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 ThroneOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

My apologies, Mr. Speaker. I want to talk about a couple of things. First is the whole question of national unity.

Canada is threatened on two fronts having to do with unity. First is the ongoing problem with respect to how we accommodate the obvious need in Quebec for its cultural distinctiveness and desire for more autonomy to be recognized within the Canadian context.

The second one-they are related-is the pressure on the Canadian social contract that was built up in the post-war world. The pressure on that social contract is a result, partly, of an ideological trend against seeing government as a positive force in the economy and in society.

Also partly ideological-some people call it globalization-are the pressures from so-called competition and the debt, which is a result in large part of that globalization and our inability to maintain our revenue base.

All these things are putting pressure on the kind of Canada that Quebecers voted to stay in in a substantial way in 1980. Two things have to happen in my judgment. We need to find a way of taking into account Quebec's cultural distinctiveness and need for more autonomy within the Canadian context and we need to build, to recover, to maintain a kind of social democratic Canada. There was a social democratic consensus in the country about what kind of country we wanted. To the extent that that has been eroding it has created a Canada about which not just Quebecers but also many other Canadians are anxious and wondering about the future. I say that those are the two fronts on which the government must work.

The failure to meet Quebec's needs is being exploited by people who were separatists all along. But it has also made separatists out of people who were not. We need to recognize that. It is an ongoing

failure the government must address. I do not have any long or brilliant suggestions to make as to how it ought to do that today.

However, I do want to put on the record something which has bothered me for a long time. Along with a handful of other MPs, including the member for Winnipeg South Centre, I was here in 1981 when we repatriated the Constitution. We, who were not from Quebec, by voting for that repatriation package, in no way intended to deliver an insult or any humiliation to Quebec. We were in the House with 75 MPs from Quebec, 74 from the Liberal Party at that time. Those of us from outside Quebec were assured over and over again by all our Quebec colleagues in the House that this was not an insult to Quebec, that there was support for this in Quebec. For anyone in Quebec to suggest that those of us outside of Quebec were engaged in some kind of nefarious activity against Quebec at the time is quite unfair and inaccurate.

What is true is that most of us from outside Quebec for a number of years in the House and elsewhere have been constantly reduced to spectators in a debate that is really taking place between Quebecers themselves, whether it is Mr. Levesque and Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Bouchard and the current Prime Minister. I think Canadians outside of Quebec are tired of being spectators to this debate taking place in one part of their country about the future of the whole country.

Although I do not necessarily know the details, in that sense I applaud the notion that somehow next time round the whole country will be involved in what transpires with respect to Quebec.

I want to say a bit about jobs. The Prime Minister has challenged the private sector to create jobs. He said that the government had done its part and now it is up to the private sector to do its job.

I do not think the government has done its job with respect to job creation. It says it is getting the fundamentals right. I am not sure that the fundamentals are as fundamental as it thinks they are. However, let us take it for a minute that the fundamentals are right. The government still has not addressed other fundamental issues such as the fact that the world trading system, the global economy the minister spoke about is siphoning off jobs from the so-called industrialized world into other lower wage economies and labour markets.

Unless we set ourselves against that trend we are going to continue to have a very difficult problem generating the kind of employment we want in the country. It is not about creating any old job. It is partly a question of creating jobs that pay Canadians enough so that the middle class of the country, and others who aspire to be so, can continue to dream the kind of dreams we dreamt in the past and to live the kind of life we dreamt of in the past, albeit within some diminished expectations related not to the economy but to the environment and the need for us to realize the limits of the planet when it comes to growth, but not the limits to justice.

I am prepared to recognize limits to the environment when it comes to economic growth but not limits to justice. It seems to me there is not that kind of effort on the part of the government. I know that is a big project but I do not see progress. I see too much acceptance of the way things are on the other side of the House and not enough resistance. I know the resistance was there when they were in opposition and particularly when the member for Winnipeg South Centre was on the opposition benches. I hope he has not given up on resisting those trends.

I have some concrete suggestions in terms of job creation. I do not think the corporate sector is going to meet the Prime Minister's challenge. In order to be challenged one must be a moral agent.

In order to accept the challenge of another human being one must be a human being. In order to accept the moral challenge implicit in the Prime Minister's challenge, one must have a particular mind set. The mind set that our corporate elite and corporate sector have now is by definition amoral. I might want sometimes to say even immoral, but it is at least amoral. They do not recognize the economy is a moral sphere at all, which is why I do not think this challenge will be picked up. I hope it is. There may be some companies that are exceptions but we continue to see company after company whose profit margins are in good shape laying off employees, or as my colleague from Kamloops recently said, casting off employees.

The other day the member for Kamloops unveiled something he is promoting which we are promoting with him, a Canadian code of corporate citizenship. This tries to instil in the Canadian business community some sense of its responsibility to the community, but that is very hard to do in a world of free trade and globalization which basically says there are no borders, there are no communities, it is all just one big marketplace.

We are fighting the very kind of mindset that has been enshrined in these agreements when we try to do this, when the government is trying to do it or when the NDP is trying to do it or when anybody is trying to do it. We are tilting against a windmill when it comes to talking about responsibility in a world trading system, in a global economy which basically pooh-poohs that kind of thing.

The government should be looking at ways it can encourage corporations to create jobs. There are all kinds of tax breaks that discourage job creation and mitigate against the preservation of employment. We have tax breaks for research and development and technologies that eliminate jobs.

The banks have taken advantage of tax credits to introduce their automatic teller systems. We have tax breaks that favour mergers which lead to layoffs. We have tax breaks that favour greater RRSP

investment outside of the country which creates jobs outside the country.

Instead we need to get rid of those tax breaks. Let us have a tax on overtime. I have people in my riding who have to work overtime at the CNR and there are hundreds of people laid off there who would be dying to get back in there and work. They cannot get back in there but the CNR and other corporations like it are allowed to make people work overtime who do not want to work overtime.

Why do we not have a tax on overtime? Why do we not have taxes and other incentives to make family friendly schedules, benefit requirements that do not discriminate against part time workers to allow people to work part time rather than full time and still have benefits? There are many things we can do like that to create jobs without challenging the global economy. I hope next week we see some of that in the budget.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:15 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a few comments and questions I would like to put to the member for Winnipeg Transcona. First, he talked about always working for Canadian unity. I would simply remind him that an NDP member scuttled the Meech Lake accord.

I do not know what the NDP did to prevent its members from blocking the Meech Lake accord. Perhaps he could give us an answer. This is a sensitive question for an NDP member.

The government talks a lot about dialogue with the provinces in the speech from the throne. I would like to ask the hon. member for example what he thinks of the government's behaviour since October 30 and its statements, which are rather sources of provocation for Quebec.

What, for example, does he think of the Minister of Indian Affairs, who said that the Government of Quebec intended to use the army to clear native peoples out of Quebec after it became sovereign. Is this confrontation or dialogue? What does he think about Quebec being divisible? If Quebec is divisible, it could also take part of Ontario or New Brunswick. I would like to know what he thinks of that.

I would also like to know what he thinks of the fact that the speech from the throne intimates that the offers are like those in the Charlottetown accord, that the vision is the same or less than that of Charlottetown. It is less than Charlottetown. It is an affront to Quebec.

