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House of Commons Hansard #157 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ports.

Topics

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Denying the democratic legitimacy of the National Assembly in the matter of linguistic school boards, Ottawa will be launching public hearings, while all of the stakeholders in Quebec have long ago made their opinions known on this matter. Yesterday Quebec spoke in the National Assembly; now it is Ottawa's turn to listen.

Will the Prime Minister admit that his government is taking refuge behind the unelected Senate in order to preclude any possibility of this constitutional amendment being passed before the coming election? After the Supreme Court, now the senators, who are not elected, are the ones to set Quebec's education policy.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member is suggesting is contrary to both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution of Canada. The two parliaments, provincial and federal, must decide on this amendment. Both have to make up their minds.

The Canadian Parliament is also the Parliament of Quebecers. The elected representatives of Quebec also sit in the House of Commons. Canada in its entirety belongs to the people of Quebec.

Moreover, the federal government has specific responsibilities toward minorities. This does not mean that the provinces are not concerned about them, but it is our responsibility. Because we have required a consensus, which the opposition did not want to seek, we have protected minorities everywhere in the country. A government proposing a constitutional amendment under section 43 which affects its minority requires the support of that minority if it wants to get that amendment from the Parliament of Canada.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, just having a school bag does not make a person smart.

When the Government of New Brunswick was calling for a constitutional amendment in 1993, Ottawa held no public hearings.

How can the Prime Minister justify his acting without any public hearings, in the case of New Brunswick, while he refuses to do the same in the case of Quebec?

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in the case of New Brunswick, the Government of New Brunswick had the decency to establish a parliamentary commission in that province in 1990.

Quebecers greatly respect democracy. They must not be very proud of the way their provincial government has handled the school board matter.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Absolutely. It is scandalous that groups were not even given the opportunity to express themselves. The Parliament of Canada will give them that opportunity, knowing that Quebecers greatly respect democracy.

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the country desperately needs some new thinking on the future of federalism but look what we get.

The Prime Minister last year, the member for Sherbrooke last month and now Brian Mulroney are going back to distinct society entrenchment as the answer. These are empty words, hollow gestures, old ideas, all democratically rejected by Canadians in 1992 including Quebec.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Why does he still cling to this obsolete idea? Why does he have nothing fresh and new to offer Quebec and the rest of Canada on reforming federalism?

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are reforming the federation.

In a few minutes I will sign an agreement with the Government of British Columbia to involve the province of British Columbia in fisheries management on the west coast. We are signing agreements with all provinces on manpower training.

In the speech from the throne a year and a few months ago we had a list of things that had to be done. We said that we did not want to have a grand meeting that produced nothing. We were to do it step by step, province by province.

As I said, the House of Commons has given a veto to all regions of Canada including Quebec. We voted for distinct society for Quebec. We are settling the question of manpower training with the provinces. Today we are settling the problem of fisheries with British Columbia.

We settled the duplication in forestry, in mining and in the environment. I could go on and on and on. The practical way is to give Canadians an answer to one problem at a time. It is the modern way.

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is so void of new ideas that it has to go to the public in an election after 3.5 years. It has come up empty on national unity. The Prime Minister also has the worst string of unemployment records since the depression. He is right up there with R.B. Bennett.

The Prime Minister has nothing new to say to the 1.4 million unemployed. He has nothing new to say to unemployed young people. He has nothing new to say to the underemployed. He has nothing new to say to the one out of four workers afraid of losing their jobs. He has nothing new to say to the 75 per cent of Canadians who say he has done a bad job on jobs.

If jobs is the number one priority of the government, why is it that the Prime Minister has nothing new or innovative to say on the subject at all?

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was in the House when we presented a budget that put $350 million into jobs for young people. We have given an incentive reduction in the employment insurance premium. Employers hiring new people will not have to pay such high premiums. It will help them to hire more people.

The Canadian economy has given Canadians the lowest interest rates in 40 years. This will create jobs. Canadians had never seen a four-year period with such low inflation as we have managed to give them. We have increased our trade by 40 per cent in four years. This is also creating jobs.

We will carry on because the Canadian people know we have to stay the course. We will not try to buy the votes of Canadians by giving them across the board tax cuts until we have reduced the deficit to zero.

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Preston Manning Reform Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the government came to power it also promised a new level of integrity and accountability.

Let us look at the record 3.5 years later: political interference in the Somalia inquiry, government stonewalling of the inquiry into tainted blood, the bungled Airbus project, the bungled Pearson airport project, the GST alive and well and bigger than ever before, and 73 per cent of Canadians saying that the government has done a bad job on keeping its promises.

Why does the Prime Minister have nothing new to offer Canadians on political accountability? What happened to the red book promise to restore integrity to the institutions of government?

Government Of CanadaOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I stand very proud with my party on that. During the four years we formed government not a single minister was obliged to resign because of a scandal.

There was a poll in Maclean's the other day which showed that four years ago about 15 per cent of Canadians had confidence in their national government. In the last poll, 55 per cent said it was the best of 20 nations.

I will meet the leader of the third party on the streets of Canada in the months to come. The people of Canada will tell him that we are not the party that is proposing to cut the taxes of banks by10 per cent.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this week the Prime Minister tried to use Quebec's bishops to delay implementation of linguistic school boards in Quebec, when in fact the bishops had said they were in favour of linguistic school boards several months ago.

Today, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs talks to us about insufficient consultation on the school boards issue when, and I repeat, we have been debating this issue, in general assemblies throughout Quebec, for over 30 years now.

I ask the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs whether, with both federalists and sovereignists in the National Assembly unanimous, a consensus in Quebec requires, in his view, that Alliance Quebec and The Gazette also be in agreement?

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, The answer is no, Mr. Speaker. The proof is that we support the measure. This is very good news. First of all, the official opposition should congratulate the Canadian government, which has just supported a measure that will be good for Quebecers.

Second, is should congratulate the Canadian government and say: "We will get the chance to have a parliamentary committee because we, as the opposition, believe that parliamentary committees are a good thing, and we stand behind the official opposition in the National Assembly, which also called for a parliamentary committee".

That is what they should be saying, if they were not blinded by their separatist ideology.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Enrol in high school, Stéphane.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, you would think Pierre Elliott Trudeau had come back.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Yes, you would.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

A Pierre Elliott Trudeau with a school bag.

The real reason, and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs should say so here in the House, is that, when all is said and done, he is afraid of the reaction of the rest of Canada, of English Canada on the eve of an election, and of the voters of the West Island. That is the real reason.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition can accuse me of many things, but fear is not one of them. When have you seen Stéphane Dion intimidated by anything? Get serious.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

They have always said: "If Alliance Quebec is against it, Dion will not support it". I have always said that I would not give any group a veto. Alliance Quebec is opposed and Dion is in favour.

However, Dion, or the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, since we are in the House, would like to see Alliance Quebec support it. There will be a parliamentary committee to listen to their views and to see what can be done to include them in the consensus.

The opposition should be happy that there is a parliamentary committee. The opposition will have an opportunity to express its point of view, to hear from different groups according to a procedure that is well established in democracy.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

April 16th, 1997 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been reported that the government has just settled with Pearson Development Corporation for $60 million.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Reform Simcoe Centre, ON

We will see if the rest of it gets a standing ovation.

However this is only part of the deal, part of a sad story. Earlier the government gave the Pearson group $185 million in rent relief and $15 million in legal costs. This Liberal bungle has cost taxpayers $260 million.

Pearson International AirportOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Shame, shame.