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.


GrainOral Question Period

3 p.m.


Vic Althouse NDP Mackenzie, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the new Minister of Transport. I want to congratulate him on his appointment and make clear that a lot of people in prairie Canada are depending on him.

The year over year grain exports until mid-February this year are only 15.1 million tonnes compared to 21.4 million tonnes for the same period last year.

During the intervening year the government imposed its privatization and deregulation solutions to solve grain export problems.

Since grain exports have plummeted and demurrage charges have soared with ships waiting what, if anything, is the new minister proposing to do in order to keep us on target for exports of $20 billion by the end of this century, which was his government's target?

GrainOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his kind words.

Certainly the concern about the grain shipments from the prairies is a very important part of the Transport Canada portfolio.

However, a number of factors come into play when considering grain exports. Weather is one of the more difficult ones at this time of year.

We are lucky to have virtually unprecedented prices for Canadian grain overseas and we will do everything we can within the transport system to make sure that deliveries are made as effectively as possible so we can take advantage of that market.

The work that has been done to make sure we have a more competitive transportation system is very much key and central to having a system in place year by year which will be able to deliver our products to markets effectively wherever they may be overseas.

I can assure him I look forward to working with him to make sure those goals are achieved.

PortsOral Question Period

3 p.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Transport.

As the minister knows, serious concerns have been raised about security and law enforcement at our ports, specifically, the port of Vancouver under the new marine police.

Can the Minister of Transport assure British Columbians and all Canadians that the security of our ports will not be compromised?

PortsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Victoria B.C.


David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that the security at our ports is a major concern to me, the Solicitor General of Canada, the Minister of Justice and every member of the government.

We want to ensure that in the transfer to local port authorities the policing function is at a level which is as effective as previously, if not more so. We will be working as best we can to make sure that the level of security at the ports of Canada, particularly the major ports, is just as high as it has ever been or in fact augmented.

I can assure him that this will be the case in Vancouver and elsewhere.

However, I must also point out that as local authorities take more control they may have variations in the existing system which we will have to consider. I want the whole House to understand that the level of security will be maintained.

PortsOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

This brings question period to a conclusion.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a delegation from Ukraine led by Minister Lada Pavlikovska, head of the Agency for Co-ordination of International Assistance.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

February 29th, 1996 / 3:05 p.m.


Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as is our custom each Thursday, I would ask the government House leader to give us an indication of the legislative agenda for the coming days.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario


Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the hon. member on his appointment as his party's House leader. And now for the specifics.

Today we will continue with the address debate. Tomorrow, in light of the ruling which I understand was given by the Chair on the point of order saying that my motion is in order, I will proceed with it. This is the motion regarding the organization of the business of the session. On the day after this motion is disposed of our plan is to return to the address debate.

Hon. members will have noticed on the Order Paper two new government bills, one in the name of the Minister of Justice and one in the name of the Minister of Labour. There will be discussions among the representatives of the parties with regard to fitting these bills into the schedule.

Finally, as we know, the Minister of Finance will present the budget on Wednesday and therefore we intend to commence the budget debate on Thursday morning.

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup had the floor. My dear colleague, you still have about 11 minutes left.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to resume the debate after question period.

When the first part of my speech was interrupted, I was talking about what is most important according to my constituents, namely what the government is going to do in the coming months.

I was referring to something that is very important to both Quebecers and Canadians, in that people must feel respected as citizens of a country, whether it is Quebec or Canada. And that is something that Quebecers obviously do not find in the throne speech. When told that the decision on their future may well be made by all Canadians, they are obviously very unhappy about this; they do not identify with that part of the throne speech.

The speech contains another, more concrete part that is more difficult to address, but I think it is essential to do so. My fellow citizens everywhere have criticized the Prime Minister for his behaviour in assaulting Bill Clennett. I think it is not too late for the Prime Minister to apologize to Mr. Clennett, because his action had a very negative impact on all young Canadians. I am talking about the children who talked about that incident and asked their parents whether such actions were acceptable. I think it is unacceptable. We are replying to the throne speech, but at the same time there is something in this that I find unacceptable.

Another demand made by an increasing number of people across Canada is to simplify the system in which we live, so that we can properly assess government effectiveness.

We should have more clearly defined jurisdictions, and a simpler fiscal system, to make it easy to see whether or not everyone is doing his share. In order to move beyond phrases like "make the rich pay", we need to be able to determine if indeed we are all pulling our weight in this society of ours. Are the tools available to all taxpayers to claim, for instance, every tax deduction they are entitled to? Do companies, the wealthy, and ordinary people have an equal chance of using the tax legislation to their best advantage? Do they have access to all deductions? As matters stand, the answer is no. It is pretty obvious that only the wealthy and big companies can afford to hire tax experts to find every last loophole in the tax legislation, not the common man. Nothing in the speech from the throne indicates that the government is prepared to head that way. I think this is a change the government should consider.

