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House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Young Canada WorksOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I find it incredible that the member should question this. If we are looking for summer ambassadors for Canada, there is nothing unusual in asking them to write a 250 word essay on "what Canada means to me".

Heritage Canada's program is Young Canada Works, and when we look for ambassadors for Canada, they should naturally have some knowledge of their country, which is still called Canada.

FloodingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Liberal

Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for emergency planning.

For the past week we have watched in distress as flood waters have destroyed property and entire communities in both Canada and the United States. In Manitoba, as the Red River rises, people are afraid that their homes will be destroyed and their communities devastated.

Can the minister assure Manitobans that he realizes the magnitude of this potential disaster and that our government is prepared to help both technically and financially in dealing with this potentially serious situation?

FloodingOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that every member of the House understands the concerns of the people of Manitoba with respect to the potential disaster impending there.

Obviously there is a very broad arrangement, led by the Government of Manitoba, which includes the municipalities and a wide array of Government of Canada departments, including the Department of National Defence.

I want to say to the hon. member and to the people who obviously are very apprehensive about impending events in that part of the country that the Government of Canada will do everything it can. The Department of National Defence will do everything it can. As we know, the Government of Manitoba will do everything it can. The municipalities directly affected will participate in every way they can to avoid what appears to be an enormous natural disaster which will take place in a very short time.

However, with respect to the inevitable, the cost, the dislocation and the disruption that will occur, the Government of Canada is absolutely committed, as I have indicated to my colleague in the Government of Manitoba today, to treating Manitobans equitably. We will give them every opportunity to respond to the problems they are faced with in a flexible way. We guarantee that the people of Manitoba will be treated as well or better than anybody who has ever been faced with this kind of disaster in Canada.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, preventive medicine is an alternative that Canadians are

increasingly coming to rely on in their fight to prevent disease. A recent poll indicates a significant increase in Canadians' use of herbal and alternative therapies as a key part of their health care regimen.

However, it appears that the health protection branch has other ideas. Canadians are witnessing the spectacle of health food stores being raided, products confiscated and stopped at borders and consumers denied access to products they have relied on for decades. At a time of soaring health care costs and limited resources, Canadians must be allowed freedom of choice.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Will he impose an immediate moratorium on these activities until a full public review can be undertaken?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the only real and effective choice is one that ensures that the product is safe and effective.

The mandate of Health Canada is to ensure that every product on the market, on the shelves, has already received the stamp of approval from Health Canada that the product fulfils the medicinal claims listed on the items.

I am sure that the member opposite would agree that this is a basic responsibility that the government must fulfil.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the government's health care cuts make Canadians increasingly aware of the need to take preventive measures to remain healthy. Natural health products provide an important tool to help in that fight.

What will the minister do to keep both his bureaucrats and natural health products on the shelf?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member will be reassured to know that Health Canada already has a consultative group that includes practitioners who distribute and who are expert in the consumption of some of the remedies she is suggesting. Health Canada, over the course of every year, approves for distribution, for sale and consumption some 100 such items.

She should feel secure that Health Canada is up on all the issues that relate to herbal medicine and that the appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that Canadians can have the confidence that all those items are safe and effective.

Tran Trieu QuanOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

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

Last week, Canada refused to co-sponsor a resolution before the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, condemning the appalling state of human rights in China. To protect its prized and much criticized contracts, the Liberal government was being less than forthright as it tried to save face by announcing a series of bilateral measures to discuss the human rights situation in China. This tactic, which was tried in Vietnam in the case of Canadian citizen Tran Trieu Quan, has achieved absolutely nothing in the past four years.

Now that this government has made a clear choice between promoting trade relations and defending human rights, how does the minister intend to proceed to obtain from the Vietnamese government the immediate release of Canadian citizen Tran Trieu Quan?

Tran Trieu QuanOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member really mixed up two different issues. The first has to do with our position on China.

