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

Topics

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, I thank members of the Reform Party for their greeting.

Members of the Reform Party should read some of the independent comments about Canadian government policies. I suggest they read, for example, the comments of Maureen Farrow of Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon Limited who said:

International investors, whom I talk to every day, are looking at Canada as if it we've sort of arisen from the ashes. It's fascinating because it's the deficit, the debt-the current account, the contained inflation-the overall competitiveness, the restructuring of the export sector, and we've gained enormous market shares across the board on our export markets.

She was referring particularly to markets in the far east. That is an economic success. Those are not the problems the hon. member is talking about. He is talking about non-existent problems. Definitional problems were mentioned in the particular article. As usual for the Reform Party, the numbers he quoted were incorrect.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, we eagerly await the member's retirement.

It is obvious government members are using creative accounting and tax increases including $3.7 billion in user fees to cover up their managerial incompetence. They are as guilty of fudging the books as the Tories before them.

How can Canadians trust anything government members say when it is obvious they have blown their spending reduction targets, just like Michael Wilson did, and covered them up with tax increases?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when the secretary of state retires he will be able to talk about the successes he had as a secretary of state for the Department of Finance.

In the case of the hon. member who just spoke, he will have a forced retirement.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

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

Last night, CTV reported that Agriculture Canada has for years subsidized research enabling cigarette manufacturers to use plants with a high nicotine concentration, and here the government has just passed its anti-smoking legislation claiming to have the health of Canadians and young people at heart.

Would the Minister of Health confirm whether the federal government has supported research on levels of nicotine in the past?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Essex—Kent Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, it is very clear Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada does not fund research on nicotine. We do measure the amount of nicotine in plants in a similar way that we measure sugar in plants. We measure the length of tobacco plants. We measure placement of the leaves on plants, but we do not research in the area of putting nicotine into plants.

Quite frankly those types of measurements are done on all products grown as a crop in Canada.

It is very clear that the nicotine level in plants that have been approved by agriculture Canada, the varieties, has gone down from high levels in the 1980s through the 1990s consistently. The level of nicotine in plants has dropped in Canada.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, a recent study by Health Canada revealed that nicotine levels in tobacco increased 53 per cent in the past 27 years-that is a scandal.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Aside from his fancy speeches on health, does the minister intend to do what is needed to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco in order to fight addiction to this product at the source?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I have a very hard time remaining seated. These are the members who last week were on their feet trying to block our bill banning tobacco advertising directed at young people. Such hypocrisy.

Last week they voted against a bill that restricts advertising on tobacco and today they are complaining about tobacco. The people of Quebec, however, will understand that they have once again failed to look after the interests of young Quebecers who give in to smoking.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleagues, I would prefer that words such as "hypocrite" and "hypocrisy" not be used.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the tobacco companies say they do not manipulate nicotine in tobacco products. We have found out that they do not need to. Agriculture Canada is doing that very thing by searching out and researching strains that raise the nicotine level in those strains.

The Liberal government is directly implicated in this search. Why the double standard?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Essex—Kent Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate the fact that we are not. We had very high levels of nicotine in the 1980s. Through the 1990s those levels have been decreased consistently with every brand coming forward.

I might well point out while I am on my feet that the research in agriculture Canada is for agronomic purposes, making sure our environment is safe, making sure that we have alternate crops for those people who are involved in agriculture with tobacco.

We have taken out over 50 per cent of the tobacco growers in this country in the last 10 years. As a matter of fact, 90 per cent of the research dollars that have been spent in agricultural research in tobacco have been taken away.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I disagree. I will quote a research arm of this government. This is what the research is doing: "Overall these lines have improved yield and grade quality and will contribute greatly to the economic well-being of who? The tobacco companies".

The new tobacco bill has a proposal in it that would allow this government to control nicotine levels. We thought, frankly, that it would lower it. What has it done? Research that will raise it.

The tobacco companies lost the battle on ads. It looks like they have won the war on addicts. Why?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Essex—Kent Ontario

Liberal

Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the nicotine levels are generally set on an international basis. Within those structures on the international basis the levels of tobacco that have been approved in Canada, that go forward in Canada, have declined through the 1990s. The number of people who are growing tobacco has declined. There has been absolutely no commercial tobacco production in the maritime provinces, the Atlantic provinces, since 1996.

We have reduced the number of people growing tobacco. We have provided alternate crops. We have changed the whole mechanism by which tobacco is grown.

Lac Barrière ReserveOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, on January 23, 1996, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development recognized an interim band council to administer the Lac Berrière reserve.

This irresponsible act led to 100 children having their school closed for more than a year, several roads being barricaded, numerous court cases, a community divided, and a trilateral agreement coming to an end on December 31 of last year.

My question: since the Liberal government bears the bulk of the responsibility for this crisis, will the minister finally make up his mind to take action to put an end to this situation, which has gone on far too long already?

Lac Barrière ReserveOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the problem in the Algonquin First Nation of Barrière goes back to the 1950s and 1960s. There was an outburst in 1964. The community has been in rough shape.

The chief did not hold elections for 15 years. We spent half a million dollars with the province of Quebec to look at abuse on the reserve. A petition came forward asking for an election.