I shall call this eliminating the expert bonus. That is when a company can afford to hire a tax expert to find the tiniest loophole in the Income Tax Act, enabling this company or an individual with a large income to get a better deal than someone else, who does not have as good an income. It is somehow similar to the systematic hunting down of UI abusers. Of course we must make sure that everyone obeys the law, but we must make sure that governments have the same kind of requirements for big companies, those that were once referred to as corporate welfare bums. There is a need to guarantee a degree of fairness in this regard, and there is no indication of anything of the sort in the speech from the throne.

Another paragraph of this speech caught my eye because I watch so closely over the interests of my riding, which is located in a rural area. It reads: "The government is committed to the economic renewal of rural Canada." It is very well to mention rural Canada in the speech from the throne. I think it is a good idea to call the attention of the House to this issue, but at the same time, several of the government's initiatives adversely affect rural Canada. How can the government advocate at the same time the development of rural Canada and the pursuit of its current UI reform, which will systematically penalize rural areas across Canada, fostering the off-farm migration of the young people when the rural communities need them to take over in time. There is an inconsistency in all this that is unacceptable.

We will also be able to judge the government on how it will review the mandate of Canada Post. A committee has been set up by the minister to hold hearings in six Canadian cities. In the next year, we will be able to see whether the government truly takes into account the needs of rural areas and whether it ensures that the CPC not only delivers the mail but also contributes to the economic development of every region in Quebec and in Canada. These will be good tests that will show whether the government really cares about rural development.

How can rural development be reconciled with the current exercise, which consists in closing Canada employment centres right across the country and centralizing operations in every region? The government is recreating small centralized units in very large regions. This means that many Canadians who previously enjoyed more accessible services will no longer do so. It also means that there will be fewer opportunities for workers to adjust and to get adequate counselling. In my opinion, these measures are unacceptable and they also contradict the will expressed in the speech from the throne. There is no connection; the government fails to reach its objectives.

I want to mention another point in the speech from the throne. I was very surprised when I read it. I find it interesting to see a reference to aboriginal people, they are recognized; however, nowhere is there any mention of the Quebec people. The government wants to ignore the wish expressed by many Quebecers, close to 50 per cent of them, at the last referendum. If Quebecers were asked whether they form a people, a vast majority of them would say yes.

Had the government wanted to send a clear signal that it got the message, it would have done so in the speech from the throne. It would have clearly indicated that it recognizes Quebecers as a people. But there is no such mention in the speech. Obviously, this government-perhaps because it does not know what really goes

on in Quebec-did not manage to get the message sent by millions of people. It could have said things differently in its speech from the throne.

To conclude, I would like to say that the touchstone of a good throne speech is the feeling of confidence in the future it inspires in citizens. Do they think the government has put forward adequate measures to settle current problems?

Employment is the great issue on everybody's mind. Everybody seems to think that, over the last 10 to 15 years, we have set up a system in which very productive people can manage. But at the same time we have deliberately chosen to toss aside people who may be overtaken by new technological requirements and those who have experienced in their life an unfortunate event that prevents them from re-entering the labour market. This is a shameful waste of human resources.

If there is one clear message which the throne speech ought to have got across to give a flicker of hope, it is the message that workers will get a real chance to find a job. The throne speech should have given them that hope. Yet, not a word is to be found in the throne speech about people who are 40, 45 or 50 years old, about workers who have been displaced by technological change, about people who have been working for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years for the same company and find themselves unexpectedly unemployed overnight.

What is the government going to do for them? There is not a single word about the help they might be given. There is no hope for the future to be found in the throne speech, and it does not meet at all the needs of Quebecers and of Canadians. It needs to be amended in the way suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. I hope this House will consider the amendment moved by the Bloc.

How can a government be so short on creativity after only two years in power? Is it because the men and women who are part of the government lack the necessary skills? I do not think that is the case. There are men and women on both sides of the House who have all the necessary qualifications to do the job. There is a more fundamental reason. It is because Canada is an ungovernable country. As long as it does not decide on a fundamental structural change, as long as it does not accept to set up a new relationship between its components, it will go on trying to tinker with old plumbing instead of dealing with structural problems.