In my opinion, this is no dialogue. It is not an offer that can be easily accepted. It is, rather, a confrontation, because we turned down the Charlottetown accord in Quebec, because it did not provide enough for Quebec. English Canada turned it down, because it gave Quebec too much. I would like to ask him about this as well.

Of course, we in Quebec have said we wanted to destroy Canada. They say the separatists want to destroy Canada. I would like to ask him a question on this as well, because we have no intention of destroying Canada. On the contrary, we have extended an offer of economic and political partnership. I would like him to clarify his remarks somewhat in this regard.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Somehow I have a particular sense that the hon. member for Winnipeg Transcona would love to answer all of those questions more extensively but I ask him within the framework of two minutes to summarize his comments.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:20 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I feel obliged to answer the member quite comprehensively but I will take your advice on the matter.

With respect to what the hon. member said about an NDP member of Parliament being the one who destroyed the Meech Lake accord, of course that is not true. There were no NDPs who did that. I presume the member is referring to former NDP MLA in the Manitoba legislature, Elijah Harper, who has since become a Liberal member and who now sits in the House.

With respect to Meech maybe that is not a coincidence because if memory serves, it was the Liberal Party which either talked out of both sides of its mouth on Meech or had people in both camps or had people who were responsible for starting the brush fires that eventually consumed the accord. I am thinking of the leader of the Liberal Party in Manitoba, the Liberal premier of New Brunswick and a number of other people who were first to jump on the anti-Meech bandwagon which then grew.

When the Meech Lake accord was originally arrived at in 1987 there was a great deal of consensus about the importance of the achievement that it represented on all sides of the House. The hon. member should know because he was here that the NDP caucus did not waiver in its support of Meech. From time to time it sought amendments as the pressure grew and might have saved it but certainly does not deserve any way the accusation the member made.

With respect to the status of the Cree in northern Quebec, that is a matter which the PQ government, the new premier and the Bloc Quebecois have to take very seriously. To some extent this whole thing about Quebec has been a bit of a parlour game in this country for a long time but it is not a parlour game anymore.

There is a reality called the aboriginal people in Quebec who inhabit a territory that was not always part of Quebec. They have a case to be made, a case that runs counter to the consensus that

exists in a lot of parties over a lot of time about the nature of Quebec's self-determination.

Aboriginal people have also made the case for their self-determination in the last 10 or 20 years. If push does come to shove and we do have a Quebec that seeks to separate that will be a very ugly situation. Anybody who pretends that is not so is not doing a service to either the Canadian people or to the voters of Quebec.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:20 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it seems we have been meeting this way quite often lately, including last night.

I want to express the views of my constituents primarily, what I have heard them talk about when it comes to this throne speech. I have been listening in the House and I have not heard a lot of people referring to the throne speech and yet this is the throne speech that we are talking about. I want to direct myself at that and keep on that topic.

I think Canadians have been looking forward to this. This is the mid-term of the government. There has been great anticipation as to when things are going to get started and when something will actually be done.

All of us as members of Parliament have been listening to our constituents tell us they are concerned. They are passed concern. They are outright worried about what is happening to the country. Whether it is town hall meetings or whether it is when we are door knocking or whether it is TV phone-in shows or whatever, the message is loud and clear: they are unhappy and concerned about a number of things.

I will talk about how they were dealt with or not dealt with in the throne speech. I will start with official opposition status. Obviously there is a concern that a regional party represents all parts of Canada when it is from one province and conduct only the concerns of one province. There is an outright repulsion by this whole idea. This is not good for anybody in the country. I trust the party in power realizes that as well.

The people are ahead of the politicians, as they so often are. I sat in a seminar with over 500 farmers. In that room there were more people with more common sense and more entrepreneurship than I have found anywhere in Ottawa among bureaucrats or politicians. They are ahead of us. They know what is happening and they are saying: "The message must come from us to government through you guys. You must carry the message that way". They do not see that happening.

I am sure when they look at the throne speech they will only have their outright concern brought forward even more dramatically. The people are saying the are concerned about jobs, about the security of their jobs, their hope for the future. Band-aid solutions are not the answer. Infrastructure programs, government make work programs are not the answer.

We need to get creative. We need to look at things like a total reform of the tax system. That will certainly cause a whole change, a light at the end of the tunnel for business and for individuals. We will see something happening. That is what people are demanding, not a government run by a bunch of bureaucrats.

Canadians are concerned about their pensions. They hear that from ministers. They hear that from provincial politicians. They hear that from everyone. Their pensions might be threatened. That is real, not something they are imagining. They are hearing it.

We need a plan. As representatives of the people we have come up with a plan similar to one Chile adopted 11 years ago in which people are responsible for themselves. They do not count on UI or on government because government has failed miserably in these areas. We need to look at these and give people some hope, some light, but the throne speech did not do that.

Canadians are concerned about health care. They want a plan. They want to know where it is going. They feel threatened. Lines are getting longer. Service is poor. Why is that? There is no long term vision to get a national standard and then let the provinces handle the administration of it. We know that is a major part of Canadian society and we need a vision.

When I was elected the debt was $489 billion. Now it is $577 billion. When we go back to the polls it will be $600 billion plus. That is a lack of vision. We are not doing the job here and that is the message we are getting. The $50 billion in interest payments is destroying our social programs. That is what is destroying us.

In the province I come from I cannot believe the pride and the whole sense of accomplishment because we have balanced our budget. The people are proud it. They say: "I did not vote for those rotten-" whatever the government is, but they are proud of them anyway. There is pride, there is hope and they see light at the end of the tunnel. That is what the federal government has to realize.

We could talk about the criminal justice system. We could talk about the light that is needed in that. We could talk about government waste. We could talk about the other place and the disgust people have for it. We could talk about accountability. Give people the accountability they are asking for.

We need free votes. We need recall. We need to be able to get rid of MPs who do not do their jobs. We need that sort of thing to build the trust, hope and vision for Canadians.

I will touch on the area of foreign affairs in response to the foreign affairs minister. I listened with great interest and I trust we will have the co-operation we have talked about and that in committee there will be meaningful meetings where instead of

partisan politics 15 people can work together for the good of Canada. That is an area in which it can be done.

We want to become a strong middle power. We want to have leadership. In those areas where we can we want to do really well. If it is peacekeeping, then let us be sure we have the very best trained with the best morale. Let us pick and choose the missions and then let us do our best so that the whole world will see us as the best. The pride Canada will gain from that will have great domestic value as well.

Let us talk about diplomacy. We should be the world's leading diplomats. We have the best reputation. We do not have a colonial record. We do not have any kind of aggressive record. We have the best record. Canadians are very shy. We tend to have an inferiority complex when we are outside the country. We must get over that and the government has to lead the way on it.

We need to promote our country because we are a trading nation. We need to lead in demanding and helping with UN reform. The UN is not working. It is a bureaucratic nightmare, one that has become corrupt with time. It is 50 years old. It needs to be reformed dramatically. We should emphasize the details of that.

As an example, we are still fiddling around with Haiti and the mission expires today. It is gone today, yet there is still no agreement. We are still getting changes. The UN is not doing the job set out for it and we must work on that.

I could go on with this vision. I hope I got my message across that it is leadership we need. We need leadership to show the Canadian people that we do have a vision for the country and that we are sincere in what we are doing.

