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House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

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, on those specific points, I am saying the same thing as my counterpart, Mr. Brassard, the Quebec minister of intergovernmental affairs. He said, on February 13: "I think we consider that the consensus includes the English community. I think it is obvious that the English community must be a part of a consensus on a change of this nature".

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Laurier—Sainte-Marie Québec

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, if the Quebec National Assembly, comprising the Liberal Party of Quebec, the Action Démocratique and the Parti Quebecois, considers a consensus has been reached in Quebec, will the minister block it? Will he deny the request?

I remind the minister that in 1993 the McKenna government managed to have the Constitution amended in New Brunswick without the approval of the province's official opposition. Today, in the case of Quebec, with the official opposition and the party in power in agreement, is there a double standard? Without a consensus in the New Brunswick legislature, we acted here on the request of the Government of New Brunswick. When there would appear to be a consensus in the National Assembly, is the minister going to take it upon himself to decide whether it is sufficient? Is that what he is telling us today?

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, the Quebec premier, Mr. Bouchard, felt on February 21 that the official opposition would oppose his plan and asked us to act even if the official opposition did not agree, because, as he put it, when they vote like that, it does not preclude a consensus.

So all that is missing now is the consensus. I presume my counterpart, Mr. Brassard, is working closely with the anglophone community to find out exactly the source of the problem and reason for the community's reticence in approving the project. This is his job, and we are following with considerable interest. As soon as there is a consensus, we will be delighted to move on this, in the House of Commons.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, on March 27, 1997, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs said on RDI that there had to be reasonable support by religious and anglophone groups for amending section 93, before there could be said to be a consensus in Quebec. But some groups opposing this amendment are calling for a constitutional guarantee of the language rights of anglophones in Quebec, a guarantee that does not exist at all for francophones outside Quebec.

Will the minister admit that, by refusing to go ahead with the amendment requested, he is in actual fact supporting the groups calling for additional constitutional protection for Quebec's anglophones, while francophones are ignored?

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, I never mentioned a constitutional guarantee. I asked for guarantees that, in a democratic society, can take other forms. They can be guarantees of a legal or regulatory nature, or moral commitments.

As things stand now, the Government of Quebec has included a number of "whereas" clauses. Some could be amended, some could be added. There are lots of things that could be done without necessarily altering the Constitution. This is just as true in this situation as in many others, by the way.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, is the minister not, by his actions, giving a veto to any group, however small, that challenges the Marois reform?

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, I do not know how many times I have said this, but we are not giving a veto to any group.

I have already asked the hon. member this question: Do she and her party consider Quebec's anglophone community part of Quebec?

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

The ConstitutionOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

If so, what is required is a consensus that includes Quebec's anglophone community. What we are asking for is a consensus, reasonable support. We are not asking for unanimity.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, one would almost think there was an election on the horizon or something like that. I know it is ironic, but the justice minister, after having been terribly soft on crime for three and a half years, all of a sudden is trying to pass himself off as the champion of victims rights across the country. The people will not be fooled.

If the Liberals are really serious about putting victims first, will the justice minister commit here, now, today to passing Reform's victims bill of rights before the next election? Do not just think about it, do it.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there is one reason why the justice committee is devoting time today, tomorrow and later this week to the proposed victims bill of rights. That is because I asked it to. The last time the matter was debated in the House of Commons I undertook to direct the matter to the justice committee so it could look at the proposals in detail. I wrote to the committee and it has kindly taken up my request and is looking at the matter.

There is always more to do to make the justice system better and that includes the rights of victims. I do not think that the Reform Party or anyone else should overlook what has been achieved by this government on behalf of victims. Over the last three and a half years we have introduced more meaningful changes to the Criminal Code for the benefit of victims than any government in memory.

The Reform Party ought not to think that it has any monopoly on concern. As a caucus and as a government we have shown that we care deeply about victims and their role in the criminal justice system. We have acted.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to talk for a year and then to do something on the eve of a federal election. Surely the victims and the people across the country can understand how phoney this facade is. It is ridiculous.