On this side, we have taken due note of the message for Quebecers and Canadians contained in the referendum results. We have been told: "We are not ready yet". We accept the result and that it would take 50 per cent plus 1 to have a majority, which result has not been reached. We have acknowledged the result. On the other hand, there is a very clear message sent to Canada and Quebec: a significant change is needed. This change lies in the recognition that there are two peoples in Canada and that we in Quebec must have all the powers we need to be able to develop and in order to have a partnership between the two countries, not an tangled mess like the one that is proposed in the speech from the throne.

If we were to implement what is proposed in the speech from the throne in constitutional matters, we would find ourselves in an even more complicated situation. Ten years from now, it would be worse than it is now. We should have gotten out of the rut. That is what the government has not managed to do and what it would have the opportunity to do if it decided to change its position in order that Quebecers and Canadians can finally see a reflection of themselves in the government now representing them.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.


Nic Leblanc Bloc Longueuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the floor. I wish to put a few questions to the hon. member. He spoke in particular of the referendum results in Quebec.

Of course, we lost the referendum with 49,4 per cent of the vote. The government, the Prime Minister, keep on repeating that we should accept our defeat, and the Canadien government recognizes that we have lost.

If the Canadian government recognizes that we lost the referendum, should it not also recognize that with 51,4 per cent of the vote, Quebecers would have had a legitimate victory?

There is another striking example. Would the province of Newfoundland, having decided to join the Canadian confederation in a referendum, also be free to leave it in another referendum? Would that not be logic? I wonder why there are these great debates to say that you need 60, 65 or 70 per cent of the vote to leave the Canadian confederation. It looks completely ludicrous to me. You need 50 per cent plus one. This is the democratic rule we work with. This is our culture and democracy as we know it.

I would ask the hon. member to elaborate a bit on the matter because the Liberal government seems to be hard-of-hearing on this issue.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Longueuil. Of course, it slipped out of my mind, but since we have known each other for a long time I hope you will accept my apologies. It will not happen again.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting question, because the Speech from the Throne is full of contradictions. For instance, there is one sentence I would like to quote that is along the same lines and bears out what the hon. member for Longueuil just said. It says:

On October 30, the people of Quebec voted in a referendum to stay in Canada.

If the government says in the Speech from the Throne that we voted to stay in Canada on October 30, on the basis of the close results we had, to me this means that if the outcome had been reversed, the government should have said: "The people of Quebec voted in a referendum to create the nation of Quebec" and then acted accordingly as the Government of Canada.

That would have made sense, but it is very difficult to make sense of the current statements and positions of the Prime Minister and his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. It is the old double standard. We win if it is 50 per cent, but for you to win, it has to be 60 per cent. This is a complete denial of a democratic system that has been the pride of Quebec and Canada.

It is pretty hard to make sense of all this. I think the Government of Canada should confirm that the next time Quebecers vote on the national question, the results will be recorded and will be binding as they were in 1980 and in 1995, with this difference that Quebecers will decided to create the nation of Quebec.

I think there is an increasing body of evidence that the only way we can resolve this question in Canada is to ensure that Quebecers will be in a position to establish, from nation to nation, as equals, a relationship and a partnership that is mutually advantageous for Quebecers and Canadians. This will be possible once Quebecers have voted again.

Meanwhile, the Government of Canada should remove the implication in the Throne Speech that it will keep Quebecers in a straightjacket by calling a pan-Canadian referendum.

We must know what the government's intentions are as soon as possible, so that it will be clear to Quebecers and Canadians that the government will abide by the choice made by Quebecers.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague from Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, because, in my opinion, he went to the heart of the matter.

He just said that we are two founding nations. I think everybody recognizes that, but I cannot understand how we can have two nations and only one country.

We, Quebecers, we want our own country. The throne speech mentions only one country. In view of the fact that there are two nations, I would like my colleagues opposite to understand the right we have to demand our own country.

We all went to the Senate to listen to the speech. The atmosphere was quiet and peaceful. Some were happily resting, others even fell asleep during such an important speech. For my part, I was standing and I could not help thinking: "How will it be received by my fellow citizens in Matapédia-Matane who are watching on television? They always have good questions for me."

Even though they might be unemployed, people in Matapédia-Matane will not allow their children to be bought by offers of free trips across Canada during the summer holidays, at public expense. It is nice to travel and to show our young people how vast, great and beautiful Canada is. Indeed, it is. But if their father is out of work, and their mother cannot feed them, they are not interested in travelling across Canada, for the time being, at least.

In my area, people have taken to the streets; women are worried, the elderly are too. I would ask my colleague whether he found in the throne speech concrete steps dealing with our young people, farmers, the elderly and the unemployed.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:25 p.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's comment brought to mind one thing we could change in the present system, since we can propose changes.

