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House of Commons Hansard #156 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offenders.

Topics

Reform Party BreakfastStatements By Members

April 15th, 1997 / 2:10 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, members of the Reform Party wish to announce that a continental breakfast will be served by Reform Members of Parliament to all non-partisan staff and the pages of the House of Commons who wish to visit any time between 7.30 and 9 tomorrow morning, April 16, in room 200 in the West Block.

This gesture has never before been extended to Hill staff, to our knowledge. It will be our pleasure to serve them breakfast, a cup of coffee and offer a sincere thanks from MPs to the employees of the House of Commons, people who work so faithfully all year round to support all members of the House, regardless of their political persuasion, in the service of the country.

I speak for all members of the House when I say that House of Commons employees are unfailingly courteous and efficient and quick to perform their duties thoroughly, with a smile thrown in for good measure. Without these qualities the House would not function and the people's business would be left undone.

A heartfelt thanks to all of them. We will see them tomorrow morning.

Member For SherbrookeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, rather than take pleasure in the Government of Canada's investment of $950,000 in the renovation of the Sherbrooke airport, the Conservative leader, blinded by political partisanship, made the following statement in the daily, The Tribune : ``The federal government is doing this for political reasons. For election purposes, it is going to lose the $100,000 the Government of Quebec promised the City of Sherbrooke''.

He is off the mark. The member for Sherbrooke's logic takes some real mental gymnastics to grasp.

I suggest he be happy at the investment in the Sherbrooke airport, and I thank the mayor of Sherbrooke and the airport authorities for the words of praise they had for the federal government and the member for Brome-Mississquoi for having made this a success.

What we need in the Eastern Townships are Liberal members.

Lachine CanalStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Bernard Patry Liberal Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, her colleague the Secretary of State for the Federal Office of Regional Development and the mayors of the cities of Montreal and Lachine yesterday announced a major project to repair the Lachine canal.

This project, estimated at over $82 million will be carried out over five years and mean the creation of over 4,000 jobs during the construction stage. The Lachine canal, which was at the heart of Canada's economic development, will come to life again with this project. An estimated 1.2 million visitors will use the canal facilities once the work is completed.

Our government is proud to be a partner in the reopening and revitalization of the Lachine canal. This is further proof of this government's commitment to support Montreal's economic development.

VacancyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Mr. Jack Iyerak Anawak, member for the electoral district of Nunatsiaq, by resignation effective April 15, 1997.

Pursuant to subsection 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed a warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in Toronto, Brian Mulroney was asking Canada to make new offers to Quebec to make up for the constitutional insult it suffered in 1982. According to the President of Treasury Board, however, Ottawa has kept its promises, there is no problem, everything is fine, Constitution-wise.

Because it is totally incapable of any solution whatsoever, the Liberal government is quite simply denying persistently that a flagrant injustice was done to Quebec in 1982.

Does the Prime Minister agree with his Quebec lieutenant that everything is settled, that there is nothing serious about the fact that no Quebec government whatsoever, whether federalist or sovereignist, has agreed to sign the Canadian Constitution in the past 15 years?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons has taken steps concerning this matter. We held a vote in this House in which we voted for distinct society.

We passed legislation making it clear that there will be no constitutional change without Quebec's consent. We have made considerable progress in such areas as mining, forestry, tourism, spending powers and social housing. It would appear that we are on the verge of signing an agreement on manpower, an issue that has been around for a very long time. As we have said here in the House of Commons, changing the Constitution requires the consent of the Government of Quebec.

If the hon. member wishes to have constitutional changes, let him tell his head office to vote in favour of distinct society and of a veto for Quebec.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, like the official opposition, the Government of Quebec does not consider that Quebec is a distinct society. We consider it to be a distinct nation.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

A people.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

The Minister of Immigration ought to realize that, if she sat in the National Assembly, perhaps that is because there is something called the Quebec nation. Otherwise we would have called it the "Societal Assembly".

While the President of Treasury Board states that everything is settled, his colleague in Intergovernmental Affairs admits that nothing has been done by the Liberals on the constitutional issue, and that he accepts Canada as it is. He therefore admits that the promises made at Verdun have been trampled into the ground, that they were nothing but smoke and mirrors.

I ask the Prime Minister how he can reconcile these two statements. Has everything been done, or nothing?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in October 1995 at Verdun, the Liberal Party and I made a promise, saying that we had been in favour of the distinct society in the past, and still are in the present, and we came to this House in December 1995 to vote in favour of distinct society, which the Bloc Quebecois voted against.

We said at Verdun that we were in favour of giving Quebec and the other regions of Canada a veto. A bill was passed by the House of Commons, as well as by the Senate, but the Bloc Quebecois voted against a veto for Quebec.

What happened, each time we tried to take to meet Quebec's traditional demands? We got blocked by the Bloc.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if we blocked them, it was because this government, and this Prime Minister in particular, has always had a block where Quebec is concerned.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are not the only ones saying this; the federalists in the Quebec National Assembly are not in agreement with the Canadian government either.

Yesterday, we saw this Prime Minister shaking hands with Guy Bertrand; a few months ago, it was Howard Galganov. We also

remember the accolade to Clyde Wells after the failure of the Meech Lake accord.

Every time anyone takes a stand against Quebec or the National Assembly, the Prime Minister allies with him.

