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House of Commons Hansard #145 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was consumers.

Topics

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday a crowd of over 600 demonstrated noisily in front of the Hell's Angels headquarters in Saint-Nicolas.

These citizens turned out, despite low temperatures and gang members' attempts to intimidate them. They are calling for concrete and rapid action from this government to put an end to the biker war. They even carried placards asking politicians how many more victims it would take to get them moving.

My question to the Prime Minister is this: How many victims will it take before this government makes up its mind to take action and finally introduce a bill outlawing gangs like the Rock Machine and Hell's Angels as criminal groups and known law-breakers?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first of all, on behalf of all members of the House, I would like to congratulate the new Leader of the Opposition on his democratic election as leader of his party. I wish him much good luck, not too much, obviously, but enough to enjoy his new duties, which I have already performed and which are not very easy. It is not always easy to lead a party. I come from Shawinigan, and I know whereof I speak.

I would just like to say that you have already been in the House for some time now and that we are ready to work in everyone's best interests.

Obviously, I had occasion to answer the hon. member's question last week. The Quebec Minister of Public Security, Robert Perreault, echoed the words of his predecessors last week when he said that an anti-gang law would not resolve the problem, that it was a question of the administration of justice. Sufficient staff were needed to work on this problem.

Furthermore, the member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve said that Pierre Sangollo was the man most qualified to speak on this topic. He quoted Mr. Sangollo as saying that the bomb problem would not go away because of anti-gang laws; the only way to restore peace to Quebec was to increase the number of Carcajou investigators and give them the tools they need.

This could be sorted out if you were to call the head office in Quebec and ask them to bump up the number of investigators in the Carcajou squad, as Mr. Sangollo recommended.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, that is interesting because Mr. Perreault also said that he was open to a public debate.

Is the Prime Minister telling us that if he receives a request from Quebec-because the Criminal Code is a federal statute, is it not-he is prepared to respond positively, to take action, to outlaw groups like the Rock Machine and the Hell's Angels as criminals and law-breakers? If he were to receive a request from the Government of Quebec, am I to understand that he would agree to take action?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

By its wording, the question is a hypothetical one, but if the Prime Minister wishes to reply, it will be allowed to stand.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice are in constant communication with responsible authorities in all provincial governments. This is not a problem peculiar to Quebec; groups like this exist throughout Canada. It is very difficult to define with any great precision which are criminal and which are not.

I am certain that my colleagues, the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General are presently holding discussions with provincial authorities. If they have any good proposals to make that require legislation, the government will consider them, as we always do.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is almost the only person in Canada who does not know who the Rock Machine and the Hell's Angels are. We are not talking about choir boys or a bowling team, as everyone knows.

There is an emergency in Quebec. People have been killed as a result of what is going on. Bombs are going off weekly. Is the Prime Minister ready to hold an emergency debate, here, today, this evening, on the issue of biker gangs in Quebec, because that is where they are raging?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think that the administration of justice is a provincial government problem. The responsible police forces in Quebec report to the provincial government and are directed by one of the opposition leader's predecessors. If the Quebec police need the federal police, we are always prepared to come to their assistance, but the responsibility is Quebec's.

He could call his former leader and tell him what to do.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, the Prime Minister appears to be out of touch with Quebec reality. There is a bikers war in Quebec, and it has been going on for some years, but the Prime Minister keeps blathering on, as though nothing was wrong.

How can the Prime Minister contend, as he did today, that we have all the tools necessary to combat the activities of criminal biker gangs, when in Quebec not one week goes by without buildings being blown up, or worse, innocent bystanders being killed?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government appreciates the

confusion and dismay biker gangs are causing in the Quebec City area. It is a very serious and dangerous situation indeed-and a tragedy, in the case of young Daniel Desrochers, who was killed in Montreal last year.

At the same time, the Prime Minister said, might I remind the hon. member, that this is essentially a provincial matter. It concerns the administration of justice, which falls primarily under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

The Solicitor General of Canada and myself have made it clear that we are prepared to work with our Quebec counterparts to find appropriate ways and tools for the police to fight organized crime. We said so six months ago, at the national forum on organized crime that was held here in September. We are prepared to work with our counterparts to find tools that can help the police.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister will neither hold an emergency debate, as requested by the Bloc Quebecois, nor undertake to act on proposals made by the Government of Quebec to deal effectively with the gang war. Meanwhile, the Hell's Angels and the Rock Machine are causing mayhem in Quebec.

My question is for the Prime Minister and I would like him to answer because this is a very important question. Will the Prime Minister admit that, by being stubborn, he is protecting criminal biker gangs instead of protecting the life and safety of innocent people in Quebec?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there are more than 800 sections in the Criminal Code to assist peace officers in the performance of their duties. I do not think there is a simple or magical solution.

Robert Perreault, the Minister of Public Security in Quebec, said essentially the same thing. In his opinion, an anti-gang law is not a magical solution; it would cause more problems than it would resolve.

Former Quebec Minister of Public Security Serge Ménard made the following comment: "I remain convinced that what we lack to fight organized crime is not legislation but sustained law enforcement". That is the solution: police work. As I said, if we can help police in any way by adding something to the Criminal Code of Canada, we will gladly do so.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, on Friday it was reported that personal bankruptcies had jumped22 per cent for last year over 1995. Almost 80,000 Canadians went broke thanks to Liberal economic policies.

Not only have the government's high tax policies given us the worst string of unemployment numbers since the great depression, they are causing Canadians to go broke at near record numbers.

