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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

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesdays, we will now sing O Canada. We will be led by the hon. member for Calgary North.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, this week is National Volunteer Week and communities across the country will pay tribute to their volunteers and the countless ways in which they help individuals, organizations and causes.

Volunteer week exemplifies the motivation and dedication of the millions of people across Canada whose efforts improve the quality of life for us all. Volunteers are a crucial component of every community.

This year's theme is "Volunteers, our greatest natural resource". I invite all members of Parliament to help make National Volunteer Week a success in their constituency by donating a few minutes of their time to a local organization or cause. In doing so, we are helping to ensure that volunteerism in Canada will continue to survive into the 21st century.

Congratulations and a huge thank you to all our volunteers.

Social HousingStatements By Members

April 16th, 1997 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister responsible for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation just woke up and realized that federal and provincial overlap is nothing but a waste of time and money.

At the signing of a Canada-Saskatchewan social housing agreement, the minister stated that having a single level of government in charge of administering social housing would maximize the use of taxpayers' money by simplifying existing arrangements and encouraging the development of a single window concept.

When will we see powers transferred to the provinces in areas like forestry, tourism and mining? After three and a half years, it is time this government recognized that the Bloc Quebecois was right about the need to eliminate overlap.

Human RightsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, China is repeatedly jailing dissidents like Wei Jingsheng and student leader Wang Dan for speaking out on human rights. It has violated its joint declaration agreement on Hong Kong and its basic law by appointing its own legislative council, introducing laws on subversion and rolling back Hong Kong's bill of rights.

Our government's response is not to support the UN declaration condemning China for its human rights abuses, a complete flip-flop. China is a superpower but it can also be a great nation. China and Canada need to realize that a stable business environment is conditional on human rights, democratic principles, freedoms and the rule of law. To ignore this is to imperil not only people but economic stability. The government must stop its continued silence of the lambs and must speak out for human rights.

Miller High SchoolStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, most young people are law-abiding citizens concerned about the safety of others and who deplore crime and violence in any form. I have worked with many who excel and who are working within their communities to bring about changes for the better.

I want to congratulate one of these groups, the students of Miller High School of Regina who came to Ottawa this week with a petition to improve the Young Offenders Act. They have shown initiative by preparing recommendations that would make the act more effective and workable for offenders and their victims.

In Regina crime is a serious concern. Most crimes of theft and break and enter are committed by repeat offenders who are already subject to the provisions of the Young Offenders Act because of past offences.

The Miller High School students recommend reducing the age in the Young Offenders Act to 16 years to correspond with the responsibilities youths take on when they obtain a driver's licence. They also recommend mandatory restitution to victims. The students suggest that young offenders work off their crimes with community improvement work.

These Miller High School students know it is time to get tough on crime and hope the Liberals get serious about it too. I applaud their initiative.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Hillsborough said, this week is National Volunteer Week, an opportunity to celebrate the tremendous contributions of volunteers to our communities across Canada.

Millions of Canadians give freely of their time to support non-profit, voluntary and charitable organizations. Their generosity and participation builds and maintains the quality of life in our towns and neighbourhoods. Every year Canadians contribute over $13 billion to charities and non-profit organizations. Approximately 13 million people volunteer their time each year in Canada. In my hometown of Hamilton, more than 100,000 volunteer their time and money every year.

On behalf of all my colleagues in the House of Commons, I want to thank all the volunteers for giving us some of their time.

Seniors BenefitStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for London-Middlesex I have received considerable input from my constituents about the new seniors benefit which begins in 2001. I also had the recent opportunity to meet with the London Council for Seniors to discuss this important new program.

Based on the input I have received, the vast majority of my constituents who are seniors support the new seniors benefit. They understand that it is fairer and that 75 per cent of Canadian seniors will receive the same or higher benefits.

One area of concern raised was a possible discrimination against married senior couples as compared to single seniors who cohabit. Senior married couples want to know that the rules about combined incomes will be applied the same way in both cases.

I call on the government to review this concern carefully and to ensure a fair and just application of the new rules as they apply to the income of all seniors.

Salmon FisheryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the agreement on the management of salmon issues to be signed today by the Prime Minister and the Premier of British Columbia vindicates former Prime Minister Lester Pearson's concept of co-operative federalism.

