House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was youth.



10 a.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, I wonder if you would welcome with me one of our assistant deputy speakers. This is her first time in the chair. I remember the first time I took the chair. My knees were knocking. But I know you will be very gentle with our new Speaker.

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Orders of the day.

The House resumed from September 25 consideration of the motion for an address to His Excellency the Governor General in reply to his speech at the opening of the session and of the amendment.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

St. Catharines Ontario


Walt Lastewka LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak for the first time in the 36th Parliament and to talk about what is important to this session of Parliament and Canadians.

Before I do so I would like to congratulate you on your appointment and I am sure that during the many deliberations that this House will be having we will keep you on your toes from time to time but, as the Speaker has said, this is Friday and things are a bit different on Fridays.

First and most important I want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents, the people of St. Catharines, for choosing me to represent them here in the nation's capital in the House of Commons once again.

I remind my colleagues, both new and old, that we are representatives of Canadians like those in St. Catharines who have concerns about jobs, about health care, about their children and grandchildren.

My riding of St. Catharines is known as the garden city. We have gentler winters and warmer summers than we have here in the nation's capital and that is why our tender fruit is so sweet and our wine is just right.

It also makes for good times for watching the ships slide through the Welland canal or to go rowing on Martindale pond, the future site of the 1999 world rowing championships.

In addition to thanking my constituents for their continued support I want to warmly welcome the new members to the House.

I am also honoured to stand before you as the recently appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry. I see this not only as a challenge but as a wonderful opportunity to work with all my colleagues in this House, to help Canadian businesses to succeed, to help them grow to create jobs and to make Canada the best country in the world.

The Speech from the Throne, which we are debating today, marks the next stage in our government's commitment to work with Canadians and Canadian businesses to create and seize opportunities in the global knowledge based economy.

Canada's solid economic foundation is something that we put in place with the help and sacrifice of many Canadians. I want to remind the House that over the last four years we have also been working hard to promote innovation, advance the information highway, increase trade and create opportunities for Canadians in the new economy.

I take this opportunity to outline some of our recent initiatives in the industry portfolio and how we will continue to improve the various department endeavours.

Over the last four years we have been getting Canadians connected and putting them on the information highway. This strategy calls for a high quality, low cost information network that will give Canadians access to employment information, education, health care, entertainment, investment and wealth creating opportunities in the technology sector.

The strategy seeks to promote job creation through innovation and investment, reinforce Canadian cultural sovereignty and identity and to ensure that we have universal access to the information highway wherever we are in Canada.

For example, the Strategis program and Industry Canada's on-line business information service have been demonstrated to business owners and managers at special events throughout this country at trade and information shows. Almost 13 million documents have been accessed through Strategis, which is available to Canadians instantly on the Internet.

The community access program is designed to connect rural and remote areas and aboriginal communities to the Internet. As stated in our throne speech, the mandate before 2001 is to connect well over 5,000 rural communities across Canada to the Internet to help them to get information at home or at their business.

The SchoolNet program will encourage the connection of some 16,500 schools, 3,400 libraries and 450 first nation schools to the Internet by the end of 1998-99.

For everyone's information, well over 9,500 schools and 1,200 public libraries have been connected. Each day across this country new libraries are being connected to this excellent program.

Another program called computers for schools redirects surplus computer equipment to schools and public libraries throughout the country. To date close to 40,000 computers and 60,000 software packages have been delivered to schools across this country.

The student connection program hires university and college students to teach small businesses how to use the Internet because everybody needs to get on line and it takes time and effort for each of these businesses to do what has to be done in the new economy. It helps them improve their competitiveness and create new opportunities.

In my province alone, Ontario, well over 2,200 firms have been assisted by our students to be connected to the Internet.

In addition, the industry portfolio has been working to realize our international potential. The department has been working with its many partners to help existing exporters identify and access new trading opportunities and provide at the same time perspective exporters with the information, the skills and the tools they need to be export ready.

We have a number of international trade centres across this country, including one in my province, the one in Toronto. It serves as a focal point for the delivery of market information, counselling and other support to potential exporters across the province.

In 1996 the centre responded to well over 10,000 requests. In addition, Industry Canada and foreign affairs have established an active networks of trained executives across the country, those people who can assist small businesses, in fact any businesses, whether home business or even large businesses, in export.

The National Research Council's industrial research assistance program has been helping SMEs right across this country. IRAP helps members of Parliament in their ridings to help their businesses which then create jobs.

In my area of Niagara where we have some 31 cottage wineries a partnership with IRAP has created a special wine industry, known worldwide, receiving many medals. That was an initiative with IRAP, the grape growers and the wine industry.

Later next month we will be opening up an oenology and viticulture institute at Brock University, an excellent endeavour for the university, its students, its grape growers and the wine industry.

Many of our universities across Canada participate in networks of centres of excellence where they link together and work together for research and development. This area will be improved and will be continually supported by this government because of the excellent work that has been going on.

