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House of Commons Hansard #163 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was federal.

Topics

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of having served as a member of this government. First, it has been able to restore the confidence and trust of Canadians in government. That is something the Reform Party has never, in its wildest dreams, had the notion of doing.

Second, unemployment has been brought down from the high levels it was at in 1993. More than 750,000 jobs have been created.

Interest rates have been brought down to a 30 year low.

We have restructured government and restructured the finances of the country which has given us a platform from which to launch into the new century.

We approach these issues with pragmatism and reality, not with ideology and rhetoric, which seems to be the only stock in trade of the hon. member.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

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

Canadian Airlines is still having problems despite the assistance provided by the federal government. If the company cannot sell Inter-Canadian, it will shut down operations in Quebec in less than five weeks, killing 500 jobs.

What is the federal government going to do about this potential closure, after agreeing in the last few months to postpone the last payment on the $120 million loan it extended to Canadian in 1992, and after granting Canadian last February a reduction in fuel taxes of $20 million a year over the next four years.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the situation with respect to the regional subsidiary of Canadian Airlines is fairly straightforward. The company has proposed selling the airline. This happened only a few days ago. There is, I believe, at least a 16-week period before there would be developments that would involve the government.

At the present time it is simply a private company offering to sell a company which has frequently been sold. It was once known as Quebec Air. It has frequently been purchased by other companies.

It appears to be a normal readjustment within the airline industry where one company might move from ownership of one group to ownership of another. At the present time there is no cause for the government to step in.

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphan Tremblay Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, are we to understand from the minister's comments that all Quebec taxpayers are good for is to pay tens of millions of dollars that the federal government then gives to Canadian, and that they do not

have the right to say anything when this company shuts down its operations in Quebec two months later?

Canadian AirlinesOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the hon. member, this is a private offer of a Canadian company to the market generally. It is not a question of taxpayers' money being involved.

The hon. member seems to be under the misapprehension that Canadian is owned by the Canadian government. It is not. Canadian Airlines is a private corporation.

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Prime Minister is about to call an election. So far we have not heard what the issues might be. There are no new ideas from the Liberal side and no platform.

It is a little bit like the corn flakes commercial. I think Liberals are going to run on "try me again for the first time" to see if maybe people will buy it. I do not think the people are going to buy $24 billion in tax increases since the government took power, another $110 billion added to the $500 and some billion national debt and 1.4 million unemployed. With a shameful economic record like that I wonder what the Liberals are going to run on.

The government should not be going cap in hand asking for the votes of the electorate. It should be going cap in hand apologizing to the electorate. What possible reason could the government use for going to the people at this time in a federal election?

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

An hon. member

We want to get rid of the Reform Party.

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is trying to use the metaphor of a cereal box, which I am very glad he has the time to spend reading in comparison to his hon. colleague, I would suggest that the appropriate variation for the Reform Party would be crack, pop and fizzle.

Mr. Speaker, I said crack, pop not crackpot. I just want to make that clear.

The hon. member is the one who seems to be getting all agitated about an election. It was his party that rushed out to get its platform before the people. It is his leader who has been campaigning across the country. It is his members who are standing up in an apologetic fashion declaring their mea culpas to their constituents.

We are here governing. We want to make sure that the country is in good hands and continues to be in good hands. If and when and how the election is called, we fully expect to have the mandate to continue as the government.

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, maybe their idea of governing is that a goody a day will get the voter to play. I am not sure whether they will get away with it.

When the Liberals announce their platform I can see it now: The theme music from Mission Impossible coming on the screen as the son of red book gets trotted out and they try once again to make believe that this time they really, really mean it.

Are they going to try to defend the actions of some of their ministers, while if their outspoken backbenchers speak out they get kicked out of the party? Will they defend that? Will they talk about the huge MP pension plan? Will they talk about the Somalia inquiry? Will they talk about the Pearson airport deal? Maybe the Airbus pay-off, I wonder if that is what they will talk about. Maybe it will be free trade. I think it is going to be long term, stable funding for the CBC.

This is a comedy from Air Farce. Surely they cannot be running on this. In this literature the Liberals are saying that Canadians are in good hands. Well, good hands my foot. Why would Canadians vote for four more years of this kind of a government?

Liberal PartyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about the observation he makes of members on the government side. If he took a look around him it would look like the retreat from Moscow. Never have we seen such a bedraggled group of people in total surrender and defeat, pulling themselves back with all the resignations and all the evictions.

We have declared a new party called independent members made up of the rejects from the Reform Party that their hon. leader has thrown out.

I would hope that at some point during this question period that the Reform Party might, in its last gasp here in the House, get down to some serious questions about the issues at stake, the great matters really affecting public policy and get off their platform.

Transportation Of Farm WorkersOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development.

On March 31, the federal government stopped its financial contribution to the Quebec agricultural day haul transportation assistance program. So, this year, the government of Quebec will have to finance all by itself the program, which will be cut by 40

per cent, or $330,000, because of the federal government's withdrawal.

Since this successful program provides vital transportation services for some 150,000 person-days a year in Quebec, why is the minister reluctant to renew the federal government's financial contribution?

Transportation Of Farm WorkersOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear members opposite talk about jurisdiction.

This is very much a provincial jurisdiction. The Government of Quebec and members opposite have asked us to withdraw from areas of provincial jurisdiction and that is what we are doing.