When I went to the Senate to listen to the throne speech, I realized something that we could call absurd nowadays. Why is the throne speech delivered in the other place, where members are not elected and where elected members are not even allowed in?

It is all very technical and symbolic, but at the same time, the following change could really improve things. Why would the next throne speech not be given in the House of Commons, right here, where we would invite senators to join us if the Senate is not abolished by then? Would that not be more respectful of democracy?

Senators are real good people, they have been chosen for multiple reasons, often for their political opinions, but in the end, when the image of the people listening to the throne speech is broadcasted on TV, everybody can see the many empty benches. As for the decorum of the Supreme Court justices, I wonder if that is in line with the democracy we all have to respect. I think we could propose some changes concerning decorum and protocol. Next time, if there is a throne speech here and if I am present at the time, I hope we can hear it in the House and we can invite the senators. I think that would be a way of supporting democracy.

Personally, I also believe there are substantial savings to be made as regards the non-elected House but we could discuss that more thoroughly at the time of the next budget speech.

My colleague's other remark deals with the references in the throne speech to young people, farmers and senior citizens. Regarding young people, there is a reference to employment within the federal administration. Yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources Development said that the text was not properly worded and that we should read jobs within the whole of Canada. We are going to wait and see what the reality will be, because the throne speech talks about jobs only where it deals with the public service. In areas where employment centres were closed, or in an area like

my riding where the experimental farm of La Pocatière was closed, there are no departments where students could work.

Therefore, it is not necessarily a measure which will do a great deal in areas where the need for jobs is the greatest; on the contrary, it will widen the gap between an area like the national capital and other regions of the country. This does not make much sense.

Turning to farmers, there is not much for them in the speech. There is the paragraph I was referring to earlier which deals with rural Canada, but specific measures which will help the farmers of Quebec and Canada face the future, face the new international agreements, will have to be assessed when they come out, because there is nothing concrete in the speech.

The sentence of the throne speech which is the most worrisome deals with senior citizens and talks about measures to sustain Canada's elderly benefit system for the future. The sustainability aspect does not mean that we will preserve the quality of life of our senior citizens. It does not mean that we will maintain what we have developed over the past 20 years. It means there will be cuts, that there will be less security for older people, and I invite them to be extremely vigilant and make every possible representation to make sure that these measures will not have a negative impact on their quality of life. There is no doubt that opposition will have a role to play in this regard.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba


Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by reiterating, for the benefit of the opposition critics, my commitment to creating a spirit of co-operation between the opposition and the government as far as foreign affairs are concerned.

During the debate on Haiti yesterday, I could not help but notice the open-mindedness and absence of partisanship in their speeches. I am convinced that we can rely on their co-operation, in the best tradition of our Parliament, to further the interests of Canada as a whole on issues of major consequence for the representation of Canada abroad.

A throne speech is not just an agenda for a government. It is an agenda for an entire society. It seeks to articulate an agenda by which we can make commitments, responses and actions required as we face new conditions and new developments.

The throne speech we received this week is a positive agenda. It is trying to take today's issues and meet them with a sense of confidence, aware of difficulties, aware of hazards, aware of all the dangers out there, but at the same time ensuring that we face those dangers, not hide from them.

It is in contrast to all those who work upon fear, who cling to yesterday's solutions, who refuse to confront challenges as they exist and who instead try to find ways to exploit and develop people's sense of insecurity and anxiety.

The throne speech is about a renewal of this country, renewing a spirit within, renewing ourselves and renewing what the country can represent. It is not a prescription to run and hide.

One thing that is important to impress as part of the throne speech is the very important international dimension this agenda has.

No one can escape from the major impacts and influences of the world we live in. Jobs in a competitive economy and globalization are affected every day in every way. There must be international co-operation and understanding to make sure that we work together to create the climate and initiatives for employment.

Our financial system is a totally global one. We must find ways to break rules and establish conventions to ensure that it works in an orderly, fair and just way. Our own democratic way of life can also be threatened by instability beyond our borders and by the denial of rights of other people. These can soon haunt and reflect on ourselves.

We have a system of health in which viruses can travel across borders without any interference and all of a sudden we are faced with a need for massive international action.

Even now we can visit the Internet where hate literature, propaganda and the violence of words can be screened across electronic communications to reach the minds of our young people within seconds.

Canada is intellectually, indelibly and forever a part of an international system. As part of that system we must be deeply concerned about the rise of the counter culture playing on people's doubts and insecurities in languages increasingly shrill, against enemies finding someone to oppose. It fragments society when there is an urgent need to strengthen it.

