We will also be doubling the number of federal student summer jobs this year.

By working with private sector employers, we can offer youth more opportunities to obtain much needed work experience. We all know that when one has work experience one's chances of finding employment are greatly improved.

However, it is quite evident that we have reached the point in our society where all our formal educational institutions, the elementary schools, the private colleges, the public colleges and universities, our high schools, the private sector, all our agents in the private sector and employers must search for creative techniques and ventures to produce more jobs for the youth of the country. It can be done.

I warn all those concerned that we will never solve the problems of today and the immediate future by using the strategies and the principles of the past. We want our young people working and that is why we are following up with these initiatives. I am confident that the opposition parties will support the government in its job creation strategies.

Having implemented a successful strategy for deficit reduction, we must be careful not to lose sight of or be insensitive to the consequences of our policies. We must not be pushed by the self-serving, self-centred and shallow agendas of the opposing political parties. We must carefully plan with the input from as many of those affected as possible.

I am proud to announce that in the past two years the government has clearly indicated not only to the people of this country but to a great number of interested parties in a variety of countries who are really concerned and interested how we get the public involved. From the level of standing committees to the small forums that each of us has in our constituencies, information has been flowing. This information has been analysed, absorbed and has had a great impact on many of the policies the government has put forth in the last two years. This dynamic democratic process will continue with our support.

The throne speech has reassured Canadians that we will maintain a highly cherished social safety net. Introducing improvements and efficiencies in our social assistance programs will ensure their preservation. This is a task that the government is keen to take up with great vigour.

We will preserve the most envied health care system in the world. We will preserve a system of employment insurance. We will preserve the Canada pension plan. These are commitments the government, my Liberal administration and any Liberal administration would adhere to as a matter of ideological principle. However, our programs are not stagnant. They are dynamic and continually change to meet the needs and demands for reform.

I have received letters from constituents in my riding of Thunder Bay-Atikokan that praise us for having met so many red book commitments. Three-quarters of the promises have been successfully achieved, while others are yet to be carried through to fruition. The federal government is dedicated to keeping its promises. For example, it is committed to replace the GST. It is committed to a national child care program as well.

Over the past two years Canadians have consulted as to what should be done with the GST. Our countrymen have expressed their support for having federal and provincial sales taxes harmonized. However, it is extremely difficult for the federal government to act without provincial co-operation in this respect.

This difficulty also exists in the case of national child care. The red book indicates the importance of establishing child care across the country. However, once again we cannot act alone. The support of our provincial counterparts is essential in this matter. It is for this reason that progress on some commitments may at times appear to be developing at a slower rate than we might like.

The apparent difficulty of obtaining the necessary co-operation in joint ventures has influenced to a degree the federal government's decision to keep away from creating new, shared cost programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction without the consent of the majority of the provinces.

I would also like to discuss some of our citizenship and immigration policy initiatives. As a member of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, I am aware of the need to introduce legislation which will revamp the Citizenship Act, an act which has not been revised since 1977. These changes will make the process of citizenship that much more efficient and fairer. Moreover, these changes will reflect current Canadian views of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. This will hopefully also serve to remind Canadians of what we have in common.

This is a very important point because we share a lot in common as Canadians. That we have two official languages and a diversity of cultures does not mean that we are significantly different from each other in the ways that really matter. Quite the contrary; it is these differences and diversities that serve to bring us together. Quite the contrary; it is these differences and diversities that serve to bring us together.

The federal government believes that differences can serve to bring us closer together while at the same time acknowledging the distinctiveness of Quebec. The throne speech clearly indicated that Quebec is different in some respects from other regions of the country.

It is my opinion that the underlying theme in last Tuesday's throne speech was one of common sense in that we are building on our differences to ensure a strong and united Canada, common sense in that we are on our way to getting our financial house in order, building a stable foundation-

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.


Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech of my hon. colleague. I regret to have to tell him that he is merely the mouthpiece of this government, which is quite good at improvising.

It has improvised on job creation. It had said that, yes, it would create jobs, but did not elaborate, did not say how it was going to do that. How is the gouvernment going to remove the barriers to job creation, how is it going to put Canadians and Quebecers back to work? It does not say.

