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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

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as was requested by the leader of the third party, we are making sure the inquiry is completed in time so it will not be going on at the time of an election. I think the Minister of National Defence explained his position extremely well and we are supporting him.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows that he has another year and a half before he has to call an election. There is plenty of time for a full investigation.

The defence minister has been attacking the inquiry by suggesting that Justice Letourneau can call any witness he wants. Yet Justice Letourneau said last week: "It is not true the inquiry has plenty of time to call all the witnesses such as Mr. Fowler and Mr. Anderson. Evidence on important matters presented without the possibility of real or substantial testing risks producing a whitewash of the alleged cover-up, rather than investigation of it".

Why would the Prime Minister allow a whitewash of this inquiry? Why would he allow that to happen when it is only the low ranking officials now who have been under charge?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to realize that the hon. member is not keen to go to the polls and would rather have an election in 18 months. However, that is not a subject for discussion at this time.

When the Minister of National Defence announced that the inquiry was to be terminated in June, it gave the commission three more months because its mandate was that the inquiry be completed in March. After he made the announcement the commission had two and half months to call the witnesses it wanted. Of course, it is up to the commission to choose which witnesses it wants to hear. We have nothing to do with that.

We will see by the end of the inquiry to which witnesses the commission decided to listen and to which it decided not to listen. But there were two and a half months after the minister's decision for the commission to call any witness to testify.

Asbestos IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

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

On September 16, the Prime Minister formally pledged, in the House, to discuss France's decision to ban asbestos with President

Jacques Chirac. As you know, that industry accounts for thousands of jobs in the asbestos region.

Following his official two day visit to Paris, on January 22 and 23, can the Prime Minister tell us the outcome of his efforts to defend Quebec's asbestos industry?

Asbestos IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is aware that the issue was raised with France's President and Prime Minister. In fact, during our joint press conference, Prime Minister Juppé clearly indicated that France had no intention of reconsidering its decision in that regard.

Moreover, during a reception with Prime Minister Juppé, I introduced to him two residents of the asbestos region, Raymond Setlakwe and his wife. Mr. Setlakwe had asbestos in his jacket to prove that it is not a very dangerous product. The Prime Minister found the whole episode quite funny.

Asbestos IndustryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, considering the Prime Minister's reply, I am inclined to think that he did not get any concrete assurances for the asbestos region, which includes the towns of Thetford and Asbestos.

Given France's refusal to reconsider its decision to ban asbestos, will the Prime Minister tell us why his government stubbornly refuses to lodge a complaint to the World Trade Organization, so as to stop the domino effect of France's decision in Europe?

Asbestos IndustryOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, during my visit to France, we had an opportunity to discuss the issue with the French Prime Minister. We informed him that the Royal Society of Canada had produced a very detailed report showing that it is possible to use asbestos safely. I asked the Prime Minister to have that document examined by his experts, and he agreed to do that.

As for going before the international courts, the Minister for International Trade is currently looking into the possibility and when he has a public announcement to make he will do so, hopefully in the near future.

Cultural PolicyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade said that our cultural restrictions may be costing us greater exports and foreign markets, yet the Minister of Canadian Heritage wants to increase those restrictions. That is her answer to cultural protection. The heritage minister has said that Canadian culture should not be treated like pork bellies, it is not a commodity. On the other hand, she boasts that Canadian culture has created lots of jobs through exports.

When is she going to wake up and smell the Colombian coffee? We live in a global economy. The heritage minister has said that Canadian culture is a valuable export. Who speaks for the government, the heritage minister or the Minister for International Trade?

Cultural PolicyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, if the member is trying to show some division between myself and the Minister of Canadian Heritage he is barking up the wrong tree.

Both the Minister of Canadian Heritage and myself are strong supporters of the Canadian cultural sector. We want to see it grow. We want to see it prosper. That is what the government is solidly behind.

We all recognize that these are changing times. There are changing technologies and we need to keep our policies and our programs on the leading edge. We have faced those kinds of challenges before. The government is solidly behind the Canadian cultural sector.

Cultural PolicyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased to see the international trade minister answer that question. At least he is not an embarrassment to the government, as the heritage minister was this morning when she said: "Celine Dion would not be where she is today if government policy did not require that we play a certain number of Canadian songs on the radio". That is not only shameful, it is frightening. As far as she is concerned the only way that our Canadian artists can get ahead is if they are protected by the government.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Is it not about time that he turn over the culture portfolio from the heritage minister to the trade minister because at least he is not an embarrassment?