Probably the best quote I picked up in the last three days of the throne speech debate just happens to be from the member for Beaver River: "Canadians have told us they want a nation where a person's dreams are not hollow, where ambitions can be pursued and ultimately realized. They want a country where people can look to the future with excitement rather than fear, where a mother or father not only hopes but honestly expects that their children's lives will be better than their own. They want a country where every individual feels safe enough to explore, confident enough to innovate, secure enough to take risks. They want an environment where accomplishments are celebrated and setbacks are only temporary. They want a country where people can feel secure in their homes and their communities, where every member of society can live with dignity and where men and women can grow old without fear".

That summarizes the vision I see for this country. I hope other members share that vision with me.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:30 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, listening to the remarks of the member opposite it is no wonder people in society are showing their disrespect for MPs and for government. I am surprised at how the member downgraded the members of Parliament in the House by saying that they are basically not intelligent enough to present good ideas.

To quote John Ralston Saul: "People become so obsessed by hating government that they forget it is meant to be their government and is the only public powerful force they have purchase on". He goes on to say: "My point is that the individual and the government are linked together by an artery. If we act to sever that artery by replacing or opposing a central role for government, we cease to be individuals and revert to the status of subject".

One of the things we are seeing promoted by the Reform Party is to get government out of everything. I would like the member to be more specific than he was in his remarks. Does he see a role for government at all?

The unemployment insurance program he talked about is very important to this country in terms of ensuring that we do not have the same situation which happened last year when people from Atlantic Canada competed for jobs in London, Ontario because there were no jobs in Atlantic Canada. This country needs a program such as UI, or EI as this government is proposing, which allows people to live in the off season and keeps them in their regions as full time workers in seasonal industries. Those programs are needed.

Could the hon. member tell me specifically what he is saying the role of government should be? Could he be specific in terms of what he is asking us to get out of and to stay in?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:35 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I can certainly give the member a copy of our 20-20 vision of the new Canada. It would take more time than I have to answer.

Basically what I heard was a fairly elitist attitude and one I would expect from someone who is entrenched in this place with looking at the status quo as being the only way where government has all the answers and people have none of them. That is a total lack of respect for the people of this country. That kind of lack of respect has to be beaten down.

There is no place for government to have the domineering attitude that it knows best. We would expect that. That is why most of us are here. That is why there are 105 people who came here saying the same thing: We demand change for this country.

As far as the whole UI matter is concerned, there is a plan for that. Look at the plan. The plan is to give back to people the responsibility for themselves. When a person is 20 years old, they start contributing 10 per cent of their salary to their own plan, one that the person monitors. That person gives 10 per cent and watches the amount grow month by month. If that person becomes unemployed, the government allows them to take some of the funds out.

That person is not going to abuse that system because it is their system. It is their future.

Those are the kinds of new ideas we need. We can apply this to health care. We can apply this to all other areas. The federal government will always have a role. Its role is to make Canada work and to be the umbrella under which all the units will operate. That is what the provinces are demanding. That is what they want. That is what the Prime Minister is saying he is going to deliver.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:35 p.m.


John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to participate in this important debate.

The throne speech is a blueprint for the federal government. We have reached the midpoint of our first term. Now is the time to evaluate our successes, build on our achievements and prepare for the new challenges we will face.

Today I will focus my remarks on Canada's youth. When I was elected to represent the people of Annapolis Valley-Hants, I made a commitment to work with the local youth. I promised the people of Annapolis Valley-Hants that I would do everything I could to ensure that young people had every opportunity to reach their full potential to learn, adapt and succeed in the job market and in our society. This has continued to be a key priority for me over the last 28 months. I will continue to make this a priority in my work both in Annapolis Valley-Hants and here in Ottawa.

Our future depends on our youth. If we can ensure they are provided with the tools and the opportunities to gain education and experience now, we can help ensure a healthy future for Canada. I was therefore very pleased to see the focus on youth in Tuesday's throne speech.

During our first two years we have introduced a number of important initiatives to help achieve this goal. One such program, Youth Service Canada, has had an extremely positive impact in Annapolis Valley-Hants. I have seen firsthand how local youth have benefited from the Youth Service Canada program.

In April 1995, under this initiative a program entitled "Hants County youth for youth" was established with my co-ordinating efforts and with the help of a number of local partners. This project is serving 20 unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 24. What has made this program so unique is that it is designed by youth for youth.

This group has identified a number of local priorities and areas where they can make a difference in the community. The participants are providing community related work through the development of a youth oriented newsletter, tourism development and the operation of a youth centre. Through Youth Service Canada they are truly making a difference. As a result of their success, this program has been extended with the support of the federal government and our community education partners.

My riding has also been fortunate to host a group of young people involved with Katimavik. This nationally based program which is being funded through Youth Service Canada has allowed young Canadians from all over the country to come together to gain work experience, to travel and to learn about the regions of our wonderful country. I have been truly impressed with just how successful this program has been in terms of building a sense of accomplishment, a sense of self-reliance and self-esteem.

I have also seen firsthand the success of the youth internship program. The youth unemployment rate is far too high and every year thousands of young Canadians cannot find work. At the same time, half of Canada's software product companies were unable to fill jobs in 1994. Seven thousand jobs went unfilled and this is just one sector. In order to help bridge this school to work transition, our government with the co-operation of educators, non-profit organizations and the private sector developed the youth internship program.

In my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants there are currently two internship programs up and running. In January 1995 our government approved a proposal for the Hants West District School Board. This program involves 80 students between the ages of 16 and 24. The participants are all associated with the adult high school program. They are combining classroom learning with valuable on the job training.

Similarly, an internship proposal was developed by the Kings County District School Board and has recently got under way. This project involves 200 students. Participants are gaining valuable educational skills and training in occupations with job potential.

Clearly, if we want to use the constituency of Annapolis Valley-Hants as an example, we are making a difference for local youth. However, our efforts do not stop there. Our government recognizes that an important part of education and learning is through summer employment. Not only does it provide valuable income to allow students to further their education, but it allows our young people to gain experience they can take into the workforce in later years.

I was pleased therefore to see the commitment in the throne speech to introduce measures to double the number of federal summer student jobs this coming year. However, measures to promote education and employment are not enough. We must build on these programs. I propose that we explore ways to partner these existing programs with the private sector in order to double the benefits for youth and create economic growth. In that regard I will

be exploring new partnerships in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants.

Last June I had the opportunity to participate in an international symposium on education and the economy at Acadia University. This conference brought business leaders, educators and youth together to discuss new partnerships and ways to forge closer links between education and business.

I will be working with the mayor's committee on youth in the town of Kentville in my province of Nova Scotia. This committee intends to explore new ways to find opportunities for local young people.

In recent years we have seen disturbing statistics with regard to the levels of child poverty in Canada. Canada is consistently rated as the number one country in the world in which to live. We are envied by other countries and yet one in five children still lives in poverty. These children often live extremely disadvantaged lives. They often live in poor housing conditions. They have a greater likelihood of experiencing unemployment in their families and they are more likely to drop out of school.

What is even more telling, however, is that close to 60 per cent of all female single parents live in poverty. In March 1994, I had the opportunity to speak to this issue in the House of Commons. I called on the government to re-evaluate how we tax child support payments in order to ensure more money was reaching the children of separated families. All too often our current child support provisions have produced awards that are varied, unpredictable, sometimes inadequate and often unpaid.

