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House of Commons Hansard #158 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wheat.

Topics

Linguistic School BoardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Antoine Dubé Bloc Lévis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I condemn the attitude of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and that of the Prime Minister, who are lecturing the Government of Quebec on what they think should constitute a consensus in Quebec in the linguistic school boards issue.

This is what 1982 produced: a federal government that treats provincial legislatures as if they were irresponsible, even in sectors where they have exclusive jurisdiction.

I therefore have no hesitation in condemning the federal government's attitude in this matter. There is only one way for the people of Quebec to achieve their destiny without Ottawa pulling a fast one: they must choose sovereignty.

Quebec PremierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the headline "Federal campaign Bouchard's priority in May", La Presse informed us yesterday morning that the premier of Quebec intended to give the Bloc Quebecois a hand in the upcoming federal election. This was confirmed by his press secretary, who said, and I quote; ``We are waiting to see what the Bloc Quebecois would like and we will accommodate them''.

As a Quebecer, I think Lucien Bouchard has incredible nerve abandoning his responsibilities as premier of Quebec for over one month in order to volunteer his services to help the Bloc Quebecois campaign.

In light of the very difficult social and economic situation in which Quebec finds itself, the premier perhaps has better things to do than warm up crowds for the member for Laurier-Sainte-Marie. Is this how they govern? Or, better yet, if the members of the Bloc Quebecois are looking for a good slogan for the next election, I could suggest this one: "I have a passion for Quebec but Canada is paying my pension".

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Liberal Lachine—Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the voting yesterday afternoon, some of us seated on this side clearly heard comments of "traitor" "turncoat" and "scum" from the Bloc Quebecois benches, when the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs rose to vote.

Intolerance and personal insults of this type are unacceptable in an open and democratic society. These labels are all the more unacceptable coming from a sector of this House dedicated to destroying the very country those members have a mandate to represent.

Personal insults are the stuff of bullies and have no place here. The Bloc Quebecois should look at itself in the mirror for the traitors and sellouts there are. It is certainly not the minister. He was only calling for democratic hearings that the separatist Government of Quebec had denied its citizens.

K.D. LangStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate Consort, Alberta's very own singer-songwriter K.D. Lang on her decoration yesterday as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

My first introduction to K.D. Lang came back in 1985. Playing for the members of the Alberta legislature, she delivered a high spirited, foot stomping performance that soon became her trademark.

Since then she has gone on to build a magnificent career in the music business, winning numerous awards and honours, including the Canadian country music awards entertainer of the year in 1989 and album of the year in 1990 for "Twang".

A household name across North America, K.D. Lang is just one of a long line of Canadian entertainers who have not shied from the challenge of succeeding on the world stage. She is living proof that Canadian musicians can and do compete with anybody anywhere, not because of government assistance or policy but because of doing what they are good at.

To K.D. Lang a hearty congratulations on being named to the Order of Canada.

Liberal Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is a day of mourning, two weeks before an election may be called. The people of Quebec must remember that the present Prime Minister was the one responsible for the isolation of Quebec during the night of the long knives in April 1982. The Constitution, which does not acknowledge Quebec and restricts it powers, was unanimously rejected by the National Assembly of the day.

The people of Quebec must remember that the present Prime Minister was the one who made a promise in the last referendum debate to recognize distinct society in the Constitution, a veto for Quebec, and respect for areas of jurisdiction. That same Prime Minister reneged on his promises as soon as the referendum threat was past.

Whether in the next election or the next referendum, the people of Quebec must remember that the Liberal Party of Canada has but one goal: to annihilate Quebec's distinctiveness.

Canadian Charter Of Rights And FreedomStatements By Members

April 17th, 1997 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom is about human dignity. Indeed its preamble states: "Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law". I am therefore honoured and privileged to rise today to mark its 15th anniversary.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms reflects our unique Canadian identity. It enshrines a balance between citizens individual rights and societal responsibilities and between citizens

and governments. It enshrines a balance between the power of parliaments and the power of the courts. It enshrines a system of checks and balances that safeguards against the abuse of power.

The charter is a milestone in Canadian history and a tribute to the ingenuity of our people. Truly we can all take pride in our charter which reflects the soul of our Canadian citizenship.

Youth EmploymentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, we all know the challenges facing youth today as they make the transition from their education to employment. We now have at the federal level a number of programs, funding for those programs and services available to assist these young people in meeting their challenges.

In London West we co-operatively organized a youth information fair that showcased these programs and services offered and provided young Londoners with valuable work experience.

Held at the Junior Achievement Centre in London West, the fair brought together representative youth with potential partners and organizers of the various programs. Information was provided in areas of entrepreneurship, service and internship, employment opportunities and partnering team activities with a group in the London area called Team London for Youth, a partnership between business, government, non-government service clubs and the boards of education.

Throughout the info fair I was really struck by the level of commitment from those input organizations and their commitment to helping our youth at the community-

Youth EmploymentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Yorkton-Melville.

New Democratic PartyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, last weekend I attended the NDP convention in Regina as an observer. Tommy Douglas would not be pleased to see that special interest groups and unions have hijacked the agenda of the party he created.

A recurring theme at the convention was that the NDP exists not to form government but to lobby the Liberals to spend more on big government programs. The cost to the taxpayer of all the resolutions passed was never a topic of discussion.

Not only was there a lack of effective debate on the issues discussed at the convention, there was a complete absence of debate on other major issues that face Canadians. Where was the debate on justice issues like the Young Offenders Act, criminal justice and prison reform and gun registration?

Where was the debate on democratic issues like giving people more control over their MPs between elections, making Parliament work better and giving Canadians a direct say in the affairs of their country? And for a federal political party to remain silent on national unity during the entire convention was a serious oversight indeed.