I listened with shock and dismay to the member for Matapédia when he said: "As a founding people we deserve our own country". How often have we heard that around the world in recent generations, where one culture or language group has demanded its own country? As a result, there has been war, conflict and even worse by that very same attitude that was expressed a few minutes ago. It is shocking and awful to hear this in the House of Commons when we as a country have worked so hard to build on diversity, tolerance and openness to give all people a fair and equal chance.

The charter of rights gives everybody a fair degree of opportunity, liberty and rights. No country in the world has a greater sense of liberty. The reality is that it is being denied. This sense of liberty is something we can hold up as a model to the world. We can show the rest of the world that we know how to be tolerant to make different languages and cultures work together. We are the prototype of the 21st century. We are a nation state that understands that in order to accommodate and work in a global economy we must build on the strength of that diversity.

With all my heart and passion I oppose the kind of attitude we heard from the member opposite and what he represents. That does not represent the best and finest of this country. Part of the international dimension is to oppose that view.


Canadians understand that it is in our best interest to develop a more open relationship with foreign countries. We must ensure that young Canadians will be able to export Canadian know-how, Canadian expertise and Canadian culture. Youth employment programs give young Canadians numerous opportunities to develop their skills, be it only through job experience in the third world or by working for the advancement of human rights. These are opportunities that are open to young Canadians.

That is what the international dimension is all about. It is wrong to retreat into isolationism and separatism. It is why it is so important that we as Canadians stand as a model that we can advance round the world.

Philosopher George Steiner said not too long ago that life in many parts of the world is becoming a series of dangerous reversions in the face of rapid change. I understand that. It is one of the callings of Canadians to fight against that reversion, fight against that inward look and fragmentation and work in the world with a much more broad and expansionary view.

We see it in the incidents Canada is facing today relating to what is happening in Cuba. Americans are justifiably angered that a small civilian aircraft was shot down. We have supported their efforts to go to the United Nations and ICAO.

It is equally wrong to pass legislation that in itself contravenes international rules and practices to unilaterally affect individuals and companies in another country against basic treaties and conventions that have been signed and against the expressed desire of the United States government to have a new set of rules of investment to make sure there is openness and fair trading. It is wrong to introduce that kind of legislation in order to correct the other possibility. That is why we object so strongly to it.

Flagrant unilateralism, great or small, cannot be tolerated. We must have a world of rule, of law. We must have a world governed by a set of standards we can all adhere to. That is what we Canadians have to stand up for internationally.

The answer in Canada is to build bridges, not walls. That is the Canadian way and has been for many generations. It is what I believe Canadians want us to express as a government: to help people reach out, to help build those bridges, to bring a partnership between government and people, to do it domestically, to bring a partnership of business and labour together to help create jobs for young people, to build partnerships and bridges between the regions of the country so we can share in our diversity, to build bridges and partnerships between different generations and different ages. The fundamental role of this national government is to help build those bridges, not to bring up the walls as others in the House seem to espouse.

I have been struck, since taking on the responsibility of foreign minister, with how constant and ongoing the expectation is of people around the world that this is what Canadians will provide. They recognize that over the years we have been able to acquire and adopt an important and significant role. People around the world look to Canadians for solutions, for good ideas and for leadership.

Let us consider the kind of initiative we debated in the House last night. We are being asked by the world community to take leadership in Haiti. Why? We are a country of two founding peoples with two languages and are able to bring together the strength of our two great cultures to offer an opportunity to the world.

What an enormous, incredible, important and significant contribution we have to make as a country as we now stand. Those who want to break it apart, to separate it and fragment it are certainly making a serious mistake. As former Prime Minister Trudeau said in the U.S. Congress many years ago, it would be a crime against humanity to have Canada separate simply because of what we have to offer to the international world.

An American himself, Adelai Stevenson, one of those kinder and gentler Americans, in a speech he made in Canada said that Canada has never claimed the status of a major power but it has been influential beyond its means because it is a patient, level headed poise in the world. We can ride out convulsions. He said the rest of the world needed the built in gyroscope that Canadians seem to acquire when dealing in world affairs.

Forty years later the world is still in great convulsion. We face storms of our own time. I think if Adelai Stevenson were alive today he would agree that the gyroscope, the special skill and aptitude of Canadians is still working.

We seek to be an activist, a partner nation encouraging global systems of security and human improvement, helping to shape rules and procedures, advancing the cause of human rights and strengthening the ties of trade so we can help people grow and prosper. The throne speech indicates those spheres of action where we can make a difference.

