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House of Commons Hansard #143 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

Every Wednesday before the doors are opened it is our custom to sing the national anthem. Today we will be led by the hon. member for Cambridge.

Dna Data BankingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to speak on a very important issue, DNA data banking.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the Canadian Police Association who expressed the importance of a national DNA data bank. The purpose of a DNA data bank is fundamental to investigations and prosecutions of the most serious crimes in Canada. A DNA data bank would act as a national information system for law enforcement.

I fully support the concept of DNA data banking and ask that my colleagues also defend its significance to society. I feel that bringing this legislation to the forefront is long overdue. Perhaps we should consider the motto that the Canadian Police Association so adamantly believes in: Register criminals before firearms. After all, it is our responsibility to ensure public safety.

Alberta ElectionStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the people of Alberta spoke and here is what they told us.

Their first and loudest message was that Albertans respect politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say. Albertans recognize that Ralph Klein kept his election promise to eliminate Alberta's deficit, and they rewarded him with 63 seats out of 83.

The people of Alberta told us that they expect politicians to be responsive and listen to their voters. Albertans appreciate that the Klein government listened to the people on such issues as health needs and budget surpluses.

Finally, the people of Alberta told us they will never again let the banks and the bond traders control the province's destiny. By an overwhelming majority, they rejected deficit spending in favour of fiscal stability and accountability.

I salute Ralph Klein and the people of Alberta for their courageous efforts of the past four years. Our reward? The lowest tax rates and the highest job creation of any province in Canada.

Liberal PartyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative leader, who dared solicit the support of the Quebec Liberal delegates assembled at last weekend's convention by slipping provocative literature under their doors, was roundly condemned by both the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Immigration.

According to the Minister of Labour, the Conservative leader has gone too far. As for the Minister of Immigration, she said it was totally inappropriate.

Liberals are really not very thick-skinned. How would they have described the stealthy crusade of the own leader, a backstage skulker, during the night of the long knives in an Ottawa hotel in 1982?

These one-way democratic ministers hid their hats in their pockets at the time of their leader's incredibly despicable act during that night dedicated to quashing Quebec's legitimate demands.

Mr. Speaker, "Je me souviens" and I am not about to forget.

RailwaysStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have in my hand a letter from Mr. R. J. Fish, director of engineering, railway safety directorate to an official of the CPR in which the government official from the railway safety directorate says that

he is quite interested in the possibility of the railway's contracting out the entire crossing improvement project.

"We would be very interested in hearing the railway's views on this and will be contacting you shortly to set up a meeting to discuss the above".

Many of the people in my riding and other ridings across the country who work for the signals department of the CPR and the CNR are very concerned that the government is encouraging the railways to contract out this kind of work.

It is bad enough that the companies they work for should be considering contracting out their work, but when the Liberal government is actively encouraging major private corporations to contract out work, to bust unions, to look for cheaper wages for people doing the same job, it ought to be absolutely ashamed of itself.

HungaryStatements By Members

March 12th, 1997 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Middlesex, ON

First, Hungary will be celebrating its national day on March 15, marking the Hungarian revolution of 1848-1849. Being the longest and most heroic fight against feudalism in the 1848 "Spring of Peoples" movement in Europe, the Hungarian revolution became the symbol of the fight for freedom and human rights all over the world. Second, Hungary is becoming more important to Canadians because it is expected to be invited to join NATO in July of this year. We, the members of the House of Commons, will be asked to express our opinion on the enlargement of NATO membership for Hungary and its political and security alliances with Canada.

On these two occasions, let us keep in mind the small and newly democratic country in the heart of Europe whose people and government will soon be important contributors to European and world security.

Kusunom.

St. Catharines JayceesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, recently the St. Catharines Jaycees celebrated their 60th anniversary as a Jaycee Junior Chamber organization. The St. Catharines Jaycees serve the community by developing tomorrow's leaders through training programs and community involvement. Projects include raising funds for the Niagara district airport, the Garden City Arena and two local swimming pools.

