House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vancouver.


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4:25 p.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government does have a responsibility to run the armed forces and it is running them into the ground, as we have seen week after week here in the House of Commons.

I started out with a different attitude. I begged the minister to show me the documentation on how he could save some money. I said: "If you can save some money and you lay it out for me in a document, and I am not talking about a one-page press release, I am talking about showing me how you can save the money, if you can save the money and still fulfil the role of the armed forces then hey, I am a Reformer and I will go for it. Let us do it. If that will save some bucks I am all for it".

This is not about saving money. That is why Colonel Daigle said in his analysis, the memo sent to the minister on which bases should be closed, that CFB Chilliwack should be retained. He went on to say they will not save money shutting down CFB Chilliwack.

General Clive Addy said you cannot do your job if you shut down CFB Chilliwack. The last five base commanders, all of them engineers, all who have seen the development of CFB Chilliwack and realized the role it plays in the greater military, the whole engineer training school and so on, have written to me and have all said the same thing, that this base should not be closed.

It should be retained and you cannot save money by sending people to Gagetown or to Edmonton and ask them to use ground engaging equipment in December. You cannot ask them to practice their grading techniques in January. You cannot ask them to build a road or practice their bridging techniques on February 5. You cannot ask them to build Bailey bridges and to practice their rafting on March 4 in Edmonton.

Right now they are trucking all our guys from Edmonton back to Chilliwack to practice their bridging and rafting. As a matter of fact, to move their equipment in they damaged the bridge and it is going to cost $100,000 just to fix the bridge. It is not a good move. It is not a good move militarily. We heard that from General Clive Addy and others.

It is not a good move economically. We have heard that from our own access to information documents and from the government's own analysis. It is not a good move even right down to the idea-I do not want to make this into a national unity issue-of understanding what is going on in the regions of the country. It is important that the military have some institutional knowledge of British Columbia.

It is interesting and I hate to say it is typical but as an aside they changed the boundaries of my riding. It is now going to be called Fraser Valley. I phoned Elections Canada in Ottawa and I said I needed some maps to let me know exactly what it is I am looking at. The response from the people in Ottawa was: "Fraser Valley. Where in Alberta is that?"

I get the same feeling from this government when it comes to issues related to British Columbia. It is like the official who phoned me up one time on a speaking tour and asked if they went to Vancouver Island could they drive the George Massey Tunnel to get back to the mainland by quitting time. I deal with this all the time.

On my phone consistently are messages saying: "I am sorry I did not catch you in the office, Strahl, what is the matter with you?" Of course the message is 6.30 a.m. Why? Because they do not even understand there is a stupid time change in this country. On that side of the House they do not understand that the country does not end at the Rocky Mountains.

On military endeavours the Liberals are making a serious error. They recognize that B.C. should have a constitutional veto because it is a separate region. I do not want to get into a whole national unity debate. But they seem to understand at least that there is a region called British Columbia and it is separated by the Rocky Mountains. It is a hard doggone thing to get across in the middle of a landslide or an earthquake or in the case of a natural disaster.

However, the Liberals do not have clue one when it comes to understanding that the military needs an institutional knowledge of

what takes place on that side of the Rocky Mountains. They are going to pay a price for this. I hope that Canadians and British Columbians do not pay too big a price for the ignorant decision of this federal government.

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4:30 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, this has been an interesting if somewhat unresponsive debate. I will raise some of the key points that have emerged as I have listened to the various orators.

It is charged that it is a grievous crime that there are not enough Liberal members from B.C. That can be corrected in the next election. But I would raise the basic point that it is not the number of members, it is the quality of the representation. I made the point in another context with the former Conservative government, which I think was historically well accepted, that they had more effective representation of B.C. in the period 1984 to 1988 with only one powerful minister than in 1988 to 1993 when there were four or five ministers, one being a prime minister in waiting. It is the quality of the advice and whether the people work together as a team that counts.

Let me run through some of the achievements of which B.C. people can be proud in this period of office of B.C. members. One is the TRIUMF facility. Does anyone know how many hours of work that represented, carrying it to the cabinet, discussing it bilaterally with a minister, discussing it with the western caucus, persuading other regions of the country to waive their claims? We made the case that B.C. leads in these areas of fundamental scientific research and there is a significant spin-off to export industry. We brought forward the statistics: $200 million export contracts in foreign trade spun off from TRIUMF, in order to retain TRIUMF. Give us the money for that. B.C. leads. $167.5 million spread over five years is a significant gain. That took some hundreds of hours of work from my office and that of other members.

Canadian Airlines. We made the point to the cabinet that it is vital to have two national airlines in Canada and that it should use its power as a federal government to control the international air routes, which were given under the foreign affairs treaty making power. Use that to persuade one of the parties to cease aggressive litigation. The result of another few hundred hours of work, discussion in the western caucus, discussion in the national caucus before a Prime Minister who listens was 7,000 jobs retained in the greater Vancouver area. That is an achievement. A minister who listened and a minister who said the work was there and who said he had been persuaded.

B.C. as a distinct society, the notion that we should be considered as distinct a society as any in Canada, but with the important constitutional implications. B.C. is a fifth region and if there is to be any constitutional veto, we are entitled to that as much as anybody else. That was accepted again. It took arguments with ministers, arguments with cabinet, the case presented in the caucus. That is teamwork.

Softwood lumber. My colleague, the member for Vancouver South started this. But the argument that historic rights were a key part of federalism in Canada and should be respected were key in maintaining B.C.'s historical quota. That argument was made by the B.C. members and it won and the results are there. Not everybody was happy with this. In fact, some of my colleagues from other provinces have asked: "Have you not managed to get too much"? We said: "We have made the case. If you have a good case, carry it forward". That is the essence of a good MP carrying the case for his or her province in Ottawa. It is the not the number of MPs but in fact the quality of their representations and whether they do their homework. Somebody was referring to the media and its power. I have appeared frequently on CFNW. I have been there for 20 years off and on with my old combatant and good friend, Rafe Mair. I was on his program and was congratulated on what we had managed to do on the airlines. Someone asked: "What have you done about the francophonie Olympic games?" I said: "Look, I am working on softwood lumber. It is a full time job. Give me some extra colleagues and maybe we can delegate to them the francophonie Olympic games". This is not to say that it is not an important question but there is a limit to our physical capacity to handle many jobs together.