I said in my speech, which I will reiterate now, we must ensure that children are not unfairly targeted by a system that no longer works the way it should. I was pleased to see entrenched in the throne speech a commitment to change the rules governing child support payments. As the governor general stated in his remarks, equality of opportunity is a basic value in Canada and begins with children.

I will touch on the important role young people can play in bringing Canadians together and promoting national unity. Although we sometimes forget, our similarities as Canadians far outnumber our differences. We have a common history and we share a common collective experience. It is important to dispel the regional misconceptions that sometimes divide us. In order to do that we must promote greater dialogue between all of our regions and in particular with the people of Quebec.

I strongly believe the government can play an active role in helping achieve this through the promotion of exchanges among students and young people. In doing so, we can help ensure that future generations will have an opportunity to build ties that are based not solely on national politics but on friendship and on the understanding of our differences and, more important, our many similarities.

This is an idea that I have actively promoted among constituents in my riding. I have been meeting with local educators, business organizations, school groups, government officials, and we are looking at ways of funding and making this idea work. I am pleased to say that one school in my riding, Horton high school, is now preparing to participate in such a venture in Quebec. I believe we have made some important inroads in the last two years. I am also pleased that focus is given to youth in the throne speech.

It is certainly the time to build on our accomplishments and to construct partnerships to ensure that all of our young people have the opportunity to reach their potential and contribute fully to our society.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:50 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to speak on behalf of the people of Guelph-Wellington in support of the speech from the throne which has begun the second session of the 35th Parliament. I look back on the first session with a sense of accomplishment and I look forward to the second session with hope and anticipation for continuing the jobs and growth agenda begun in October 1993.

The people of Guelph-Wellington witnessed a number of firsts in the past 24 months. For the first time in 20 years their federal government is reducing the deficit. For the first time in history their federal government has reduced the pension plan and benefits for members of Parliament. For the first time in a long while they have a government that does what it says, keeps its promises and is working on their behalf rather than in its own interests.

Over the past 24 months I have participated in the opening of community centres, roads, schools, sports fields and other projects generated because we kept our word on the infrastructure program. It has created a tremendous amount of growth in communities all across Canada.

I congratulated the employees of Nipponia Export, Armtec and Skyjack who have benefited from our Team Canada missions to Asia and South America. We just heard a Reform colleague talk about vision and about what the Prime Minister is doing in that area. For goodness sake, he is going firsthand and leading these missions. How grateful we are to have him.

I worked with small business and the banks in improving relations and increasing dialogue. Our community said no to the former Leader of the Opposition when he travelled abroad promoting separation. Most important, I have seen the beginning of a transformation in the people of Guelph-Wellington. They want to work with the government to create jobs, foster growth and build on opportunity.

The speech from the throne offers good news to the people of Guelph-Wellington. They are concerned about the economy and with the way the federal government spends their money. By meeting our deficit targets we have listened to the constituents of Guelph-Wellington who have told me not to mortgage the future.

We have placed a new emphasis on youth, science and technology and trade. For a community that is home to the finest university in Canada, this is good news indeed. For businesses that produce the finest goods in Canada and are looking for new markets, this is good news. For people concerned about their personal safety, for our children who want a good future and for our seniors concerned about the future of their health care, this a blueprint for their future.

The speech from the throne, like the red book before it, promises to put the interests of my constituents first. It promises not to destroy the very foundations of our country.

Let me remind every member of the House, our parents and grandparents have built the greatest nation on earth. They have done so through our health care system, our social safety net and our work ethic which is second none in the world.

The people in the House who wish to destroy what they built must remember that we are the envy of the world. Canada has been selected as the best nation on earth because we care for one another and we have social programs which protect those most in need and care for those most vulnerable in society.

This session, like the last, will show the people of Guelph-Wellington the real difference between the Liberals and the opposition parties. They already know the fundamental difference is between a party that built this nation and parties that want to destroy it. They also know that our goal is growth, employment and opportunity while theirs is despair, destruction and doom.

Let us look at the Reform Party. No matter how hard they try to smile, Reformers cannot hide their real agenda. Reformers like to say they want to trim the fat. We know they really mean they are going to fire the butcher and close the shop to boot.

They have replaced hope, growth and opportunity with me, myself and I. With Reformers national standards will be replaced with regional disparity. The principles of medicare will be replaced with the principles of money. Who has the most money can get health care.

Reformers look at us as consumers. We look at all Canadians as our neighbours, our friends, people we care about, people we need. We want to offer a hand but they want to give those in need the boot. Reformers see wrong in our federation. They search for bad in our institutions. I take this opportunity to remind them of Pogo's famous saying the next time they look for what is not working: "We have met the enemy and he is us".

Every new Parliament sets challenges for itself. We begin in the next few weeks to build on the values that have been established by our parents and grandparents. Our challenge in the second half of our mandate is to continue to protect our seniors, provide a future for our youth, which this throne speech does, and give real meaningful employment to those looking for work. We must remind every Canadian in the process their participation in the future of the country is vital in order for us to grow and prosper in the next century.

My constituents have asked me to work on their behalf to strengthen our nation, to provide them with a future that includes every Canadian from sea to sea. They want to work with all parts of the country, every region, all people, all provinces to build a better country. They know it is harder to create than it is to destroy. They know it is easy to take an axe to cut down but it takes patience, persistence, time and energy to build up.

Our opposition parties want to either break up our nation or destroy the programs that have made it great. There are similarities between the two parties. One, the Bloc, wants to take a great province from the country and the other, Reform, wants to take the heart out of our nation. That is the difference between Liberals and the other parties.

The people of Guelph-Wellington have faith in themselves and in their Canadian family. They reject those that want to destroy, but they welcome opportunity for their future, hardship for the sake of value and change for their betterment.

We have many challenges facing us in the next few months. We must continue to improve our social safety net in order to protect those most in need. We must ensure our public pension system provides protection into the next century. We must always work to keep Canada united and strong.

I began speaking about some of the many accomplishments we have shared in Guelph-Wellington during the past two years. The people of Guelph-Wellington will support our efforts to reduce the deficit. They will welcome programs that create jobs and expand growth and they demand excellence. They do not want me and the government to forget the human element in every single thing we do and every single action we take.

This July marks the 100th anniversary of the election of Wilfrid Laurier as Prime Minister. I end with his words and may they guide us in this second session, all of us: "I am a Canadian. Canada has been the inspiration of my life. I have had before me as a pillar of

fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, of conciliation".

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:55 p.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. member's comments, particularly her closing comments by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. If I may take a moment I would like to offer some comments by Mackenzie King, who I understand was a Liberal, that may be appropriate for this time in our political history. I may not get this right, but you will understand the context of it. He said: "When control of our currency and our credit is taken away and usury takes over, then all efforts and hopes of democracy are both useless and futile".

We have a situation in this country where we have lost control of our financial house. We have a debt of over $500 billion. We have interest payments of $50 billion which are continuing to rise.

The point I want to make is that despite all the nice words contained in the throne speech about hope and optimism, despite all the words spoken by hon. members from the government, the fact is that every single discussion, every single decision made in the House is influenced by the severely impaired financial state of the country.