We have to set priorities in our foreign policy. If we have a priority for everything then there is no priority. The first priority is to ensure the fundamental defence and protection of Canadian interests both here and abroad. The fundamental responsibility of government is to make sure Canadians have the best representation possible and I can guarantee they will receive that from this government.

However, security goes beyond simply the protection of one's own boundaries and interests. So much in the world today is now bound up in the much broader global scope. The best way we can defend our interests as a country is to defend them in our international institutions and forums, to build those rules and institutions that allow Canadians to get the kind of protection they need.

Since taking on this responsibility, I have said that I am deeply concerned about the state of affairs of the United Nations and the fundamental need to reform its finances, its institutions and its outreach to ensure it can become an institution that enables us to provide a way of life and a way of mediating conflicts, responding to poverty and defending rights around the world.

Our peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, Croatia and Haiti must be maintained. Beyond the military action, we want to help rebuild their civilian society.

I think a new concept of safety has now emerged, including personal safety and social, environmental and economic security.

We may not be a great power, but have been favoured by our position. Our two official languages, French and English, our diversified population, our expertise as a trading nation and our respect for democratic values enable us to play a crucial role as a link, for instance, between Europe and America.

In my opinion, Canada might be able act as a bridge to help reopen the transatlantic dialogue between Europe and North America. We can build new partnerships in terms of financial, technical and training assistance for Canadian and European youth.

That is why I pointed out the fact that the European Commission had decided to strengthen the links between Europe and America.

At the same time, our security as Canadians is also deeply and inextricably tied to the way we deal with the problem of arms in this world. Canada has a long and historic tradition of working against the build up of arms and to secure disarmament and arms control. We must work effectively for the policing of the comprehensive test ban treaty and include a ban on the ghastly cheap weapons that haunt every countryside of warfare with the awful land mines that are dismembering thousands of people around the world today.

Security also depends on good law and good regulation. The throne speech clearly enunciated our commitment to fulfil the mandate of the law of the sea to protect the increasingly scarce resources, to cherish the sea as the sustainer of life and not as a waste pit.

We also need to temper and balance the workings of the international marketplace with proper rules and standards, which is perhaps the most serious and important dialogue that members of Parliament will have. We have discovered in our own domestic economies and societies that there has to be a good framework of law to make the marketplace work. We need the same framework internationally. We need to be sure that the disputes are properly handled. We need to clearly demonstrate the practices that will ensure basic standards of rights for people within that framework.

That is why the throne speech made a very strong commitment to making a real difference as a country in developing new labour standards, particularly as they apply to the exploitation of children.

Regarding human rights, Canada can play a leading role. Children's rights high are among this government's priorities. We are currently seeking an international consensus to curb child labour.

In addressing this very important issue, I believe we can begin to move to protect and promote children's rights, as we debated in this House on a resolution I sponsored almost eight years ago, but we must first ensure that there are proper rules, laws and covenants that can ensure that children's rights are protected. This means working at the multilateral level, the commission of human rights in Geneva and through the ILO, and taking the lead in negotiating a protocol on the abolition of child sex trades in this country.

We also have to ensure that those countries which are facing problems of child labour have the means and capacity to respond and change. We have recently given a major donation of $700,000 to the International Labour Organization so it can be helpful in developing these new standards.

We also have to work bilaterally, as we are now in Africa working with 15 countries on that continent to establish programs for the education of girls. Education is the alternative to exploitive labour. Where we can make a real difference as Canadians is to help those young children receive the education they deserve.

We also need to look at the voluntary actions of Canadians and at the codes of conduct for businesses building on a consumer oriented approach like the Rugmark. We need to have an outreach among Canadians to ensure they understand that a purchase of an article created through the travails of a young child is contributing to that exploitation.

I look forward to the views and suggestions of members of Parliament on this very important priority. It will take a full consensus, not just internationally but within Canada, to make this an effort that can demonstrate just how important and how effective Canada can be.

I also suggest we take an important leadership role, working with like minded countries, to promote a reduction in the demand for arms. We must begin by tying economic and international development to the spending on military weapons and armaments to ensure there is a proper ratio between the two. This will enable us to provide a bonus system for those countries that are willing to reduce their arms expenditures. By providing that kind of consensus internationally, we can make a difference.

There are many other areas we can talk about, but the most important one, which does not have a substance, a policy or a program, is just basically the Canadian way of doing things. Call it creative realism, as Lester Pearson, our Nobel prize winner, once called it, building consensus, developing alliances or forming acts of careful conciliation. It is a way of ensuring that the values by which we live do not become ideologies, do not become hard and rigid, but in fact we find ways of building bridges between people so that various values and interests which compete can also find co-operation.