As I have already explained to the House, the decision was not ours. It was taken by members of the European Union. They have already decided not to support the resolution. As a result, we were able to gain a number of very important bilateral agreements to pursue human rights. The hon. member would be well advised to look at the opportunities that provides.

We are working very closely with the Government of Vietnam. We have met with the family many times. We will continue our representations. We can hope that there can be a resolution to this very soon. I hope this afternoon to meet with the Archbishop of Quebec, the family and a number of students in Quebec who have brought forward a petition which demonstrates widespread support.

We want to continue working with the people who are deeply committed. I am sure if we work together in solidarity, we will find a very effective and very quick solution.

Tran Trieu QuanOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I may remind the minister that everyone in Quebec stands behind Tran Trieu Quan.

Since Canada has turned its back on its traditional human rights policy, would the minister agree that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Vietnam in 1982, authorizes us to impose sanctions and to lodge an international claim against Vietnam which is violating the rights of Mr. Tran?

Tran Trieu QuanOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to point out that all of Canada supports the liberation of Mr. Quan, not just those in Quebec. This is a national issue. That is why the Government of Canada has taken the action required.

Second, I would suggest to the hon. member that rather than coming to the House in an adversarial way, which his whole demeanour and behaviour suggests, we should be working in a co-operative way because this is a very important issue. It does not require the kind of negative approach the hon. member is taking. It requires a co-operative partnership approach. I am very confident that if we continue working together that we can achieve a very successful result within a matter of days.

The problem with Bloc members is that they do not want success. They do not want results. They want the problems to continue because they feed on misery, they feed on negativism, they feed on problems. They do not feed on success.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, many Canadians practice preventive health care with health supplements, yet the health protection branch under the direction of the government is actively removing vitamins, minerals and herbal and natural extracts that have been on the shelves for decades.

Some of these products have been in use for centuries with no history of harm. There is simply no scientific evidence to support the government's actions. Canadians are paying more for health supplements and their access to health products is being restricted. This is clearly not in the best interests of Canadians.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Why is the minister banning herbs and vitamins that have been on store shelves and in use for years with no history of harm?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the member opposite heard the first response. I stated that Health Canada is very interested and is determined to guarantee that the products on the market are of high quality, safe and effective.

We agree that some products have been used over centuries, but no medicinal claims have been made for them.

I point out to members opposite that there are some such as ephedra which in Texas has already proven to have negative effects in over 500 cases. There is comfrey, chaparral and germander that have caused liver toxicity and chou wu chih that has caused heart palpitations.

I am sure the member opposite would not want Health Canada to put a stamp of approval on products that have already caused some serious negative considerations in the health community.

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, this issue has little to do with safety and acting in the public interest. This issue is about money and about power: money and power in the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies. That is what this issue is about.

The government is forcing Canadians to pay more for health supplements and is driving small companies out of business.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Will the minister act now to put a moratorium in place to stop the removal from store shelves of vitamins, minerals, and herbal and natural extracts?

Health CareOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite may have a different perspective on what is the obligation of government. However, I can assure the House that what is of great concern is not the economic considerations to which he alludes. The government wants to make sure that any product that is on the market which has medicinal claims fulfils the requirement that it is a safe, effective, high quality product. There is no other consideration is far as Health Canada is concerned.

I think the member should be ashamed for suggesting that there is any concern other than that.

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment.

Greenhouse gas emissions from Canada continue to rise despite our international commitment to reduce them made at Rio. As a prosperous, caring nation we should be setting a good example to the world, not a bad one. What exactly is the minister doing to show leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

The EnvironmentOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, let me thank the member for his question. It is most appropriate when the world celebrates earth day today. It is also five years since Rio.

The international community, including Canada, has come to recognize that we have to redouble our efforts if we are to keep the promise that was made five years ago in Rio with respect to stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions by 2000.

We have tried to redouble those efforts. Last December with my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, at a joint federal-provincial energy and environmental ministerial conference, 45 new

initiatives were set out with which to combat growing greenhouse gas emissions.

