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House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was following.

Topics

Vimy RidgeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Len Hopkins Liberal Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, historians have stated that Canadian nationhood was born on the battlefields of Europe. Those of us who had the privilege this past week of attending the 80th anniversary ceremonies of Canadians having captured Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917 know this to be true.

Those who fought in places like Vimy, Passchendaele and Ypres wrote Canadian history by their actions. Because of them and thousands like them, Canadians became known for their courage, their determination and their cohesiveness in helping each other both on and off the battlefield. Six first world war veterans were there representing the nearly 1,500 who are still living. Canada's youth were there.

Thank you to all the other veterans who attended and many thanks to Veterans Affairs Canada personnel who did a super job. Because of what visitors see and hear at Vimy and other locations, we as Canadians can never allow the past to become our future. We must all learn from real history.

Member For Québec-EstStatements By Members

April 14th, 1997 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ben Serré Liberal Timiskaming—French-River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was disconcerting to say the least to see the Bloc member for Québec-Est last week on the RDI expressing concern about francophones outside Quebec as he promoted his book.

This separatist member should have given a thought first to the events at his party's last convention.

Members voted in plenary session against a resolution by which the Bloc Quebecois committed itself to, and I quote: "criticizing in specific terms the abuses and infringements of the rights of francophone and Acadian communities and promoting parallels with investments and commitments made by the Government of Quebec in these areas and thus the Quebec model in this regard".

The separatist member should first try to change attitudes within the Bloc Quebecois that have no time for francophones outside Quebec, before he tries to give lessons on the treatment of language minorities-

Member For Québec-EstStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member. The hon. member for Québec has the floor.

Michèle LemieuxStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, author and illustrator Michèle Lemieux has just been awarded the Grand

Prize of the Bologna book fair for her highly illustrated book entitled Nuit Blanche , published by a German firm. Nuit Blanche relates the questions of a nine year old girl who cannot get to sleep because of a storm in the night. She wonders about infinity, about what guides her life and takes it one way or another and about where her ideas come from.

The book is intended for readers between the ages of 9 and 15. It is 240 pages long in black and white and will be published this fall in French with Éditions du Seuil.

It is always refreshing to be able to give our children something besides Disney publications. We are therefore awaiting impatiently the French version of this book for our children.

The Bloc Quebecois congratulates Ms. Lemieux on her work and the international award she has received.

Distinct SocietyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, old line politicians still do not get it. Canadians do not like and they do not want distinct society entrenched in the Constitution. A recent poll shows that only 34 per cent of Canadians outside Quebec think distinct society will work and will solve the national unity problem.

Any concept that appears to promote the inequality of citizens or provinces or appears to give special status to any province will be rejected. The defeat of the Meech Lake accord by the provinces and the Charlottetown accord by the people attest to that.

"A vision for the Future of Canada", the Reform Party's 20:20 proposals, promotes equality through a better balance of power between the federal government, the provinces and the people through a combination of decentralization and democratic reforms. These reforms address Quebec's concerns within the confederation.

These changes can be accomplished without federal-provincial constitutional wrangling. What is needed is a federal government that is willing to initiate them.

What part of no do these guys not understand?

VolunteersStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Hickey Liberal St. John's East, NL

Madam Speaker, April 13 marks the first day of national volunteer week when communities across the country will pay tribute to their volunteers and reflect on the many ways they help individuals, organizations and causes.

On behalf of all my colleagues in the House I would like to make a special point of thanking all the volunteers who help us as MPs, whom we rely on to assist us in our offices on a daily basis and whom we will be depending on heavily in the days to come and the months to follow.

Volunteers give us more than just their time and efforts. They are responsible for getting us where we are today and we are counting on them to play a vital role in shaping our future.

As the heart and soul of our communities I would like to applaud the volunteers of our country, thank them and congratulate them on volunteer week.

Canadian Armed ForcesStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

John Murphy Liberal Annapolis Valley—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to support our Canadian Armed Forces, particularly the personnel stationed at CFB Greenwood, 14th Wing and Camp Aldershot in my riding of Annapolis Valley-Hants.

As Canadians we are privileged to have one of the finest armed forces in the world. I have had the opportunity to meet with many of the personnel stationed in my riding and I am always struck by the high levels of professionalism and dedication they show in their work and in serving Canada. Whether through peacekeeping, search and rescue missions or military exercises, Canadians and citizens from countries around the world know they can count on the Canadian Armed Forces.

Although we have seen some negative attention focused on the armed forces in recent years, let us not forget the excellent work being done every day by our armed forces personnel.

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, a poll was released today confirming that a majority of Quebecers and Canadians feel they are worse off now than when the Liberal Party came to power in 1993.

