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House of Commons Hansard #137 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was health.

Topics

Tobacco ActOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Roger Pomerleau Bloc Anjou—Rivière-Des-Prairies, QC

Dodging questions is an art, Mr. Speaker.

We will recall that, when the Minister of Health was considering banning raw milk cheese a few months ago, the Minister of Labour rose in the name of common sense. In the name of Montreal's economic health, will a Liberal from Quebec rise in this House today and speak up in its defence?

Will the Minister of Labour dare, once again, to rise and oppose this breach of common sense that will cost Montreal millions of dollars and thousands of jobs?

Tobacco ActOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Minister of Labour, has made many representations. It is because of that kind of quality representation that we have been able to provide an implementation period which will allow a variety of different groups to become accustomed to the new regime.

As I have said before, we are not banning sponsorships and we are not banning sponsorship promotion. Furthermore, if my colleague wishes to make representations to me with regard to banning beer at the Molson Centre I will take it under advisement.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, a few short weeks ago in a hospital at which I used to work, a 60 year-old gentleman was having heart pain and, indeed, a heart attack. He had to be transferred to St. Paul's Hospital. He waited three days because there was not enough money to open the intensive care unit beds in that hospital. This man died.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Is that his version of the government allowing the provinces to absorb $7 billion in transfer payment cuts to health care? Does he want the patients to absorb that with their lives?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member opposite is an individual who likes to keep the House fully informed of all the facts. It would not be for me to suggest that there is any form of negligence being exercised here today.

As the hon. member knows, the reduction of interest rates alone has saved the treasuries of the provinces in excess of $1.8 billion. Approximately $8.6 billion is being provided through the auspices of equalization.

The provinces asked something of the Government of Canada. They asked for predictable funding with a cash floor. Not only did we provide them with a cash floor, but we provided them with predictable funding not for three years, as they had requested, but for a five-year period with an escalation clause.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have been accused of being a slash and burn party. We want to put $4 billion into the health care of Canadians.

How can the Minister of Health tell the provinces what stable funding is? Is stable funding the removal of $7 billion in transfer payments to health and education? That is slash and burn health care in Canada.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, it is not often that I get the opportunity to stand on the floor in the House of Commons to concur with the preamble of the hon. member's question when he refers to his party as the slash and burn party of the Parliament of Canada.

The hon. member opposite should discover all of the facts and not some of the selected facts that he and the leader of his party are trying to portray to the Canadian people. The reality, as exhibited by the National Forum on Health, is that Canada has the second most expensive health care system in the OECD countries. It is not an issue of funding. It is an issue of management.

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Harold Culbert Liberal Carleton—Charlotte, NB

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

Last month, prior to the budget, the minister attended meetings with his financial counterparts from the G-7 nations. Based on budget projections, can the minister advise the House how Canada compares to the other G-7 industrialized nations of the world in economic growth and jobs and in bringing our financial house to order?

The EconomyOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Scarborough East Ontario

Liberal

Doug Peters LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, the finance minister was very well received by his G-7 counterparts, largely because of the efforts Canada has made in deficit reduction.

Canadian federal borrowing requirements, which are the way most countries measure their deficits, have fallen sharply and will be eliminated in 1998-99. This will be well below any other G-7 country. The total government deficit, both federal and provincial, relative to the GDP has also improved dramatically. It was three percentage points above the G-7. It is now well below the G-7.

Furthermore, both the IMF and the OECD predict that Canada will have the fastest employment growth of the G-7 countries in 1997.

TradeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

The minister will be aware that the United States has indicated that it would ignore any World Trade Organization ruling having to do with the Helms-Burton act.

Would the Minister for International Trade consider, in the name of Canadian identity, if not security, adopting a similar stance toward WTO rulings which prevent Canada from defending itself with respect to culture and our health care system, vis-à-vis the price of drugs, things which are as important to Canadians as security surely is to Americans.

Would Canada consider that policy?

TradeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we believe that international obligations should be respected and we intend to respect them, whether they are with the WTO or with the NAFTA.

We have, in fact, secured provisions that are relevant to the protection of the health care system and relevant to the protection of culture as well.

We intend to continue to follow those rules. We expect the United States to also meet its obligations with respect to the WTO.

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

March 4th, 1997 / 2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

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

On February 23, at a rally held to maintain Mirabel airport, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette spoke on behalf of the government and sought to reassure the public by saying that the Liberal government would finally break the deadlock that it had created. The senator even added that a committee made up of two members of Parliament and three senators, all Liberal, was reviewing the issue and might propose the building of a high-speed train between Mirabel and Montreal's downtown.