Reformers have been saying that we must begin to restore hope and optimism for people of all ages from students who are trying to get an education and find it a tremendous financial burden, people who are out of work and are living on welfare or no money at all, people who are trying to build careers and raise families. Every decision the government makes is impeded by our financial state. No matter what words we use to offer hope, the fact is that we have to get our financial house in order. It is so important. We cannot even talk about making democratic decisions because we are so influenced by the financial crisis.

What positive steps do we see? How are we going to reach a balanced budget? When are we going to reach a balanced budget? How do we explain to the Canadian people that the $50 billion we are paying in interest is something we have to live with? This $50 billion is taking away from our social programs, our health care, our education payments. It has a hold on us to such an extent that we almost cannot function as a government until we get this financial mess straightened out.

What kind of answer does the government have? There is none in the throne speech. There are a lot of fluffy words but there are no concrete answers.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, with due respect to my hon. colleague who I am on committees with and I am friends with, it is hard to begin. The balanced budget that is driving the Reform Party would kill this country if it was done with the speed and haste the Reform Party suggests.

Reformers talk about trampling, taking away programs such as medicare and punishing the poor. The list goes on. The reality is that the government is proving on a daily basis that it is reducing the deficit. The reality is that the deficit by 1997 will be cut in half. The reality is that the government will have chopped $29 billion in a humane and proper way, in a way that will continue to give us medicare, help for the poor, reduce regional disparities.

With all due respect I feel badly that the Reform Party continues to only look at a balanced budget and not think about the human element, to not care about the people.

I would not suggest that the member from the Reform Party as an individual does not care about people. Unfortunately, I feel strongly that for some reason the agenda of the Reform Party of a balanced budget at all and any cost would seriously cut the heart out of Canada.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:05 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the optimism in the words of the member for Guelph-Wellington, they do not represent reality.

In Quebec, for example, reality means 11 per cent unemployment and far more people on welfare because unemployment insurance is harder to get, so there are more people in Quebec not working than in the past. That is reality.

While she is speaking about putting public finances on a healthier footing, I am thinking about the $32.7 billion deficit we will have again this year. Her words are fine, optimistic, encouraging, for those who do not know the real situation. The reality is exactly the opposite. The government has not succeeded in creating jobs. The government has not succeeded in cutting expenditures sufficiently to produce a normal deficit. I feel the hon. member ought to be more realistic in what she has to say, so as not to deceive the public who hear her words.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:05 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Quebec is quite different but Quebec is part of Canada and we are all Canadians, first and foremost.

The former leader of the Bloc has left the party and become premier. He has pledged as his first duty to make sure he looks after the finances of Quebec. We hope that the trust the member and his party put in their leader that that will be done.

The hon. member talks about what we have done. Unemployment has gone down by over 2 per cent since we took office in 1993. We have created over 500,000 jobs. Consider each trade

mission including the last one with $8.1 billion. Each billion dollars in trade is equal to 11,000 jobs.

Youth was referred to in the throne speech. It was mentioned that the government would double the student jobs. That means for Quebec too. We have done a lot and I am proud of it. I thank the member for drawing attention to it.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:05 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, going back to the closing words of my colleague from Guelph-Wellington when she was calling for moderation and conciliation, I would like to point out to her that it is rare for moderation and conciliation to go along with the self-affirmation that one's country is the greatest in the world.

Every time politicians and political leaders have said that theirs was the greatest nation in the world, this has been bad news for their citizens, their minorities and their neighbours.

This government was elected on the slogan of "jobs, jobs, jobs". It was to solve Canada's problems. After managing to hide the real situation, it found itself faced on October 30 with a Quebec that almost voted for sovereignty. This amazed people all across Canada; 54,000 votes prevented the Quebec referendum from succeeding.

One would have expected this government to be interested in this important issue. That it would have felt fear, that it would have felt responsible, and that it would have therefore made every effort to ensure the situation would not be repeated. As a result, one would have expected sincere and moderate federalists, of whom there are many in Canada, to have demanded that their government seek to convince the people of Quebec to remain within Canada by paying attention to their problems and their needs.

So what did this government do? What did it do next? Back in the House, it tabled two feeble measures, worse than minimal, which included a definition of a distinct society which did not even approximate the one in the Meech Lake accord and was not enshrined or even "enshrineable" in the Constitution, and a multiple veto which, instead of meeting the expectations of Quebecers, would make these even more difficult to achieve.

Did this government act responsibly? No. So what happened next? Well, I must say I was very upset when I read about it in the newspapers. The caucus had a meeting in Vancouver. We read that these members, with whom we have worked side by side, talked about only one thing, and that was how to prevent us from achieving sovereignty. It was not about considering our needs, or about recognizing that we are a people. It was all about preventing and scaring us. They found some new saviours from Quebec, other Trudeaus in the making, who raised the issue of partition of the territory.

I repeat, did they try to find a way to convince us, to understand Quebecers? They did not. Sadly, I saw this as a denial, a rejection.

The third step was the speech from the throne, and we are now back in the House. So what about the throne speech? Briefly, it says that as far as the economy is concerned, the government is no longer involved. It says: "I have done my share. It is now up to the private sector to create jobs". I do not know where the government found this particular economic principle, but it is all very easy for the government to say what it just said. Just because the government offloads its deficit on the provinces, which in turn have to make cuts that affect the average person, just because the government is lying low and dipping into unemployment insurance contributions, all that does not mean it is putting the economy on a sound footing and it can tell business: "Mission accomplished. Now it is up to you to create jobs".

This is so shortsighted it makes me weep, and the same goes for the Team Canada concept and the idea of partnership. In fact, partnership is a wonderful word, and the way we used it during the referendum campaign, and will continue to do so, it means something. In Quebec, for years governments, business and unions representing the grass roots-not just business and government-have been working together to develop the regions. Together, they realized they do not have enough power, in one area in particular, where there is a consensus on the problems that must be solved, and unfortunately, that does not seem to be in the cards, and I am referring to manpower training.

First, the government is washing its hands of the matter. Second, what did it say it would do at the administrative level to eliminate overlap? The plan it announced is in fact a centralizing measure. It says that there is only one social, economic and cultural plan in Canada, that is to say a national plan, and that it will delegate, decentralize and privatize as it sees fit, shifting certain things to the private sector, to municipalities, to certain groups or, occasionally, to the provinces.

Does the government take into account what got Canadians all upset on October 30? One third of the speech from the throne deals with national unity. But what does it say? What does the government have to propose to Quebec? Only outrageous things.

What message is the government conveying in the few and insignificant economic measures it managed to come up with, like doubling youth job opportunities? It says it will enhance summer student job programs. Does this address the major problems facing Quebec?

What message is it conveying with regard to the Canada social transfer, which will play even more havoc with the Quebec social system? It talks about standards, standards to be established in co-operation with the majority of the provinces. What is in it for Quebec?

Referring to the labour market, it describes it as a national phenomenon and talks about the need to promote mobility, when we all know that, in terms of employment, the problem for Quebec within Canada has always been the fact that, for obvious reasons, Quebec workers are not as mobile as others and that the labour market is different in Quebec.

On the subject of training, there is a nice line about the government being prepared to withdraw from that area and to decide what would be best and who should take over. Does this mean that the government is getting ready to negotiate with the Quebec government? Perhaps.

