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House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mmt.

Topics

Health CareStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the premier of Alberta visited financiers on Wall Street in New York City this week extolling the virtues of the Alberta advantage. However people on the main streets in Edmonton East know the premier is ignoring one essential element of the Alberta advantage, one that is of paramount importance to Albertans: quality health care services and an accessible health care system.

The premier believes that responsible health care restructuring simply means taking dollars out of the system without any consideration for the impact on people, on services or on budgets.

The results of cutting too deep too fast with no planning were illustrated this week when Alberta's regional health authorities reported a combined deficit of $100.6 million for the 1995-96 fiscal year.

Albertans clearly see health care in that province as an Alberta disadvantage. Their confidence rests with our Prime Minister who understands their overwhelming desire for an effective, efficient health care system and who is committed to upholding the principles of the Canada Health Act.

The Minister Of National DefenceStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister of National Defence to explain to this House what he means when he says that the generals in the Canadian Armed Forces carry no more weight than a plumber.

To my knowledge, when something is wrong with the plumbing, you call a good plumber. And when a government has problems with its armed forces, it makes just as much sense for it to attach a minimum of importance to the opinions of its generals.

When the defence minister says that his generals carry no more weight than a plumber in the decisions concerning the armed forces, what use then are these generals?

In my opinion, the minister is no longer seeing straight in this affair. His lack of judgment and inappropriate remarks point to one thing: he is no longer able to hold such a position.

The Prime Minister has no choice but to call for the resignation of the defence minister.

The Late Bert HargraveStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of the passing of a former member of Parliament from Medicine Hat constituency, Mr. Bert Hargrave.

Mr. Hargrave devoted his lifetime to the promotion of agriculture and public service, and often the twain did meet.

A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, he served as a tank engineer in World War II. A strong supporter of agriculture, he took over the family farm at Walsh, Alberta in 1945. In 1972 he took office as a Conservative member until retiring in 1984, serving for a time as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture. His tireless devotion to his life work was recognized when he was inducted into the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Over the years I met him on several occasions. I was honoured when in his later years he became a member and supporter of my party.

Mr. Hargrave was a typical western gentleman: tough, straightforward and generous. He passed away Tuesday at age 79 and will be laid to rest on Monday beside his wife Amy.

I know the House will join me in extending sympathies to his family. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.

Reference To The Supreme CourtStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Bloc Quebecois showed us once again that its talents lie more in the politics of showmanship than in dialogue. The reference of the question of a unilateral declaration of independence to the Supreme Court surely does not merit such a frenzied spectacle from the Bloc Quebecois.

The sole purpose of our government's decision is to demystify the concept put forward by the separatists that Quebec has the right to unilaterally declare its independence.

We are in no way denying the right of the government of Quebec to organize a consultative referendum on the future of Quebec. We merely wish to avoid having any future unilateral declaration of independence by the government of Quebec take place in confusion and chaos.

We believe that the interest of the people of Quebec must come before the separatists' partisan interests. We urge the Bloc Quebecois to co-operate in this important process of clarification.

Reference To The Supreme CourtStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government of Quebec will not comment on the reference to the Supreme Court by the Minister of Justice.

Yet, last May 29, in connection with the Bertrand case, Lucien Bouchard took quite a different position from that just adopted by his government, and I quote: "I obviously cannot just allow the court to go ahead without saying anything. The lawyers are attacking Quebec's rights".

As for the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, he said on June 5, and I am again quoting: "I have always told Mr. Bouchard, and I told him again recently, that the policy of the empty chair is not appropriate at this time".

Quebecers are entitled to know the separatists' arguments concerning the unilateral declaration of independence. To refuse to take part in the deliberations of the Supreme Court is to deny them this right.

Criminal Justice SystemStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, last April 5 a terrible tragedy occurred in my riding of Okanagan-Shuswap which resulted in the shooting deaths of nine people. My deep sympathy goes out to all their family and friends who have suffered again through the coroner's inquest which has revealed a lot of heartbreaking information.