Victims across the country are not laughing about this and I do not think they feel any comfort today. People like Debbie Mahaffy, Sharon Rosenfeldt, Pricilla de Villiers, Theresa McCuaig are not feeling any comfort about a justice minister who will stand up and talk about what a great job his government has done. He said there is one reason for the justice committee to get together today and it

is because he asked it to. I would like to know what his motive is. It is simply because of the letters that spell the word election.

What will it be, will the minister entrench victims rights in law or is this simply pre-election posturing, as we have seen so many times? Do it. Do it. Do it.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it was in June of 1994, just a few months after the last election, that this government introduced Bill C-37 to amend the Young Offenders Act to, among other things, improve the situation for victims, to provide for the first time that victims could provide impact statements in youth court.

That was just a few months after the last election. The Reform Party voted against those measures.

It was just a few months later, in 1994, that we tabled Bill C-41 to provide for the rights of victims and restitution, to provide increased sentences for those who harm them. The Reform Party voted against it.

In relation to gun control on behalf of victims in this country, victims who came to Parliament and asked that we act, this government had the courage of its convictions and it acted. The Reform Party voted against it.

I think the victims of this country would far rather have action than talk.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Beaver River, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know why victims groups right across the country have been so concerned about the talk and precious little action they have seen from the government here. They are not sensing any sense of comfort, I do not think. The victims we have spoken with are frustrated. They are frightened that the likes of Clifford Olson are going to harass them again and again.

There is no justice in a minister who calls himself justice to say that he is looking after these people and victims rights. On Bill C-37, only two months later after those small changes to the Young Offenders Act did he have to send another crew out across the country because his original bill did not do it. He did not do it right the first time.

We have unequivocally always said in the Reform Party that victims should come first, unconditionally. Yesterday the minister seemed to agree with us. Now I am really wondering if he does agree with us totally that victims always should take precedence over the rights of the criminal unconditionally.

Is he truly serious about putting victims rights first, unconditionally, or is it more simple talk before an election?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if one takes the trouble to cut through the inflammatory rhetoric and the emotive language of the Reform Party and look at what those members are really saying, the problem is it does not make any sense. They pretend that they are the only spokespersons for victims in this country, which is nonsense. This government has acted, not just spoken.

They do not really understand the issue. Even the purported victims bill of rights, which has gone to committee, totally ignores the distinction between federal and provincial responsibilities.

I listened to a CBC radio program this morning, a very good one here in Ottawa. Family members of a murder victim were on. They were asked if there was one thing they could have had in the justice system that would have made their plight easier. They answered grief counselling and assistance through the court process. That of course is a provincial responsibility.

That is why I went to the table with the provincial attorneys general and asked them to look with me at the Criminal Code. That is the kind of effective action that will make a difference, not this kind of talk.

Pearson AirportOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

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

The fears expressed by the Bloc Quebecois several months ago concerning Pearson Airport are now being confirmed. The federal government is now paying a high price to purchase Pearson Terminal 3. Moreover, it is preparing to settle out of court with the developer, who is suing it for $662 million because of the cancellation of the privatization of terminals 1 and 2 at Pearson. If we add up all of the amounts it plans to pay out for the three terminals, the total is well above $1 billion.

Is the Minister of Transport aware that the Liberal government's irresponsibility in this matter will cost Canadian and Quebec taxpayers very dearly, and that thousands of jobs could have been created with the amounts squandered in this way?

Pearson AirportOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the figure used by the hon. member is simply wrong. The decisions made by the local authority in Toronto, the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, to purchase the T-3 terminal was its decision. It will be funding that through a bond issue. This is not a government decision but one of the authority itself.

I should point out that there are substantial savings by having the whole airport run by the same authority rather than two-thirds of it run by one authority and one-third by another authority. That is why for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority it is in its interest to purchase the T-3 terminal and why it is in the interests of the T-3 consortium to sell. The price was determined by buyer and seller and the government did not cheerlead or quarterback that decision of those two groups.

Pearson AirportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Mercier Bloc Blainville—Deux-Montagnes, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1993, the Liberals made the privatization of Pearson Airport a major campaign issue relating to the integrity of the government.

Since the government is now preparing to pay out more than $1 billion to the developers of Pearson Airport in Toronto to make amends for the harm it has done, would it be prepared to do the same to make amends for the harm it has done in connection with Mirabel Airport?