It says it is prepared to make a great, unprecedented offer regarding exclusive provincial jurisdictions by not creating any new programs in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction without the consent of a majority of the provinces, with compensation for those provinces that are not part of the consensus. It talks about infrastructures already transferred to municipal authorities and community-based groups. The federal government decides what is good; it decides what suits the Canadian vision of society.

There is no room, actually less room than ever, for the people of Quebec in this Canadian vision.

No wonder they did not try to convince people in Vancouver. But, if they are not trying to convince them, what are they trying to do? They are trying to stop them, to frighten them by carrying a big stick. Are they hoping that Quebecers will back down, that they will suddenly have fewer needs?

It is while listening to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday that I finally understood. I may be off the mark, but when I heard this sentence, I said to myself: "That is the source of the huge problem that Canada will face if the government does not get back on a path that will allow it to prepare for a future of peace and perhaps prosperity". I heard the following sentence coming from the Prime Minister's mouth: "A united Canada is a far nobler enterprise than the narrowing of vision proclaimed by those who would break up this country". Now everything becomes clear.

There is a great vision, that of Canada, and there is a narrow vision, the one shared by half the people of Quebec. So Quebecers are wrong; they understood nothing. Canada is a nobler enterprise than Quebec? Why? Because it is a bigger country? Then we would be better off as Americans. Because there is not enough ethnic diversity? What about France, Italy, Germany or Israel? In fact, why is Canada still distinct from the U.S.? That is a good question. Because of the Queen? Because of social programs?

I respect Canada, which is a great country. When I was in Quebec during my recent campaign for the leadership of my party, I stressed the need to repeat that Canada is a great country, that we respect Canadians, but that we as Quebecers cannot grow in this Canada. All members of the House, whatever their party, have a responsibility to preserve the future and that future must be based on respect. We might have won on October 30. Our vision and our country would then have been as great and noble as Canada.

Quebecers are a people; they will form a sovereign nation in which all citizens have equal rights. Until then, and there is no doubt in my mind that this day will come, I do hope that the government and our colleagues in opposition will understand that, while they can expect respect from us, they should remember that they must also respect us, our project, and the people of Quebec, for whom we speak.

Both federalists as well as sovereignists belong to the people of Quebec. They recognize themselves and will not tolerate contempt, whether directed at themselves or at their wish to control their destiny. After going through a long series of failed attempts and unfulfilled expectations, Quebecers see a deteriorating economy. Young people are losing hope. Quebecers say that the situation cannot go on any longer.

As far as I am concerned, yesterday the Prime Minister once again gave a bad example. I am not pleased to say that, on the contrary. I am not pleased because the Prime Minister, who is a successor of Lester B. Pearson, should be building a future based on peace and harmony, regardless of the democratic choices of Quebecers, and he should strive to reach that goal. I know that moderate federalists hope to convince Quebecers to stay in Canada, but they also strive to ensure that economic, social and cultural development is not impeded the way it is right now.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:25 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am a true federalist but I fully agree with the principle that Quebecers are a people, as the hon. member said.

The member for Matapédia-Matane said that because there is a people of Quebec, Canada must be divided. He said that if there is a people, there must be a country. This is simple and logical.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:25 p.m.

An hon. member

Normally, yes.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:25 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Normally, you are right. Let us take the example of Newfoundland. In the forties, Newfoundland was a country and the people of that country decided to join Canada. Newfoundlanders-and I see the hon. member from Newfoundland-are still a people. Therefore, if Newfoundlanders are a people within Canada, why

would the same not be possible for Quebecers? This is my question to the hon. member for Mercier.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:25 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, let me first say that I have good friends from Newfoundland. I often ask them the question: If, in 1949, the population of Newfoundland had been seven million, what would you have done? I will let you guess the answer. This is the first element of my answer.

The people of Quebec did not always define themselves as such in Quebec. As you know, our history is a long one. It goes back farther than the history of those we now call English Canadians. That history includes events such as the Conquest and the quelled rebellions of 1837-38, which created conditions such that, for a long time, leaders sought to make arrangements within Confederation and they did so in all honesty. They felt that the way to protect the French-Canadian nation was to do so within Confederation.

But as time went by, as Quebecers developed their culture and as they suffered setbacks-I have already mentioned this in this House-there came a point when a premier of Irish descent, Daniel Johnson Sr., first used the slogan of "equality or independence" and explained that, if the French Canadians who live mostly in Quebec were not treated fairly, it would be normal for them to go for political independence. Daniel Johnson Sr. wrote Égalité ou indépendance in 1965.

Since 1965, our history is an endless string of failures, of searching. That, dear colleague, is the answer to your question. I am not saying this because I used to teach history, but because it is a fact. Quebecers have repeatedly tried to gain recognition and to get the tools they need to develop. And it is precisely because they have been unable to reach these goals that the last referendum was held. I do not want to go over Meech or Chalotettown again. It is true. We went through all that, we were deeply hurt, but there are limits to the patience of people who feel helpless and unable to control the means to ensure their development. Successive federal governments chose to treat Quebec only as a province. The people in our province cannot tolerate this situation any longer and want their own country.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:30 p.m.


Michel Dupuy Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to your attention that I am sharing my time with the member for Halton-Peel.

There are two issues I would like to focus on in this debate on the throne speech.

The first one deals with the openness shown towards Quebec, and the second one with the way cultural issues are addressed. The two are similar in that they are equally important for the future of our country.

When one listens to Quebecers, it does not take long to understand their concerns, their confusion and even their anger, if I may say so, when faced with the problems the Quebec society has to deal with.

Quebecers are concerned about job insecurity and job loss. They are worried about the way the major social services are deteriorating, whether it is the unemployment insurance program, the health system, education or the social safety net.

They are concerned about the future of the regions and the price they will have to pay for the excessive debt incurred by the governments. They complain about the very few tangible effects brought about by the business restructuring and the new high tech industries whose merits they hear so much about. They express their frustration through their strong will to change things.

Quebecers are all the more anxious to change things since they have the talent, the entrepreneurship and the adaptability to catch up with the front runners. They are asking for change so that they can resume their place and take advantage of the social and economic benefits stemming from dynamic growth. Quebecers have had it with double talk, gimmicks, scapegoats and so-called winning questions. They do not like politicians who avoid talking to them about what they cherish most, that is their quality of life and their opportunities.

Faced with these challenges, the Parti Quebecois government, so far, has only come up with a policy resembling the squaring of the circle. On one hand, the supposedly inescapable road to separation from Canada and, on the other hand, the recovery of the Quebec's economy and finances in partnership with that same Canada.

The inherent contradiction in that policy creates a climate of uncertainty that paralyses economic growth in Quebec. Moreover, that policy, which is based on an irreversible break with Canada, causes division among Quebecers. In turn, this division fosters uncertainty. One day, Lucien Bouchard sings the praise of separation and promises yet another referendum, and the next day, he is calls for economic recovery and fiscal consolidation in Quebec which, in turn, require stability and confidence.

We know that it is this squaring of the circle that caused Jacques Parizeau's political demise. We must get out of this dialectic before Quebec itself is destroyed by it.

The speech from the throne offers an alternative to Quebecers, a partnership that affects not only economic and social issues, but also the method of government.