Intergovernmental relations in a federal system should be based not on confrontation and a rush to the law courts but on pragmatic accommodation and administrative partnership. Today most major issues transcend the problem-solving capacities of any one level of government and require a melding of decision making, not a fragmentation of power into watertight compartments of constitutional competence, federal or provincial.

We all have everything to gain by this highly pragmatic, empirically based approach to the regulation and conservation of a great national resource on the west coast.

It is to be achieved not by the frustrating processes of formal amendment of the Constitution, but by consensus of the respective heads of government, concretized in a legal agreement based on the constitutional principle of good faith and on mutual benefit.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, April 13 to 19 is National Volunteer Week, which has been celebrated since 1943.

Eleven million Canadians and Quebecers generously devote their time, energy and talents to helping others. These volunteers express their love and generosity through a wide range of actions.

I am proud to represent the riding of Bourassa, where dozens of community organizations are active. I want to praise the thousands of volunteers in my riding and everywhere, who generously work to enhance their fellow citizens' quality of life. I would like to draw special attention to the work of the Centre d'action bénévole de Montréal-Nord, Fondation La Visite, Coup de pouce Jeunesse, CAMÉE, Entre-Parents, Chez Frédéric and Ignace Bourget.

Finally, I encourage all Canadians and Quebecers to show even greater support, generosity and dedication toward the most disadvantaged members of our society.

Parks CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government has the power to improve the safety of Canadians. In criminal law the government chooses to do little or nothing to make our streets safer. But in Parks Canada the heavy hand of the government is shutting down the Jasper airstrip, for no good reason.

The Jasper airstrip does not cost taxpayers' money. There is not one incident in the airstrip's 70-year history of environmental damage or injury to animals. However, there are many instances of the airstrip being used for emergency landings by pilots.

While door knocking in Jasper, of the scores of people I talked to, all but one wanted the airstrip to remain open.

In the future when an emergency landing is needed in Jasper, will the heritage minister accept responsibility for any personal injuries or deaths? When will the government listen to the common sense of the common people to do what is right for Jasper residents and Canadians everywhere?

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mary Clancy Liberal Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today during National Volunteer Week to honour all volunteers but most particularly women volunteers.

Every day countless numbers of women give their time to work in our hospitals, schools and nursing homes, on boards and fund raising committees, with literacy programs, rape crisis centres and more. These women come from a wide cross section of society and bring a great range of skills and expertise to the cultural, political, social and economic fabric of the country. In fact our paid economy could not function without the unpaid work of volunteers.

As a nation we cannot afford to take our volunteers for granted. They are without a doubt the heart and soul of our country and on behalf of all of us I say thank you.

Spar AerospaceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago Prime Minister Chrétien announced that Spar Aerospace located in my riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton will develop the space shuttle's Canada Hand, thus creating at least 125 local jobs.

Everyone in the riding is pleased that our highly skilled local workforce has once again helped sustain and create local jobs. In fact, an even larger impact on local companies is expected due to the manufacturing and marketing of commercial spin-offs resulting from the Canada Hand robotic technology.

I want to thank the Prime Minister for his ongoing efforts to create as many jobs as possible, despite the current tough economic climate. Though the government cannot be satisfied with the current level of unemployment, its efforts to date are still commendable.

Having said that, I want to point out that I plan to pursue additional job creation until everyone-

Spar AerospaceStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I remind you gently, hon. colleagues, not to use our names but our titles or our ridings.

Mayor Of Thetford MinesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Bloc Frontenac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute, here in this House, to the first magistrate of Thetford Mines, who is also the president of the asbestos economic development corporation, Mayor Henri Therrien who, last week, was named personality of the year for 1996 by the chamber of commerce of the asbestos region.

This honour follows a long list of achievements by Mayor Therrien, in the economic, cultural, sports and municipal areas, among others. For ten years now, the citizens of Thetford Mines have been proud to be able to rely on the dynamism and generosity of their mayor.

Congratulations Henri, and thank you.

High Tech IndustryStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Reform Party I would like to recognize the tremendous accomplishment and entrepreneurial spirit of the high tech industry in the Ottawa-Lanark-Carleton region, better known as silicon valley north.

In just a few short years these pioneers of the 21st century have grown from an idea, to a dream, to a reality.

Last Wednesday our leader, Preston Manning, and the Reform candidate Darrel Reid held a breakfast meeting with the Canadian Advanced Technology Association to discuss the role of government in assisting in their success. Prominent industry leaders such as Denzell Doyle came to let Reformers know what they feel has to be done.

