This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

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

National Forum On HealthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer my congratulations to the National Forum on Health, which presented its report this week.

Our health care system is the pride of our country. The forum reaffirmed the belief of Canadians that the single tier, publicly funded health care system is the best model to deliver the best care for the best results for the best price.

The forum produced some excellent recommendations. Among some of the most interesting recommendations is that the government examine publicly funded home care and medication. The report also underlines the link between poverty and health, especially in children.

I support these recommendations, as they clearly indicate that health care as a prevention method is the best way to go.

National Infrastructure ProgramStatements By Members

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

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, our government and the Alberta government signed an agreement to extend the national infrastructure program until March 31, 1998.

The minister responsible pointed out the very positive economic and social benefits that resulted from the first infrastructure program. He also stressed the increased competitiveness of the communities that benefited from the program.

Our objective is to create more jobs during the 1997 construction season. We believe that extending the national infrastructure program should help create between 15,000 and 20,000 new jobs.

The program is a major success. To this day, it has helped create over 100,000 new jobs. Our government sees this as further proof that our federalist system is flexible and helps create jobs when the various levels of government work together.

Alberta was the first province to sign. I hope that "la belle province", the Province of Quebec, will not be the last one.

SmugglingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, as part of the national action plan to combat smuggling, the government in 1994 committed $315 million over three years to help the RCMP, Revenue Canada and the Department of Justice to increase border protection, close down smuggling operations, dismantle organized crime networks and reaffirm the uniform application of Canada's laws.

The plan has been very successful. That is why the government recently announced it would renew the full range of enforcement measures at a cost of $100 million.

As well, last Monday my colleague, the solicitor general, announced in Washington after meeting with American Attorney General Janet Reno that he will be creating a new, high level anti-smuggling co-ordinating group to work with the counterpart American group. The aim is to have an additional mechanism to work on border enforcement issues of mutual interest, thereby maximizing our activities against smuggling.

The anti-smuggling effort of this government is a prime example of how we work daily to safeguard the safety and security of Canadians.

Young ReformersStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Reform party has seen its future in the persons of 220 young people who energized Ottawa this last weekend. They came here from all 10 provinces to meet right thinkers like Michael Coren, David From and Ted Byfield. The young Reformers interacted with Reform MPs, election strategists and, most important, with each other.

Reformers call for balanced budgets and lower taxes that will create jobs and put more money into the real economy. They demand tax fairness for low income families and government policies that will strengthen the family unit.

The young Reformers are going to work tirelessly for Canadian unity, putting money back into the health care and education system and a massive overhaul of Canada's criminal system.

What impressed me the most about these Canadians was their drive, determination and youthful enthusiasm. They have seen this great nation's future and it not only includes them, it is going to be built by them.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in an interview with the Toronto Star , the Prime Minister said he thought he had done everything possible on the national unity front. He said, and I quote: ``I don't have to campaign on that, it's not a big issue, we've done it''.

Since the Prime Minister claims he has delivered the goods, are we to understand that, with the phoney resolution on distinct society, a regional right of veto and still unresolved negotiations on job training, the Prime Minister feels that the promises he made in Verdun to Quebecers have been kept?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as promised, we passed a resolution in the House of Commons in December of 1995 in favour of distinct society status for Quebec, and everyone noted that the Bloc Quebecois does not want Quebec recognized as a distinct society in Canada.

We passed a bill in the Parliament of Canada establishing regional veto rights that gives the Province of Quebec a right of veto. Once again, Bloc members do not want Parliament to give Quebec a right of veto. All this could be entrenched in the Canadian Constitution, as I have said, when the provinces give their agreement.

We voted here in Parliament, but once again the leader of the Quebec government, when he was leader of the Bloc Quebecois, voted against both these measures. Still, we pursued it. In the speech from the throne last year, we said that we were withdrawing from a number of areas of activity in Canada.

We are no longer involved in mining or forestry. We have found common ground with the provinces on tourism. We have negotiated very useful clarifications on environmental matters and, at this time, we have offered the provinces new arrangements with respect to manpower training, a very important issue for Quebec.