On the record, I believe we have done well. It reflects the basic condition in British Columbia. We are the fastest growing area of the country but it is more than that. It is more than the influx of population. It is the new dynamism. It is the feeling that Canada is moving and we are moving more quickly than anybody else.

It is one of the reasons why, in this repeated discussion of constitutional change, that we have said we would like a larger vision. It is mistake to jell the status quo. We want to build a Canada for the future.

Is British Columbia opposed to Quebec? Not on your life. I know no reasonable, responsible British Columbian who is opposed to Quebec, to French Canada or the French language and culture and its influence on our society. If it is simply a matter of repeating what is already international law and constitutional law by virtue of the military agreements of 1759, the Treaty of Paris 1763, the Quebec Act of 1774 and the Supreme Court Act of 1875 so far as it relates to Quebec representations in the Supreme Court of Canada, there is no problem in British Columbia. In fact, there is no particular constitutional obstacle.

It is when we get into the specifics of constitutional change that we face the basic issue that we have been in some respects in a constitutional straitjacket since 1982. We have pointed out that some matters for change require 10 out of 10 provinces to agree. Other matters require only seven out of ten but it may take a

Supreme Court decision to say which is which. In the meantime, we have to recognize that politics is the art of the possible.

That is why I and others welcome the agreement, in which we have played some part, between the Government of British Columbia, which is not of the same political ideology as the present Government of Canada, and the Government of Canada, the memorandum of understanding to study together the future of the west coast fishing industry.

If we want to change the Constitution, we are into this basic problem, section 91.12. It is section 91 and 92. On many views change in section 91.12, by formal amendment, is a 10 out of 10 question. It is at least a seven out of ten and with every constitutional change involving British Columbia's consent, we have to have the prior approval of the people in a referendum. Former Premier Van Der Zalm's government introduced it and it is the law. It is respected by everybody.

However, there is nothing to say that we cannot change the Constitution in other ways, that we cannot reach co-operative federalism by a joint understanding of principles and policies for future development that we would work out together. This is changing the Constitution in a practical way if it works, and the best energies of the British Columbia government we are assured and certainly the federal government are devoted to this.

I will repeat again that the Constitution is changing. British Columbians welcome the change in the Constitution. Probably at a certain point we will be suggesting the simplest of all methods, a constituent assembly. However, it is a country still in growth and, as we know from the experience of the 19th century codification, to act too early is frankly to jell social change prematurely. We are looking at this, but in the meantime we are doing our best to change the Constitution in practical ways.

The decision of the federal cabinet on softwood lumber is a vindication of the classic principles of federalism. The intervention of the British Columbia caucus was very positive and very direct.

I respect the problems to which hon. members opposite have referred. I understand the concern of members of the Bloc in relation to the marine service fees. There has been reference to the fact that 75 per cent of the witnesses took one view and only 25 per cent the other. Have they considered the reality that in British Columbia we work collegially? It is much better to have one or two solid pieces of testimony from British Columbians in favour of the differential fee for the main services fee, the principle of user pay, if they represent the same number of people as the 75 per cent. In other words, the numbers game does not work. It is the weight of the testimony which is crucial.

I would remind members of the official opposition who raised this issue that the matter is still open to examination as the experience with the marine service fees is worked out.

With respect to the closing of military bases, I argued the case successfully for extending the Chilliwack base by a year. I argued the case in relation to Royal Roads. The difference in the two cases is that in Royal Roads the provincial government and the local communities came up with alternative plans which were accepted.

I regret the closing of Chilliwack, but I accept the notion which all opposition members have raised. If we want to balance the budget and reduce external debt, then something has to give. The sacrifice, as long as it is equal, is something which we can share.

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4:40 p.m.

Richmond B.C.


Raymond Chan LiberalSecretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Mr. Speaker, before beginning I would like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Reform Party is once again trying to pit some regions against other regions in Canada. Last week it was Quebec against Newfoundland with the Churchill Falls issue. This week it is trying to pit British Columbia against other regions of the country. It is sad.

I would like to suggest that the reason the Reform Party is playing politics this way is because it is continually dropping in the polls which are taken in British Columbia. In September the Gallup poll showed that it only has about 21 per cent support in B.C. I would like to advise the third party that doing politics this way will not earn it any more brownie points.

During Question Period I asked the Reform member if he understood the Asia-Pacific agenda of the government and, in particular, as it pertains to B.C. He said no. He said that trade in British Columbia is thriving in spite of government efforts.

I would like to take this opportunity to share some information with him. The Prime Minister and the Liberal government in November 1993 recognized how important the Asia-Pacific region is and how important it is to British Columbia. It is no coincidence that Canada's first Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific is from British Columbia. I want to share the efforts which the government and I have made over the last three years for British Columbia.

One of the reasons the Asia-Pacific region is so important for us is because of the job and economic growth agenda which is a priority of the government. We led Team Canada missions into that region: China in 1994, and India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia in January 1996. These missions have led to some $17 billion in new business deals and follow-up activities. Other missions led by

other Canadian ministers and myself have also promoted our commercial interests and through them, jobs and growth at home.

It is estimated that every billion dollars of exports in Canada which are exported through British Columbia generate about 11,000 jobs for Canadians. In British Columbia alone, 50 per cent of our exports are to the Asia-Pacific region. I can share with the members some of the successes from British Columbia.

Innotech Aviation of Richmond, a company in my riding has recently signed an agreement with the Chinese General Administration of Civil Aviation Authority to complete a major maintenance project for Chinese Cessna Citation jets. Sun-Rype Products of Kelowna signed a memorandum of understanding that is worth $13 million while on a recent trade mission. Chai-na-ta Corporation has two projects worth $27 million which will sustain 100 jobs in its Langley operation. Kryton Technologies of Vancouver will create 10 jobs as a direct result of its joint ventures in Asia through participation in Team Canada.

