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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cpp.

Topics

Health CareOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I am going to permit that question if the right hon. Prime Minister wants to answer it.

Health CareOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I said yes. I admitted that we have cut, but I said that we have not cut by 40 per cent. Of course we have cut.

The Reform Party is telling us that we are not cutting enough. As the Minister of Finance said a few minutes ago, the Reform Party would cut $3.5 billion if it ever formed the government. But I can assure the people of Canada: don't worry, it will not form the government.

Prescription DrugsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

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

The Minister of Health said yesterday that the 20 year drug patent protection under Bill C-91 cannot be changed because of Canada's international trade obligations. Afterward, international law exports said that Canada can change Bill C-91 to allow for cheaper prescription drugs for Canadians under the NAFTA article "ordre public, section 1709(2) and article 27(2) of the WTO code.

Can the minister tell us if there are any public interest exceptions permitted under these or any articles of the NAFTA and the WTO as they pertain to drug patents or any other intellectual property?

Prescription DrugsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our reading of section 1709(2) of the NAFTA and the WTO intellectual property clauses is that there are very limited provisions in terms of changing our present laws in any respect. It covers very urgent types of circumstances and does not allow for us to return to the pre-1993 compulsory licensing provisions.

Vehicle EmissionsOral Question Period

March 5th, 1997 / 3 p.m.

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

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

Vehicle emissions are a major source of air pollution. Canadians do not want to put their lives into danger every time they leave the house. What has been done to ensure that in future Canadians will breathe more safely, and has the minister been able to secure the co-operation of the provinces in this effort?

Vehicle EmissionsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me thank my hon. friend and colleague for raising that question.

The number one culprit, when we speak of air pollution in our cities, is caused by car emissions. That is why the government has announced, starting with next year's car models, that the standard emissions in Canada will be the tightest anywhere in the world.

Along with the new generation of car emission standards, we need to usher in a new generation of cleaner fuels. That is why the government has moved boldly on MMT, on benzene and on sulphur.

When the cars hit the road, that is provincial jurisdiction. Older cars pollute 10 times more than new cars. That is why the province of Ontario, for instance, should stop paying lip service to this issue and begin to walk the talk by putting an inspection and maintenance program for cars in place so that all of us can breathe a sigh of relief.

Presence In The GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

I wish to draw to the attention of the House the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Hennadii Udovenko, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

Presence In The GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Presence In The GalleryOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

First I am going to deal with a point of order of which I have received notice. It arises from question period. Then I will go on to a response to the question of privilege that was raised yesterday.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, during oral question period, when the leader of the opposition used the word demagoguery, you rose and said you did not want him to use that term again. I would like you to take a look at the blues, because at the end of his speech the health minister probably got carried away by calling me a hypocrite.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

I will look at the blues, as we call them. I will check to see what was said and I will get back to the House if necessary.

I have another point of order. Does this come from question period today?

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, I referred to a document during my question. I would like to table that document now.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

This request can be granted if the House agrees unanimously. Does the hon. member have permission to put the motion?

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Does the hon. member have permission to table the document to which he referred?

Point Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Speaker

Yesterday, the hon, member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie raised the question of privilege. He has been notified that we

shall be getting, if not a response, at least an explanation or a brief speech explaining what occurred. I therefore give the floor to our friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

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, yesterday the Bloc House leader, the hon. member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie, rose on a question of privilege. I would like to reply to some of the points he raised, as they referred to a document he tabled in the House yesterday.

In the course of his intervention the hon. member referred to an advertisement in a Quebec newspaper and said that it was similar to the GST advertising in 1989. By analogy he claimed that it was inappropriate, just as the advertising was in 1989, because it implied that specific legislation was in place, that it referred to specific provisions it purported were already law when the bill still was not passed. That was the reference the hon. member gave the House when he raised his question of privilege.

While I acknowledge the precedent exists, the matter before us today is in clear and stark contrast because the advertisement now in question does not refer to any provisions of any law or any proposed law.

The advertisements that were placed in the Canadian media present a number of facts about conditions that relate to the use of tobacco. The advertisements do not claim that the provisions of any bill are already enacted. Mr. Speaker, on careful reflection of both the English and the French versions you will see that is the case. The French version of the advertisements call on the readers to support la loi anti-tabac. In English it refers to anti-tobacco legislation. If one wanted to be an absolute purist one might argue that the French Translation ought to say "le projet de loi" and in English it ought to say "bill".

However, one must bear in mind that we are dealing with advertisements. It is common in such cases to use colloquialisms that may not, in the strictest sense, be precise. To the layman, however, the meaning is very clear. In French one frequently hears the phrase "le projet de loi" referred to merely as "la loi" even though it has not yet passed, just as in English one often refers to a bill as legislation, even though in the strict sense of the word it is not legislation until enacted.

There is very substantial proof that these advertisements do not in any way represent Bill C-71, which is still before the House, as having been enacted.

Clause 1 of the bill gives us some very important information on this matter of privilege. Clause 1 of the bill gives it a short title, namely the tobacco law, or in French la loi sur le tabac. The advertisements refer to anti-tobacco legislation, la loi anti-tabac, which is not the short title, the long title or in fact any title of the bill before the House.