We have signed an agreement with the Government of Alberta, another one with the Government of New Brunswick, and the minister is now working on an agreement with the Government of Quebec.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of what the present, past or future leader of the Bloc Quebecois would like. We are talking about promises made by the Prime Minister. We are talking about promises made by the Prime Minister himself, on his own initiative, before the referendum, in front of all Quebecers. Let us not shift the blame.

I am going to put the following question to him: If his distinct society resolution is so important, when has the government taken it into account? What has it meant for Quebec since it was passed, this resolution that is not worth the paper it is written on, this meaningless resolution that has produced nothing, and that does not absolve the Prime Minister from his promises?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal party and the government undertook to pass a distinct society resolution and we have done so. We have taken it into consideration, for, in the speech from the throne, we vowed to work on improving the federation, one problem at a time, and I have just given a fairly long list of what we have done.

What is fascinating in all this is that, while we are working daily to improve the situation, the people across the way do not want Quebec to be recognized as a distinct society. They do not want Quebec to have a veto, because if they truly did, all they would have to do is pass similar resolutions in the Quebec National Assembly.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is too bad. We told Quebecers not to trust what the Prime Minister said. We told all Quebecers. Unfortunately, there are still some who trust the Prime Minister.

When all is said and done, when the Prime Minister tells us today there is nothing more he can do for Quebec, is he not just confirming what we have always told Quebecers concerning him and his promises: that there is nothing he can do for Quebec and that Quebecers should certainly not expect anything from him?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I will have to repeat myself. We in this House, over which this government does have some authority, passed a resolution recognizing Quebec as a distinct society and another one giving that province a right of veto.

We have withdrawn from the mining and forestry sectors. We have concluded agreements on tourism and the environment. We are now in the process of working out the most important issue, manpower training. We said we were going to find a solution to this problem and we have done so with two provinces thus far. The minister is working very hard to reach an agreement with Quebec. We were hoping that they would sign an agreement in January, but apparently the Government of Quebec is in no hurry to settle this matter, as it was for-

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

Agreements were reached very quickly with Alberta and New Brunswick. I do not see why the same conditions could not be met in Quebec.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

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

In an interview with the Toronto Star , the Prime Minister states that he has ``kept all his promises to Quebec''. Let us not forget that this is the same Prime Minister who claims he has kept his promise on the GST.

Is the Prime Minister getting ready for his next election campaign by telling Canadians and Quebecers that everything he says during his campaign will be worth no more than what he said during his 1993 election campaign and in his Verdun speech in 1995?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this. We would have liked to have done more on the GST, but we have succeeded in doing as promised in the red book, harmonizing it with three provinces, and the process is almost complete in Quebec as well.

As for the resolutions on the distinct society, we voted in this House, and the Bloc members, including the hon. member who has just spoken, voted against Quebec being a distinct society. Her constituents will remember that.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, in that same interview, the Prime Minister stated that, if he did not want to speak of national unity during the next election campaign, this was because the premiers of the other provinces were not prepared to recognize Quebec's demands.

Will the Prime Minister admit that the promises he made in Verdun were nothing but smoke and mirrors, and that we are still at the point of no return from Charlottetown: that what is not enough for Quebec is already too much for the rest of Canada?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has said on a number of occasions, several provinces would be prepared to vote for distinct society, but it is very difficult to force recognition on the Government of Quebec, when it does not want such recognition.

If the hon. member wants the federal government to impose distinct society against the will of the Government of Quebec, let her say so. She should have done this when she had the chance to vote in favour of distinct society. It is not very edifying to see her rising to speak today, when she has voted against distinct society. She should think about that.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the Prime Minister, the next federal election will be about jobs and he is willing to run on his record. Here is the record: the worst string of jobless numbers since the great depression; 76 months with the unemployment rate over 9 per cent; 1.5 million Canadians unemployed; two million to three million underemployed; 700,000 Canadians moonlighting just to make ends meet; 17 per cent of our young people out of work; one out of four Canadians worried about losing their jobs. This is the jobs record that the Liberal government will be running away from at the next federal election.