Nor does it say a word about contradictory statements by ions between the words of various ministers regarding Quebec partitioning. I would have liked to hear what my colleague has to say on the subject. Does he share the point of view of the Minister of the Intergovernmental Affairs who, by the way, was contradicted by several members of the Cabinet regarding Quebec partitioning? I would like his opinion on the subject.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:25 p.m.


Stan Dromisky Liberal Thunder Bay—Atikokan, ON

Mr. Speaker, regarding the creation of jobs, I think my colleague from Quebec is quite aware that the federal government in essence does not create jobs by itself. It is a co-operative venture, as was clearly indicated by the infrastructure program we initiated two years ago. It was extremely successful and produced over half a million new jobs in this great country of ours. Even the province of Quebec benefited immensely from that infrastructure program.

However, as I pointed out in my delivery, it is a co-operative venture. It is the needs that are identified and have to be catered to by the people who are involved.

In the province of Quebec I am anticipating that not only might all three levels of government be involved in a co-operative venture but that the people who are employing and the employees themselves through their various agencies and associations may have the opportunity to contribute to this decision making process. The people in the community may also have the opportunity to contribute.

What I have said is clearly indicated in my speech. We must change our ways of the past. We must not have the same expectations that one authority, one government is totally responsible for the creation of jobs. This government, in co-operative efforts with all other levels and all other agents, must work together to create those jobs. This is a completely different approach to the job creation philosophy versus the philosophy of job creation that we have maintained in this country for so many years.

We are active participants in a very co-operative, dynamic venture. We hope that citizens as well as the various levels of government in the province of Quebec and in all other provinces will join in a united effort to help nurture and create the kinds of jobs our young people and others need to meet the challenges of the next century.

Speech From The ThroneRoutine Proceedings

1:30 p.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand in the House today to make a number of comments with respect to the speech from the throne.

Recognizing that as a member of the government I might be tempted to be somewhat generous in my commentary, I decided to approach it in a unique way. I have looked at what a number of newspapers have said. I have selected excerpts from various articles. I have some from almost 20 newspapers across the nation.

The first is from the Guardian in Prince Edward Island. It refers to the speech from the throne as a ``take charge throne speech''.

What did Le Soleil say? ``A government which governs follows the quality criteria expected in such a message at mid-term. It gives, in a surprisingly clear and precise way, the objectives the government will follow, but it keeps practical details for the future. Jean Chrétien decided to show a Canada that works''.

And Le Devoir , what did it say? Will give priority to children's rights''. <em>Le Droit</em> :Good speech and ambitious program''.

The Gazette : ``Ottawa outlines a promising unity plan. Throne speech promises to end illusions''.

The Toronto Star : Chrétien program should rally nation''.Welcome words. The Liberal government hit all the right notes in the throne speech: promises to strengthen the economy, maintain social programs and promote national unity''.

The Financial Post : ``Economy key in throne speech''.

The Globe and Mail : The throne speech promised the government will work with the private sector and provinces to make the collective investment required to produce hope, growth and jobs. But it will also be compassionate toward the losers''. It goes on to say:Spend on jobs, Prime Minister tells business.'' We have heard a bit about that.

The Ottawa Citizen : In the main, this is the best course to re-establish Canadian unity: improve the governing of the federation, confront the separatists head on and avoid futile arguments about constitutional amendment''. Again:Liberals tackle reform of pension system.'' And again: ``shows the government is aware that Canadians are worried about finding a job, getting a pension and continuing to live in a united country-the government promises to tackle these problems''.

The Winnipeg Free Press : ``Liberals face child poverty''.

The Saskatoon Star Phoenix : Premier Romanow says the throne speech is positive''.The federal government is giving up powers to the provinces to keep the country together, but will play hardball if there is another Quebec referendum''.

The Regina Leader Post : ``Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow-saying Chrétien seems to see Confederation as a true partnership''.

The Edmonton Journal : ``Government willing to give up powers but vows to get tough if separatists force another vote''.

The Calgary Herald : ``Throne speech puts Canadian youth first''.

The Calgary Sun : ``Unity message delivered''.

The Province in Vancouver: ``The feds vowed yesterday to play less of a role in several areas in an effort to beef up provincial responsibilities and national unity''.

The Vancouver Sun says: Promises for the future at home and abroad''.A helping hand and an era of co-operation are promised in throne speech.'' ``The federal government's continuing commitment to deficit reduction is essential and most welcome.''

