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House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was discrimination.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesdays, we will now sing O Canada, which will be led by the hon. member for Port Moody-Coquitlam.

Vacancy

2 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, it is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely, Ms. Copps, member for the electoral district of Hamilton East, by resignation effective May 1, 1996.

Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer today for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Missing ChildrenStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Dianne Brushett Liberal Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today in honour of Child Find's Green Ribbon of Hope month.

Thousands of children go missing in Canada every year. Each time a child is abducted, a family and a community is devastated. They suffer a loss that is unbearable. Together they hope and pray for the child's safe return. The reality is that many children are never found and many others lose their lives to their abductors.

Our children must be protected. It is the responsibility of this government and indeed of all Canadians to guarantee that protection.

Members of this House can help Child Find in its search by printing pictures of missing children in their householders and by supporting recent initiatives to have missing children posters displayed in our government buildings.

Today I encourage all hon. members to wear the green ribbon of hope throughout the month of May to raise awareness and support for this very urgent cause, our missing children.

International Day Of The WorkerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this May Day, I wish to pay tribute to all workers in Quebec and Canada.

Thousands of people are taking this day to demonstrate publicly their dissatisfaction with the federal government and to condemn the antisocial measures, especially the unemployment insurance reform, advocated by this government, as well as the lack of a real job creation policy.

For over a century, workers have gathered together on May 1 to commemorate the Chicago martyrs who fought for better living and working conditions.

The Bloc Quebecois wishes workers in Quebec, Canada and other countries a good workers day. We support their fight for justice, equity, dignity and solidarity.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the plain and simple truth is that I made a mistake. The comments attributed to me regarding minority employees are neither a reflection of my personal views nor of Reform Party policy. They were hypothetical answers to hypothetical questions posed by reporters and they were the wrong answers.

I do believe all Canadians are equal and should be treated fairly without regard to race, religion, language, culture, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. Human rights are paramount. I

would never fire or discipline an employee based on anything other than his or her performance. This is the point I was trying to get across in the interview.

Having discussed this with my colleagues in caucus, I realize that nothing less than an unequivocal apology to everyone is in order. That is what I am saying. I apologize without reservation for the statements made and for any hurt they may have caused any person or group.

Credit CardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Gilles Bernier Independent Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about "shylocking" or usurious lending rates. I must keep on condemning the outrageous interest rates charged by the banks and by some companies on credit card balances.

According to an Industry Canada report, the interest rates charged on credit card balances exceed the bank rate by 12 percentage points.

The government has a duty to legislate to prevent these abuses and protect consumers. The government is currently turning a blind eye to this legalized "shylocking". The time has come to end this nearly scandalous exploitation.

DiabetesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to draw attention to the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the discovery of insulin by the team of Canadian researchers Banting, Best, Macleod and Collip.

The discovery of insulin ranks as one of the medical world's greatest achievements. Previous to the discovery of insulin in the summer of 1921, hundreds of thousands of sufferers of diabetes faced almost certain death from the disease.

Insulin however is not a cure for diabetes but rather only an effective treatment for a disease that affects over 1.5 million Canadians annually.

Research into the cure of diabetes continues. I urge all Canadians to support the work of the Canadian Diabetes Association and give generously to this cause.

International Day Of The WorkerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Nault Liberal Kenora—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a trade unionist myself, it gives me great pleasure to rise on this the day we celebrate the International Day of the Worker. On this occasion we should think about the situation facing working men and women on the verge of the 21st century.

Production methods and changes in the workplace present Canadian workers and governments with new challenges but also with new opportunities.

As a federal government, our role is to ensure that Canadian men and women have the opportunity to find meaningful, satisfying work and contribute to society. Through initiatives like employment insurance and our youth task force, we are meeting that challenge.

I am sure all members of this House join me in recognizing the contributions made to Canada every day by working men and women in a countless number of occupations.

Seminar On CyprusStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Saint-Denis, QC

Mr. Speaker, a seminar on Cyprus is being held today on Parliament Hill by the international committee seeking justice for that country.