The federal NDP has evolved into something that acts more like a pressure group-

Bloc QuebecoisStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, 15 years ago, on April 17, 1982, the Government of Canada unilaterally patriated the Canadian constitution, in spite of the unanimous opposition of all the political parties in Quebec.

At the time, 73 of the 75 members of Parliament representing Quebec let their province down and supported the current Prime Minister and Pierre Elliott Trudeau, who said: "From now on, fate will favour the Canadian government. Even a united front by the ten provinces cannot force the Canadian government to move. By achieving a creative balance between the provinces and the central government, the federation will last 1,000 years".

Unfortunately, the Bloc Quebecois did not exist at the time. But now, there is, at the federal level, a party whose mandate is to protect the rights and interests of Quebecers.

Fortunately, the Bloc Quebecois is here today.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Speaker

I draw to the attention of members the presence in the gallery of Mr. Martin C.M. Lee, member of Parliament and Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong.

Presence In GalleryStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, exactly 15 years ago, in 1982, the present Prime Minister

was in Ottawa, and the Canadian government patriated the Constitution against the wishes of the Government of Quebec, the Quebec National Assembly and the vast majority of Quebecers.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister or the Acting Prime Minister the following question: How can he say the Constitution of 1982 is legitimate, when Quebec, when no government in Quebec, whether headed by sovereignists or federalists, ever recognized this Constitution?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 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, since the Constitution Act, 1982 has been in effect for 15 years, we can now judge the tree by its fruits.

This Constitution brought us the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is popular throughout Canada, including Quebec. It has reinforced the control of provinces over their natural resources; it has strengthened the position of French across Canada in its rights and freedoms-

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

-it has enshrined equalization, nearly half of which goes to Quebec, and has also provided for a bilateral amending process, when necessary, involving the Parliament of Canada and a provincial legislature.

That is not bad. Of course there is room for improvement. For instance, we could have a better amending formula, better recognition of Quebec. There is always room for improvement, but on the whole, it is quite an achievement.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is rather sad to see members from Quebec applaud the Constitution of 1982, and I think of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration who was part of a government that never recognized this Constitution, and the Minister of Human Resources Development, a former assistant to Claude Ryan, who condemned this Constitution. This is what happens to some Quebecers when they become ministers in Ottawa.

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I assume, is the Acting Prime Minister today. I agree, we must judge the tree by its fruits. Does the minister want us to forget the past, the role his own leader, the Prime Minister, has played for 30 years? Does he want us to forget that the Prime Minister's entire career was marked by his systematic opposition to Quebec? Does he want us to forget that this Prime Minister spent his entire career trying to put Quebec down and put it in its place? How can the minister expect Quebecers to be proud of what the Liberal Party of Canada perpetrated in 1982?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 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, I think the sarcastic remarks we just heard are irresponsible. I will simply say that we owe this Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the Minister of Justice at the time.

I may also recall that, at that time, Quebecers were more inclined to support the Prime Minister of Canada, as was borne out by the polls. There has been a lot of mythologizing in this respect. I think that some day we should have a substantive debate on the Constitution Act, 1982, and the ensuing benefits for Canada, including Quebec. I wish they would stop demonizing the current Prime Minister and that some day we could have an intelligent debate on the future of Quebec within Canada. It is very difficult to have one now, considering what was said by the Leader of the Opposition.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have this debate with the Prime Minister on this very day, 15 years after the patriation of the Constitution. I would have liked that very much.

If the minister wants this debate, is he willing to let federal Liberal members go to every riding in Quebec, and sign this Constitution on behalf of Quebecers and defend it against Quebec sovereignists and federalists who never accepted this Constitution?

The ConstitutionOral 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, they are demonizing the Constitution. They are incapable of discussing this calmly to see what exactly is so appalling. If we showed it to the UN, would they say: "Good heavens, this Constitution is unacceptable from the human rights point of view".

Of course not. They could not do that, nor could they say that the province of Quebec does not have very broad responsibilities, compared with what we see in other federations. They could never say the federation has not been decentralized since 1982. It has been decentralized in several areas and we are clarifying the roles of the various levels of government. Only yesterday, in the case of British Columbia, we signed an agreement clarifyibg the roles of governments in fisheries.

Good federalism is clarifying roles with respect to manpower, the environment and social housing. But of course the opposition is not interested in such a debate. They only want to demonize what has been done by the present Prime Minister.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, 15 years after the Constitution was unilaterally patriated, after two abortive attempts at constitutional reform, after a series of unkept promises made on the eve of the 1995 referendum, the federal government has nothing more to offer Quebecers. It has therefore decided to take the hard line and fight the Quebecers' right to self determination.

I would like to ask the Prime Minister or whomever is replacing him whether he acknowledges that there is a constitutional problem given that no government in Quebec, federalist or sovereignist, has wanted to recognize the Canadian Constitution in the past 15 years?

The ConstitutionOral 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, it would indeed be desirable to reach an agreement that would enable a Quebec government that believed in Canada to return to the constitutional fold. There is no disagreement on that point.

The disagreement is as follows: Do we judge Canada and its blessings solely on a dispute over certain aspects of the Constitution? In my opinion, this would be a serious mistake. Instead, we should look at what Quebecers and Canadians have accomplished together, at how the country we built together is the envy of billions of people, and ask ourselves how we got here. We should look especially at what giving up the solidarity uniting them in a great federation means to Quebecers and Canadians.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is rather surprising to hear the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs say that neither Bourassa nor Johnson believed in Canada. It is very surprising indeed.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Does the person replacing the Prime Minister acknowledge that it is the current Prime Minister who is guilty of going against the wishes of Quebecers in 1982, that all attempts to rectify the situation since have failed and that the only solution this government accepts is to ensure that Quebec no longer has the means to decide its own future?