This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debt.

Topics

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the mandate of the commission allows its members to examine all issues relating to these incidents and they definitely intend to do so.

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the commission should also look at what happened in Petawawa, at the hazing rituals, at what happened in Gagetown, at what happened with the pseudo-terrorist attack at the Quebec City Citadel, following which the commander of the Citadel was appointed chief of the armed forces in Haiti. This is quite something. Talk about being irresponsible.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his government is tarnishing the reputation of the Canadian Armed Forces and that this will continue as long as the current defence minister is in charge?

Department Of National DefenceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am quite affronted that the hon. member would accuse the government of tarnishing the image of the armed forces. If anything is tarnishing the image of the armed forces, other than the problems we have to deal with on an ongoing basis, it is the attitude of the members opposite who are making political points on the backs of the men and women who serve with distinction in the Canadian Armed Forces.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in welcoming the intergovernmental affairs minister to his seat, I note that some time ago he indicated that a distinct society clause in the Constitution would not confer special status on Quebec and I quote: "It is an insult to suggest Quebecers would use the clause to trample minority rights".

Canadians familiar with Quebec's oppressive language laws fear a distinct society clause would be used to further the exclusionary policies of separatists.

For the benefit of Canadians, will the minister clarify his intentions about including a distinct society clause in the Constitution?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, we must state the facts.

Since the beginning, since 1988, the intent to put in the Constitution the recognition of Quebec has never been a device to change the distribution of powers in the Constitution of Canada.

Never. Some politicians who do not want to reconcile Quebecers and Canadians may say that but it is not the truth. I will give you what was written in 1987, the first draft the first ministers accepted in order to keep Quebec as a distinct society, or any other term you want to use within Canada.

"Nothing in this section derogates from the powers, rights or privileges of Parliament or the Government of Canada or the legislatures of the governments of the provinces, including any powers, rights or privileges relating to language". This is why it would be a lie to say that it may change the distribution of powers. It is an interpretative clause. It is necessary but it does not change the basic Constitution.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how much Canadians will be cheered by that 1987 response.

The intergovernmental affairs minister has also said that Quebec's racist bill 101, the language law in Quebec, and I quote him: "A great Canadian law and is liberal in many ways."

In many ways inclusion of distinct society has the legal potential to allow for policies which will take away from the rights of Canadians. I ask the minister if the inclusion of a distinct society clause is necessary, what measures will the government take to ensure that the clause will not undermine the equality of all Canadians?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, bilingual or trilingual democracies have measures to ensure that their language communities will live together in harmony. It is what we have in Canada. We are very proud of it.

Raw Milk CheeseOral Question Period

April 15th, 1996 / 2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Canadian government has just banned cheese made from raw milk. In Quebec, producers, importers, retailers, restaurant owners, consumers, veterinarians and the provincial government disagree with this decision. The Quebec Liberal Party and even the Liberal Party of Canada also disagree.

Since cheese made from raw milk is already strictly regulated in Canada and nobody is complaining, why do the minister and his officials want to annoy us by prohibiting the sale of this cheese here?

Raw Milk CheeseOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has asked a very important question relating to raw milk cheese. Evidence has come from my department which suggests that there may be an increased risk of illness or disease.

As a result a regulation has been gazetted and for 75 days there will be a period of consultation. After that consultation period we will be in a position to evaluate the evidence which has been put forward to see whether the evidence of the department is accurate.

Raw Milk CheeseOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister of Health have nothing better to do than to regulate in an area where his officials are most unwelcome? Who is in charge, the minister or his officials?

Raw Milk CheeseOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to say that the question is full of holes. However, I want to remind the hon. member who has demonstrated time and time again on the floor of the House of the Commons that she is a reasonable individual that my responsibilities as the Minister of Health are to protect the health of Canadians. When evidence comes forward which suggests an increase in risk of the health of Canadians, I must take the appropriate action.

Therefore, we have put in motion a process which is very normal, a 75-day consultation period. Thereafter, the appropriate decisions will be taken.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Section 35(2) of the Fisheries Act deals with the protection of freshwater fish habitat and is a fundamental pillar of environmental and fisheries protection.

Can the minister of fisheries assure the House that the powers of section 35(2) will not be delegated to the provincial governments?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador

Liberal

Fred Mifflin LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for a very important question. I also want to compliment him on the good work he continues to do in environmental areas and for the tremendous reputation he has for concerns in this area.

I would like to assure the hon. member that, as he quite rightly points out, section 35(2) of the Fisheries Act is a very important trigger for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

I am pleased to report that while we may be looking at some changes downstream which are necessary and important for fresh-

water fish habitat, we will continue to ensure that the Fisheries Act will be an important trigger for fish management.

PensionsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, while the Canada pension plan consultations begin today, I have been talking with seniors in my riding for the past two weeks and they are worried.

The Minister of Finance said in his budget speech that the CPP must be put on a sound financial footing that will make it sustainable, affordable and fair.