Let us not be mistaken, this speech speaks to Quebecers in a language fraught with consequences; that may be the reason why the opposition rejected it offhandedly, fearing that the message would get across.

Basically, the speech proposes to modernize the Canadian federation, together with the provinces, to meet the needs of the 21st century. It invites the government of Quebec to participate in this process so that Quebec's interests are better served. The message is clear: this adjustment will not be done by increasing the powers of the federal government to the detriment of the provinces. The federal government will limit the use of its spending power, obtain the consent of the provinces and create joint management systems if necessary.

It will withdraw from areas under provincial jurisdiction such as tourism, mining, forestry and recreation and will continue to withdraw from transportation and manpower training. The speech from the throne does, however, propose increased partnerships with the provinces and a common effort to ensure our security by strengthening our economic and social union and preserving the quality of our environment.

These new partnerships are possible without these endless constitutional debates that have taken up so much of our energy. This is possible without the trauma of Quebec's separating. Nothing would be better for eradicating the uncertainty than this new beginning in an atmosphere of confidence and co-operation. This is the opening now available to the people of Quebec.

If we wish to work together to create a Canadian society for the 21st century that can serve as a model for the rest of the world, clearly that society cannot be anything but pluralistic, with each part recognizing and respecting the distinct identity of the others. In this we are no different than any other large country in which different languages, ethnic groups and religions live alongside each other.

But we are far advanced over most of these because of the common values of open mindedness, understanding and generosity which have characterized our history and still prevail. Such values are diametrically opposed to the parochialism and intolerance which lead to division, fragmentation and weakness. For these reasons we can rejoice in the fact that the Throne Speech confirms the government of Canada's desire to recognize the distinct character of Quebec society and to have it acknowledged.

I would like to conclude with a few comments on the commitments to the cultural sector expressed in the speech. It can never be repeated too often that cultural creation is essential to our identity. We abound in creative talent and enjoy a widely diverse cultural industry, but there is still need for further development in this area.

Our biggest challenge in the years to come will be to ensure a strong Canadian presence on the information highway. We are already facing competition from foreign products, mainly American. In the future, regulations protecting the Canadian audio-visual market will gradually lose their effectiveness, and our political will will be undermined by American threats of punitive measures. We will have to create our own high-quality products to maintain control over our own space and even better, to export these throughout the world. This strategy has a better chance of success than a protectionist strategy. It will, however, require increased financing for Canadian content.

In addition to fiscal measures encouraging the investment of private capital in our cultural industries, few options open to the Government of Canada will be as effective in their impact on the cultural sector as creating a consolidated fund of audio-visual productions. Thanks to this initiative, the consumer will be able to choose from foreign products, which are always available, and domestic products which, without this new financial support, would never see the light of day. Cable companies and satellite-television distributors already contribute considerable amounts of money as a condition of operating their services. This type of contribution could be used to provide better financing for the production of Canadian content.

In the past, we have always opted for strategies that would support our artists, our creators and our cultural industries and provide a buffer against the tide of American culture. We are aware that this sector, which is critical to establishing our distinct identity in the world, would not come into its own if market forces alone were allowed to prevail. That is why we have put in place policies and institutions that serve to maintain a balance between our own identity and foreign perspectives.

The throne speech is in line with a tradition that has confidence in the talent of our own citizens.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:40 p.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the speech from the throne, I noted very little, a few lines only, on semi-urban and rural communities.

Earlier, my colleague said that mining and forestry would be handed over to the provinces. But we know that mining and forestry are already under provincial jurisdiction. In this case, I do not know how this could be organized another way. It is a bit like the eastern plan, which worked very well for communities in eastern Quebec. It was put into effect, and timber owners were very happy.

The Conservatives, before them, had set a deadline of a year, which was extended a year, but is now about to run out, in March. Will there be compensation? When something wonderful happens somewhere, particularly in a rural setting, it would seem great

pleasure is taken in cutting it. I saw nothing in the budget to compensate for what was cut.

There are other problems in our regions. Matane has a local airport, and Mont-Joli a regional one. Major renovations are required at the moment, and the plan is to give them to the municipalities or an independent agency to do. There is a lot of talk about Mirabel and Dorval, but little thought is given to regional or local airports. Their maintenance alone will cost the people in the regions a fortune. There is nothing on that.

There is something else I would like to mention, in the area of agriculture. We, as in other regions, are having huge problems getting a meat packing plant. We apply, and this sort of thing always involves some pickiness. They do not want to help farm producers process the butcher's beef they produce.

I wonder what the budget contains for the regions, the rural communities and the farmers?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:45 p.m.


Michel Dupuy Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, to start with, I would like to clarify something. Our colleague mentioned the budget; the budget will be presented next week. Today, we are dealing with the speech from the throne and he should not expect me to comment on the content of a budget which the finance minister said will be delivered in a few days.

Also, I would like to mention that when I referred to areas such as tourism, mining, and forestry, I took care to specify that they were areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction. There is no doubt about that, it is a well known fact. Therefore, from what is the Canadian government withdrawing? What is the meaning of this new step it is taking?

It is responding to the request of provinces which have been asking for years that it withdraw from certain areas by not using its spending power in those areas. Provincial governments found it offending that the federal government exercises its spending power in areas under their jurisdiction. The federal government is complying with their request. But you have to be logical, you cannot, on the one hand, ask the federal government to withdraw its spending power from these areas which are acknowledged as areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction and, on the other hand, ask that it spend money in those very same areas. This is one of many contradictions.

Transport is certainly a major area and I have no hesitation in recognizing that we need to provide assistance to small airports, which I have myself used on many occasions.

The federal government owned them. It was responsible for all the work. Pressure was put on it to privatize, because municipalities and private groups asked the federal government to let these properties go, put them up for sale and put them back in the hands of the local communities, which claimed to be better able to manage them.

This is what the government is doing. However, it is extremely difficult here as well to tell the government to withdraw from the management of these investments, these assets, but to continue to help pay for them and the management of them. So, we have to accept the consequences of what we ask for when we get it. I think the policy of the Government of Canada is a good one. It responds to requests at the local level and by private industry, and we have to live with the consequences. I hope, however, that these new owners will invest enough to make these vital communications centres cost effective and useful.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

5:50 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for sharing his time this afternoon.

The throne speech has charted a course for the next two years, the remainder of the term in this House. It has dwelt in a number of areas. First, it has had something to say about the accomplishments of the government to date and significant accomplishments they have been. It has also had something to say about one of the most perplexing and what should be the most important issues of concern that we have to deal with at the present time, the issue of Canada and Canadian unity.

I have listened for the last two years to the Bloc and the speeches that have been made in this House. I heard the remainder of a very impassioned speech this afternoon by the hon. member for Mercier. If I am wrong, I stand to be corrected but what I seem to detect so often from some members of the Bloc is an underlying belief that Quebec cannot exist within the framework of Canada because Quebecers somehow do not have the self-confidence nor the strength to preserve their society within that framework.

From the very beginning, built into the framework we call Canada are the elements to protect that society, to protect the language, the culture and of course the Napoleonic civil law. Those things together are part of what naturally make Quebec a distinct society. That is why the government has endorsed such a move to recognize what actually exists, what already is.

