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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was young.

Topics

Privilege

March 6th, 1997 / 10 a.m.

The Speaker

Order. Before we proceed to the orders of the day I am now ready to rule on the question of privilege raised by the hon. member for York South-Weston on Wednesday, February 19, 1997 concerning the availability of budget documents prior to the budget presentation made by the Minister of Finance on Tuesday, February 18, 1997.

I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. member forSt. Albert, the hon. member for Kootenay East, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for their comments in this matter.

In his submission, the hon. member for York South-Weston argued that many of the provisions of the budget had been announced by the government prior to the speech of the Minister of Finance and that budget documents were available approximately 15 minutes before the minister rose to make his budget presentation. He contended that these two actions were in marked contrast to previous practice.

The member also maintained that the privileges of members of the House are impinged upon when information is released prematurely. Finally, he asked the Chair to review the whole matter of the budget lock-up.

Since the beginning of this Parliament, hon. members have witnessed an important change in the budget process. On February 7, 1994 the House adopted amendments to its standing orders which included the insertion of new Standing Order 83.1 to provide for so-called "prebudget consultations" by authorizing the Standing Committee on Finance to consider and make reports on proposals regarding the budgetary policy of the government.

Accordingly, the Standing Committee on Finance has engaged on three occasions in a process of public consultation, during which its members were authorized to travel and to listen to the concerns of Canadians. Pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, the committee tabled three reports: the first on December 8, 1994, the second on December 12, 1995 and the third and most recent on December 5, 1996.

On the issue of budget secrecy, perhaps it would be helpful to remind all members of what Speaker Sauvé pointed out in a decision she gave to the House on April 19, 1983 at page 24649 of the Debates :

-budget secrecy is a political convention. So also is the practice whereby the minister presents his budget in the House before declaring it in any other public forum.

I agree with Speaker Sauvé. It would not be proper for the Chair to get involved in the interpretation of budget secrecy, nor the matter of the lock-up.

As for the issue of privilege with respect to the matter raised, let me quote again Speaker Sauvé. In a decision which can be found in the Debates of November 18, 1981 at page 12898 she stated that:

-a breach of budget secrecy cannot be dealt with as a matter of privilege. It might constitute a very important grievance for members. Such action might have a very negative impact on business or on the stock market. It might cause some people to receive revenues which they would not otherwise have been able to obtain. All of these are possible consequences of breaches of budget secrecy, but they have no impact on the privileges of the member. They might do harm-irrevocable in some case-to persons or institutions, but this has nothing to do with privilege.

Speaker Fraser was also asked to rule on budget secrecy. On June 18, 1987, at page 7315 of the Debates he mentioned:

Budgetary secrecy is a matter of parliamentary convention. Its purpose is to prevent anybody from gaining a private advantage by reason of obtaining advance budgetary information-The limits of parliamentary privilege are very narrow and it is not a responsibility of the Chair to rule as to whether or not a parliamentary convention is justified or whether or not the matter complained of is a breach of that convention. That is a matter of political debate and not one in which the Chair would wish to become involved.

I concur with both Speakers in that a breach of budget secrecy has nothing to do with parliamentary privilege. Therefore, in the case presently before us, the Chair cannot determine that the hon. member has been in any way hindered in the performance of his parliamentary duties.

Consequently, it is my decision that there is no prima facie case of privilege.

I thank the hon. member for York South-Weston for raising his matter.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to six petitions.

Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberalfor the Minister of Industry

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-85, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Liberal

Ron Irwin Liberalon behalf of the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-86, an act to amend the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act and to make a consequential amendment to another act.

(Motion deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today. The first petition suggests that Bill C-33 was debated with undue haste and will undermined the natural family. This petition is from people in my constituency of Macleod.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition points out that the GST on books is unfair and that there was a promise to remove it from reading material.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the final petition points out that the white ribbon against pornography week be given more coverage here in Parliament. I agree with all these petitions.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of petitions here.

The first petition deals with profit from criminal activity. It is being denounced by these constituents and they point out there ought to be absolute certainty that this does not occur.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is similar commentary with respect to pornography and its negative effects on society. It is not only denounced, it is in fact suggested that this should not be happening because it is extremely dysfunctional and degrading to women, children and others.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition wants to ensure that there are no increases in taxes on gasoline. The petitioners feel that it is already too high.

The fourth petition is with respect to reading materials. These petitions want no GST on reading materials, something that I have advocated for some time. They also suggest that reading and learning materials could be zero rated.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition calls on members of this House to make upgrading of the national highway system possible. I am pleased to provide my support for all these.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition on behalf of the

Canadian Council of Railway Operating Unions. This petition is signed by communities all the way from Windsor, Ontario to Revelstoke, British Columbia.