I should also point out that the Canada community investment program has been an endeavour which 20 communities across this country, and all provinces and territories have at least one, have been using to improve access to capital. This is another area where we must continue on to help those communities that do not have major banking centres and financial centres but which need access to capital.

I believe, as set out in the throne speech, that consumer confidence is growing and new businesses have been created. There is much work to do with all of us working together in our communities, our ridings, for the betterment of our country.

It will be my endeavour to work with as many members in this House and companies and communities across this country in assistance to the Minister of Industry to make sure that we are continuing on the right track to help us grow as a country.

I have outlined many initiatives pertaining to people, innovators, businesses and communities at work across this country. I believe the Speech from the Throne is a framework to lead our country into the 21st century, and the good news is that much of our work is already well under way. We must continue to work at it in this mandate.

I want to thank you, Madam Speaker, and again congratulate you on your appointment. I am sure many of us will have many discussions with you in the next four years.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you on your appointment and I can assure you that you will certainly get as much co-operation as we are able to muster in this House for your administration of the affairs of this House in the days to come.

I rise today in response to the Speech from the Throne. Nothing in that speech assures me or the people of this country that the integrity of Canada's justice system will be restored by the government or the new justice minister.

Many areas in justice should have been addressed in the throne speech but were not. We could look at the need for the reform of the Young Offenders Act, the elimination of the faint hope clause, exempting violent offenders from conditional sentencing and, of course, a victims' bill of rights. These are all issues of great concern to Canadians and issues which Reform intend to pursue with vigour in this session of Parliament.

According to a July 1997 Angus Reid poll, 52% of Canadians have lost faith in our courts and our justice system. This is a serious matter. Why have so many Canadians lost faith in our justice system and particularly our courts? That is the question I would like to focus my remarks on today.

Canadians' faith in our justice system can only be further shattered by the scandalous affair perpetrated by senior officials within the justice department, aided and abetted by the federal court and concealed from the people of this country by the intentional ignoring or oversight of the facts by the former justice minister and the Hon. Charles Dubin.

In 1996 a series of indiscretions were committed by Associate Deputy Attorney General Ted Thompson who deliberately and knowingly interfered with the judicial independence of Associate Chief Justice Jerome who was conducting a hearing into the deportation orders of three suspected Nazi war criminals.

In an attempt to protect his close friend from embarrassment, Ted Thompson telephoned Chief Justice Isaac to warn him of the proposed supreme court reference. The chief justice of the federal court and Judge Jerome's administrative superior arranged for Mr. Thompson to meet with him in his chambers to discuss the matter further. An exchange of letters ensued in which Thompson outlined the chronology of the court delays on the three cases. This was all done without the knowledge of defence counsel.

Chief Justice Isaac then called Judge Jerome to a meeting and advised him of the threat of a supreme court reference if the pace of the hearings into the three deportation cases did not pick up. With Judge Jerome's assistance, Chief Justice Isaac responded to Mr. Thompson's letter assuring the assistant deputy the cases would be expedited. “I have discussed your concerns with the associate chief justice and like me he is prepared to take all reasonable steps possible to avoid a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on these matters.” This too was done without the knowledge of defence counsel.

Following this horrendous act of interference into the judicial independence of Judge Jerome, justice department officials sought to minimize the damage by deliberately creating a false scenario designed to mislead defence counsel and Canadians into believing that Ted Thompson has approached Chief Justice Isaac for the innocent purpose of discussing the scheduling of 12 future deportation cases and had inadvertently discussed the three deportation cases being handled by Judge Jerome.

In an effort to cover up this deceit, these justice officials recognized the need to keep Ted Thompson from testifying when a motion for a stay of proceedings was entered on the basis of political interference into the judicial independence of the court. This deceit and the object of deceit is revealed in secret justice department documents which justice officials were ordered to file in the Supreme Court of Canada. One of these documents is a memo to Mr. John Sims, the assistant deputy attorney general responsible for citizenship and immigration dated May 10, 1996, from Mr. Chris Amerasinghe, senior general counsel for the Attorney General of Canada.

Mr. Amerasinghe states in his memo that if Ted Thompson testified in court “The damage done to the image of the department, the attorney general and the court will be incalculable for all time and the consequences could be far reaching, going far beyond the immediate concern for these three cases. It could precipitate the resignations of the minister and the chief justice. More importantly, the reputation of the government and the court will be irreparably damaged if all the evidence were to come out.”

The contents of this one secret document alone is shocking and beyond belief, yet it gets worse.

In a second memo dated May 12, 1996 Mr. Amerasinghe states:

Unfortunately there are several problems in calling Ted Thompson—Bayne—one of the Defence Counsel—will soon realize the extent of the friendship between Ted Thompson and the Chief Justice and will be able to demonstrate that the real reason Ted went to see the Chief Justice was to alert his close friend to an impending Reference which would embarrass the Chief Justice and seek ways of avoiding it, and that the story about the concern for the 12 cases was false and is a cover-up.

