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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

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

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

We just heard that the Minister of Health will not extend the mandate of the Krever inquiry, contrary to a request by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

How does the minister explain his decision to ignore the request made by Chief Justice Lamer?

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the preamble of the hon. member's question is completely and unequivocally false.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear from the minister whether they will really extend the mandate of the Krever inquiry, as requested by Chief Justice Lamer.

Krever InquiryOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has quite incorrectly interpreted the comments of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada made a comment and an observation in terms of providing sufficient time for Justice Krever to make his report.

It has been the position of the government, it has been the position of ministers of health across the country, that we would wait to hear the full report of Justice Krever before making final recommendations as they relate to a national blood authority.

I have asked through the appropriate channels, through PCO, that we go to Justice Krever to try to get an interim report with regard to the issues of governance of the blood system.

Justice Krever did that with regard to an interim report for the safety of the blood system. I asked Justice Krever, on behalf of Canadians, on behalf of consumers, on behalf of health ministers, that we have that kind of information in order that we may take the appropriate action on behalf of all Canadians.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government has a spending problem. The Liberals spend millions on their buddies for patronage, MP junkets, gold plated MP pensions and even caviar receptions in the case of the heritage minister.

Meanwhile, I just had a letter from a 74-year-old senior. She writes that for the first time she has to pay $1,100 in her year end income tax bill when her gross income was under $18,000. This is robbery of seniors and the poor.

Can the government explain why this senior is having her pocket picked to fuel the wasteful habits of the heritage minister and her big spending colleagues?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, words like robbery and have their pockets picked are a little strong. I would ask hon. members to be very judicious in their choice of words.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the hon. member made certain claims about what he alleged to be a very exclusive reception.

The reason I answered about the reception in the House is because the reception I attended was the same kind of reception that we have held for Olympic athletes ever since we have been a country and entered the Olympics.

I have here a partial list of the over 600 Canadian athletes and their families who attended. From the province of New Brunswick selected by the provincial government, Lynsey Bartlett; from the province of Alberta, from Blairmore, Gail Bigcharles. We had 14-year-old wheelchair basketball athletes. We also had a team from the city of Montreal. They are so committed to the Olympic process that to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Olympics they cycled from Montreal to Atlanta. Yes, they too were invited to this very exclusive reception.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, what we are concerned about is careers, not caviar. We are concerned about jobs.

The government's spending problem has led to enormous tax rates that are killing jobs and destroying hope for unemployed young people. I have three children, all of them university trained. All of them had to leave the country because of the government's record.

Why is the government through its destructive tax policies giving our young people the choice between no hope for a job or reaching for their passports? Is that the Liberal solution for job unemployment for the young?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the show of appreciation by the country for our Olympic and Paralympic athletes we have had three receptions: one for the Olympic and Paralympic athletes here on the Hill, another one in Atlanta, and there is going to be a third reception next week to honour the athletes from the Special Olympics.

I was thrilled that at the last event held on the floor of the House of Commons, all members from all sides of the House were thrilled to participate with Olympians. I happen to have a picture of the hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca who was very happy not only to go to the reception but to have his picture taken with the athletes.

I would say to members of the Reform Party that please, you can't have it both ways.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

I would caution all hon. members about using props. We would not want question period to become a show and tell.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

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

Last Friday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, in response to a question from the deputy leader of the official opposition, that he was misinformed and that the government intended to co-sponsor the Danish resolution on human rights in China.

What explanation does the minister have for his about face yesterday, when he announced the government's refusal to co-sponsor the Danish resolution at the UN human rights commission?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the decision we announced yesterday is part of an assessment we made. It was a tough judgment to make but it really came down to what we thought would be the most effective way of trying to broaden and pursue an agenda of human rights.

We held discussions with Chinese authorities, enabling us to develop a new set of initiatives. We felt that because the resolution

of Geneva had already been substantially weakened by the withdrawal of support by a number of countries, the most effective way that we could advance the cause of human rights in China was to pursue this new agenda.

I would be very glad to brief the hon. member on the kind of measure because I am sure the hon. premier of Quebec when he goes to China would like to support us in that initiative.

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day indeed. The government has just abdicated its responsibility and betrayed the Pearson legacy which made human rights a priority at one of the world's most important political forums on human rights.

Would the minister agree that his government should be ashamed of letting China pressure and blackmail us into let money prevail over human rights?

Human RightsOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the reverse is true. The history of Canada's legacy in this respect has been to pursue the most effective ways to develop respect for human rights throughout the world.

In this case, we have developed a program of initiatives to promote rights in China, to guarantee the development of the civilian society and to engage the Chinese in a unique multilateral dialogue on human rights.

I believe that in the circumstances, this will offer the most effective opportunities for developing a reaction. If there is no favourable reaction in the next few years, we will re-examine Canada's position and support the resolution in Geneva.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have watched the justice minister in effect deny Canadians a national victims bill of rights. I have watched the justice minister refuse to amend his conditional sentencing law that allows rapists to serve no time in jail. I have watched the justice minister use a letter solicited by him from a victims group to convince us that his position is a good thing for Canadians. Last week he categorically denied that he or his office solicited that letter.