Improving Canada's trade performance and links between countries is one of the best moves we can make to create jobs in Canada. Another way of linking Canada and the countries of the Asia-Pacific is through the open skies agreement. We understand how important the open skies agreement is to Canada and how the overall transportation system on the west coast is so important to British Columbia. It is no coincidence again that Canada's transport minister is from British Columbia. The Minister of Transport has done a great job.

I still remember that when we first got elected, the first thing I did was to meet with the airport authority to talk about how important the open skies agreement was. The former Minister of Transport and the present Minister of Transport, who is an hon. member from British Columbia, have done a tremendous job in implementing that policy. In February 1995 the agreement was signed.

How important is the open skies agreement for British Columbia? It has made Vancouver the gateway to the Asia-Pacific. The reason the tourism industry has flourished and so many airlines have started using us is that we have the open skies agreement. Talking about high tech industries in British Columbia, because of that agreement, Richmond will no longer be at a competitive disadvantage because of poor airline connections.

I am proud to announce that Vancouver has been chosen as the site where Canada will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation conference in November 1997. It is no coincidence the Government of Canada decided that Vancouver should be the site. We recognize it is important for Vancouver to have that opportunity, to showcase Vancouver, British Columbia and in fact, the whole of Canada to the Asia-Pacific region. This is also why the Prime Minister will announce later that 1997 will be the year of Asia-Pacific for Canada. This is all because we want to put

emphasis on helping Vancouver and British Columbia and Canada to do much more in the Asia-Pacific region.

Talking about the technology industry, I would like to remind the member that in the 1995 budget we planned $165 million for TRIUMF, which is one of the flagships of the high technology industry in Canada and indeed in British Columbia. This was done at a time when a lot of research and development projects in other parts of the country were being cut back.

The reason we managed this is that all six caucus members of the Liberal Party from British Columbia worked very hard to convince our colleagues in the rest of the country that it is important for British Columbia to continue with the TRIUMF project. It is important that those scientists and technologists who are so important for this country stay in the lower mainland to continue to provide a lot of spin-off benefits for the high technology industries in British Columbia.

It is no coincidence either that because of the hard work of the Liberal caucus members from British Columbia as my colleague, Mr. McWhinney, has mentioned-

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4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

This mistake has been made repeatedly this afternoon, colleagues. We are not to refer to a sitting member of the House by his or her name and only by his or her constituency.

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4:50 p.m.


Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier my colleagues mentioned the efforts we have put forward to make sure that we kept our entitled quota on softwood lumber. It is because we all worked so hard that we were able to convince the ministers in charge that softwood lumber is critical for the future of British Columbians. We finally won what we set out to do.

Talking about the deficit, whenever I go back to my riding to meet with British Columbians they all talk about the necessity of keeping our irons in the fire to make sure that we do a good job to maintain our target goals on our deficit reduction project. Even though the agenda we put forth on the deficit reduction process has a great deal of impact on the other regions of Canada, and at the same time British Columbians have less of a burden in this process, the cabinet and the Prime Minister have been able to pursue and continue with-

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4:50 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member's time has expired. Questions and comments, the hon. member for Vancouver North.

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4:50 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member some questions about his representation in B.C.

My first question is: Why did the member ignore the input from two, not just one but two public meetings in his riding which told him not to support any recognition of distinct society for Quebec

when he voted for the government's initiative against the wishes of his constituents?

The second question is: Is it true that the member mentioned that he would not be a minister if it was not for the fact that he was Asian? If that is true, how widespread is this problem of racism in the Liberal Party?

My third question is. On the issue of astronaut families, the member comes from a riding that contains a high percentage of Asians. I have an article here from the Vancouver Sun of September 25. It states: ``In the past two months dozens of high-end homes on Vancouver's west side have been listed, including four priced at $2.5 million or higher, that went on the market the same day because Asians are fleeing the country, because they are going to be required to pay taxes on their worldwide incomes by the new provisions introduced in the budget last year''.

To link the article, it describes reports from KPMG Accountants and a number of others who estimate this astronaut family problem to be a major problem. That is certainly the experience that came from New Zealand when they clamped down on this tax evasion. Three years ago Reformers were called racist for even trying to bring this subject up. Now it is clearly a major, major problem here. I would like the member to tell me, does it affect 10 per cent, 20 per cent, 30 per cent or 40 per cent of his riding? How many tax evaders are there in his riding?

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4:55 p.m.


Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have no apologies to make. If the distinct society clause is what will keep Canada united, then that is exactly what I believe was necessary at the time of the referendum. The Prime Minister came out boldly to support that cause and carried through with the legislation to honour his promise to keep Canada together.

As an immigrant who came to this country-and I love this country-I came here for freedom, but I want a united Canada. I have no apologizes to make to support the initiative to keep Canada together. On the contrary, I would ask the Reform Party: Where were you in the referendum? Where were you to be seen? During the referendum I went into Quebec three or four times-

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Will the hon. member please put his comments to the Chair rather than across the floor.

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4:55 p.m.


Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I get excited when it comes to the unity of the country.

I was in Quebec three or four times to urge Quebecers to vote no in the referendum. I have no apologies to make in that regard.

Speaking as the minister for the Asia-Pacific, right after the report was made in the Vancouver Sun I made a strong statement to tell the public that it was not true. Indeed the fact that I as an immigrant of Asian origin am able not only to share the wealth and well-being of Canada because of the generosity of Canadians but also to share in the political power of the Canadian establishment is a true indication of how generous Canadians are, how open our society is. The statement was false and I make that very clear. I thank the hon. member for giving me this opportunity to clear those points.

On the astronaut family issue, this is where we differ with the Reform Party. Mr. White suggested that every immigrant that comes into-

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4:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. minister has been here now for three years and I think he should know to address members by their riding rather than by their names.

