House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The Chair heard no such word or inference from the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.

The hon. member has four minutes remaining, which I know other hon. members will anticipate with glee. The Chair has enjoyed, as I am sure all hon. members have, the debate this afternoon and it augurs well for the future, but unfortunately the debate for today has come to an end.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech correctly outlined that a country that has decided to invest in its children is a country that is confident in its future. A country that invests in its children successfully will have a better future. I believe this to be true.

We as a government have made tremendous strides in our attack on child poverty. For example the government has demonstrated its commitment by increasing its contribution to the Canada child tax benefit by $850 million a year, with higher payments to families beginning July 1, 1998. We need to do more. We need to focus on child hunger.

As a teacher, I am well aware that a hungry child does not do well in school, has behaviourial problems and can become a dropout.

As the former chairman of the Waterloo regional police, I know firsthand that these children often start down the path of delinquency and end up as young offenders or worse. In a country as wealthy as Canada, it is unacceptable that 20 per cent of our children live in poverty and an estimated three million children arrive at school hungry. People in our communities and schools are ready, willing and able to assist to ensure that nutrition programs are in place for all Canadian schools that need one.

I believe that investing today in our vulnerable children will yield major dividends tomorrow.

I believe that the federal government has both a role and an obligation to assist hungry children. I ask the government to examine this issue and explore ways and means available to ensure that child hunger is no more by the 21st century.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health commit to explore such ways to eradicate child hunger by the new millennium?

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario


Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the member for Waterloo—Wellington, who is already beginning to make his mark in the House with very poignant and very incisive interventions, that as far as the federal government is concerned, in Canada childhood is for children. As Canadians we want our children to enjoy all the opportunities that Canada has to offer both in childhood and as they grow into adults.

As a society we need to seize the opportunity early in the lives of our children to nurture their development and to help them prepare for the years ahead. The growing body of research evidence is clear. Children's early experiences have long term effects on their health, intellectual development and well-being.

While families are the ones who are first and foremost responsible for the development of their children, they are not the only ones who must assume some responsibility. Governments, communities, employers, unions, teachers and individual Canadians in all walks of life have an important role to play.

This government has identified children as a major priority in its public policy initiatives. The Speech from the Throne highlights work that we are undertaking with the provinces and territories to create a national children's agenda.

I take pride in noting that this government has already made contributions to the well-being of children. The member for Waterloo—Wellington will acknowledge this as well.

The national child benefit process with the provinces produced a federal commitment of $850 million of investment in the Canadian child tax benefit. There is the prospect of further investment in this area.

I am also pleased to mention that the last federal budget provides for a $100 million increase, over a three year period, under the Canada prenatal nutritional program and the community action program for children.

These two sets of initiatives are indicative of a commitment to children and an approach to children's issues which is comprehensive and structured.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.


Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I draw to the attention of the House and the government the grave situation facing students in this country who are reeling under student loan debt and the crisis which is in our post-secondary institutions.

I raised a question in the House last week and asked the minister responsible what the government was prepared to do to provide real financial assistance to students.

The fact is that post-secondary education and student loan debt has now reached a crisis proportion. Despite the recommendations and announcements of the government on its intentions in the throne speech, the crisis continues.

There is a huge gap in the reality of what the government is saying, what it is purporting to do and what the reality is that is facing our institutions and students in this country.

If the Liberal government is truly committed, as it repeatedly says it is, to access an opportunity for young people in Canada, then why have we seen a cut of more than $2 billion in our post-secondary educational institutions since 1993? Why has there been a cut of $550 million this year alone?

The truth is that the government has shown by its actions, not by the rhetoric but by its actions that it does not care. It does not care about the student loan debts which students are facing in this country. It does not care that it is more difficult for our post-secondary institutions to deal with the financial crisis which is upon them.

Recently the Canadian Federation of Students produced a major report called the “Blueprint for Access ”. In that document they pointed out that the average debt load will be $25,000 for students by June 1998. That is up from $13,000 in 1993 when the Liberals took office. This is an appalling and shocking fact and shows the real lack of commitment this government has shown to young people and students.

In 1995-96 more than 7,800 students who received Canada student loans declared bankruptcy. Is this a healthy system? Does this demonstrate to us that students are coping in the institutions? The contrary is true.

Another astounding fact is that tuition fees in Canada have reached a national average of $3,100 which surpasses the average of publicly funded institutions in the United States. This is something Canadians are not aware of.