On behalf of the Canada-Cyprus parliamentary committee, I wish to welcome His Excellency the Canadian High Commissioner to Cyprus, Andreas Iacovides, and all the other people attending the seminar.

Today's event is just another example of the continued efforts of PSEKA to see that the Cyprus issue is not forgotten. I commend it and the Hellenic-Canadian Solidarity Committee for Cyprus for their continued efforts.

I invite all members of this House to attend this important conference. It is my hope that Canada through our Minister of Foreign Affairs will play a leadership role in restoring peace to this island after 22 years.

Unemployment Insurance ReformStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday May 4, every resident of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region is invited to participate in a solidarity rally. This general mobilization was called for by the regional coalition against the unemployment insurance reform.

According to Michel Desbiens, of the diocesan pastoral board: "The goal is clearly to give the public a chance to express, loud and clear, its disapproval of this reform, which is once again geared toward impoverishing a great many people who would be only too pleased to work. Knowing how precarious the situation of the unemployed in our region is, we can only be outraged by the oppressive and discriminatory measures the federal government

wants to put in place. The people must be able to vent their legitimate anger, and the only peaceful means remaining is a public demonstration".

Aboriginal AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, in a democracy the rules of governance must be controlled by the governed and not dictated by the governors. These fundamental principles, integral in the very foundations of a democratic society, are being denied to the first peoples of this land.

First Nations people are being downtrodden, bankrupted and oppressed under elitist power structures sanctioned and financed by the Government of Canada. With the full knowledge of and condoned by Indian affairs, irresponsible self-serving native leaders are diverting, mismanaging and misusing funds earmarked and allocated to fulfil treaty obligations.

This unconscionable state of affairs has become epidemic in Indian country with honest accountable native leaders being notable exceptions instead of the rule. The concerns and grievances of the general membership of First Nations must be investigated thoroughly and resolved accordingly before discussions on native self-government proceed any further. To do otherwise would result in fascist states disguised as native self-government.

This from Leonard Iron, a Cree of the Canoe Lake Band and president of the First Nations Coalition for Accountability, who I am pleased to represent.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, recently a bomb was sent to a Jewish community centre in Calgary, a gay man was beaten in a park, a First Nations person was denied lodging, and a woman was denied a promotion because she is a woman. Racism, sexism and homophobia are not the issues of the dark past. For too many people they are everyday experiences.

As parliamentarians we have a special responsibility to show leadership in building a society founded on equal respect for every Canadian. Extremism gives legitimacy to those who would justify racism, sexism and homophobia for reasons of profit or simply to deny others equal rights and respect.

If we as parliamentarians do not demonstrate leadership on this issue, we have failed our country and our democracy.

Today the Reform Party deputy leader has said she is committed to fighting intolerance. I therefore challenge the Reform Party to vote for the amendment to the human rights act on sexual orientation, not just to apologize, but to show real action.

Sir Wilfrid LaurierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this day, a century ago, Canada was in the middle of an election campaign. On May 1, 1896, Wilfrid Laurier was campaigning to become the first French Canadian Prime Minister from Quebec.

And what a campaign it was. Everywhere he went, he attracted flocks of people, unleashing their enthusiasm.

Laurier used to say: "I am of French origin and proud to be; knowing my Anglo-Saxon fellow citizens as well as I do, I have no doubt that, were my heart not filled with pride for my origin, they would just look down on me with scorn, and I would deserve it". And he added: "I have no intention of losing sight of my origin but I am, first and foremost, a Canadian".

That said, I tip my hat to Sheila Copps for her courage; she has not lost sight of her origins either and she is, first and foremost, a great Canadian.

National UnityStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan called upon me to table with him a petition presented to him by residents of the Hudson area of my riding.

Last Monday I met with the same concerned citizens of Hudson. Their message was also very clear. They fear for their future. They expect all those who share their concerns to put their political differences aside and join efforts to ensure that Quebecers are all made to feel at home anywhere in Canada. Their concern is Canadian unity and not partisan politics.