The Jaycees have also sponsored the soap box derby, the Easter egg hunt, the mayor's invitational grape stomp, Jaycee Garden Park and the development and dedication of the Kristen French Memorial in Jaycee Gardens. Three presidents of Canada's national Jaycees have come from St. Catharines and I had the honour and pleasure of serving Junior Chamber International in 1976.

I salute all present and former members of the St. Catharines Jaycees and extend every good wish for success in the years ahead. Congratulations and happy 60th anniversary.

Commonwealth DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, Monday was Commonwealth Day.

This year's theme "Talking to One Another" is closely linked to modern day technology as we celebrate the countless ways we now have to communicate.

This high technology enables Commonwealth citizens to exchange ideas in various ways, including distance education and exchange programs.

Of course, having more ways of communicating does not automatically bring improvements. Talking to one another is not a one way process. We can explain our own points of view but we must also listen to the views of others, something that all parliamentarians should do, including myself.

Whatever the method of communication we choose, we must keep speaking and listening to one another so that Canada and the Commonwealth, and the whole planet of course can prosper.

Quebec Teachers' CollegesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's first teachers' colleges were inaugurated on March 12, 1857, when the Jacques-Cartier and McGill teachers' colleges opened their doors.

These institutions were established following a Quebec act designed to improve the quality of education. They had the mandate of preparing young people to work with children and teenagers.

Several generations of Quebecers, including myself, benefited from a training and apprenticeship experience that they would later pass on to those who followed in their footsteps.

Sister Simone Colpron, who is now almost 90, was a great educator who had a strong influence on me. Through her, I want to pay tribute to the men and women who paved the way to excellence, and who continue, to this day, to make Quebecers better educated and more qualified.

Rights Of VictimsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, this week Canadians have witnessed one of the sorriest episodes in the judicial history of Canada. Clifford Olson taunts the victims of crime, mocks the justice system, but the responsible minister dismisses any protest as just playing politics.

Shame on the minister for trying to dismiss attempts to give victims and their families a platform. The pain and suffering of innocent victims deserves a voice. It is about time the rights of victims take precedence over the rights of criminals. It is about time this country had a victims' bill of rights. This would give victims the right to much more information, the right to notification of significant events in the judicial process, the right to compensation from the offender and the right not to be harassed or intimidated by the perpetrator of a crime.

Why does the Liberal government continue to ignore the rights of victims of crime?

Health CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, on February 27, 1997, the legislature of the province of Ontario passed a resolution introduced by Sandra Pupatello, the provincial member for Windsor Sandwich. The resolution calls on the provincial government to "stop cutting base funding of hospitals and to allow communities to determine how to restructure their hospital services and find efficiency savings based on their needs".

Our local communities and hardworking doctors and nurses know the best way to reduce health care costs. Their expertise and priorities should be recognized. The federal government's priorities were clearly stated in the 1997 budget announcement that it would be reinvesting $300 million in health care over the next three years by investing in a health transition fund, a Canada health information system and increasing support for children's health under two programs, the community action program for children and the Canada prenatal nutrition program.

In recent weeks, the premier of Ontario and others have claimed the federal government cut transfers to Ontario by 40 per cent. This is not the case. The reductions in transfers was $1.2 billion or11.4 per cent. Next year Ontario will receive a total of $9.1 billion in transfers.

The federal government has made health care a priority and it is time the Government of Ontario did also.

National UnityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is as a federalist member of Parliament from Quebec that I rise in the House today to denounce the strategy of the Conservative Party and its leader, the member of Parliament for Sherbrooke.

For some weeks now the leader of the Conservative Party has been travelling through the anglophone provinces promising that a Conservative government would resolve the issue of national unity and put an end to the separatist threat in Quebec.

In Quebec however, and again last Monday in his own riding of Sherbrooke, the Conservative leader has relentlessly attacked Quebec federalists and said almost nothing against the Bloc Quebecois and their separatist allies.

Canadians have not been fooled by this double talk in the past. The Conservative leader had better realize it soon, if he does not want to lose the two seats he has in the next election. He had better start talking the talk.