Cultural PolicyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalMinister for International Cooperation and Minister responsible for Francophonie

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has done much to assist the cultural sector in this country and we are very proud of our accomplishments in that regard.

Canadian artists, Canadian musicians, are good. The fact that the government has been able to contribute to their success is something of which we should all be proud. I wish the hon. member would join us in that pride.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

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

Child poverty is a major problem in this country because parents of poor children remain chronically unemployed. The NDP governments of British Columbia and Saskatchewan are addressing child poverty by investing in programs to help these children and their families. Meanwhile, the only investment the Liberal government

made was to pass Bill S-9 which gave millions of tax dollars to wealthy Canadians through generous tax breaks.

When is the government going to make a committed investment in the future of children living in poverty with a national child benefit instead of giving huge tax breaks to the very wealthy of this country?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the government is very concerned with child poverty in the country. We have already done a great deal. Over $5 billion has been invested in the child tax credit and we have invested a lot of money in the working income supplement to help low income families.

The member certainly knows that over the last four months, with the provinces, we have negotiated and brought about a consensus and both the provinces and the Government of Canada have agreed to move toward an integrated national child benefit.

This is going to greatly help the situation of kids living in low income families. I hope very shortly the government will be able to announce the way it will proceed. However, it will be designed with the provinces over the next few months.

Interest RatesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Industry.

The credit card interest rate situation has not improved despite three parliamentary inquiries.

Mr. Minister, what has Industry Canada done to protect consumers against high credit card interest rates?

Interest RatesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

Before I let my colleague answer the question, I remind hon. members to please address the Chair.

Interest RatesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Ottawa South Ontario

Liberal

John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy if that question went to the Chair.

I am sure my colleague shares the concern that I have expressed about the fact that the rate of interest charged on consumer credit cards has tended to drift higher in relation to the Bank of Canada prime rate than it was historically. The concern the government has is that those rates should be tracking one another.

On the positive side of the ledger, may I point out to him that what we have undertaken to do in Industry Canada is ensure that consumers are well informed about the variety of choices available to them in credit cards and of the interest rates available. I point out to him that the availability of a low interest card has become much better known by Canadians in recent months. According to an Angus Reid survey, as recently as last April only 30 per cent of Canadians were aware of these cards. More recently that number is up to 57 per cent.

I am sure the member will agree with me that an informed consumer who is interested in ensuring that they get the best value for their money is the best way to make sure that a market system works.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

February 10th, 1997 / 3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of the House to the presence in the gallery of Mr. René van der Linden and Mr. Ismail Cem, Rapporteurs from the Council of Europe.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Order In Council AppointmentsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments which were made by the government.

Pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order 110(1), these are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees, a list of which is attached.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 15 petitions.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, as chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, I have the honour to present the fourth report of this committee. This report deals with the 1996 auditor general's report, chapter XI in particular, which addressed Revenue Canada's battle against income tax evasion. This report includes some very

important recommendations we hope the government will follow up on.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 52nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of some committees. If the House gives consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 52nd report later this day.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-369, an act to amend the Criminal Code (gaming and betting).

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the bill is to allow the operation of casinos on board international cruise ships. As you know, the configuration of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, its estuary in particular, is such that it requires cruise ships to shut down their casinos off Anticosti Island. They must remain closed for up to two days.

This bill has been awaited for a number of years. It is a bill on which not only all stakeholders involved in shipping in the Quebec City area are unanimous, but also those in the greater region as well. The bill has the support of the Corporation des pilotes du Bas-Saint-Laurent, SODES, the Secrétariat à la mise en valeur du Saint-Laurent, the Quebec Port Corporation, and many others.

In closing, I would like to point out that this is a bill which might be of interest not only to MPs from the greater Quebec City region, but also to all whose ridings lie along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and even those along the Great Lakes, as far inland as Thunder Bay.

(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Income Tax ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Dave Chatters Reform Athabasca, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-370, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (income deferral from forced destruction of livestock or natural disaster).

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce this private member's bill which has come about as a result of severe flooding in my riding last summer which forced the sell-off of substantial numbers of livestock. I discovered that although under conditions of drought producers are allowed to defer income from the forced sale of livestock, that does not extend to forced sale of livestock under any other conditions. This bill would extend that provision for deferment of income to other natural disasters and statutory destruction of livestock.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Committees Of The HouseRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 52nd report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House earlier this day, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to.)