One must believe that one cannot have everything that one wants to have. We must search for overarching ways of providing connections and liaisons between people. To do that we must substantially engage Canadians in this new search for our international dimension. The new technologies of communication have outpaced the traditional meeting places of committees and councils. It is probably an overstatement, but the fact is fax machines helped circumvent the Soviet dictatorships that tried to reimpose the old suffering.

Each month millions of people add to the new networks of the web to get worldwide information. As I speak today, students in my own city of Winnipeg have an Internet connection to Pacific rim countries talking about their common problems. There is a young teacher from New Brunswick who is now connecting with groups in Scotland to find out ways of training young people.

The opportunity the Internet provides is a form of electronic peacekeeping. It brings ideas, information and research and development around the world in an instantaneous way. One place Canada can make a difference is in the grand field of international communication and helping to build that consensus with the means that we have.

I believe that if we take a look at the area of national life that is so much affected by our international dimensions, no area is untouched or uncovered. That is why in this throne speech we go out of our way to make sure that foreign policy is not just a closed door exercise, some esoteric discipline taken behind the area with whispers or by elites, but becomes the grand engagement of all Canadians. In particular, we want to reach out to young Canadians because they will be the true citizens of this new global world as we move into the 21st century. It is not just a matter of the policy and the programs, it is also bringing it about.

I welcomed the expressions last evening from members of the opposition wanting to work in this Parliament, wanting to make it a place for global dialogue and a place where Canadians believe they have the opportunity to make a difference with their views, their ideas and their suggestions so that we can truly give them a sense that they are engaged as world citizens in the 21st century.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:50 p.m.


René Canuel Bloc Matapédia—Matane, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the minister talks about building something together, I am with him. When he talks about a consensus, I am also with him. When he talks about building bridges, everyone agrees with this.

But I would remind him that, since Mr. Lesage, we have been trying to build such bridges year after year. One after the other, the Liberal Party in Quebec, the Union Nationale, the Parti Quebecois tried to negotiate in the best of faith, and without bias as even the Liberals then in power met with failure. When Jean Lesage coined the phrase "Masters in our own house", he knew what he was talking about.

The minister referred to Mr. Trudeau earlier. If I understood correctly, he was saying that Mr. Trudeau kind of brought people together at some point. I am sorry, but if there is someone who isolated Quebec, it is Mr. Trudeau himself. So how can you tell me that Mr. Trudeau tried to bring Quebec into the fold.

The minister said earlier that he was insulted by the fact that I was referring to two peoples. I must repay him in kind by saying that he in turn has insulted the people of Matapédia-Matane, 64 per cent of whom voted for an independent Quebec. Sixty-four per cent of the people in my riding said yes so that we can have our

own country. That is a lot of people, and not only the member for Matapédia-Matane.

On another point, as I said earlier, there are many unemployed people in my riding. It is the minister himself who put forward the proposed employment insurance reform. In my riding, they called this poverty insurance. They say, and I think they are right, that the fund comes from employee and employer premiums. How can they take money from people who are hard-pressed to earn $20,000, $22,000 or $23,000 a year?

Our forestry workers work with chain saws in the heat of summer from five in the morning until late in the evening. It is back-breaking work. Those who have never done such work should try it.

I therefore make a suggestion to the minister who, I think, was behind this employment insurance: Since there will be a $5 billion surplus in this fund next year, why not distribute it among the regions to create jobs instead of unemployment?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

3:55 p.m.


Lloyd Axworthy Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, first I want to tell the hon. member that he is not the only person interested in partnership. I have been a member of this House for many years and I work very hard to develop a partnership in Canada.

Part of the problem, as I said in my speeches, is looking at this in isolation. There are many members of the House who have gone into their own regions. When the Meech Lake accord came in front of the House, it was not exactly the most popular proposal in my constituency in Winnipeg, but it was presented as a way of reaching out and forming a partnership. I voted for it and so did my friend from Winnipeg Transcona. It was done even though public opinion at the time in western Canada was very much against it. However, I believed it was a way of building a bridge.

I do not need to be lectured by this hon. member about what it takes to try to build bridges. I have not given up on that. I still believe in this country. I still believe in building bridges. I still believe there is an enormous advantage for all of us in working together, not only for ourselves as I said in my speech, but for the rest of the world. If we can prove that it can happen, that we do not have to separate and form little countries around small groups of people, that we can find strength in diversity and build those bridges, then it is a model this world desperately needs and desperately cries out for.