I will remind the Prime Minister that his 1993 red book talked about a country facing hardship, with 1.6 million unemployed, millions more on welfare, a million children living below the poverty line and a record number of bankruptcies. What is the situation today? Well, there are almost as many people unemployed as in 1993, and there are still millions on welfare, more poor children and a record number of bankruptcies in 1996.

Is the Prime Minister aware that he is leaving Canada and Quebec in a worse situation than the one he described in his red book in 1993?

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, everyone agrees that we have made great progress. Our interest rates, for example, are the lowest they have been in 40 years.

There is no doubt that unemployment is still too high, but the fact is that, when we formed the government, unemployment in Canada stood at 11.4 per cent, and it is now down to 9.3 per cent. This is not satisfactory, but it is enormous progress.

The Canadian economy has created 750,000 new jobs over the last four years. This is not perfect, but it is more than two, three or four European countries put together, with a total population much greater than ours.

We had a deficit of $42 billion when we first took office, and that this deficit has been cut by more than half, even exceeding the objectives we set ourselves in the red book. There is no doubt that, when you form the government, no situation is perfect and we will continue to try to make improvements. For example, we are trying to reduce poverty as much as possible. This is why, in the finance minister's last budget, and in co-operation with the provinces, we gave additional tax credits for poor families in Canada.

The work never stops. I think we have made enormous progress, but people naturally want us to do more. That is why we are continuing our efforts to improve the situation.

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is the opinion of the National Council of Welfare that poverty is likely to increase in 1996 and in all subsequent years.

So when the Prime Minister talks about satisfactory results, is he aware that the situation is terrible for the public, particularly for the most disadvantaged, for women and the one million poor children in Canada?

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to repeat what I just said. We have focused on programs to combat poverty in our country. We have taken positive steps, implemented new initiatives, at a time when the government's budget is limited. I believe we have made progress in this regard. We have allocated large amounts in order to resolve these problems.

But, as I said earlier, more work must be done, and we intend to do it.

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the red book criticized the fact that there were one million children living under the poverty line. Right now, the figure is one and a half million.

Is the Prime Minister aware that his policies have not worked, that there are one and a half million children living under the poverty line and that this shows a flagrant lack of political will to tackle the problem of child poverty? Yet, in 1993, he criticized the previous government because there were one million children living under the poverty line. There are 50 per cent more now. Is he aware of this?

Canadian EconomyOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the Leader of the Opposition that, during the federal-provincial first ministers conference in June of last year, we were collectively convinced, provincial premiers and the federal government alike, that the problem of child poverty had to be tackled. We took action, in co-operation with the provinces, through specific measures in the last budget. The only government to put new money into this area is the federal government.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister can say whatever he wants, but his government has cut $4.5 billion from social programs. That is a fact. That is what it has done.

As far back as the 1995 budget, the government was announcing its intention to reduce its overall expenditures, with a $4.5 billion cut in social transfers to the provinces, and that has been fully accomplished; siphoning off $5 billion from the unemployment insurance fund to reduce the deficit, and that has fully accomplished; a $10 billion reduction in departmental expenditures, but that has not been accomplished.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Are we to understand from these figures I have just given that, for the government, it was far easier to impose cuts on the provinces and on the unemployed than to cut its own expenditures?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, I am forced to repeat what has already been stated very clearly: the $10 billion we had said we would cut from our departments have been cut, since this money has quite simply been taken off the public accounts, the allocations to the departments. The cuts we had forecast and described in detail have been made.

As for the transfer payments, compared to our cuts in our own departments, I repeat again: the cuts to our own expenditures, our departmental expenditures, are 40 per cent higher than the cuts we have made to transfer payments to the provinces.

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is pure demagoguery. In the 1995 budget, the government announced that it would be cutting its own expenditures by 19 per cent over three years; the outcome: 9 per cent. Three billion in cuts were not made. It did not announce that it would cut 19 per cent and

would then hike them back up again afterward. Really now. That is not what happened.

Moreover, according to page 67 of the last budget, 54 per cent of the government's reduction in expenditures is due to cuts in social transfers. The rest is the $23 billion more the taxpayers have had to pay over three years. Those are the facts.

Does the Prime Minister realize that his commitments, like the GST, have been trampled under foot?

Government ExpendituresOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, once again, taking into consideration the entire program review period, we see that the cuts detailed department by department in the program review have been made. The program review has accomplished the planned results.

During that period, if additional expenditures have been approved by Parliament, these have, obviously, been totally legitimate and for the purpose of enhancing the well-being of Canadians.

I shall close by referring to a study which indicates what has happened in Quebec with the transfer payments. According to this, if Quebec had reduced its expenditures and its deficit at the same rate as the average of the other provinces, it would have virtually eliminated its deficit last year.