I did not say that, nor did my colleagues on the government side. Those are excerpts and headlines from various articles which appeared across this nation in response to the speech from the throne.

This is what people without any connection with the government said.

As we can see, their messages are quite different from the one we get from the people opposite.

Now I would like to review briefly some of the subjects, some of the themes which were identified by the government. First of all a strong economy. The government will work with the private sector and the provinces to make collective investments to create hope, growth and jobs.

Youth is another theme. The government will challenge the provinces and the private sector to enter into a domestic Team Canada-like partnership to foster hope, create opportunities and create jobs for our young people.

With respect to business involvement in national economic rejuvenation it goes on to say the government has issued a call to the business community to join with the government to create jobs for Canadians. Profitable firms are challenged to channel some of

their revenues into job creation. Jobs for all Canadians and in particular firms are challenged to help create job opportunities for youth. Jobs for all Canadians and in particular for youth.

We are simply asking the business community to respond to some of the polling data which shows that over 90 per cent of Canadians worry about the problems young people have entering the labour market. We believe that the private sector can make a significant contribution. The government is acting on its part by creating a positive economic environment and doubling the funds for youth summer jobs.

Perhaps I can summarize this issue best by quoting today's Winnipeg Free Press : ``But the most compelling bit was the direct challenge to corporate Canada to put its profits to work, to reinvest in the people who generate those profits and to take a more active role in creating jobs for Canadians. Private sector leaders cannot ignore the challenge. They have been silent about jobs for too long. It is time their voices, and their pocketbooks, were heard''.

As I just mentioned, business plays a vital role in stimulating the economy is vital. We must create jobs for all Canadians. In particular, we must focus on young people who are unemployed, but who are well qualified, who have a number of diplomas and all sorts of skills, but who cannot reach their full potential.

That is what we must do and we are only asking the business community to respond to what Canadians have said. Canadians want the private sector to get more involved. It is fine to make profits, but these profits must be used for the well-being of Canada and its citizens. That is the role the private sector must play; it cannot and must not overlook it.

Science and technology is another important theme. We all know that research and development is the key to success. It is the key to success in terms of jobs. It is the key to success in terms of getting the edge on the competition, on being competitive. It is the key to success to being in the forefront, to being leaders rather than followers.

The government is undertaking a number of initiatives. It will launch a Canadian technology network to facilitate our growth in that area. It will continue to expand access to SchoolNet and community access programs. Those are but two of the initiatives in that area.

As I just mentioned, science and technology is a key to creating jobs and ensuring that we are leaders rather than followers.

We should also identify another theme, trade. You certainly know that the Prime Minister of Canada, with a number of premiers from the provinces and territories, travelled outside the country to promote Canada, to sell our services and products. It has to be realized that for every billion dollars of exports, we create 11,000 jobs. Every billion dollars of exports means 11,000 jobs.

When we look at what the Prime Minister and Team Canada have done, we realize that almost $20 billion in contracts were signed. Some pessimists will say: "What good will a signature do?" I guarantee that most of these contracts will materialize. Do not forget that for every billion dollars of contracts, 11,000 jobs are created for Canadians.

There will be other Team Canada missions. There will be others, and they will yield roughly the same results, perhaps even better results.

There is also the necessity to create a climate for economic growth and job creation. My colleagues across the way who are concerned about the deficit and the debt will no doubt recognize that we have made some significant progress. Of course we have not made as much as we would have liked, but we have made some progress. What offends me and offends Canadians is that they are unwilling to accept that. Of course they are unwilling to accept that because if they were to accept it, their very existence which has been put into question several times would absolutely come to an end.

So what has happened? In the 1996 budget we expect to reduce the deficit to 2 per cent of the GDP by 1997-98 and we will. We are currently having discussions to try to ensure that the GST is harmonized with other taxes and that will be realized. Here again people will ask for miracles. People will say we should snap our fingers and it ought to be done. That is what the Reform Party philosophy is all about: simplistic solutions to complex problems.

As for the security of Canadians, the gouvernment will ensure that the Canadian health system remains viable and accessible. It will ensure the survival of a public pension plan and ensure that Canadians are secure in their homes and in their communities.

We want a secure social safety net and we will work toward that end with a great deal of enthusiasm and energy.

I do wish I had more time because I can tell that my colleagues across the way would have loved to have heard what I had to say in the area of personal security. We are going to focus on high risk offenders.