What does the Prime Minister have to offer the unemployed and the bankrupt other than his empty election promise of jobs, jobs, jobs?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I tell everybody that the government is trying very hard to make sure the economy performs very well. At this moment, as I have repeated in the House, we have the lowest interest rates we have had in 35 years. Everybody who reads the newspaper realizes that housing is picking up, that people are buying more cars, and so on.

We have seen the country producing net more than 700,000 new jobs, more than as I have said Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy. It is not enough. The level of unemployment went from11.4 per cent to 9.7 per cent. We wish it would be lower but we have done the right thing to achieve these goals. That is why in the last week of reports in terms of optimism in the country for investment it is the best in many years.

We had to tackle the problems that were left to us when we formed the government, a deficit that was $42 billion. We had to reduce it and we have managed to create a lot of jobs in the meantime.

We are working very hard. I know the people of Canada will have an occasion within the next 18 months to make a judgment on our policies and the flip-flop of the Reform Party.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to talk about flip-flop. These kinds of numbers and encouraging words the Prime Minister fools himself with are no comfort and mean absolutely nothing to people who are unemployed and looking desperately for jobs.

The Liberals' flowery words and rosy predictions are absolutely cool comfort to the 1.5 million unemployed Canadians and the nearly 80,000 Canadians who went broke last year.

Since the Prime Minister's jobs strategy has failed miserably and since he has ruled out tax relief, I ask him to get to the facts and not give us the flowery numbers and predictions he knows are glossy. How does he plan to keep his red book myth of jobs, jobs, jobs that he tried to snow the people with in 1993?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I have explained, we have seen the confidence of consumers growing very fast in the last quarter. For example, residential investment has grown by 23 per cent. Consumer spending is

increasing by 5.6 per cent and fixed business investment by more than 23 per cent.

We do not claim we have solved all the problems, but I am telling the hon. lady we have done our best with the right preoccupations. We are not a party that is just proposing.

I know they can say that because they will not form the government. The only goal they have whenever they get up is to make sure there will be no more old age pension or Canada pension plan for the poor and that there will be tax cuts for the rich.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear this rhetoric.

In 1992 someone who sat exactly there with 1.5 million unemployed, Brian Mulroney, told us not to worry, that Canada had the best job creation record in the G-7.

Now in 1997 with 1.5 million still unemployed someone who sits in the very same chair, the present Prime Minister, is saying: "Don't worry, Canada has the best jobs creation record in the G-7". It is the same old story.

We could not trust Mulroney with that line in 1992. Why in the world should we trust the Prime Minister with the same old line in 1997?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was not the same line that we had because it was not our slogan. The member is right that it was Mr. Mulroney's slogan of jobs, jobs, jobs.

We said to the Canadian people that we would restore confidence and tackle the deficit and the debt of the country. When we formed the government interest rates were four points above those of the Americans. Now our interest rates are below theirs. At this time our interest rates are 2.5 per cent lower than those of the Americans. We have not seen that in 40 years.

I agree with the hon. member that we are paying the price because we had nine years of the Tories in government, and they are not about to come back.

Job CreationOral Question Period

March 17th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

With the election fast approaching, the Liberals should be ashamed of their poor performance in job creation. In addition to the fact that 45 per cent of all new jobs since 1993 were created in 1994, only 288,000 jobs were created in the years 1995 and 1996 together.

How can the minister shamelessly predict the possible creation of 300,000 to 350,000 new jobs in 1997, given that, for 1995 and 1996 together, only 288,000 new jobs were created, 60 per cent of which were part time jobs?

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, obviously, as a government, we cannot be pleased with the figures regularly heard in this House.

We are constantly striving to create an economic climate that will convince people to invest more. We also implemented job creation initiatives like no government before us. We changed an unemployment insurance system that acted as a disincentive to work, and replaced it with job creation funds, with a transitional job creation fund.

This morning, I was pleased to announce, in the east end of Montreal, an $8 million subsidy from the transitional job creation fund that will help create 3,000 jobs in the textile sector in the east end of Montreal.

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it takes some nerve for the minister to boast about using the transitional fund to create jobs when the $300 million to be spent over three years comes from the UI fund and the cuts affecting the unemployed.

The minister talks about creating many new jobs in 1997, in the private sector, but he is trying to hide the reality of massive job losses in that sector. Indeed, from February 1996 to February 1997, 85,000 workers in the private sector lost their jobs. Of the 189,000 jobs created in 1996, 125,000 were precarious independent jobs.

How can the minister use such a smoke and mirrors approach in promising 350,000 new jobs?

Job CreationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, Canada is lucky enough to be a member of the OECD, one of the world's foremost brain trusts, and it relies on the economic studies made by that organization.

The hope to create 350,000 jobs in our economy in the next year is based on the serious work done by these people, who have identified our economy as the most promising, since it is basically sound.

It is perfectly normal to have jobs of a different nature than in the past, including independent jobs, which are perfectly acceptable in the new economy, and which should not be looked down on.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to a study by the C.D. Howe Institute, the government has been hiding about $9 billion in income and sales taxes that it has sucked

out of the pockets of ordinary Canadians. This represents about $1,700 per family.

In a related story the government has been busted for going $9 billion over target on the spending projections put forth in its 1995 budget. In the case of regional development it is about 50 per cent over its target, just like the money the minister announced.

Is cooking the books the Prime Minister's definition of fiscal responsibility?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Secretary of State for International Financial Institutions.