We have the most qualified person I could find to go in there, Judge Réjean Paul, an aboriginal superior court judge, and two elders. They have been working with the band. It is difficult. However, I am sure that the hon. member would not want to use this incident, which is a tragic incident, for political purposes.

Lac Barrière ReserveOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, as a member of the opposition, I am entitled to ask questions. One thing is clear: the entire situation at Lac Barrière is paralyzed at present, and the minister is directly responsible for this state of affairs.

The barricades make it difficult for all of the forestry activities in this region to be carried out. In order to make things easier for the businesses in this region, will the minister commit to negotiating with the Lac Barrière band council and the Government of Quebec a new trilateral agreement on the 10,000 square kilometres of forest resources around the reserve?

Lac Barrière ReserveOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, we had worked in the past with the province of Quebec on a trilateral agreement. It was not mandatory in the federal government to do so. We did pay a fair

share of the moneys. We are prepared to work co-operatively with Quebec on the forestry problem.

On the band itself, Judge Réjean Paul, who had actually quit, was convinced to go back and put a last proposal to the band. Hopefully it will accept this proposal and perhaps get on with its future.

It is a problem that has been there for four decades. Using this group for political purposes does not cover the hon. member in grace.

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

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

Last October 16, the minister and the president of the Canadian Pediatric Society indicated their concerns about fetal alcohol syndrome, stating that the wisest decision for a woman to make was to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy.

Can the minister clarify for us what initiatives his department intends to take in support of this recommendation?

HealthOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that the improving of the health of Canadian mothers and babies is an important priority not only for the federal government but certainly for provinces and other stakeholders.

Four initiatives have been undertaken by my department. We are working in partnership with the Canadian Paediatric Society. We have developed a joint statement on the prevention of fetal alcohol syndrome. Health Canada has also provided funding to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse to operate its 1-800 information service. We produced and are distributing public awareness materials.

Finally, prevention through early intervention programs such as the Canada prenatal nutrition program reinforces the government's commitment to giving children the best start in life.

While I am on my feet, I want to thank the hon. member for his continuing interest in this subject matter and for the various suggestions he is putting forward in trying to rectify this.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Major Armstrong appearing before the Somalia inquiry stated that in his opinion the shooting of Ahmed Aruush on March 4, 1993 was a murder.

He reported this to his superiors and it seems that headquarters in Ottawa was also advised. It then took six weeks to dispatch a police investigation team. Some think this sent a message that may have contributed to the torture death of Shidane Arone on March 16.

Neither the justice review nor the committee of four can tell the minister of defence what took place at national defence headquarters. How does he intend to find out?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman refers to the work done by a retired chief justice of the supreme court, Mr. Dickson, and his team on the military justice system. I know that the hon. member has deep concerns about the Canadian forces and how the military justice system works, how the military police organization responds to the kinds of challenges that obviously occurred in Somalia.

I have now received the report from Mr. Justice Dickson. I will be reporting to the Prime Minister before the end of the month. I think I can say without equivocation that the hon. member will be as impressed as I have been by the work done by Mr. Justice Dickson.

That having been said, with specific reference to the question he put today, the hon. member will know that I have not in the past commented on testimony brought before the Somalia commission of inquiry and I will not do that now. I will have nothing to say about how it has dealt with that issue until such time as it has prepared its recommendations and has submitted them to the government.

I am sure the hon. member and Canadians look forward to receiving the report of the Somalia commission of inquiry no later than the end of June.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Frazer Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the justice committee probably has provided good recommendations but that does not deal with the problem of what happened at NDHQ after that report. It seems that there may have been several cover-ups at several levels, in Belet Huen, in Mogadishu and then the so-called damage control in Ottawa.

The commission may be able to answer the questions about Belet Huen and Mogadishu, but with the inquiry shut down it will not be able to establish the facts of what took place in Ottawa.

How does the minister intend to deal with this apparent attempt of a cover-up of murder?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the incidents to which the hon. member refers have been the subject of various proceedings within the military justice system. I do not intend to comment on that.

With respect to the roster of witnesses, of the agenda and the workplan of the commission of inquiry on Somalia, I have not commented on that. We are now two years beyond the time when that commission began its work.

I will leave it to the hon. member and to keen observers of this entire exercise to determine for themselves and to respond in their own way whether they believe that people who were involved or who were aware of the incidents when they occurred in Somalia should have been heard at the end of two years or earlier. I do not intend to comment on that.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

March 17th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

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

According to the minister, one of the characteristics of the new Employment Insurance Act is to calculate the number of hours worked, and no longer the number of weeks. However, the Employment Insurance Act still excludes one class of casual workers. I am referring to the 20,000 members of the army reserve whose assignments for less than 30 days do not count for employment insurance. However, members of the reserve very often have assignments of less than 30 days between September and June.

What explanation does the minister have for the fact that 20,000 members of the reserve are partly excluded from the provisions of employment insurance, while according to the government, the purpose of the new legislation is to allow a larger number of people to qualify for employment insurance benefits?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it will be a pleasure to look into the particular case of members of the reserve.

The fact is that we want to encourage people to accept more work. As soon as workers finish their first hour of work, we start covering them. We want to encourage people to accept more hours of work.

Obviously, to obtain the amount necessary for coverage and benefits, we think it is also important that people have an incentive to look for work other than what they can get within a certain period on the labour market. That is what we are doing.