By denying the importance of the constitutional question, is the Prime Minister not in the process of admitting that he has nothing to offer Quebecers, whether they be sovereignists or federalists?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have a great deal to offer to Quebecers. What we have to offer is the best country in the world: Canada.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Prime Minister.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said yesterday that Canada would never have been able to patriate the Constitution without Ontario's agreement. This patriation, as we know, was carried out despite the opposition of all political parties in Quebec. And the 15th anniversary of this event next Thursday will be a dark day for Quebec.

Will the Prime Minister agree that, in the end, there is no difference between Pierre Elliott Trudeau himself and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs? That the Liberal Party has not altered its position on this issue one iota in 15 years?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised to hear that the official opposition would have liked us to remain a legal colony of Great Britain. We patriated the Canadian Constitution and, in so doing, gave all Canadians a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we included as part of the Constitution that Canada had two official languages, French and English.

But the people who live in the past would like us to remain forever a colony of Great Britain.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the Prime Minister, it was the 1982 Constitution that was the future. We can see that.

Does the Prime Minister realize that there is a consensus in the rest of Canada regarding Quebec's status within Confederation, that Quebec was put in its place in 1982, and that there is no question of this changing?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, in the House of Commons we voted in favour of distinct society. We gave a veto to all regions, including Quebec. We sorted out the problems of duplication with respect to the environment. We resolved the problems that existed concerning forestry, tourism, mining and social housing. One would have to be blind not to see the progress we have made.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, April is tax month and Canadians are getting a first hand look at what three and a half years of Liberal government have done to their pay cheques.

Since the Liberals came to power in 1993, the average Canadian family has suffered a pay cut of $3,000, thanks to the government's high tax policies. We are getting letters from seniors on fixed incomes who are having to pay taxes for the first time in five years.

How can the government claim that it has not raised taxes when older Canadians on fixed incomes are having to cut a cheque to the tax man for the first time in years?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, every time the Reform Party stands up and cites numbers, what it has to do, unfortunately for it, is to go back to the Tory regime. In order to compensate for the good numbers that the government has brought in, it has to bring in the bad numbers that the Tories had. It will not work.

We are responsible for that which happened since we took office in 1993. Since that time, disposable income and family incomes have stabilized. For the three years prior to our taking office they had worsened. We have stabilized them. Virtually every economist in the country now projects that those numbers are going to get better.

It is particularly ironic that the hon. member stands up and talks about seniors pensions, given the fact that her party in their original budget recommended that seniors pensions be cut, that they have fought protecting of the Canada pension plan, that they have fought every measure this government has brought in to take care of our senior citizens. The Canadian people are entitled to a little consistency.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party has said and always says that the Canadian pension plan as it is now is a farce. There is going to be nothing there for young people when they get to be seniors.

The one pension plan that we did want to cut was the MP pension, yet the people across the way would have no part of that.

High taxes mean high unemployment. The government is collecting more in taxes than any other government in the history of the country and it has the worst string of jobless numbers since the great depression. That is no coincidence and it is certainly nothing to brag about.

If the Liberals were serious about dealing with the 1.4 million Canadians unemployed they would be offering Canadians a balanced budget soon and tax relief through smaller government.

Since the Prime Minister has made it clear that he has absolutely no intention of giving Canadians tax relief, just where in the world are these real jobs going to come from?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member must understand that when she stands up and cites numbers in her preamble, she must be prepared to defend them.

She talked about what the government has done in pensions. Let me quote: "In the Reform Party's taxpayers budget it is projected that spending on seniors' benefits in 1997-1998 would be $17 billion". They have come in at $22.3 billion. The Reform Party has recommended a $5 billion cut in seniors old age pensions.

Second, the hon. member has complained about the 9.9 per cent premium that has been arrived at by the federal government and the provinces, provinces representing every region of the country. The hon. member's numbers come out, by almost anybody's calculation, at 13 per cent. If those are not the right numbers, would she stand in the House now and tell us what her premiums will cost?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, the number in the taxpayers' budget that the finance minister refers to were 1994 numbers and a lot of projections have changed since then.

The Prime Minister's idea of job creation is building canoe museums, hotels and now armouries in his riding. That might improve the Prime Minister's chance of re-election but it is not going to give real sustainable jobs to Canadians across the country.

Mr. Speaker, 1.4 million people are unemployed, two to three million people are underemployed, 800,000 people are moonlighting to try to make ends meet and one in four Canadians are worried about losing their jobs.

Members can cackle and crow all they like across the aisle, but that is such a poor record that the government ought to be ashamed of it. What it is trying to do is run away from that record in the next election.

Instead of doling out patronage appointments and money in Shawinigan, why will the Prime Minister not just give all Canadians tax relief and help create some real jobs across the country?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I draw to the attention of the House that the hon. member was given an opportunity to say what her party's Canada pension plan premium or super RRSP premium would do. She did not take that opportunity. Do I now understand that she accepts the number that most economists have said? In fact, it is 13 per cent, 4 per cent higher than what we and the provincial governments have arrived at.

Let me go on. The hon. member wants to talk about tax cuts. She says that her party will bring in tax cuts. Let us take a look at the tax cuts that she would bring in.

The Reform Party will bring in, for a single parent with two children earning $30,000 a tax cut of $175 per year. If people want to know where their constituency lies, under the same program, under the same budget, a one-earner couple earning $250,000 with two children will get a tax cut of $6,700. That is what they are trying to protect.