Pearson AirportOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I repeat that the figures being used by the hon. member simply bear no relationship to any fact whatsoever.

The Pearson airport terminal purchase of $719 million is a deal between the Greater Toronto Airport Authority and the T-3 consortium. That is what they decided, a willing buyer and a willing seller, and they are working out the terms of that at the present time.

If the hon. member wishes to compare the rent relief provided to the Toronto airport authority of $185 million to construct a runway, to construct two fire halls, to construct a deicing facility, if he looks at that and compares it to the $100 million plus given to the ADM at the time of the transfer of the Montreal airport he will discover that in proportion to the amount of traffic, Montreal came out almost twice as well as Toronto.

JusticeOral Question Period

April 8th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, the whole country knows by now that the Minister of Justice does not understand what Canadians want in a victims bill of rights. It is not an amendment to the Criminal Code but a guiding light for the Criminal Code.

Specifically, one of the rights is the protection from anyone who intimidates, harasses or interferes with the rights of a victim. Why do you suppose that is there? I will ask the Minister of Justice.

Why is Clifford Olson permitted to write to the parents of the children he murdered, like Mr. and Mrs. Rosenfeldt, where Olson wrote of Daryn's last words and described in detail how he died?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the rules and the regulations of the prison system as I understand them make it possible for anybody who does not wish to receive mail from a particular prisoner to let that be known and the prison will see to it that person does not send mail to that person.

I spoke earlier about inflammatory language and emotive rhetoric. I think we can say now we have seen one of the prime examples from this hon. member who takes a discussion of the principles of criminal law to such extremes.

We should focus on the real issues, making streets safe, making communities safe, making the laws stronger and having a justice system that is sensitive to the interests of victims. That is exactly what our priority has been these last three and a half years, whether with changes to the criminal law in relation to the drunkenness defence which created an awful lot of victims or changes to the access by defence counsel to confidential records.

Our strategy, as opposed to the strategy of those with the rhetoric across the aisle, is to do things to make sure we have fewer victims in this country. That is the strategy of this government.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has just witnessed an appalling lack of understanding of what victims want. Victims of crime want to be informed, if the minister wants specifics, in a timely fashion of the crown's intention to offer a plea bargain before it is presented to the defence.

Does the justice minister have a problem with that request? Will he tell Canadians today that he will legislate this before an election is called?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member shows breathtaking presumptuousness in pretending that he speaks on behalf of victims, in pretending that he and his colleagues alone understand the needs of victims. Of course they do not.

If we need any evidence of that proposition, think back to that day in 1995 when victims appeared in a room in this building. They were people who had lost mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers to tragic violent crime, people who had been shot to death. There were victims who came here in tears to ask

these hon. members to vote in favour of Bill C-68 to control firearms more effectively. And what did they do? They turned a deaf ear to those victims. They turned their backs to those victims. Almost all of them voted against the very bill those victims wanted.

The example given by the hon. member today demonstrates his inability to grasp this issue. Plea bargains by prosecuting crown attorneys are in the jurisdiction of the provinces. I have taken up with the provinces my concern that they approve those systems. If the hon. member would have regard for what we are doing he would know we have the interests of victims very much at heart.

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

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

Last fall, the Government of Quebec officially asked the federal government to return amounts set aside for parental leave as provided under the Employment Insurance Act so that it could implement its own family policy. However, last week we read in the media that the minister intends to make this conditional on reaching an agreement on manpower training.

Can the minister give us the assurance today that negotiating recovery of the amounts provided for parental leave under employment insurance will not be conditional on an agreement on manpower training?

Parental LeaveOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Michel Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Mercier should not be too concerned about the conditional aspect, since the Government of Canada is still confident an agreement on manpower will be concluded with the Government of Quebec. This has been a long-standing priority for all Quebec workers. I want to stress that as far as we are concerned, any conditions would be minimal.

To reassure the hon. member for Mercier, I would like to add that the government intends to be very flexible and is open to suggestions on parental insurance, as we are in all areas for which we are responsible.

In fact, I can confirm that our officials will meet on April 11, if I am not mistaken, for a second session to rough out the main aspects of this initiative, and we are therefore confident that we will be on target.