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4:55 p.m.


Raymond Chan Liberal Richmond, BC

The hon. member opposite who asked a question suggested that all immigrants who come to this country should report to the customs officers at the border whether they have paid taxes or not. How could the Canadian government treat immigrants differently from Canadians? I do not think it is practical to treat every immigrant as a criminal before they come into this country.

For the hon. member opposite to ask me how big the problem of astronaut families is, I do not know. I do not think any one of us would know. I do not think it is a big problem because most immigrants from Asia are no different from immigrants from any other part of the world. Most of them are law-abiding citizens and most of them have contributed greatly to the success of this country. I look at myself as a great example. I came to Canada with $20 in my pocket. I completed my education here. I have built a family and a career and I am contributing to the country. I am an Asian immigrant.

I hope that the Reform Party and the members opposite will not continuously attack Canadians or immigrants because of their ethnic origin.

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4:55 p.m.


Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, you will, of course, permit me to comment on the discussion that took place between the member of the Liberal Party and the member of the Reform Party, earlier, when they were speaking about distinct society. On a number of occasions today, we have heard our colleagues in the Reform Party berate the Liberals for supporting this concept.

That being said, government members have on each occasion been at pains to make it clear that they were supporting the concept only in so far as it meant as little as possible and that absolutely no power was involved. One minister even told us this during question period.

This is a clear illustration of the fact that distinct society means different things to different people. Today, during the debate between government members and members of the Reform Party, the government took the trouble each time to make it clear that this concept did not involve any specific or additional power. In that sense, they supported it. It is very worrisome to hear such things. These people are saying that they have promised to recognize the concept of a distinct society, and that they will keep their promise, as long as it does not mean anything. We could doubt their good faith and sincerity when they come selling us all sorts of promises.

That being said, let us return to the motion proposed today by the Reform Party. This debate always leads us back to the constitutional debate, because there are many problems associated with the division of powers in this country.

Today, the Reform Party is complaining that the federal government is impeding progress in western Canada through its mismanagement of the affairs of the nation. It gives a series of examples: discontinuation of Coast Guard services, the closure of military bases, the elimination of federal Ports Canada policing, and so on.

I will take the few minutes allotted me to draw a parallel with the situation in Quebec regarding the federal government. One of the problems, and the problem that will eventually lead to the reconfiguration of Canada without Quebec, in which Quebec will simply be one of Canada's trade partners, is this centralizing tendency that has always dominated thinking over the years here in Ottawa.

We see there has always been a movement in western Canada that favours decentralized government, a movement that never found favour with a government that has always been at the mercy of the bureaucracy or the bureaucratic inertia of the people who make the real decisions here in Ottawa.

That also led to the current situation: excessive debt. It also means that we have a federal government that is responsible for spending more than $160 billion annually, which is disproportionate to the role government should play if we had a real confederation instead of a federation. What the Reform Party proposes today brings us back to the crux of the problem, where there are certain choices we will have to make, choices that will be made in the years to come.

As I said earlier, I will discuss the similar situation that exists in Quebec, without necessarily commenting on the situation in British Columbia, with the exception of a few areas for which I have some figures. I will start with defence spending.

I find that ridiculous. We often hear people, especially on the government side, harp on the fact that unemployment levels are higher in Quebec. They get all excited, they are in fact delighted, and they think it is just one more weapon to fight the sovereignists, and they told us that to our face.

I say this because last night I was watching a news feature on RDI, I think it was "Le Point". In this program they explained, using statistics and interviewing an economist with Statistics Canada, why there was a difference of about 3 per cent between unemployment levels in Quebec and Ontario. With the automotive industry removed, we could see it clearly accounted primarily for the difference. If the automotive industry had been transferred to Quebec, Ontario would have had 3 per cent more unemployment than Quebec.

The same sector is responsible for the fact that the level of investment in Canada is higher in Ontario than Quebec. Historically, who made the decision that the automotive industry would be concentrated mainly in Ontario? These are political decisions that were made here in Ottawa.

This, together with spending on research and development, on which I will say more later, means that the interests of the province of Ontario have always come first. Ontario, in the final instance, has had the advantage of an economy that attracted productive investment, often at the expense of Quebec and perhaps of other regions as well. All this has made one region stronger economically, while other regions have been able to improve their economies thanks to other factors.

We have heard a lot about British Columbia today. The main economic advantage of this province is based on a growing Asian market that will continue to grow in the years and perhaps decades to come. They have managed to position themselves strategically between the Asian economy and the U.S. economy.

However, when we consider the situation in the Maritimes which, up to a point, has been similar to that in Quebec, we see that the federal system has not been very favourable for partners other than those who control the decisions here and are located mostly in Ontario.

The Reform Party members mentioned the defence aspect, because they have lost a major infrastructure in British Columbia as a result of what they consider to be unfair distribution of federal spending. Let us look at the expenditures per province, and more specifically per capita, for the Department of National Defence. The provinces benefiting most are, in order: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba, with Ontario ranking fourth, PEI fifth, and Quebec sixth.

I can, of course, understand the Reform Party members' disappointment with this, since they are not the ones to benefit most from these expenditures. But the situation in Quebec speaks volumes: $316 per capita, on the average, compared to $1,200 for Nova Scotia, for instance, or four times more; $1,050 for New

Brunswick; $471 for Manitoba; $420 per capita for Ontario; $365 for PEI, and $316 for Quebec.

There has, moreover, been a study saying that the federal defence underinvestment in Quebec had deprived Quebec of $650 million in economic fallout every year for 15 years. Just think, these are considerable amounts which, when recirculated into the economy, increase the development of the service sector, as well as investments in other sectors. They generate economic activity, and we are not talking of a pittance here, but of $650 million annually.

Now, for some other figures. Personnel expenditures account for 15 per cent of the budget. I am referring here to the 1992-1993 budget. There may have been some changes to the figures, but nothing drastic. Personnel expenditures, therefore, represent only 15 per cent, while the figure for DND infrastructure investment in Quebec was 13 per cent.