Transportation Of Farm WorkersOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, for the hon. member's information, I would like to point out that it was a federal-provincial agreement and not a question of the federal government taking over from the province. An agreement is usually reached because we want to do business together.

The federal government had already reduced its financial contribution from 50 per cent to 40 per cent, and now it is down to nothing.

Does the minister realize that his refusal to maintain the federal contribution to this program will mostly affect small farmers trying to recruit help and thousands of low-income seasonal workers?

Transportation Of Farm WorkersOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, yes, we are aware of that. It is why we have made an offer to the provincial government and the farming community as a whole. Human Resources Development is very interested in looking at proposals for doing this in a different way than it has been done in the past.

Once the proposal is put to us, we will look at the issue and a way of delivering it in a different fashion than it was delivered in the past because that entered into provincial jurisdiction which is against the policy of the party opposite.

Via RailOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the new reigning king of political patronage, keeps claiming that he appoints only good Liberals-and that an oxymoron if ever I heard one-to all of the patronage positions he fills.

If all the Liberal hacks in patronage positions are so good, why are the Canadian taxpayers shelling out $50,000 for VIA Rail's president to take an eight-week course at Harvard?

Via RailOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail is a crown corporation for which I am responsible for reporting to the House. I do not have a day to day responsibility for vetting every decision taken by VIA Rail. The hon. member has made an assertion which may or may not be correct, I do not know. I am quite willing to look into it for him, find out and report back to him.

I would suggest that a party which constantly has supported the private sector and the concept of government getting out of active involvement in commercial operations should think twice before it encourages ministers to take day to day control of crown corporations or private companies.

Via RailOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform Kootenay West—Revelstoke, BC

Mr. Speaker, what I encourage the minister to do is privatize VIA Rail.

Given that VIA Rail is subsidized in the amount of $600,000 a day, $50,000 might not seem like much money to the Prime Minister, his finance minister or the Minister of Transport. However it represents a four-year degree for a Canadian student who cannot afford an education because the Liberals cut education funding by 40 per cent.

Can the Prime Minister or anyone else explain why Liberal patronage hacks get $50,000 for an eight-week Ivy League course while thousands of Canadian students cannot afford an education because of Liberal cuts.

Via RailOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I answered this question the first time around by saying that I, as minister responsible for reporting to the House for VIA, do not take every decision of $50,000 or more for the railroad, nor in fact does the Prime Minister.

We have a crown corporation operating at arm's length from the government whose annual plan is reported through me to the House. We do not follow every decision prior to it being made.

I will repeat what I have agreed to do, for the hon. member. I will ask VIA for the details surrounding the assertion of the hon. member to find out whether it is correct. Most assertions from his party are incorrect. If it is correct, I will bring information to him about it and whether there is justification for it.

I cannot expect to answer every $50,000 decision of a corporation, which he admits has at least a $600,000 daily support from the state.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

April 24th, 1997 / 2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

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

Last Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs told us that he intended to contact his Egyptian counterpart within a day or two to take urgent action to have Mrs. Robitaille's eldest child, who is seriously ill, brought back to Canada.

Can the minister inform us of the outcome of the discussions with his Egyptian counterpart to bring back the Robitaille children who are still being held in Egypt?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, a conversation could not be arranged for now. I have signed a letter to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs. I will continue to try to contact him directly, personally, to share with him the great concern of the Canadian government.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Terrebonne, QC

Mr. Speaker, we conclude then that the discussion has not been held yet.

I remind the minister that Egypt is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and, as such, has obligations to meet.

Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs tell us if he will invoke the Convention on the Rights of the Child with his Egyptian counterpart to convince him to send back to Canada the eldest Robitaille child, who is seriously ill?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, certainly the responsibilities under the convention are setting a mandate but they do not have a legal, binding obligation. That is the difficulty.

Within a matter of a day or two we will be engaged in finishing our negotiations with the Egyptian government on a new consular agreement. This would substantially enhance our ability to make representations on behalf of the Robitaille children.

I understand the frustrations. I feel them as well, but we have to pursue it through the venues of the international forums we have. I will keep the hon. member fully informed of each step along the way.

Montfort HospitalOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister.

For several weeks now, people in eastern Ontario have shown in different ways their total opposition to the closure of Montfort Hospital.

Since the federal government has assumed the mandate to speak for linguistic minority rights everywhere in Canada, could the minister tell the House what the position of the government is, regarding the closure of Montfort Hospital?

Montfort HospitalOral Question Period

2:45 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 position of the government is that linguistic minorities all across Canada should not only be entitled to basic services in their own language but should also have the right to control as many institutions as possible which are essential to any community, such as schools, colleges, hospitals, co-operatives.

Like some of my colleagues, I informed the Government of Ontario of my position on the proposed closure of Montfort Hospital the very first day it was announced. As Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I will keep asking the Government of Ontario to take into consideration the serious consequences for the Franco-Ontarian community of the closure of the only French language hospital in Ottawa.

Premier Harris has proven to be a great Canadian by giving francophones of Ontario control over their schools. I do hope that he will be guided by the same principles in the case of Montfort, the only French language teaching hospital in Ontario.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 a 17-year-old was convicted in adult court for the murder of a father of four. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

Thanks to the justice minister and Bill C-41, this young offender can be paroled after serving a mere 10 years. That is the Liberal record of getting tough on crime.

My question is for the justice minister. Why send young killers into adult court for adult sentencing when adult penalties do not apply?