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. Can the government assure us that sustainable, affordable and fair will not mean less money in the pockets of seniors?

PensionsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Barry Campbell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

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

We have just begun a process of consultations with respect to the Canada pension plan. We await with great interest the observations, ideas and suggestions of Canadians on how to ensure the sustainability of the plan.

The goal of the exercise is a sustainable program that will be there for Canadians, not taking something out of the pockets of Canadians.

PensionsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

John Williams Reform St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the government is going to wait for the outcome of these consultations. That is not leadership.

Today the Montreal Gazette quotes the member for Winnipeg North Centre, who is the government's point man for the CPP road show. In the article the member says that the government is committed to protecting the fundamental part of Canada's overall pension system. What does protection mean? Pay more and get less or some other painful remedy?

My question is for the Deputy Prime Minister. What guarantee does the government give seniors that it will maintain the standard of living for seniors?

PensionsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

St. Paul's Ontario

Liberal

Barry Campbell LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, on one hand the member decries the consultations, suggesting that it is not leadership. That is precisely the kind of leadership Canadians want. They want to be heard. They want a government that listens to their suggestions. That is what we will do in the context of the CPP consultations.

Kenworth Plant In Sainte-ThérèseOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Over a week ago, the management of the Kenworth plant in Sainte-Thérèse announced its plans to shut down operations at the truck manufacturing facility. Since then, all stakeholders have been actively seeking to prevent this plant from closing and to save the 850 jobs at stake.

Could the Prime Minister tell this House what steps he intends to take to save these 850 jobs?

Kenworth Plant In Sainte-ThérèseOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, you will understand that the government is extremely concerned about the announcement made by PACCAR. A substantial number of jobs are at stake, and my hon. friend across the way should know that the Canadian government has been involved in this matter from the very beginning, after PACCAR made its decision known. The Government of Quebec got involved and we immediately got on board; we were represented by my colleague, the Minister of Labour, who met with the president of the FTQ and also with his provincial counterpart.

We have been in contact; members of my staff got in touch with the minister responsible for the province of Quebec.

Last Saturday, my colleague, the Minister of Labour, and myself sat down with representatives of the union at the Sainte-Thérèse plant. I must say that, as matters stand, we will consult with each other. We will examine the matter on its merit and come back to the House with the Canadian government's position on this matter.

Kenworth Plant In Sainte-ThérèseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Here is my supplementary, Mr. Speaker: Last Friday, the Government of Quebec made a proposal to PACCAR, Kenworth's parent company, in an attempt to prevent the closure of the Kenworth plant.

Since the Minister of Labour has announced that the federal government will get involved in this matter, could the Prime Minister undertake to support the proposal the Quebec government made to PACCAR to save the Kenworth plant in Sainte-Thérèse?

Kenworth Plant In Sainte-ThérèseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalSecretary of State (Federal Office of Regional Development-Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, as I said already, the Canadian government is currently working on it. In fact, the minister responsible for Quebec has sent a letter to PACCAR. We are waiting for the company's response. Once we have all the facts, we will let this House know what the Canadian government's position is.

RrspsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of human resources.

This year's budget punishes seniors by reducing the RRSP age limit for contributions from 71 to 69. Why impose this hardship on seniors when they are now living longer and healthier lives and will need their savings over a longer life span?

RrspsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, one of the hallmarks of the budget brought in by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, was to deal with problems such as the demographic change taking place in this country and elsewhere in the most fair and equitable way.

I would have thought the hon. member would have made reference to the fact that the proposals made by the Minister of Finance allow for those people who wish to take advantage of RRSPs to go back as far as they can to pick up those years where, because of child rearing or for other reasons, they were unable to make maximum contributions.

The proof is in the pudding. As one looks at the reactions across the country to the proposals made by the Minister of Finance with regard to RRSPs and other elements of the budget, they have all been very well accepted by people who understand them.

RrspsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Reform

Daphne Jennings Reform Mission—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the minister is still refusing to deal with the age difference. By lowering it, he is really harming seniors. By reducing the age of mandatory rollover from seniors' RRSPs, the government will raise close to $100 million by the year 2000.

This is just another Liberal tax grab. Why does the minister not have the courage to be frank with our seniors about what he is doing and admit this is another tax grab at the expense of seniors?

RrspsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the challenge is always with comprehension. There is no doubt about that.

What we are dealing with here is undoubtedly an effort to be equitable. There is no question the hon. member has stated the record in terms of the reduction to age 69.

Whatever the alleged tax grab may have been as a result of that change, if the hon. member would look at the cost to taxpayers, the benefits made available to people who want to avail themselves of the RRSP, going back over the years where they missed making maximum contributions, the hon. member would understand this.

If she takes the time and the care to look carefully, what has been retained by the government in terms of the change at the upper end will be more than compensated for by being more generous to people who were not able to make maximum contributions to the program through their working life.