I am always perplexed when I feel, perhaps wrongly, that at least some members of the Bloc do not feel confident within that framework. I ask them and I ask Quebecers to consider what life would be like without those protections that are built into the framework we now call Canada.

It seems from an emotional perspective that one could isolate oneself even more and build a wall around a very small country. However the world is not made like that any more. We communicate instantly to every part of the globe. We trade virtually

instantly to every part of the globe. Money changes hands from hour to hour. The sun never sets on the economies of our countries.

I seriously ask those members who wish for separation if they really believe in the long run that they will enjoy the protection of their language, culture and law that they enjoy in the framework we call Canada.

Canada is made up of distinct societies. I visited one a couple of weeks ago and had a wonderful time. It has a distinct language and culture and unless the people speak very slowly I cannot understand them. However they are a very confident and proud people. They exist within the framework of Canada. They are our friends in Newfoundland. If we take the trouble to travel to other parts of Canada we will find other very distinct societies all living within that same framework.

Last summer I had the privilege of travelling into central Quebec. My wife and I went there partly on a bit of a holiday and partly on a pilgrimage. We drove along the north shore to the Saguenay and up the Saguenay and stopped at Baie Trinité to scatter my brother's ashes. He spent the happiest years of his life sailing on the cruise ships on the Saguenay. We went on up to Lac-Saint-Jean and Chicoutimi. We stayed in Chicoutimi and then went on to Roberval and down the long highway to Shawinigan and back home again.

I realized one thing. The geographical isolation of that area separates it very much from other parts of the country. It is unfortunate that many of the young people there do not have the opportunity to move, to visit, to exchange with young people in other parts of the country. If they did there would be a new and revitalized realization that we are all in this country together. We built it together. Quebecers have as much ownership of British Columbia and Alberta as other Canadians have in Quebec.

We have travelled a long distance together, not without our difficulties and not without our arguments in the family and so on. But now we have an opportunity to look to the future together and to move on. The destruction of one part of us produces something less in the rest.

With Quebec, with Newfoundland, with the Arctic and all other parts of Canada, we make the greatest distinct society in the world. With all of our differences, but also with all of our common goals, we all want the same things. We want fulfilment in our lives. We want a roof over our heads. We want to be able to have three square meals a day and to be able to raise our children in safety and in confidence. We want to attend the church of our choice or indulge in the religion of our choice without interference, without anyone coming along and saying we cannot do that.

Those are common aspirations of all people in the world. Sometimes they get clouded with history or with the visions of

history or the perceptions of history, sometimes true, sometimes untrue, sometimes twisted.

My first ancestor in this country came from Ireland. He was a Protestant living in the south of Ireland. Talk about being on the wrong side of the railway tracks. The troubles that existed in 1834 continue to assail that land today, in 1996. He made a conscious decision to leave that strife behind him.

He was being terrorized. His cattle were killed. His life was threatened and so on. He left with his wife and five children and came to the wilds of Canada. He lost his wife to cholera on Grosse Isle, a place I hope to visit in a very few weeks.

I have his diary. He made a conscious decision to put the past behind him and to put the old emnities, which have held that country back for hundreds of years, away and come to Canada, a new land where he could find fulfilment and partnership with the people he met.

I make a plea to my friends in the Bloc. The time has come to make a conscious decision to put the past behind, to join hands and to move together because together we are much stronger than pieces separated and scattered. We can do far more as a family, as a team, than we can as strangers.

Quebec is very special to me in many ways. I spent some years in Montreal as a child. Montreal was a thriving city at that time. I was disappointed to see it again and how it has declined.

We can talk about the politics of blame. We can blame the federal government. We can blame somebody else and all the rest of it. The time has come to make that conscious choice to move ahead. If we do, we can only be the richer for it.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

6 p.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to point out to my colleague, who talks about people with clouded minds, that we should look at Quebec from another angle. I heard my colleague talk about the small country that Quebec would be.

We can compare pare Quebec to other countries in the world, Israel, in particular. Israel is a country with a population of about 3.5 million Jews, without any natural resources, and surrounded by 220 million Arabs. It is 74 times smaller than Quebec. Quebec is not small. People should stop saying that.

I take another example, Singapore. Everyone is trading with Singapore, everyone wants to do business with Singapore. Singapore has a population of about 4 million people, and a total area of 651 square kilometres. It is 2,500 times smaller than Quebec. Let us stop talking about Quebec being small and start talking about

real things. Quebec is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of its territory.

Second, some people talk about isolation. They would like to build a fence around Quebec. Every time we talk about making Quebec a sovereign country, they say we want to cut ourselves off. I would like to quote from an article published quite recently in the economic section of La Presse , on February 5, 1996. What I am going to quote was written by an American university professor, Kenneth Holland. This article appeared in Quebec Studies and was done at the University of Memphis, in Tennessee. He is not a member of the Parti Quebecois or the Bloc Quebecois.

What does he say about Quebec? He says: "The unwavering support given by Quebec to free trade with the United States at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s was the catalyst that made possible the remarkable chain of events that changed forever the global trade system".

It is all very well to talk about people wanting to isolate themselves. And by the way, the comparison he makes with Ontario certainly does not reflect well on that province. Quebec has always been open to all markets, and there would be no North American Trade Agreement today if Quebec had not been on side.

I do not see a society that wants to cut itself off but a society that is as open as can be. The hon. member asked why we did not think it was worth being part of the Canadian federation? The reason is that we are a political minority. Even if all Quebecers voted to send members to this House, we would never be able to form a government. Every time the interests of Quebec clash with Canada's, as often happens, we will always be on the losing side. That is what Quebecers realized in the last election. That is why they sent the Bloc Quebecois here, to get real power, as much as they could get in this Parliament, because we cannot form the government in this Parliament. We are a minority. Which means what? It means that when Canadians decide, for a number of very good reasons that are in line with the interests of Canada, to make decisions for all Canadians that go against the interests of Quebec, they can never prevent that.

Earlier, someone mentioned political uncertainty as one of the factors responsible for the current economic decline affecting us. First of all, this political uncertainty was created in 1982 by the patriation of the Constitution. This is not an attempt to dredge up past events, it is the truth: the contract that united this country was torn up, and Quebec was excluded from the Canadian Confederation. That is where the political uncertainty started.

I think we should look at all that in the light of these new factors. Quebec is not a small territory. It is an immense territory. It is not a

closed society. It is a society that is opening up, a society that will go the full democratic route to do what all other peoples in the world have done: become a country.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

6:05 p.m.


Julian Reed Liberal Halton—Peel, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not know I had any time left.

I appreciate the words of my hon. friend but I point out to him that Israel is probably not the best choice in the world, if we consider that Israel is now surrounded by the enemy. There are those outside of Israel who are determined that no peace shall ever exist there.

This is precisely what I was trying to say when I talked about my grandfather five times removed leaving Ireland, to get away from the strife and come to a land of peace.

I understand that the separatists in Quebec consider themselves a political minority and they believe that decisions taken in the interests of Canada go against them. However, I believe if together we are looking for the greater good of the whole, we will all realize that the decisions of the House in which Quebec has an very important role to play, are not only good for Canada but are good for Quebec as well.

That is where I think we part company. I am rapidly becoming a minority in Canada. If we go to Toronto-

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I deeply regret interrupting any of you but I must resume debate with the hon. member for Okanagan Centre.