Other things that have happened have also triggered strong reactions. In August 1995, for instance, the federal government had a major contract to award, relating to personnel carriers. It will be remembered that this was awarded without a bid process-and where? To Ontario, of course, GM to be precise.

Yes, there was a contract for parts and so on to be awarded to Quebec, but it did not come at all close to generating the same economic activity, and certainly was not of the same magnitude as what went to Ontario without a bidding process.

Once again, this was an arbitrary decision, one which has always, over the years, favoured the same area. How, after that, can one wonder why in Quebec certain sectors have a higher unemployment rate than elsewhere?

There is no doubt that, when the federal government decides to be an active player, it comes and takes billions of dollars in revenue from each of the provinces, $30 billion from Quebec, and spends them in a rather arbitrary manner, often with questionable judgment. Obviously, this leads to distortions. Some lose, and others gain.

Furthermore, Statistics Canada officials are doing some very interesting studies, although they are not known to be sovereignists or to have any political association, and they said that Quebec's share of federal investments, and they had studies to back them up, was clearly below the percentage for its population. They said that Quebec's contribution to Gross Domestic Product was 18.6 per cent, while we represent 23 per cent of the population. There are those who may say that 5 per cent is no big deal, but when you are spending billions of dollars, each percentage point adds up to hundreds of millions. So when you are talking 5 per cent, obviously that is a lot of money not invested in a province like Quebec that should have been invested there.

Obviously, I fully expect to hear members from the Reform or Liberal parties say: "Yes, but, on the other hand, you benefited from equalization payments, you received transfer payments for more than your share of the population, for example, for unemployment insurance, welfare and so on". That is true, but because of an infrastructure that was not well enough developed and was distorted by political choices made outside Quebec, we ended up with a higher rate of unemployment and a higher jobless rate, leading inevitably to greater numbers of people on unemployment insurance and welfare, as well as additional costs.

We are compensated, less and less I might add, through transfer payments and told: "Quit whining, we pay a sort of social assistance to the provinces and you should be happy with that".

But never in a month of Sundays does this make up for all the political decisions that led to this situation. I would much prefer that we receive a fairer share in research and development, in procurement and in all these sectors that help us take control of our economy.

I will give you an example. During the last referendum campaign, I had the opportunity to visit a plant involved in the purchase of goods and services-this time by the Government of Quebec, but the example still shows how important an issue this is. This company had obtained a government building maintenance contract which enabled it to develop a computer-controlled system for ventilation, air conditioning, electric power and so on. Thanks to its government contracts, the company was able to develop an extraordinary technology, which it is now exporting throughout the U.S. for use in a large number of buildings.

But, first of all, they received the necessary jump start from having obtained a government contract, which added to their credibility. Of course, when the federal government does not give Quebec its just dues, contracts like this, with their significant long term economic fallout, are not obtained. The obvious results of this are less research and fewer investments in such a province.

I do not want to get carried away, to overdo it, blaming the federal government for everything that is wrong in Quebec. Far from it, but we do have to face reality. They talk about not wanting to make a connection between the economic debate and the political one, but one is possible. I am not afraid of doing just that. I am a sovereignist, and a great economics enthusiast, and I can tell you that, while there are cultural and historical reasons which cause me to opt for sovereignty, there are also some very pragmatic ones which are linked to the economy. If one looks at the situation, one cannot reach any other conclusion.

Now, moving on to research and development. This is another sector in which, over the years, Quebec has not been overwhelmed with federal expenditures. For example, in 1990-91, Quebec received 19.5 per cent of federal expenditures, compared to Ontario's share of 53 per cent. Once again, these are Statistics Canada's figures.

In 1990-91, 13.8 per cent of federal R&D expenditures in federal laboratories went to Quebec. Here again, Ontario was the big winner. Between 1979 and 1989, in a study over the longer term, Quebec received an average of 18.5 per cent of the federal government's total R&D spending. For those ten years alone, this represented a loss of $2 billion in R&D spending.

I can give you more figures. There are plenty of statistics. Ontario has 73 federal research centres. This works out to one per 150,000 inhabitants. There are 50 in western Canada, 30 in Quebec and 24 in the Maritimes. If we compare Quebec and Ontario, we have a ratio of 30 to 73.

I remember that in university I had a chance to do a study on research and development, and it was clear that the way spending was distributed was most unfair. There was a definite bias in laboratory expenditures in Ottawa or in the Outaouais, where 3 out of 41 centres are in Quebec. Hull, Gatineau and Aylmer are not that far away, so it would not have been a problem to have more, which would have made for more balanced statistics on research and development.

It goes on and on. Look at what happens with procurement. Here again, Quebec has never received more than 19.1 per cent of spending on goods and services. That was in 1981. A long time ago. This percentage has varied between 15 and 19 per cent. I repeat, we always get several percentage points less in procurement and research and development than our population sends in taxes to Ottawa. About 23 per cent of taxes collected come from Quebec, but we never get more than 17 or 18 per cent of investment spending.

It should come as no surprise today to see more people drawing conclusions about the positive impact of political systems like the one we have now. This government has had ample opportunity to change its power structure, to limit its spending powers and decentralize its jurisdictions, but it has always failed to produce a positive response, even when at times western Canada showed an even stronger political will to demand some level of decentralization.

Today, we see practically everyone on the Canadian side rallying behind Ottawa's strategy, which is to go for broke. It has taken a very hard line and painted a threatening future for Quebecers. They say there will be total chaos, legal chaos and economic chaos, uncertainty, and so forth.

However, they offer no alternative because they are incapable of defining one. They do not want to. Deep down they probably think that fear of the unknown will lead people to opt for the status quo. Surprise. Since last October, we see more people drawing different conclusions, and next time, there will be even more.

Before I finish, I may recall the program I watched yesterday-very well presented and very objective-on the economic situation. The program explained the difference in unemployment levels in Quebec and Ontario.

