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House of Commons Hansard #126 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was harmonization.

Topics

French LanguageOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member opposite who is a Franco-Ontarian like me would certainly not say today in this House that he and I are assimilated. We survived as a society in Canada thanks to the instruments of the federal government.

And I would also like to say to the hon. member opposite who, today, is criticizing cuts by the federal government that the Quebec government itself did some downsizing at Radio-Quebec by getting rid of nearly half the employees, so that now there are 329 instead of 629. That is the government of the Parti Quebecois, his big brother in Quebec City.

The EconomyOral Question Period

February 10th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, just so the Prime Minister understands this, the Reform Party believes in balancing the budget before we reduce taxes. I should point out that when it comes to buying votes, the people at Bombardier and the people who are benefiting from the infrastructure program know that the Liberals are experts at it.

Canadians are really starting to wonder just how in touch the Prime Minister is with what is going on in the real world. This weekend he told the Toronto Star that from his privileged perspective everything looks just fine. There is a 9.7 per cent unemployment rate, record bankruptcies, record high levels of personal debt and record levels of taxation.

When will the Prime Minister come out of his bubble and come to the realization that his record is nothing to be proud of, nothing to run an election on but instead is something he should be ashamed of?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said I would be very comfortable to run the next campaign in Alberta because in the last budget we gave big incentives to ensure a huge tarsands development in the north of the province. We were applauded by all the people in Calgary for our energy policy. It has been a long time since we have had a minister of energy in Alberta with as much acclaim as the present minister of energy.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is not going to buy any votes in Alberta. Just because someone is running around and handing out money does not mean he can buy votes. We remind the Prime Minister what happened to the last energy minister from Alberta.

The Prime Minister really does not get it. This fall he said to the media regarding across the board tax cuts: "I do not think it is the right thing to do in a society like Canada".

Can the Prime Minister explain to Canadians why he thinks it is okay to have 17 per cent unemployment for youth in this country, to have unemployment rates of over 9 per cent for 76 months in a

row, but somehow it is wrong or immoral to have low taxes that create real jobs?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I know of one former minister of energy who travelled a lot in Alberta and is now the Prime Minister of Canada. That means some former Liberal ministers of energy have done pretty well.

We are very proud of what we have done in the hon. member's province for the oil industry and the development of the tarsands. There is not only one province in Canada. There are other provinces in Canada that need some help. We are doing that across Canada because we believe the federal government is there to create opportunities everywhere in the country. That is why we are happy to do things for Alberta, B.C., Quebec and Ontario. They are all Canadians and they all want to have the good government we are trying to provide to them.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the Minister of Human Resources Development was speaking much more forcefully in Drummondville on the weekend than he is today in the House. In an arrogant and condescending speech, he displayed his ignorance and self importance for all to see by saying that the Quebec governments from past to present, and I quote "never spent a bloody cent on culture".

How can the Minister of Human Resources Development treat the various Quebec ministers of culture, including his own colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, with such disdain and ignorance, when the Quebec government is one of the major investors in culture, contributing more than even Ontario and the Government of Canada?

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I spoke these words in Drummondville this week, where I addressed 150 young Liberals as they get ready for the next elections. They were very enthusiastic, and their enthusiasm was catching.

I was explaining to our young Liberals, who do not always have the opportunity to hear all of the arguments in support of Liberal Party policy, that everyone felt in Quebec that the Canadian economic union was grand in all respects and served the interests of Quebecers well. The vast majority recognized that Quebecers benefit enormously from the Canadian social union.

I also showed that, in terms of political association, Quebecers were proud of Canada's foreign policy and could identify therefore with it. What I said was, that in cultural and linguistic terms, the Liberal Party of Canada had set up institutions that have made an exceptional contribution to the growth of the French language in Canada and of culture in Quebec, and I gave as examples Radio-Canada, the National Film Board and the Canada Council.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

Mr. Speaker, this government is suffering from the same malady as its Prime Minister. On television, it is one thing and, in the House, it is another.

In connection with the three institutions mentioned, I remember the government's commitment to provide stable funding, whereas they cut $414 million and 4,000 jobs from the CBC and $20 million from the National Film Board and they moved the board of directors of Telefilm Canada from Montreal to Toronto. That is what this government is all about.

Culture and the French language are the product of the efforts of generations of artists and craftspeople. They were funded, regardless of what the minister may think, by the taxpayers of Canada.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

We can feel the tension in this government on the eve of an election.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Kindly put your question now.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Gaston Leroux Bloc Richmond—Wolfe, QC

By giving Ottawa full credit for culture in Quebec, is the minister not insulting the artists and craftspeople who have produced it and have created the cultural institutions that ensure its dissemination?

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I must congratulate Quebecers on the extraordinary effort they have put into promoting culture. I never said that they had not contributed to it.

What I did say is that the Government of Canada provided Quebec creators, artists and actors with means they had never had at their disposal. I was looking back to the years when the nationalists, the forebears of the members opposite, saw culture as useless piano players. That is what I was talking about.