Topics discussed included their hunger for highly skilled workers, the need for better high tech training, the damage taxes do to high tech ventures, and their number one priority, a reduction in the capital gains tax to encourage entrepreneurs and risk takers.

These are the leaders of tomorrow. Like the Edisons, Fords and Rockefellers who fashioned a world from concrete and steel, they will build a new one of fibre optics, copper wire and silicon chips.

Student DebtStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, on behalf of my party, I moved a motion dealing with the Bankruptcy Act.

This motion asks the Liberal government to amend the new standards governing bankruptcies, so as to prevent the application of more stringent rules for discharge of a student loan debt than for other types of debt.

Our purpose is not to remove the responsibility of students, quite the contrary. We know that the vast majority of students pay back their loans. Rather, the motion seeks to make the government aware of the injustice being done to students who are overburdened with debt and not able to pay back their loans.

In its study on the issue of personal income tax reform, the Bloc Quebecois recommended the introduction of a tax credit to help graduating students who must start paying off their loans.

Instead of going after students, the Liberal government should make a commitment to create jobs, which is the only concrete solution to the student debt problem.

LeukemiaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, too many of our children and adults of all ages and backgrounds continue to be devastated by the group of diseases known as leukemia.

Leukemia is still the most deadly disease for Canadian children. But there is hope. Canadian research scientists and research centres and hospitals across the country have made and continue to make great progress, particularly in the treatment and life expectancy of leukemia patients. More success has been achieved with leukemia than any other cancer.

The Leukemia Research Fund of Canada, a national volunteer organization, raises money to provide grants to Canadian researchers and to educate the public about the disease and its treatment.

I would ask my colleagues to show their support and consider in the very near future the formal recognition of the month of June as Leukemia Awareness Month across Canada, just as it has been known and practised for the last 40 years.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, this week at the National Assembly, members of all parties voted unanimously in favour of a resolution asking the government to amend section 93 of the Canadian Constitution, in order to establish school boards in Quebec along linguistic lines.

The resolution comes after more than 30 years of debate-this goes back to the Parent report-and after more than a year of consultations held across Quebec, throughout the regions. Today, the federal government tells us this was not enough.

I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he realizes that he is preventing the passage of an amendment to section 93 before the next election and thus delaying the introduction of linguistic school boards in Quebec?

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the resolution was passed last night. We received it this morning. The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs explained the party's position to the press.

We will table a resolution in this House as soon as possible, I hope by the end of this week, but the government does not have full control over the rules of procedure of this House and the Upper House. We need the co-operation of all concerned. However, we will proceed as soon as possible, as I said yesterday.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister knows perfectly well that creating a joint parliamentary committee will keep the amendment from being adopted before the next election. The government is aware of that. This is no accident.

And speaking of his Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, how could he say this morning that if Quebec had a federalist government, it would be less of a problem, when we know that all members of the National Assembly, both sovereignists and federalists, voted in favour of this resolution? How could he make such a statement?

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we all know that the minority living in Quebec is not necessarily comfortable with certain situations-

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Liberal Saint-Maurice, QC

-as is often the case with francophone minorities in other provinces.

The minister mentioned that fact, and there was a parliamentary committee in the Senate the last time, when we had a resolution from Newfoundland, and we believe there should be a parliamentary committee once again. And to speed things up, we have decided to have a joint committee of the Senate and the House of Commons that will conduct hearings where people will be able to express their views. There is nothing wrong with that. However, the government intends to support the motion.

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Prime Minister wants to compare the position of language minorities in Quebec with that of language minorities across Canada, I warn him that the official opposition is willing to have an emergency debate on the subject here in the House, at any time.

The Prime Minister is saying that the federal government is the custodian of democracy in Quebec and that the democratic process in Quebec is flawed. The Prime Minister is applying the theory of Pierre Elliott Trudeau that federalism should be the bulwark of democracy in Quebec. Does he realize this is an affront to the democratic process in Quebec?

Linguistic School BoardsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is the government's responsibility to act as directed by the Canadian Constitution, and we intend to act on those responsibilities as we always have.

Perhaps the hon. member should read the book published a few days ago by one of his members, the hon. member for Québec-Est. People thought some of his comments were not very nice to the minority.

Personally, I am fighting for the French minority outside Quebec and the English minority in Quebec, because the Canadian government has a duty to defend minorities wherever they happen to be in this country.