Why should Canadians trust a Prime Minister who says he is proud of the worst string of unemployment numbers since the great depression?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said and I will repeat that I will never be satisfied with the level of unemployment that we have in Canada. We are working very hard to make sure it goes down.

The leader of the third party should recognize that 771,000 new jobs have been created in the last three years in Canada. He should be able to recognize that more jobs have been created in Canada than have been created in Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy combined. He should be able to recognize that in January 1994 we were at 11.5 per cent and that at this moment we are at 9.7 per cent. I will never be satisfied with the level as long as people want to work.

He should be obliged to recognize that we have put the finances of the nation in order. We have the lowest interest rate in 40 years in Canada. That is why in the last few months all the indicators have shown a new confidence among Canadians. They are buying more cars and building and buying new houses because they know this government is on the right track.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister repeats the numbers that his spin doctors give to him and he conveniently ignores the other statistics.

He ignores the fact that our unemployment rate is higher than the average of the G-7 countries; it is higher than all three of our major trading partners: Japan, Great Britain and the United States. Our unemployment rate is higher than that of New Zealand, higher than that of Switzerland, higher than Sweden's, higher than Australia's, higher than Austria's; it is even higher than the unemployment rate in Mongolia.

Instead of trying to make an atrocious 9.7 per cent unemployment rate sound good, why does the Prime Minister not do something different? Why does he not unleash the job creating power of consumers and businesses by balancing the federal budget, making the government smaller and giving Canadians much needed tax relief?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, everybody recognizes this government has done better than expected on the balancing of the budget.

Journalists came to Canada from Japan to interview me and some ministers. They were wondering how we have managed to reduce the deficit from 6.2 per cent of GDP to less than 3 per cent in three years. They do not know how to do that and they are coming to Canada to find the recipe.

We have to stay the course. The leader of the third party does not want to reduce the deficit because he is trying to buy votes by promising tax cuts before the books are balanced.

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister would read our fresh start platform, he would find that it balances the budget first and delivers tax relief second.

Canada's unemployment situation is a human tragedy. Yet the Prime Minister always responds to these questions in this House with questionable statistics or political rhetoric. We never get a response from the heart. It is the same attitude that was shown at the town hall meeting on TV when he told that jobless woman "some are lucky, some are unlucky, that is life".

How can Canadians believe that the Prime Minister even cares about the tragedy of unemployment when he has the nerve to tell a jobless person that is life under a Liberal government?

EmploymentOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since we formed the government three years and a few months ago, our main preoccupation has been jobs. We knew when we formed the government that we had a deficit of $42 billion. We knew that the entire international financial community had lost faith in Canada. Some were comparing Canada to a third world situation. Today everybody says that we will do better than any other G-7 nation in 1997-98.

We were also the government that was not afraid to tackle the problem of the deficit and really do something about it. When a government does that, it has to stay the course. We are not about to try and buy the votes of the Canadian people the way the leader of the Reform Party is trying to do with tax cuts before we have reduced the deficit to zero. This is the only responsible way.

French LanguageOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources Development told the young Liberals that it was thanks to Ottawa that the French language was preserved in Canada and Quebec and that the federal government had protected the French fact against all odds.

The minister's statement is nonsense. The Minister of Human Resources Development forgot to mention the billions of dollars that a succession of Quebec governments have spent on developing and preserving French language and culture.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development rise in the House today and apologize to Quebecers for the incredible nonsense he told the young Liberals in Drummondville?

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, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today on behalf of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and inform the hon. member opposite who just asked this question that yes, during the sixties and seventies and historically, the federal government invested and has always invested in the cultural sphere and in promoting the French fact and Quebec culture through instruments such as the CBC, the National Film Board, the Canada Council, the Science Council, and so forth, at a time when there were no similar instruments at the provincial level.

French LanguageOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Paul Marchand Bloc Québec-Est, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the answer is so straightforward, perhaps the minister would bother to rise and answer this question: how can the minister honestly give his own government credit for saving the French language in Quebec, when its policy has speeded up the assimilation of francophone and Acadian communities in Canada?

What explanation does he have for the fact that the same policy by the same government can have the exact opposite effect?