The police will now routinely contact the spouse when a person applies for a restricted weapon. This sounds good in theory, but in practice the RCMP already have their hands too full dealing with a 20-year crime wave and laws which impose so much red tape that it can take longer for the officer to complete the paperwork than a judge imposes as the sentence.

Nevertheless, our present government continues to cut funding for the administration of justice. My office has received complaints that the public does not believe there are enough police to protect law-abiding citizens and their property.

The investigation into the so-called Vernon massacre clearly indicates the continuing lack of justice in our criminal justice system.

FisheriesStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise again to encourage the government in its efforts to develop sustainable domestic and international fish stocks management policies. We need to put our own house in order in the inland and marine fisheries so that we can ratify the United Nations convention on the law of the sea in the near future.

In the meantime, we should surpass the standards set by the FAO code of conduct for responsible fisheries.

We should also use all our influence to gain full international recognition for the agreement on straddling stocks and highly migratory fish.

The policies and achievements of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans last year gave us a position of moral leadership in global fish stocks management. We should work to retain that position.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

September 27th, 1996 / 11:15 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Justice referred to conditions mutually acceptable to Canadians and Quebecers based on the

Canadian Constitution. Need I remind everyone that this Constitution has been judged unacceptable by all of the governments of Quebec? The present federal Minister of Immigration, who is present in the House, moreover, held that opinion when she was a member of the Quebec National Assembly. I do not know whether she has changed her mind since then.

The Minister of Justice also stated yesterday, and I quote: "We shall take whatever steps are necessary in the months ahead to comply with the commitment we gave in the speech from the throne".

Does the Minister of Justice confirm that referral to the Supreme Court is only the first step of plan B, and that the federal government is preparing to impose impossible conditions on Quebec, by setting the rules for the referendum itself?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

No, Mr. Speaker, and might I add a note of reality to this?

It was Mr. Bouchard himself who sent his Minister of Justice into a Montreal court room, a few months ago, in the spring of this year, in order to convince it to close the Bertrand case because, under the Constitution, the courts have nothing to do with sovereignty. He was not successful. We responded to that in court and were successful in convincing the judge to continue because the court does indeed have a role to play by deciding these matters of law.

After that, the Quebec Minister of Justice left the case, yet the basic questions remain, those raised by Mr. Bouchard and his Minister of Justice themselves.

We have raised those fundamental questions in the highest court of the land, and Mr. Bouchard and the Government of Quebec have refused to participate. In my opinion, the only conclusion we can reach is that Mr. Bouchard and the Government of Quebec are well aware that what we maintain is true: unilateral action is illegal.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the unilateral action by the Government of Quebec is illegal, yet the unilateral action by the federal government is legal. That is this boils down to. That is what they mean by democracy.

Their "democracy" is a game with loaded dice. Their "democracy" denies the existence of the people of Quebec.

Will the Minister of Justice admit that any desire for change expressed by the people of Quebec is subject to a veto by any one of the provinces, from Newfoundland to Prince Edward Island, since unanimity is required under the Constitution, a constitution no Quebec government, whether Liberal or PQ, has accepted or signed?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it suits the purpose of the hon. member to confuse one issue with another. What he fails to address is that the one rule that binds us all in this country is the rule of law.

What is at issue here is whether that rule of law is to govern all that we do, including resolving the great national question of separation.

We made clear yesterday that we must respect a decisive majority on a clear question on that issue as expressed by the population of Quebec. The question will be separation or not, nothing in between, not partnership or any such thing. Separation or not is the clear and honest question that must be asked.

We have every confidence that when that question is asked, the population of Quebec will vote, as it has done on two earlier occasions, for a united Canada.

The issue we confront in the case that we have now referred to the Supreme Court of Canada is this. My hon. friend and the government of the province of Quebec pretend that if they get the result they want the very next day they can walk away unilaterally from the nation that is Canada. That is not so.