And what is the source of this document? It is a document published by the Government of Quebec in October 1996.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, with about two weeks to go before an election is called, the justice minister is working hard to change his image across the country. He is trying to portray himself as tough on crime, really in favour and the champion of victims rights. It is going to take more than words to convince the victims, that is for sure.

The charter of rights has many sections that deal with the rights of the accused, but none that deal with the rights of victims. Something is wrong with this picture and it needs to change.

Let me ask the justice minister this. Will he commit today to passing a victims bill of rights before the election is called? Yes or no.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we had occasion to discuss that at length last week in the House. As I said on that occasion in answer to colleagues of the hon. member, the government has always preferred to act rather than to talk.

The hon. member and her friends like to talk about a victims bill of rights, but we prefer to enact legislation to bring those rights to life. Whether it is the right to restitution, which is in Bill C-41 in terms of sentencing to make sure that victims of crime get restitution for their loss, or whether it is the right to take part at the sentencing part of a hearing, as we did for victims of young offenders in the Young Offenders Act changes, the government has acted throughout to ensure that victims have a role to play and their loss and their interests are respected by the criminal justice system.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says it was discussed at length last week. We would lay off if the Liberals would give us some answers finally.

The prevailing attitude among criminal defence lawyers, prosecutors and judges is that victims have no place in the criminal justice system. They think that giving victims rights would introduce emotion and bias into the criminal justice system. They think that giving victims a role in the court process will jeopardize the right of the accused to a fair trial. Who is paying a price here in terms of emotionalism and some sort of bias?

I want to ask the government's top lawyer this question, and I would appreciate an answer. Does he think that giving victims any rights would compromise the fairness of the judicial system? Is that not the least he could do for victims?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, a year ago when this issue was debated in the House and before I requested the justice committee to look at the whole issue and have hearings, if necessary, I spoke in the House. I brought to the attention of hon. members the fact that in 1988, which is now nine years ago, the federal and provincial attorneys general adopted a statement of the entitlements of victims in the criminal justice system. That included a commitment by both levels of government to see to it that victims were given due notice of when a case was being called, that they were informed of their right to participate as provided by law.

I read the statement of principles to the House. That statement of principles has guided federal and provincial governments since 1988, virtually the same statement of principles that the Reform Party wants us to adopt as a so-called bill of rights.

Therefore, the reality is that for the last nine years, both federally in creating the criminal law and provincially in the administration of justice, those principles in favour of victims have been in place.

I urge the members of the Reform Party to look at that statement and realize they are already in place.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that victims are given due notice. They want a little more than due notice. Victims must come first. They have the right to be informed. They have the right to have their voices heard at any stage in the judicial process. They also have the right to be protected from intimidation, harassment and abuse. Those fundamental rights must be reflected in the justice system.

Therefore, I ask the justice minister once again: Will he pass a victims bill of rights, which is an umbrella operation over far more than just the Criminal Code? Will he pass the victims bill of rights before the next election? Is he going to pass the bill or just simply pass the buck?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member has just said, what she proposes goes beyond the criminal law. Indeed, it goes directly into some areas of provincial jurisdiction, including the administration of justice.

As soon as a charge is laid under the Criminal Code, it is the province that carries the prosecution, the province that must provide for grief counselling and other services to victims.

Let me mention one other thing and it is this. The hon. member also referred to what the government does or can do for victims.

Last week I brought to the attention of the House the position of a nationally recognized organization of victims called CAVEAT. Through its president, Priscilla de Villiers, CAVEAT recognized that the government has made significant changes in the last three and a half years and that the government is prepared to listen and to act.

When the Canadian public comes to judge our performance they will not listen to the hon. member, they will listen to CAVEAT. CAVEAT has told the truth.

Mirabel AirportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Transport.

During the past 30 years, the people of Mirabel have suffered as a result of a number of erroneous decisions by the federal government. Since Aéroports de Montréal was established, the Liberal government maintains its back on Mirabel Airport and concentrated on the airport in Toronto. This morning, 20 mayors in the Mirabel region once again expressed serious concern about the very survival of this airport to a delegation of five members of the Bloc Quebecois, headed by the Leader of the Opposition.

Would the minister respond by taking part in the work of the joint commission created by the Bouchard government to guarantee the viability of Mirabel and consolidate its role as an engine of the region's economy?

Mirabel AirportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, we are quite happy to co-operate with any organization that wishes to improve the utilization of the two airports for Montreal, Dorval and Mirabel.

However, the hon. member who is critical of ADM should remember that it was the current Premier of Quebec who, when he was the minister responsible for Quebec, established ADM and created this independent body which apparently is no longer to his liking.