With figures to prove his point, an economist with the Bank of Canada explained the variables: investment, the unemployment rate, the importance of the automotive industry in Ontario. These are the reasons why today we have the kind of differential in the unemployment rate that we see between Quebec and Ontario. The difference is about 3 per cent. It has always existed. This is not new. This has been going on for 25 or 30 years.

I would like to send a message to our federalist friends opposite, especially those from Quebec. They should take another look at the statistics they are spreading around left and right and stop getting excited because jobs were lost in Quebec for two consecutive months. I urge them to start digging, to see what is behind all that, instead of always blaming everything on political uncertainty, which is being used as an excuse for just about anything today. Let them look at how political decisions made over the years have had a negative impact on the development of Quebec.

I am not talking about the situation of the airports in Montreal or the Borden line or the rest, I am simply talking about a few major sectors. I am talking about how decisions made over the years by the government for which they work, where their tax money is administered, to the tune of $30 billion coming from Quebec, how those decisions have had a negative impact on Quebec's development.

I would ask them to take a realistic look at the situation. If they want them, I will be glad to provide the statistics and discuss the issues with them to get the right picture and find out how to get this economy on the road to recovery. They will want a federalist solution, of course, but that being said, they should convince the people here in Ottawa to check the imbalance in investment which has grown over the years, but I doubt they will succeed.

In concluding, people are complaining about the situation in British Columbia, for instance. I want to provide a picture of the situation in Quebec which is scarcely better, a picture that the federal government has certainly not helped to improve.

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5:15 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to enter into this debate on the Reform Party's motion.

Some people will think it odd that the member for Durham, part of Ontario, possible home of General Motors, et cetera, would be speaking about an area on the west coast. However, I have some family members who are engaged in the west coast fisheries at Comox. I had the great pleasure in February of this year to go to Prince Rupert to talk to many business people and people engaged in government services, et cetera.

One interesting thing about Prince Rupert and the people who live there is that there was a certain degree of isolationism not just from the government in Ottawa but from their own provincial government in Victoria. I think the problem in our country is that many rural communities feel dislinked, for whatever reason, from our urban centres.

It is very important that we as a government find ways to bring those people together in a common cause. There has been a great deal of stress in our country because of a traumatic shift away from an east-west based economy to a north-south one. This is no less so for the people of Prince Rupert. I spent a good deal of time with these people and I have discovered that Prince Rupert has tremendous potential. It is clearly 35 hours closer to the Asian ports of Korea and Japan.

Many people spoke to me about the cost of shipping through the port of Prince Rupert and that grain could be shipped cheaper through the port of Prince Rupert except for a number of economic determinants which belittled that.

I was able to bring back some of the issues to Ottawa to have them addressed by the government. I am happy to see that as part of that process the minister responsible has recommended a task force to deal with the whole issue of Prince Rupert and the northwest transportation routes.

I spoke to some of the good friends I made in Prince Rupert and I discovered today that the task force has been travelling to places like Prince Rupert, Terrace, Smithers and that there has been little or no representation by the Reform Party.

It would appear to me that the Reform Party is not particularly interested in the process of renewal but rather wants to focus on regionalism and wants to try to divide the country by pitting region against region. That is not good enough. That is not the policy of the government because it sees the importance of linking all our communities together.

Members of the Reform Party talk incessantly about dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board. If that happens it will be the port of Prince Rupert and the people of that area of British Columbia who will be most devastated by that process. It will fractionalize the marketing of grain in this country. Right now the preference is to go through the port of Vancouver for a variety of economic reasons which I will get into. By breaking down the structure of the Canadian Wheat Board it will be even more devastating to the people of Prince Rupert.

The port of Prince Rupert grain handling system was partially closed down last year. I am happy to report that the terminal on Ridley Island and the Prince Rupert grain authority has opened again with an expected larger crop this year from the west.

It is interesting that the ability to load freighters in the port of Prince Rupert is a lot faster than at any other terminal on the west coast. We then end up with many ships waiting in the port of Vancouver to fill up when they could be moved more efficiently through the port of Prince Rupert. There are a number of reasons why this happens under the Crow rate system and also the rationalization of how CN charges freight rates.

They often do not properly account for the cost of grain cars which are held in storage prior to being unloaded. In fact, I believe there is a very nominal rental fee in their accounting system which works against the port of Prince Rupert. Even though the port of Prince Rupert technically is somewhat further away from the main transportation routes it can move the cars through the port much more quickly. The ships can be loaded and unloaded much more quickly which means that the shipper does not face demurrage charges and other charges by ships being anchored in the port waiting to be filled.

From all accounts the port of Prince Rupert should be the preferred port for grain shipments from the west. Why is it not? Because of the things I spoke of earlier. In addition, there is an ownership structure which exists within that terminal that is owned by the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool and Cargill and a number of other owners. Many people in the region note that one of the larger terminal shippings is owned by the same consortium in Delta. Some people wonder whether a different ownership would provide more competition in the area and create more business for Prince Rupert.

The Reform Party has been totally silent on this issue. It does not seem to be addressing these problems of major concern to the people of Prince Rupert and the hinterland of that area.

Coal is another big shipping item from the port of Prince Rupert. Much of that coal comes from Alberta. A lot of it could be shipped more efficiently through the port of Prince Rupert. Once again I do not hear the members from those parts of Alberta represented by

Reformers talking about how they could more efficiently move coal through the port of Prince Rupert. Indeed it would appear to me that the representation from the members in this area is almost silent.

I had some other interesting things happen to me when I was out there. People would talk to me about government problems and I was able to help some of those people. One of the issues was in a town called Port Edward. Mayor Wampler was having significant problems with the infrastructure spending program. The House will recall that the Reform Party never liked the infrastructure spending program. These people thought it was an excellent program.

The town of Port Edward is a town very close to Prince Rupert but it basically had no sewage treatment system. It was dumping its raw sewage into the ocean. It has wanted to deal with that for years and years to find some way to treat the sewage so it would not be a pollutant. The town had an arrangement with the local pulp mill. The pulp mill would allow it to use part of its sewage treatment system and upgrade it so it could treat the whole town. It made application for infrastructure spending money for that very purpose.