What the petitioners are pointing out is that the viability of the CCROU as an effective bargaining unit for the members has been undermined as a result of the government's interference in the collective process via the maintenance of the Railway Operation Act, 1995.

What they are asking for is that Parliament and the government restore meaningful collective bargaining to the process. They call on Parliament to recognize the importance of free and unfettered collective bargaining by enacting a bill which would restore the union's right to strike and with it the company's right to lock out.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure of introducing another petition signed by petitioners mainly from Fort Qu'Appelle and the Balcarres district.

These petitioners point out that there are still over 30,000 nuclear weapons on the earth. They point out as well that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons poses a threat to the health and survival of human civilization and to the global environment.

They call on Parliament to support the initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today. The first petition comes from Regina, Saskatchewan.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that our police officers and firefighters place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they serve the emergency needs of all Canadians. They also state that in many cases their families are often left without sufficient financial means to meet their obligations.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund to receive gifts and bequests for the benefit of families of police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from Calgary, Alberta. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to assist families that choose to provide care in the home for preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is from Dingwall, Nova Scotia. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may cause problems or impair one's ability, and specifically that fetal alcohol syndrome and other alcohol related birth defects are 100 per cent preventable by avoiding alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

The petitioners pray and call on Parliament to enact legislation to require health warning labels to be placed on the containers of all alcoholic beverages to caution expectant mothers and others of the risks associated with alcohol consumption.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present.

Two of the petitions have to do with the national highway system, the first of which notes that 38 per cent of our national highway system is substandard. Therefore the petitioners call on Parliament to urge the federal government to join with the provincial governments to make the national highway system upgrading possible.

The second petition, which is also on the subject of highways, notes that 52 per cent of the price of gasoline is composed of taxes, while only 5 per cent of the revenue is reinvested in the highways. Therefore the petitioners call on Parliament to not increase the federal excise tax on gasoline and allocate its current revenues to rehabilitating our crumbling highways.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Reform

Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition concerns reading and literacy. The petitioners note that the 7 per cent GST now applied to reading material is unjust. The petitioners ask Parliament to zero rate books, magazines and newspapers under the GST.

I support their petition.

Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation And Safety Board ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Minister of Health is in the House today to hear me present this petition.

Five hundred and fifty petitioners from my riding of Cambridge pray and request that the government make a commitment to renew the national AIDS strategy and maintain the current level of funding.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

moved that Bill C-71, an act to regulate the manufacture, sale, labelling and promotion of tobacco products, to make consequential amendments to another act and to repeal certain acts, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise and speak to Bill C-71. There are many in the House today who have experienced much debate on the issue of tobacco regulation. Several of us who sit here today were here in 1988 for debate on what was then Bill C-51, the Tobacco Products Control Act.

I would like to thank my previous colleague, the former minister of health, the Hon. Jake Epp, who brought forward Bill C-51, for his commitment to tobacco regulation and for his efforts in legislating in this area.

Almost seven years ago Minister Epp rose in the House to speak on Bill C-51 at third reading. I quote from that speech:

The purpose of the bill is to provide a legislative response to a national public health problem of substantial and present concern. It is intended to protect the health of Canadians in light of conclusive evidence implicating tobacco use and the incidents of numerous debilitating and fatal diseases.

Although we on this side of the House have on several occasions found cause to differ with the party of the Hon. Jake Epp, Bill C-51 had the support of my party.

We did have concerns about the legislation at that time. We wanted to make certain that the bill went as far as possible to restrict the access and exposure of tobacco products.

My hon. colleague, the minister of heritage, spoke to those concerns throughout the debates on Bill C-51. While we wanted to ensure the legislation was effective, we never wavered in our support for the principles of the bill. Today we have before us a bill which speaks to the commitment of my party and of the government to the health of Canadians.

Tobacco is a preventable source of much health damage to Canadians. Behind the glossy advertising and the carefree lifestyles that sponsorships feed off is a record of suffering and of lives ended far too soon. Who in the House has not been touched by the devastating toll of tobacco use? We have all had relatives, friends or acquaintances who have been sick or who have died because of tobacco related illnesses.

As debate on Bill C-71 has already revealed, smoking has complex and diverse impacts and as the research mounts all around the world we are learning much more about the effects of that use. We are coming to understand more of the factors that influence the decision to smoke and yes, the decision to continue to smoke.

Let me underline one tragic fact. The decision to smoke is being made overwhelmingly by teenagers. Some 85 per cent of all smokers started before the age of 16. Those who suggest that this issue is about adult choices should keep that in mind.