How has the government responded to this crisis? We have heard vague promises of the millennium fund. There was no consultation and this fund will not help students today who are graduating into poverty. What we need are national standards for accessibility. We need a real commitment of leadership from the government to help students today with financial assistance and a flexible program that will relieve the debt load. We do not need some vague promise about a scholarship fund in the millennium which will not help students who are in grave difficulty today.

We call on the government to end the rhetoric and to put into action accessibility as a national standard and to show leadership by providing the financial commitments to assist students today.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario


Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the accessibility of post-secondary education for young Canadians is and always has been a priority of the Government of Canada. Recognition of the importance of post-secondary education in helping Canadians build their careers is demonstrated by the Government of Canada's investment in post-secondary education through the Canada health and social transfer.

Provincial jurisdiction together with the fact that the federal transfers to provinces for post-secondary education through the CHST are provided as a block fund means that there is no direct connection between the federal transfers and provincially set tuitions. Provincial spending priorities will determine the level of funding to post-secondary education and other social programs.

While the Government of Canada does not directly influence the level of tuition fees, it does however play a major role in helping students cope with costs and in facilitating access to post-secondary education.

In the 1997 budget the government increased federal support for higher education and skills by improving interest relief and tax measures. The period of interest relief was extended from 18 to 30 months allowing low income borrowers to defer repayment. Further the government is working with interested provinces to explore the implementation of income related repayment schemes to help reduce student indebtedness.

As you can see, there are many proposals and projects on the go with the Government of Canada and the provinces and this will continue as we help students get an education in Canada.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


John Reynolds Reform West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the past few days we have heard a lot of talk in the House about passports. I asked one of the questions last week. I want to outline one case tonight that has happened in the last couple of days. It will let the Canadian public know that we have a serious problem in this country with passports, how they are inspected and how they are used.

A gentleman by the name of Alan Winter was convicted in 1987 of sexual assault in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was declared a dangerous sexual offender and was sentenced to 16 years on 10 counts. After having served five years he was paroled in 1992. We might wonder why he was paroled. It was a condition of his parole that he return to his native England and not return to Canada until at least the expiration of his sentence in 2003. He was granted a valid British passport and returned to England.

He has returned to Canada. A Canada-wide warrant for his apprehension was issued yesterday for breaking parole. John Denham, a British member of Parliament, said “I can't believe that Mr. Winter was not fit to be released into Canadian society but he was fit to be released into my country. How could they have not told us?” Canada did not advise the British people that this man was convicted as a dangerous sexual offender.

We hear that Mr. Winter used a Canadian passport to get back into Canada. Where is our criminal check and record of parole conditions? This man is back on the streets of Canada, a danger to young people. He is a dangerous sexual offender.

What kinds of checks are we doing at our border with our own passports and foreign passports? I know that the RCMP in Vancouver have modern digital hand checks that they can do right away. Do we not have these checks for people? We check their passports, but again in this case something has slipped through the cracks. I hope some serious offence is not happening in Canada.

There are no conditions on these. It is a joke but a sad joke. I implore the government to sit down and look at the whole issue. The passport affair in Jordan was unfortunate, but this is an even worse situation. In our own country somebody has been let back in either with his British passport or a Canadian passport. He is a criminal. Maybe the police will arrest him. Perhaps by talking about it tonight people will realize who he is and he will be arrested and will be off the streets and back in jail where he belongs.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast for the question. I will take notice of the specific facts of the case he has raised and we will see what we can find out. If he will allow me, I will turn to the larger issue that he raised about the passports and the attack in Jordan a week ago.

After the passports of the two persons making the attack had been reported as being Canadian, our consular officials in Jordan were allowed by the Jordanian authorities to see the passports and they then concluded they were forgeries. We have since obtained physical possession of the passports and submitted them to forensic examination by our own Canadian experts. This scientific examination has confirmed that the passports are indeed forgeries and further that they were manufactured from materials not available in Canada.

As the prime minister and foreign minister have stated, we have registered our concerns loudly and clearly to the Israeli government. We have recalled our ambassador from Israel, and that is the most serious step in international law and diplomacy short of breaking off diplomatic relations altogether.

The Israeli foreign minister has apologized to us on behalf of his government and has undertaken to set up processes, in consultation with our government, that will ensure that Canadian passports are not again misused in violation of international law and Canadian law.

We wish to repeat what we have already said in the last several days. There has been no prior knowledge of or complicity in this whole incident on the part of the Canadian government. Any speculation to the contrary is false, and I know the hon. member is not part of this speculation. It is also thoroughly irresponsible in so far as it might endanger Canadians travelling in the Middle East at this time.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.46 p.m.)