They would have to follow negotiations to resolve the tough issues involved in separation, not partnership. Those negotiations have to be in accordance with an orderly process consistent with the rule of law.

That is our point in taking his questions to the Supreme Court of Canada.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are getting closer and closer to the real bottom line. What this minister is telling us is that Quebecers and their government lack the maturity and democracy to be capable of making a decision on their own concerning their development, their future. That we need the other provinces, the anglophone majority in Canada, to tells us how to go about it. That is the bottom line.

With the exception of his better approach, this minister is acting exactly like his Prime Minister, who has always found a way to stick it to Quebec-

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

An hon. member

What is the question?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

What is the question? Hold on, it is coming up. As I was saying, like the Prime Minister, who has always fiddled with principles in order to stick it to Quebec.

To quote the Minister of Justice again, because it is noteworthy: "Mr. Speaker, I very much hope that our federalist allies in Quebec will see the value of clearly determining these questions that have now been put at issue". You see, the Quebec federalists are not in agreement with the federal government. They can smell a trap that

reeks of Meech Lake, but the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration does not seem to be unable to do so.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question. Question.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

My question is on the way, if only the wolves will stop their howling.

Is the Minister of Justice aware that this government is in the process of cutting all ties with Quebec, even with its federalist allies like the Quebec Liberal Party?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have addressed the question, we have made a speech.

But the speech mentioned the word "democracy", a pertinent word here, because of course we must respect the decision of the population of Quebec on the question of separation. Of course, if a decisive majority voices its opinion on a clear question after a legal process, and decides to leave Canada, to separate, that decision must be respected. That is true.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Yes, it is true. It is obvious that we do not intend to hold someone within Canada by force, against their will. We are, however, confident that decision will not be taken.

But the reason for our referral to the Supreme Court this week is that action after such a vote cannot be unilateral. We need answers to the difficult questions which arise under such circumstances. That is to say, all Canadians are involved in this process, a process which must respect the rule of law. That is the purpose of our action this week.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

If I may be allowed to comment, the first round of questions took us 10 minutes. I would therefore appreciate the co-operation of both sides of the House in making both questions and answers more concise.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice said yesterday that he would recognize the will of Quebec if certain conditions were met.

Could the Minister of Justice tell us in no uncertain terms whether the federal government intends to determine the wording of the question and the percentage required to recognize a referendum?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we intend to act on the commitment we made in February in the speech from the throne, that if there was a third referendum in Quebec, there would be a clear question, full discussion of all the consequences, a fair and equitable process and an opportunity for all Canadians to have some say on the future of their country.

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice also said that all Canadians would have their say. However, he would not tell us whether he was considering holding a pan-Canadian referendum to determine Quebec's future.

Could the Minister of Justice tell us today whether the government has dismissed the possibility of holding a pan-Canadian referendum on the future of Quebec? Yes or no?

ConstitutionOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if the Government of Quebec insists on a third referendum after twice the population of Quebec voted for a united Canada, the first issue will be to determine the will and wish of Quebecers. We have said time and again that we are confident they will choose a united Canada.

The hon. member pretends that in such an event the population of Quebec would choose a different course. We are saying that in any such unlikely eventuality, all Canadians have a stake in what would then happen, which is the settlement of the issues that would be outstanding on separation, not partnership. All Canadians must have a voice in determining those issues.

Canadian Armed ForcesOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and the defence minister have demonstrated to Canadians their lack of leadership, and by their lack of leadership they have allowed morale in the Canadian Armed Forces to plummet.

Instead of restoring morale, they have been lining the pockets of their Liberal campaign workers. The defence department budget was meant to protect Canada's interests, not as a personal slush fund for friends of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

To the acting Prime Minister, why is the Liberal government spending more money rewarding its friends than it is restoring morale in the Canadian Armed Forces?