Since the Standing Committee on Transport agreed today with the Bloc Quebecois' arguments and decided to hold, in the near future, a day of public consultation on the Montreal airports issue, will the Deputy Prime Minister assure us that her government will dismantle the recently set up partisan committee made up of Liberal colleagues of hers, most of whom are not elected members of Parliament?

Aéroports De MontréalOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Hamilton West Ontario

Liberal

Stan Keyes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the hon. member that each and every committee of the House is the master of its own destiny.

If the hon. member would like to bring his suggestions to the transport committee, I am sure its chair, the hon. member for Winnipeg South, would be more than happy to entertain them and possibly have a day on the very issues about which the member is speaking.

AirbusOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the justice minister on the Airbus matter.

We know now that the letter that was eventually accepted by the Swiss authorities on the Airbus scandal went far beyond the evidence supplied by the RCMP. According to court documents, seven drafts of the letter were prepared by justice officials.

How many drafts of the letter were rejected by the Swiss authorities?

AirbusOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it may be that the hon. member is not familiar with international protocol in such matters, which was established some years ago by the previous government.

The letter that was sent to the Swiss authorities, the only letter that was sent in final form, was acted on by the authorities in keeping with international practice.

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

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

Peterborough has been hard hit by the reorganization of HRD in Ontario. A disability unit has been disbanded and other jobs have been moved. This affects services over a wide region.

I would ask the minister what he can do to assure quality human resources services in our community.

Human ResourcesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is important for us as a government to ensure the future of our social safety net. It is important also that we use the technologies which are available today to run the most efficient operations we can.

Canadians will continue to be very well served through the reorganization of the local human resources department. We will have personnel help in over 300 offices across the country that will actually be delivering it. We will have 6,000 automated kiosks that were not available before to serve Canadian citizens.

The office in Peterborough is a very important centre for us as a government. It will continue to serve clients and senior citizens of Peterborough for a long time to come.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of the hon. Ross Ginn, Deputy President of the Legislative Council of Tasmania, and Mr. Anthony John Benneworth, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly of Tasmania.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I received a letter from the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie regarding a question of privilege. I will listen to the hon. member and then I will hear the points of order raised by other members.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we saw in Quebec's major newspapers an advertisement in which Health Canada refers to "the act", and I mean the government's anti-tobacco "act".

First, this advertisement is false and affects the privileges of this House. Indeed, the ad suggests that the House has passed Bill C-71. The fact is that, while the government did its utmost to gag the opposition regarding this issue, the act has yet to be passed.

The Speaker of the House made an interesting ruling on October 10, 1989, regarding a similar situation concerning a GST ad, when the legislation had not yet been passed. The Speaker ruled, and I am quoting page 4461 of the Hansard :

-if your Speaker ever has to consider a situation like this again, the Chair will not be as generous. This is a case which, in my opinion, should never recur. I-remind everyone within the Public Service that we are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy-

In 1989, when the Liberals formed the opposition, they had welcomed the ruling made by the Speaker of the time. Therefore, I am asking the Minister of Health to apologize in this House, on behalf of his department, for the false advertisement which he authorized and paid for with taxpayers' money.

Moreover, I believe I can get the support of the House in asking the Minister of Health to pay back to taxpayers the costs of his false advertising. The minister should use the taxpayers' money to make young people aware of the harmful effects of tobacco.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you. If you deem that the issue raised is indeed a question of privilege, I am prepared to table the usual motion. But first I will listen to what you have to say.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we certainly did not have, or at least I did not have, notice of the particular question of privilege that has just been raised. I certainly have not had a chance to check with my colleague, the Minister of Health, or any other relevant minister on the substance of the allegations made by the hon. member.

I was wondering, Mr. Speaker, if we could have your permission to have this question of privilege stood for a day or two while the allegations are checked into. This would make it easier to argue the point and ask you to make the most appropriate ruling.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government House leader is a man of experience who surely does not need 24 or 48 hours to recognize something that is quite obvious. I therefore ask for leave to table a copy of that advertisement.

I am prepared to hand it over to him right now, and I suppose the House leader will understand it as soon as he reads it, since he was in this House in 1989. At the time, he advocated a reprimand, to ensure that taxpayers' money cannot be used deceitfully in advance under a false pretenses.

Thus, I table this document and ask that it be passed on to my colleague. With his experience, he will understand at once.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

For any member of the opposition to table any document we need unanimous consent of the House. Is there unanimous consent?

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, when there is a question of privilege in this House, I usually reserve judgment for a few hours.

I am sure the hon. member for Laurier-Saint Marie would want to see the document. I did not see the document the Minister of Health handed over. I would like to see the document also.

With the agreement of the House I will wait until the Minister of Health or a spokesperson of the government has a chance to give us some information. At that time I will review all the documentation and if it is necessary I will get back to the House.