We are also committed to improving the voluntary challenge program. We also said in the last budget that we were prepared to put $45 million into a commercial retrofit which would reduce the energy component and make it efficient by more than 20 per cent.

Ultimately, the conference in December in Kyoto, Japan this year is very important. Canada leaves for that conference assured and confident that we can reach those stabilizations.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I had intended to ask a question about the flood situation in Manitoba but that was ably done by the member for Brandon-Souris so I will turn to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Given the visit by the president of Brazil, can the minister tell us whether the future of Christine Lamont and David Spencer was raised by the Prime Minister with the president? What progress can the minister report either with respect to those two individuals or with respect to a treaty forthcoming that would enable Canada to repatriate these two unfortunate Canadians?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I can report to the hon. member that the issue was discussed by the Prime Minister. The president has also discussed it at the ministerial level. We continue to raise our concerns in this matter.

In fact, the Brazilian government has indicated its choice is to move ahead with a treaty on exchange of offenders. It will be part of its general policy which includes a number of treaties in this area with several countries. It is working to put that kind of grouping together at the present time. We will continue to make our representations.

I believe that if we continue to work on this file that we will have a treaty in place and that would then offer to the Spencer-Lamont families the opportunity to make application under the treaty.

Decontamination Of Military SitesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

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

Yesterday, the minister admitted there was a problem with the military bases along the DEW line in the Arctic. In fact, toxic substances like PCBs have contaminated the environment and have been detected in the food chain. The Inuit population is very concerned about the state of the environment in the tundra and for several years has been trying to reach an agreement with the government on a viable solution.

Considering that traces of PCBs have been found as far as 15 kilometres away from the bases and that the minister himself has admitted there is a problem, will he undertake to develop plans for decontamination that will guarantee the tundra will be restored to a state that is acceptable?

Decontamination Of Military SitesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr Speaker, as I said yesterday, obviously the Government of Canada recognizes its obligation to respect the environment in the area described by the hon. member and elsewhere.

The challenge is a considerable one, because most of these facilities were built a long time ago, when standards were quite different from what they are today. However, I can assure the hon. member that we will do everything in our power to ensure the integrity of the environment, in Canada's Far North and elsewhere in this country.

Banff National ParkOral Question Period

April 22nd, 1997 / 2:55 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the route over the Banff area is the most commonly used VFR flight corridor between Alberta and B.C. The airstrip in Banff provides a very necessary emergency landing site for pilots caught unexpectedly in rapidly changing mountain weather.

The minister of heritage plans to close the airstrip as early as next month, allegedly to protect wildlife although the bit of information provided by government does not justify it.

Will the minister of heritage at least give the same level of consideration to people as wildlife and allow the Banff airstrip to remain, or offer some reasonable alternative such as moving it to the south side of the highway?

Banff National ParkOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the Banff airstrip which is currently used by approximately half a dozen pilots has been deemed by those in the know to be unsafe.

Presence In The GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Speaker

It has become a tradition for those of us in the House to pay tribute to men and women whose achievements contribute to our national life. We have such Canadians with us today.

The Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Toronto and Collingwood in February. We have in our galleries today athletes and coaches representing the Canadian team that participated in those games.

The special Olympics movement was launched 30 years ago by us, by Canadians, and has become an international success story. This year's winter games brought together 2,000 athletes from nine different countries.

I want to introduce the athletes and coaches representing the Canadian teams. I ask members to hold their applause until I have introduced all of them.

When I call your names, you, our Canadian athletes, I would like you to stand and stay standing until I have introduced all of you in the House: Katherine Hall, David Johnston, Tanya Parris, Erin Thom, Robin Friesen, Fabian Wawianke, Joanne Lautermilch, Lana Noonan, Jennifer Adams, Maryanne Bland, Samantha Mayer, Richard Francis, Richard Smith, Mark Virus, Josée Bournival, Joseph Munro, Marc Mckearney, Gordon Reddy and Frank Hayden, founder of the special Olympic movement.

These are your special Olympians.

Presence In The GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.