No one is more exquisitely aware of the huge contribution Quebecers have made to their own culture than I am. The means given them was first and foremost Radio-Canada and the National Film Board, and now Telefilm, and I am extremely proud of them. Long live Quebecers and long live what Canada has done for them.

Quebec CultureOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

Dear colleagues, kindly shorten your questions and answers a little.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are embarrassed by the Liberal's pathetic record in dealing with Nazi war criminals. Now they appear to be taking the same attitude toward a new group of war criminals.

At least 250 suspected war criminals from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and various Latin American countries have been allowed to remain in Canada despite being denied refugee status and having their appeals rejected.

Can the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration please explain why the Liberal government is protecting war criminals?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Beaches—Woodbine Ontario

Liberal

Maria Minna LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, Canada does not protect war criminals. In fact, Canada is not a safe haven for war criminals or persons who have committed heinous crimes.

As a matter of fact the CIC set up a specialized unit in April 1996 which is in the process of finalizing a report that contains the inventory of modern war criminals now in Canada to assist officials who are taking enforcement actions against them. Action is being taken. These people will be removed. They will not be allowed to stay in this country.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have heard this promise before from the government and it has not done the job.

It has been reported that the backlog for refugee claims has increased 75 per cent since the government took power, that thousands of genuine refugees have to wait years to have their cases heard because of bogus refugee claims made by war criminals, convicted criminals and terrorists.

When is the government going to develop the fortitude to rid the country of all undesirables starting with the 250 war criminals?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Beaches—Woodbine Ontario

Liberal

Maria Minna LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is not true that the war criminals have not been identified. They have. That is why they are being removed from the country. As soon as they are identified and under which class they fall, they will be deported.

Second, with the backlog in refugees some measures have already been taken by the IRB which has total responsibility for administering the refugee system and addressing the issues.

Furthermore, Bill C-49 which is in front of the House and with which Parliament is dealing, contains provisions that will reduce the refugee division panels from two to one member. This legislation change will improve the efficiency of the IRB while realizing efficiencies in that kind of a system.

If the hon. member would assist us in passing this bill, it would go a long way in dealing with the issue.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.

The new foreign reporting requirements have generated considerable concern in British Columbia. In response to these concerns, the Minister of Finance recently announced that these rules would not take effect until 1998.

Can the minister tell the House why the T-1 income tax form sent to Canadians for the upcoming tax season contains three questions relating to foreign property reporting?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to clarify this important point for the House and to say that for the 1996 tax filing year, Canadians will not have to complete the section of the income tax form dealing with the reporting of foreign assets.

As the House knows, Revenue Canada prints its forms in advance, often in anticipation of legislation. In this case, legislation was changed late in the year and Canadians will not have to report on their foreign assets until April 30, 1998.

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

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

Employment is the number one concern of Quebecers and Canadians. Despite the Prime Minister's fine promises, his government's record on job creation is pitiful. We still have 1.5 million people out of work, almost as many as in 1993. The unemployment rate has remained above 9 per cent for more than 76 consecutive months, the longest stretch since the Great Depression.

By telling us that he wants to run once again on a platform of job creation, is the Prime Minister not in fact recognizing, admitting that he failed to fulfil his 1993 promise of jobs, jobs, jobs?

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister said and what we, on the government side, are saying is that we are extremely concerned about the prolonged employment crisis. The situation is the same almost everywhere in the western world, and

it is extremely difficult to fight unemployment successfully right now, with the new economy and technological changes.

We made a commitment to create jobs. We are not afraid to admit that not enough jobs were created. But we are also saying that we have done much better than most other western economies and that, everywhere we go, we are praised for managing to create more than 700,000 jobs in the Canadian economy while putting our fiscal house in order. That is not enough, but we are saying it is a very good start.

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of playing with statistics and comparing Canada with those nations with the worst record in terms of job creation, the minister should recognize that 15 of the 26 leading industrialized nations have a lower unemployment rate than Canada.

Why does he claim that Canada is the best country in the world by comparing it with countries that have achieved less?

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely why our government is putting so much energy into doing even more for job creation. I will be discussing this matter with several of my colleagues in the near future, because we are indeed very concerned about the unemployment situation, particularly among young people. In the next few days, I hope to be able to outline our government's concrete strategy for helping young people who are unemployed.

My own department, Human Resources Development Canada, has set up and spent millions of dollars on programs designed to help the unemployed return to the labour force. These programs are extremely effective and will hopefully produce even greater results in the years to come.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

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

The defence minister has reversed previous Liberal commitments not to interfere with the Somalia inquiry, yet Justice Letourneau has called the defence minister's interference in the inquiry: "a serious challenge to democratic institutions and to democracy itself".

The minister claims that he wants to see justice done. By shutting down the inquiry he is making the junior ranks pay a price while senior bureaucrats and Liberal insiders seem to go untouched.

Does the Prime Minister agree with the analysis of Justice Letourneau? Is this interference really a travesty of justice and an interference with democratic institutions?