What faces these young smokers? A lifetime of weakened health for one thing, because we know that tobacco kills. We know that research shows a death toll of about 40,000 lives of Canadians cut short each and every year. We know that tobacco is associated with about 30 per cent of all cancer in this country.

If that were all the price we paid because young people fall prey to the lure of tobacco use, it would be too much. But there is more. Tobacco has economic and social costs as well. One of the most obvious economic impacts is the cost of health care for people who suffer from the effects of tobacco use. We face those costs from a number of sources, the most basic of course is the cost to our medicare system.

I think all political parties in the House understand Canadians believe very strongly in our medicare system and I believe all political parties in the House know we need to improve the way we use that system. That means reducing unnecessary drains on the system.

Tobacco must be the best example of a preventable cost to medicare. But we estimate that tobacco use costs our society approximately $15 billion each and every year, about $3.5 billion resulting from the kinds of direct health care costs I have been talking about.

I could talk about how those costs are incurred, about hospital days spent, visits to doctors and prescription costs, about time spent in long term health care facilities. We could spend considerable time talking about the illness that doctors link to tobacco consumption. It could be cancer, heart disease or a lung disease such as emphysema.

We must remember and take to heart that the smokers who are addicted and who are perhaps sick today because of their habit probably started to smoke when they were very young, probably when they were teenagers.

As we debate the bill today yet another generation of Canadian youth is being exposed to the lure of tobacco products. The new tobacco customers are young Canadians. As we sit in our places today let us try to remember the feeling of young people. Young people feel themselves to be immortal. They want to be adults and do things that seem adult like.

Being a teenager is a time to assert one's independence. It is a time when the opinions of friends and peers can weigh more heavily on a decision than the advice of teachers, parents or even physicians. The most common reason cited for starting to smoke is the influence of friends, better known as peer pressure. A 13-year old or a 14-year old cannot easily conceptualize the possibility of getting heart disease or cancer in 30 or 40 years.

Let us think of our own youth whether we grew up in Quebec, Ontario or the maritimes and how immune as young people we thought we were to diseases such as heart disease, cancer and others. If the young get hooked the addictive power of nicotine will do the rest. It is as simple as that.

We know that one in three young Canadians smoke and that half of them will ultimately die prematurely of a tobacco related disease. We know that youth are the most tragic casualties of tobacco use and addiction. We know that youth are the most vulnerable to tobacco promotion.

I wish to present to the House some facts that ought to be examined both in light of their substance and in terms of the devastating effects they can have on young people: 29 cent of 15 to 19 year olds and 14 per cent of 10 to 14 year olds are currently smoking. Let us imagine a 10-year old daughter or a 13-year old son smoking. Do they visualize the possibility of cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other lung diseases? No. Smoking among teens aged 15 to 19 has increased by as much as 25 per cent since 1991.

According to the 1994 youth smoking survey, 260,000 children in Canada between the ages of 10 and 19 began smoking in that year. Figures like these which are being replicated in other countries have prompted their governments to legislate in the area of tobacco control. The World Health Organization has classified youth smoking as a global pediatric epidemic. That is why the government's priorities in developing the legislation and our overall tobacco strategy have been focused on young people.

The tobacco industry claims it does not advertise to encourage youth to take up smoking. That is what the industry says. It claims

it is only encouraging the switching of brands among older established smokers. The focus of advertizing, says the industry, is an audience of entirely adult tobacco consumers.

If we walk the streets we see the billboards and the paraphernalia in terms of caps, jackets and T-shirts. We can check billboards in close proximity to schools and other institutions for young people. These billboards and paraphernalia are certainly not a campaign directed toward the senior citizens. The campaign is for young people.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

An hon. member

Oh.

Tobacco ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

David Dingwall Liberal Cape Breton—East Richmond, NS

I know the hon. member opposite hates to hear the facts, but let me share something with him. I know he will enter the debate. Then we will have an opportunity to hear his wisdom and intellectual fervour. Perhaps he will listen to one of his own who said on this issue that the tobacco industry said it did not advertise to encourage youth to take up smoking.

Vincent Fischer, president of Symbiose, can qualify as being the guru of sponsorship in Quebec. As he notes, the studies are based on common sense. He said:

If tobacco manufacturers invest $60 million, they are not doing so for the good of their health. They are doing so because they are getting a return on their investment.

That is not me. That is an advertising executive in the province of Quebec.

As I said, the focus of advertising, says the industry, is an audience of an entirely adult tobacco consumers. The information all around us suggests and proves that it is not so.

I again refer hon. members to the article in La Presse of yesterday.