In conclusion, the advertisements do not in any way interfere with the ability of the House to consider the legislation before it. They do not refer to the number or the title of any bill before the House and they do not describe the provisions of any bill before the House. They describe a reprehensible public problem and urge citizens to support unspecified legislation to deal with these problems. This does not in any way impair the ability of the House to do its duty. Respectfully, I would submit, it is not a breach of privilege. It does not encroach on the privileges of the members of the House.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak in support of the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Laurier-Saint Marie. There is certainly a violation here that should be noted.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take you back to a decision and comments made by Mr. Speaker Fraser in this assembly with regard to the debate on the GST, the goods and services tax, and a debate that went on at that time. As I understand it, prior to the passing of the GST legislation, the government of the day put advertisements in the paper to the effect that the legislation had been passed by Parliament and was the law of the country. Certainly on that basis that was a violation.

The advertisement we have before us today does that again. It says: "I support the anti-tobacco law," which is not on the books as of this moment in time. Again, that is the same violation which was noted by the hon. member, the House leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

I would like to refresh your mind, Mr. Speaker, of comments made by the hon. member who is now the House leader for the government, Mr. Herb Gray, who said at that time with regard-

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I ask the hon. member to refrain from using names. The title of the minister is enough.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I certainly recognize that. I was making an attempt to be clear in my definition of which House leader I was referring to and I understand the ruling as such.

The then House leader of the opposition party is now the House leader of the Liberal Party which is in government. Referencing the GST advertisement of the day he said that in effect there would be a new tax on January 1, 1991. The advertisement was intended to convey the idea that Parliament had acted on it because that was the ordinary understanding of Canadians about how a tax like this one was finally adopted and put into effect. That being the case, it was

clearly a contempt of Parliament because it amounted to a misrepresentation of the role of the House.

Speaker Fraser of the day said the following with regard to those comments and the advertisement:

This advertisement may not be a contempt of this House in the narrow confines of a procedural definition, but it is in my opinion ill-conceived and it does a great disservice to the great traditions of this place. If we do not preserve these great traditions, our freedoms are at peril and our conventions become a mockery of modern and responsible members on both sides of the House. That ad is objectionable and should never be repeated.

That was said clearly to members who are now sitting in the House and were present for Speaker Fraser's comments at that time.

It has happened again. It is unacceptable. It has been a violation of privilege and I recommend, Mr. Speaker, that you rule accordingly.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was here during that time. Those ads were very different from what appeared in publications yesterday.

In the substance of the ad there is nothing that says the legislation is passed or that it would become effective on a certain date. It does not refer to the result or the consequences of the legislation as the GST ads did.

There is no point even considering the content of these ads compared to the GST ads that caused the ruling by Speaker Fraser, which was a good ruling and one I supported.

In terms of this question of privilege I see nothing in the ads that violates the privilege of any member vis-à-vis the piece of legislation which was before the House yesterday and will be back in the not too distant future.

I simply leave for your consideration, Mr. Speaker, that in comparing the two issues you find there is no question of privilege.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Nunziata Liberal York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health makes a very persuasive argument about the devastating impact of cigarette smoking. I noticed an ad in a newspaper today entitled "Let's Sponsor the Health of Our Kid" which went on to state a number of facts.

It said that in Canada each year 256,000 young people start smoking on average at age 14. Half of these young people will smoke all their lives. One in every five deaths is caused by smoking. Smoking related diseases cost the Canadian health care system $3.5 billion. As many as three million Canadians alive today will die from tobacco related causes.

If that in fact is the case, if that is the impact of cigarette smoking in Canada and if the minister is being sincere, surely cigarettes ought to be banned. The importation and sale of cigarettes should be illegal.

The ad goes on to ask the reader to support anti-tobacco legislation. That is misleading. Bill C-71 is not anti-tobacco. It does not ban or prohibit the importation and sale of cigarettes, cigars or any other form of tobacco.

If the government and the Minister of Health were making this case in terms of the devastating impact of cigarette smoking, if one in every five deaths is caused by smoking and smoking related diseases cost the Canadian health care system $3.5 billion, to be consistent they have a legal and moral responsibility to ban tobacco. By simply banning advertising on sport cars and at cultural events is not good enough.

The Minister of Health is either sincere or, as he said earlier today, he should go all the way as opposed to huffing and puffing.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

We are getting more into debate. I would like you to speak to the particular question of privilege.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me the matter is fairly simple. In the question of privilege which we raised, we did not accuse government representatives responsible for placing this advertising message of any malicious intent. We are not saying that they were trying to make any false representations, not in the least.

Today, instead of just admitting the mistake, the parliamentary secretary is trying to argue that a document can be referred to as both a bill and an act.

If it is true that the same document can be called both an act and a bill, in future the two expressions could be used interchangeably all the time, and we will never know where we stand. No one is saying that the government had wrong intentions, we are saying that the government made a mistake. Please acknowledge your mistake and make the necessary apologies.