French Postal ServiceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, we sometimes see strange coincidences. At a time when the federal government is asking the Supreme Court to rule on Quebec's democratic right to achieve sovereignty, without the prior consent of Prince Edward Island, France is about to print a stamp commemorating General de Gaulle's visit to Montreal, in 1967, and particularly his famous "Vive le Québec libre".

The Prime Minister, who is a long-time stamp collector, hurriedly made a few suggestions to the French postal service, asking them, above all, not to show the general, the Quebec flags, or the city hall balcony. In other words, according to the Prime Minister, the best stamp to commemorate this page in history would be "no stamp at all".

Could it be that this knee-jerk reaction is dictated by a noble intention to protect young Quebecers' health?

After regulating tobacco company sponsorship in such a fanatical way, the Prime Minister may have decided to go after this other major threat to our young people's health: French stamps.

TaxationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Wells Liberal South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, concerns have been expressed over the last number of months regarding the harmonized sales tax about to go in place in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. It has been a major topic at my town hall meetings and my visits to businesses where consumers and businesses have expressed concerns.

Because of concerns expressed by both small business and consumers, tax included pricing is being delayed until provinces representing 51 per cent of the Canadian people agree to blend their sales taxes with the federal goods and services tax. This is a victory for us in Atlantic Canada.

There are major benefits to a harmonized sales tax with the elimination of $700 million in hidden provincial sales taxes in the Atlantic, $280 million of this in Nova Scotia alone, one sales tax regime, a reduction in tax from almost 19 per cent to 15 per cent on most items, and in Nova Scotia a lowering of the personal income tax rate by 3.4 points.

With the changes recently announced I am confident that we can now move forward on April 1 with the new harmonized sales tax which will benefit Atlantic Canada-

Biotechnology CentresStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec now ranks tenth among biotechnology centres in North America.

In less than three years, Quebec went from 13th to 10th place among the most important centres in North America. The number of biotechnology companies has more than tripled, and revenues have increased tenfold, from $25 million to $280 million.

The federal government actively supports this industry in Quebec. In recent years, we have invested more than $20 million in helping to create and maintain hundreds of specialized jobs.

Canadians have developed the skills and expertise that allow them to compete with the world's great economic powers, and our government is delighted to be a part of this development.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the event of an election this may be my last statement in this House. Therefore I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, the Clerk of the House and all of the parliamentary staff.

I recognize the feelings of personal friendship that extend across political lines, et qui surmonte les lignes de langues.

It is in committee that we recognize the difference in methods but the common goal of most MPs is doing what is best for our country. As for members of my caucus they are terrific.

I thank my office staff Don, Inge, Lise and Mike, and volunteers like Gary and Marion. Hats off to the constituency association with Jim, Roy, Alex, Art the two Bettys, Bob, Don, James, John, Ken, Lavinia, Lois, Marion, Nora, Pat and Reed.

I am honoured to have served the taxpayers of Nanaimo-Cowichan and I thank the people across Canada who supported me in difficult times. My gratitude to every member of my family and old friends like Al, Charlie, Ken, Les, Sid and Wes who never wavered.

And, finally to my friend and wife Paula, I love you. Come along and grow old with me.

House Of CommonsStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

It is not often that I make a statement in the House but an incident occurred yesterday which I know touched many members because you have been contacting me. It touched me greatly also.

The background is this. A young Micmac girl who was here with the Forum for Young Canadians wanted to bring an eagle feather into the House of Commons yesterday and through a misunderstanding-actually a mistake-she was told she could not bring in the feather. Many of you are aware that my grandmother was an Ojibway Indian and my Dad being Metis. I know I have aboriginal blood in me.

To the young girl, Melissa Labrador, I extend the apologies of this House. Of course it is permissible for an aboriginal to bring an eagle feather into this House. It was a mistake. It will not happen again.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I must say it is not easy to take aim at the government in this situation. In fact, they pulled a fast one on me.