The hon. member talks about employment insurance. Perhaps one of the reasons people in his riding did not respond is that I am not sure he told them what was in the bill. He did not tell them that in the employment insurance bill was an absolute guarantee of income for low income Canadians. For the first time in the history of that act the people he is talking about are now guaranteed a basic income, something we have been talking about in this House for 30 or 40 years.

I bet the hon. member did not have anything to say about that. He did not talk about the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars are going to be reinvested to find jobs. I have never heard a Bloc member credit the fact that what we are saying to the poor people in his riding and everywhere else is that the best way out of poverty is to have a job. And the best way to get a job is to make sure that one has the opportunity to have that job is to reinvest in skills, to reinvest in developing that job, to reinvest in changing the economy; in other words, to be really ready to face change and not hide from it, not fear it, not exploit it, but to face change-

We must face the need to adjust the economy, for the benefit of all Canadians.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the minister's presentation. I was particularly interested in his comments when he was talking about Canada's place in the world and the importance of rules based organizations to look after Canada's interests. I certainly agree with him on that point.

Canada has been a world leader in trying to develop trade rules ever since the second world war and has been successful in pushing for a settlement of the latest Uruguay round of the GATT agreement. That is to our credit. As an exporting country it is certainly of interest to us. It is important that we have a rules based organization to rely on in areas of trade disputes.

We have had trade disputes with the United States on softwood lumber where we have won panel decisions three times. Is it not time to test those new organizations such as the World Trade Organization and ask them to make a ruling? I feel we have a very strong case. Instead of accepting caps on exports, such as we did on wheat and softwood lumber, is it not time to test the strength of those organizations that both ourselves, the United States and 120 other member countries have signed?

I would ask the minister to give consideration to asking a wider body for a ruling on this, rather than having the trade frictions that exist between Canada and the United States on these issues?

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. minister to give a very brief answer if it is possible.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4 p.m.


Lloyd Axworthy Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Yes, Mr. Speaker. First I thank the hon. member for focusing on that point. I believe

one of the most serious priorities we face is to establish the validity and legitimacy of many of these organizations.

As I said earlier in my speech, what I find disturbing about the present debate in the United States on the Helms-Burton bill is that the United States has been a great advocate at the OECD, for example, for developing a multilateral set of rules on investment. Now it has brought in domestic legislation which fully contradicts that whole notion of having a free market of investment based on an international set of rules.

Sometimes it is difficult to make changes as we are still working in a world of nation states. We have to use our powers of persuasion as much as we can. At the same time the hon. member has a useful suggestion to make. If the rules are there we should begin using them. That means we also have to accept the fact that people are going to use the rules against us and we must be prepared to abide by that as well.

I have talked to the hon. member's colleague about how we can bring these matters before the committee and have a really good dialogue about them so that we can begin to see where there is agreement in this Parliament. If we have Parliament agreeing, it strengthens the hand of the government to pursue these kinds of actions.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.


Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the Reform Party for allowing me to take 10 minutes of their time. I asked yesterday that the NDP be allowed to speak after the three official parties in this House had spoken. We were not successful in that.

Afterward, the Reform Party offered me this spot. I appreciate it but, of course, we still feel that on matters of major importance we should be allowed that role. We will be seeking it in the future. In the meantime, I am appreciative of the opportunity being granted to me at this time.

I am also appreciative, by coincidence, that I happen to be speaking just after the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was a surprise. Without being too much distracted from what I planned to say, I want to say that I listened carefully to the minister's spirited defence of multilateralism. That is both within the tradition of the Liberal Party and within the tradition of a broader Canadian consensus.

It is also within the tradition of Canadian foreign policy that at times we realize the limits to multilateralism, that we have to act on our own on occasion and show leadership. Certainly that is what I was trying to do when the government brought in the legislation to implement the WTO.

The NDP moved amendments that would have done two things. First, it would have prohibited the importation of goods produced by child labour pursuant to the ILO definition. Second, it would have called on the government to report on a regular basis what it was doing to build a social clause into the WTO.

I understand that the minister does not feel that Canada can act unilaterally on child labour, that he wants to build a consensus. There is also a role for regulation in the WTO. Maybe that follows the consensus.

Certainly there is a role for the Canadian government to report back to Parliament, on a regular basis, what it is doing in order to create that very thing. You could say that the social clause that we wanted you to report on and which you voted against at that time is the very kind of thing you now want to create.

Speech From The ThroneOral Question Period

4:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I simply want to remind everyone to please direct comments through the Chair to the minister or whoever.