By the time I got there it was of some concern. The pulp mill had decided for one reason or another that it did not want the liability that went with that project and had withdrawn from the application. People in the town were very concerned. They thought that even though they had made an application under the program it was going to fall back to the bottom because the nature of it would change.

They wanted to create their own unique system and not use the pulp mill's facilities. They had found a way to do this for equal or less cost than in the original application. Because of the way the applications were, they felt that the province of British Columbia for whatever reason was going to not only delay their application but also put it at the back of the pecking order and therefore they would not be able to develop the system.

I was able to talk to some of the B.C. people who were dealing with the infrastructure spending program to get this rectified. I am happy to say that the mayor has come forward and thanked me for representing that area and getting the problem solved.

What I am saying is there is a real question about the issue the Reform Party is bringing forth today, which is basically that these people are not being represented by their own representatives. It seems to me that is the bottom line of what they are saying.

People in Prince Rupert and others on the west coast are very much part of this country. They want to continue to be part of this country. They want to share in what we have to offer as a government and they want to be plugged into the system.

There are many other problems that concern the people of Prince Rupert. As I said, with the grain handling aspect they have a tremendous potential. It is a port that is under utilized. As a government, we need to do more to recognize that our markets are in southeast Asia. The whole issue of trading with southeast Asia is an important feature and our government is very focused on that.

That is why we have implemented a task force to do just that, to go around and ask the people how they see their community and their economy evolving in the years ahead. I am happy to say we have had many many fine suggestions. I believe that the task force is to report very shortly on how to regenerate the economy of Prince Rupert and the whole northwest transportation route.

For the Reform Party to come here and say that we are ignoring the west is just two-faced. The reality is that in some ways it is not doing its own job of representing its own people.

I would like to thank all the people in Prince Rupert and on the west coast for their kind hospitality when I was there. They are some of the nicest people I have ever met and we continue to have a great friendship. I look forward to helping them in any manner I can in dealing with their government which is very much concerned about their issues, about their problems, about their continuation and about the underpinnings of their economy.

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5:30 p.m.


John Duncan Reform North Island—Powell River, BC

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of comments about the speech of the previous speaker. First, we are going to talk about Prince Rupert. Our next speaker will do that.

Second, when it comes to the infrastructure program and the various dealings with the infrastructure program, as the member knows, that was a federal-provincial initiative. The provincial member who represents Prince Rupert also overlaps with my riding. The federal member for Skeena is not here today and so I feel some obligation to talk about how that infrastructure program works in British Columbia and about how there has been much co-operation with the provincial MLA in terms of expediting projects.

In my case my overlap is in the Bella Coola area. Indeed we have co-operated and we have created a good project with their waterworks program. I know that type of thing would be very possible with the influential member of the provincial legislature who is a cabinet member. This is not a unique thing that the member talks about and it is not foreign to the British Columbia members.

Third, the mayor of Port Edward and many of the other municipal politicians from that area of the province met in Penticton from September 19-20. They all have common concerns with Reform members of Parliament in British Columbia. We did

indeed have conversations and areas of common concern, many of which were brought up earlier today in addressing our motion.

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5:30 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I was very interested in the member's comments. The motion before the House today is basically criticizing the government for not taking into account and failing to recognize the people of the west coast generally. It also mentions the movement of grain. It talks about the movement of grain to the port of Prince Rupert.

I remember sitting in this House on a Sunday about a year ago when we had a rail strike in this country. The issue was that we were not going to move grain through the port of Prince Rupert because the rails were going to be strike bound. There were only 11 members of the Reform Party in this House at the time. Are they going to tell me that is a commitment to the west coast? I am afraid not.

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5:35 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, in rebuttal to the last point of the hon. member, if the government had listened to Reform, there would not have been a rail strike. We wanted some pre-emptive legislation that would have prevented that very thing from happening. The hon. member talks about this type of nonsense.

He is questioning the representation of Reform members from northern British Columbia on the issue of the port of Prince Rupert. I will quote from a letter I sent to the previous minister of transport.

I sent this November 17, 1995 and detailed three issues dealing with grain transportation, for the hon. member's information. That is almost a year ago. One dealt with the allocation of grain cars in my region of northeastern British Columbia.

The second issue dealt specifically with the pricing policy dealing with the grain transportation rate, the differential between the Peace River country to Vancouver versus Prince Rupert, how it was damaging to the port of Prince Rupert, what could be done about it and some suggestions on that.

The third dealt with the differential, the inequity between the domestic and export grains, the transportation rates in this country along with the demise of the Federal Freight Assistance Act and what that would mean for the domestic transport of grains.

They were three very important issues dealing with grain transportation. I sent that on November 17, 1995. The new Minister of Transport responded finally on March 1, 1996 totally inadequately.

He said-

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

I am sorry, hon. member. Resuming debate.

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5:35 p.m.


Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I could be corrected, but I understood that the government side was using the 20 minutes plus 10 minutes questions and comments, which would mean that time is not up. Am I incorrect in that?

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5:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The hon. member used only 10 minutes, therefore we have 5 minutes for questions.

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5:35 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, in any event, let it be very clearly understood that I am sharing my time with my colleague, the member for North Vancouver. I am not sure that point of sharing was clear previously.

As a British Columbian, I would like to point out that governments over our history in Canada have not totally understood British Columbia. People cannot do so without a bit of appreciation of our geography and history.

Geography is terrifically important. We know about the Rocky Mountains, of course, going north and south. We know, more or less, there are other mountain ranges in there: the Purcells, the Selkirks, the Monashees, the Cariboo Mountains farther to the north and the Coast Range. All these mountains going north-south have had quite an effect on the history and economy of British Columbia.