Nevertheless, I will have to attack the Minister of Finance again today. Three weeks ago, the Minister of Finance made a budget speech in which his estimate of a $19 billion deficit seemed rather high, considering the real figures he had at the time, figures which we now have and which will probably put the deficit at around $10 or $12 million at the most. In fact, he was quite content to give us a forecast that was twice as high, a forecast that was off by 40 or50 per cent.

My question is for the Prime Minister. In the private sector, and we often refer to the private sector, what would they do with an accountant who, three weeks before the end of the financial year, was out 50 per cent in his forecast? He would be fired. I want to ask the Prime Minister what he intends to do with his Minister of Finance who is incapable of forecasting a deficit more or less accurately?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, before going any further, I may say that when shareholders have their meeting and the board announces a bigger profit than had been expected, generally the board is given a bonus.

We hope and in fact we believe, since we are ahead of the game with our forecast, that voters will give us a bonus.

Since this is the hon. member's last chance to ask me questions as Leader of the Opposition, I would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks. His departure will be no great loss for us but it will be a great loss for his party. Not for us. Because, although he can be aggressive, I must say I never felt I was being attacked personally. We can disagree on ideas, but he is not one to make personal attacks.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

We are almost neighbours, because when he goes home, he takes the road to La Tuque via Shawinigan.

I think he will be missed by his party and by the House as Leader of the Opposition. Fortunately, we stand to gain. I want to thank him for the work he has done and I wish him the best of luck.

Now he can come back again with a supplementary, and I can repeat that we are very proud of doing better than we expected, and I will certainly not scold the Minister of Finance for this.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister was always as friendly as he is today, question period would not be the same. Too bad this does not happen more often.

There is something dangerous in what the Prime Minister said, but seriously, I would like to get back to the substance of the question. The Minister of Finance made a mistake in his forecast, in other words, badly misinterpreted the indicators available to him at the Department of Finance, and the fact that the actual figures are far better, is of course wonderful, and of course everybody is pleased, but we must be careful. This same inability to interpret data could have produced the opposite result, unless the Minister of Finance knew what he was talking about and did so on purpose.

My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Please be patient with me, Mr. Speaker, this is my last question. Please bear with me.

Is this not a government strategy to put artificial pressure on provincial governments which were forced to go along with more than $4 billion in cutbacks over the past two years?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the excellent results we now see followed decisions that were made very early on when we formed the government.

At the time we did not know exactly what the outcome would be so we developed a plan. The plan is working better than we thought, and everyone should be very pleased about this.

We should also consider the fact that when we formed the government, the Minister of Finance and I realized that the previous government's budget forecasts were always more optimistic by as much as 8, 9, 10 or 11 billion dollars than was actually the case.

The Minister of Finance decided to be more rigorous and is to be commended on the results we obtained. And the provinces,Mr. Leader of the Opposition, are much better off, because they pay far less interest on servicing their provincial debt thanks to this government's good management.

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that the Minister of Finance had these figures when he drafted his latest budget. What bothers us on this side of the House is the minister's interpretation of those figures.

Since the Prime Minister today refers to good management that has helped free up billions of dollars, is he not a little embarrassed when he sees the unemployed workers in the maritimes and Quebec who protested vehemently against the cuts in unemployment insurance? Does he not think it is somewhat immoral that a

government that collects $12 billion more than expected cut about $1 billion annually in benefits for the unemployed, the poorest in our society? Is that not immoral?

The DeficitOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, first of all, as the Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well, when we made structural changes in programs like the employment insurance program, the main objective was not to reduce the deficit but to provide some impetus for job creation. The changes were necessary to update these programs.

Second, I will give you an example of what the Prime Minister just said. The previous government forecast a deficit of $32 billion for 1993, and when we came to power, we found it was $42 billion. As for the $6 billion change last month, changes are always made at the end of the financial year. We have worked very hard to rebuild the government's credibility and that is why we did this.

Something else now. In his first question to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition hinted to the Prime Minister that he should give me a raise, and if he wants to make a habit of this, I wish he would stay.