The member stated that Reformers stand solidly behind the constituents in my riding who express clearly their desire to remain Canadian. The time for grandstanding is now over. I challenge the member to reverse his vote of December 13, 1995 and to now support the initiatives of the government to recognize the distinct character of Quebec which he and his party have voted against.

Only then will the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan earn my respect and that of the constituents of Vaudreuil. Only then will he clearly demonstrate his commitment to working hand in hand with the federal government for the greater cause of Canadian unity.

Human RightsStatements By Members

May 1st, 1996 / 2:05 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to make it clear to all Canadians what my personal belief is and what the position of the Reform Party is regarding the treatment of all Canadians, including minority groups. I strongly believe in the principle of equality for all people and deplore discrimination for any reason.

The very first statement in the Reform blue book is a statement of principle which reads: "We affirm commitment to Canada as a balanced federation of equal provinces and citizens".

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Reg Alcock Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

How are you going to vote? Are you going to vote for equality?

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

I cannot support any bill which breaks away from this principle of equality. Canadians do not support discrimination from their citizens and especially not from their governments.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

How are you going to vote?

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

This government once again is allowing discrimination under Canadian law. Equality before the law and the merit principle should be the only principles on which we are judged.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Are you going to vote for equality, Leon?

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, sometimes it happens that we are near microphones that are open. I am sure we make inadvertent statements, but I wish we would be very conscious of the microphones near us being open.

Unemployment Insurance ReformStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, on this International Day of the Worker, the federal government is adding insult to injury by amending the Unemployment Insurance Act without a true debate.

By going ahead with its reform, which seeks to make the poor pay for part of the deficit, the federal government is breaking a long Liberal tradition.

Liberal MPs in Fredericton, Shediac, Halifax, St. John's, Charlottetown and Bonaventure, who were elected to govern differently from the Conservatives, are being asked by their constituents to challenge their government. Canadians expect their MPs to oppose this unfair reform.

They too, like the official opposition, must demand that the minister go back to the drawing board and proposes a new reform that will be fair to workers and regions of this country.

Francophones Outside QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems that, this week, opposition parties are trying to outdo each other with racist and discriminatory statements.

After a Reformer made totally unacceptable comments about black people and homosexuals, the Bloc member for Québec-Est is now trying to win the prize for bigotry.

While commenting the report tabled yesterday by the commissioner of official languages, the Bloc member compared French speaking people outside Quebec to paraplegics in wheelchairs with only two wheels.

The intolerant and discriminatory comments of the Bloc member are an insult to French speaking Canadians outside Quebec and to physically disabled persons.

If the Bloc member and the Reformer had the least bit of respect for Canadians, they would make a formal apology.

Richard Le HirStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Quebec's former minister responsible for restructuring, Richard Le Hir, resigned from the PQ caucus.

In his letter of resignation, which his leader, Lucien Bouchard, apparently did not have the time to read, Mr. Le Hir said, and I quote: "Quebecers must understand that sovereignty has hung like a cloud over the province for 30 years now-It is high time to begin thinking about the billions spent pursuing it, on the tax revenues that did not come our way and that could perhaps help us to hold on to what we already have".

Quebec's separatists must realize that though they may get rid of the messenger, his message still remains. Lucien Bouchard should take the time to read the important message sent him by Mr. Le Hir and recognize that it is time that the threat of sovereignty stopped weakening Quebec's economy.

Old Age SecurityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, April 21 over 50 people gathered at the Wu Centre in my riding to partake in an afternoon of discussions focused on seniors issues.

The forum provided constituents with the opportunity to voice their concerns regarding the old age security system. Although there was not a great deal of consensus on the issue, I believe that a lot of misunderstandings were cleared up about the new plan.

The most common concerns surrounded taxation and whether or not the new plan will be harder on middle class earners. Many felt there still needs to be a great deal of educating of the public surrounding the details of the new plan before those details are finalized.

This is an important debate over a fundamental change in the system. I encourage my colleagues to hold similar forums in their ridings.