There are only four passes that have been used for rail or road traffic through the mountains. There again, it is an integral part of the history and development of the province. There is the Crow's Nest, Kicking Horse, Yellowknife and even the one I was unfamiliar with, the Pine, farther to the north. These are important bits of what makes B.C. the province it is.

The rivers that flow through B.C. are just as important as are the fiords on the coast. Our history is a function of that in part, the geography. Our history starts really on the coast of B.C. It can go back 6,000 to 8,000 years with the native population having been recorded as being in that area. In latter years, only the last 200 years really apply.

We are talking about the Spaniards who travelled here in 1774. We are talking, after that, of British sailors, Captain Cook and George Vancouver. We are talking about enterprises such as the Hudson's Bay Company with its fur trade. We are talking about explorers who came here as recently as 1793 such as Alexander Mackenzie, who went overland through the mountains to reach the west coast. All of these things are part of the make-up of British Columbia.

There was the gold rush of 1857. Prior to that there was the American influence. They said they would claim land to 54 40. They had the campaign slogan ``54 40 or fight'', which was finally settled by the Oregon Treaty.

All of these things have shaped British Columbia. There is inadequate feeling or knowledge of all of the history and geography of British Columbia in central Canada.

Transportation, when we come down to it, is one of the most important things still today. We will get around to Prince George and Prince Rupert on this matter.

In 1867 people in eastern Canada were joining Confederation. Four years later British Columbia finally agreed to join, provided there was a railway. It took 15 long, agonizing years for the railway to get through. The railways are still important.

I heard the Crow arrangement mentioned today. The Crow's Nest Pass agreement goes back to 1897. It said that there would be an adjustment of rail tariffs to accommodate settler supplies going one way and grain the other. That continues to be important. As long ago as 1897 we were talking about the Crow. We are still talking about it today.

Then we come to the Trans-Canada Highway. When was there pavement in B.C. which went from east to west? Not until 1962. Prior to that those of us who travelled through British Columbia had to dip down into the United States if we did not want to go over dicey gravel roads.

All of that, I suggest, is lost on a lot of the establishment of central Canada.

Let us move on to talk about the Prince Rupert grain terminal within the context of the history and geography which I have laid out. In doing so, I would like to pass on congratulations to my colleague, the hon. member for Skeena. He has done a lot of work not just with respect to the port of Prince Rupert but to all of the northern area, integrating the knowledge that is up there and making it available to people such as me.

The points my colleague has made I would like to make again. I acknowledge, at the very least, that the hon. member for Durham has visited Prince Rupert and has come away with some good points. I was happy to hear him mention them.

First, the Prince Rupert grain terminal is one of the most efficient terminals in the world, but it is under-utilized. Prince Rupert is a day and a half in shipping time closer to the Pacific rim markets than is the lower mainland of B.C.

Compared with most other terminals in Canada, the Prince Rupert terminal turns around its grain cars in a fraction of the time it takes other terminals.

When a ship comes into Prince Rupert to take on grain it only has to go to one berth whereas other terminals require ships to move to different berths, up to four times, before getting their full load. There are lower pilotage costs and lower berthing costs; that is berthing as of ships not of babies. Maybe there are lower birthing costs of babies in Prince Rupert, I do not know. However, business is there to be done. The facilities are there but we are not taking sufficient advantage of them.

The member mentioned the amount of operating time that this port has been under. Before July 14 of this year there were two shifts operating in Prince Rupert but from July 14 to September 29 it was closed down. Just last week it received word that it would open up again to two shifts starting today.

Maybe the member for Durham, with all of the information that he has been able to glean from his visit to Prince Rupert, would be able to tell me what has been happening. Why is this? We encourage the use of Prince Rupert much more than has been done. Why is it suddenly coming back on stream? Will we go to three shifts at Prince Rupert to fully utilize the facilities there? I would like to know.

I would also like to know on the point where the member said: "Oh yes, I have been there and I was certainly very helpful to the folks around Prince Rupert and Port Edward". That is great, but did the member come down and talk to our minister of agriculture and our current minister of transportation? That is the sort of help that is needed.

I am going to quote from a letter from the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce addressed to the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. It states: "The Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce is very concerned over the current and suggested status of the Prince Rupert grain terminal".

This letter is dated September 3. Madam Speaker, you are standing?

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5:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It is because you are sharing your time and your 10 minutes are done. I will give you 30 seconds to close your comments.

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5:45 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I will try to wind it up. I have not been keeping tabs on the time. I thought it was way under 10 minutes but I have to accept your ruling.

The Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce letter continues: "We urge that your ministry, in conjunction with your colleague, the minister of agriculture, appoint a co-ordinator as outlined in the enclosed report. We believe minor concessions by each of the parties involved could put the terminal back on a firm footing while some of the more complex problems facing the grain transportation industries are resolved".

All the chamber has had in response to that is an acknowledgement-

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5:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Questions or comments.

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5:45 p.m.


Beryl Gaffney Liberal Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan for the brief geography lesson he gave us on British Columbia. I must admit to the member that there were some things that I did not know and I appreciate him expounding on the history of British Columbia and how it was developed.

I was a bit disturbed when he said that we in central Canada, which is where I come from, do not understand British Columbians. I wonder if the reverse could be said also, that he, as the member for Nanaimo-Cowichan, does not understand central Canada?

I grew up in Prince Edward Island. I must admit that when I came to the big province of Ontario to live I did not remember that Toronto was the capital of the province of Ontario. I assumed that Ottawa was the capital of everything here. I hear from members of the Bloc Quebecois that Quebec is very special to them. As individuals each province is very special to us wherever we live across the country. To say that we do not understand one another seems to come right down to the point where we are talking about national unity in this country.

Why do you think I as an Ontarian do not understand you as a British Columbian? I hope I do. I recognize you as a brother from B.C. and I hope that you would look on me as a friend from Ontario.

Do we need to navel gaze quite so much? Can we not recognize what happens in other provinces and recognize that we are each unique in what we do and where we live? Can we not try to respect each other without saying we do not understand you or you do not understand us. I would like to hear your comments in relation to national unity in this country in that regard.