Is the justice minister prepared to apologize to Canadians for disregarding the needs of victims in using them in a letter solicited by his office?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, what a sorry spectacle it is, a party without ideas, a party without policies, a party with nothing to offer, driven in desperation to now a daily ritual of exploiting the pain of others in an effort to hang on to its few remaining points in the polls. It is a sad spectacle. It is difficult to watch and abide. It is hard to listen to.

I offer the same answer as I have offered on days in the past. The hon. member knows nothing of what he speaks. He asked for a victims bill of rights without knowing that most of the provinces have already taken steps to do exactly what he is asking for.

That party has been driven to a point where it is now exploiting crime to protect its impossible position.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is really a disgusting spectacle from the justice minister. The justice minister is really the managing partner in the worst law firm in this country. That is what he is.

I think he should check with Derek Kent of his office. He should check how he wrongfully solicits victims. If he has no idea what is going on in his own office, is it any wonder why he is out of touch with this country, out of touch with victims?

Can the minister check with his office to determine if the bureaucrats will allow him to amend conditional sentencing to exclude violent offenders?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not only feeling desperation but by now he must be feeling acute embarrassment. Here he has paraded himself on the national stage day after day, pretending to be the champion of victims, attacking this government for having done nothing, and yet to his acute embarrassment he must confront the letter from CAVEAT, a national organization of victims, signed by the president, Priscilla de Villiers.

This is important. The hon. member may wish to listen: "Three years ago CAVEAT presented a petition to Allan Rock on behalf of 2.5 million Canadians. It called for far reaching measures to improve public safety and the treatment of victims. Since then significant steps have been taken to address some of these concerns. Although much still needs to be done, this government has shown a willingness to listen and to act".

That is the truth.

Helms-Burton LawOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week the United States and the European Union concluded an agreement on their dispute over the Helms-Burton law.

This agreement provides for a relaxed application of this law in exchange for the suspension of the proceedings instituted by the European Union with the World Trade Organization and the establishment of global rules preventing investment by companies in properties expropriated by other governments.

My question is for the Minister of International Trade. As the Liberals' record says that Canada was the force behind international opposition to the Helms-Burton law, could the minister explain how it is that Canada is not a signatory to the agreement reached last week by the European Union and the United States?

Helms-Burton LawOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, we have been in ongoing consultations with the United States on this issue. The Americans know of our strong opposition to it and we will continue to have those consultations.

The idea with the European Union was to get it into a new forum, away from the World Trade Organization, in which the U.S. said it would not participate, to the OECD where it will participate. I think that is a useful move because Canada has hit the table in those discussions on the multilateral agreement on investment. In fact, Canada first raised the issue with respect to extraterritoriality and the Helms-Burton law. We will continue to pursue it.

In terms of the other measures with respect to Helms-Burton, nothing was really gained. The president had already indicated that he was deferring for six months at a time the title III provisions on lawsuits. On title IV we have been told that they are not looking at any other Canadians and that they would not make it retroactive with respect to those already on the list.

Canada continues to present its case and will continue in consultations. I am delighted to know we will have an opportunity to bring the United States to the table so we can talk about our grievances about Helms-Burton and the whole broader concept of extraterritoriality.

Helms-Burton LawOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, for a year now, the minister has been waffling and for a year he has followed in the wake of the European countries.

Given that the minister is still refusing to fight the Helms-Burton law under NAFTA and given that there is no guarantee the OECD negotiations will lead to an agreement, could the minister tell us what is preventing him from filing a complaint under NAFTA?

Helms-Burton LawOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I expect the OECD will reach an agreement. I do not think it is going to come in the short run. It will be sometime in 1998, but it is a matter that will get full discussion at that level.

In terms of the NAFTA, we have the possibility of doing that. If the talks stall, if the U.S. refuses to talk about Helms-Burton and these kinds of unilateral measures, then we will use it.

I am happy that we are making some progress in terms of these discussions. I think international multilateral forums are the best place for it.

Great LakesOral Question Period

April 15th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, in Windsor and Essex County, the home of the International Joint Commission, the Great Lakes Institute and the Essex Region Conservation Authority, we really care about the quality of Great Lakes water. Can the Minister of the Environment tell us whether the quality of the lakes is improving and whether we can count on this great legacy of fresh water for our children and grandchildren?

Great LakesOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me thank the hon. member not so much for her question but for her interest in terms of the quality and condition of the Great Lakes.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of former Prime Minister Trudeau's signing with the United States a Great Lakes quality agreement. Not only has the agreement worked well, it has been held up as a model on how to manage not only shared waters between two countries but waters which represent one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply.

Last week when the Prime Minister visited Washington the two governments signed a new agreement to extend that success story to those toxins which are the most threatening and the most dangerous and to ensure that we have another success story for the next 25 years.