Justice officials were not the only ones who advised Thompson not to testify. During a private conversation in Montreal in early May, Judge Jerome provided Thompson with the same legal advice, not to submit an affidavit. Chief Justice Isaac was at the same Montreal rules committee meeting, again an unbelievable revelation.

As unbelievable as this is, Mr. Amerasinghe clearly and accurately describes the story being put forward by the justice department as false and a cover up, and this assessment is not denied by any justice official in the documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada.

The most outrageous and reprehensible part of this whole scandal is the realization that this false story, this cover up, was extended either knowingly or unknowingly into the House of Commons by the former justice minister who on May 29, 1996 said this in Hansard regarding the meeting between Thompson and Isaac: “The meeting was for the purpose initially of discussing concerns with the pace of litigation generally in the federal court”.

The former justice minister is here parroting the false story and cover up detailed by Mr. Amerasinghe in a secret memo to John Sims. Mr. Amerasinghe said in relation to Ted Thompson's motives and the real reason for approaching his friend was not to discuss general administrative matters but to alert his close personal friend of the proposed supreme court reference which would embarrass Chief Justice Isaac who had been working to improve the reputation of the federal court.

I invite all Canadians to look at the facts, to review the evidence. I am confident a reasonable person would reach the same shocking conclusions. I am confident ordinary Canadians would recognize that aspects of what the former justice minister reported in this House were incorrect and misleading and that the finding of Charles Dubin concerning the conduct of Ted Thompson is at best deficient and at worst a deliberate whitewash as he had access to all the damning information contained in the documents filed in the supreme court, and that the Canadian Judicial Council's examination of the conduct of Chief Justice Isaac is also inadequate and deficient. However, this was to be expected, given that the council did not have access to all the information contained in the secret and confidential justice department documents that were later filed with the Supreme Court of Canada.

It appears that the Canadian Judicial Council depended solely on the word of Chief Justice Isaac who told them among other things that he never discussed Judge Jerome recusing himself from the cases, although the justice documents say exactly the opposite.

Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada, although dismissing the stay of proceedings motion, clearly stated that both Chief Justice Isaac and Associate Chief Justice Jerome were tainted by this affair and should have nothing further to do with these cases.

What are Canadians to think when they witness this type of conduct from our justice officials and our judges, the very people entrusted to protect our rights and freedoms and who are to uphold the rule of law to the very highest standards? What are they to think when they see pertinent information being withheld from the Canadian Judicial Council, the one body entrusted to ensure that courts and judges remain independent of outside pressures so citizens can rely on the fact that they will receive fair and impartial hearings? What are they to think when they hear and see this kind of conduct on the part of these officials? What are Canadians to think when they hear all the damning evidence which clearly points to such inappropriate conduct? And there is more.

In a secret memo to John Sims, the Assistant Deputy Attorney General, dated December 14, 1995, Chris Amerasinghe states this:

I am appalled at the irresponsible manner in which the associate chief justice, who is responsible for the proper functioning of the federal court trial division conducts the business of the court. It is a travesty of justice that these cases proceed at a snail's pace and that Jerome acquiesces in every attempt by counsel for the respondents to delay them rather than pushing counsel to deal with them speedily. He does not seem to care what happens. Apparently the Chief Justice of the Federal Court either has no power to influence the conduct of the Associate Chief Justice or does not wish to do so.

Mr. Amerasinghe attributed the associate chief justice's behaviour to the state of his health. I quote from the same memo:

He appeared to be misled as to the nature to the privilege which we were claiming—the rather disjointed manner in which he spoke caused me serious concern as to the state of his health. More disturbing was the fact that he did not appear to appreciate that Bayne was misleading him as to the law.

These comments are not only in contempt of Judge Jerome and his court, they are designed to spread this contempt into the minds of anyone who read them, including the Assistant Deputy Attorney General of Canada, John Sims. So bitter was Amerasinghe's attack on Judge Jerome that John Sims blacked out those portions of Amerasinghe's memo before he passed it on to the members of the litigation committee.

If Mr. Amerasinghe had justification for his attack on Judge Jerome, the proper body to take it before was the Judicial Council of Canada, instead of sowing seeds of contempt in the minds of his superiors within the Department of Justice and yet that is exactly what he did. It is outrageous and unacceptable that this has happened within the highest levels of the justice department.

In the words of a defence counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Department of Justice, the former minister of justice and the Hon. Charles Dubin exacerbated Ted Thompson's flagrant breach of judicial independence with their “concerted pattern of lack of candour and outright deception”.

On May the 29, 1996 the former justice minister stood in this House and stated:

I want to note at the outset that as soon as the department became aware that Mr. Thompson and Chief Justice Isaac had met, and as soon as the correspondence came to light, the department provided copies of that correspondence to the lawyers acting for the three persons involved in the revocation cases pending before the Federal Court.

The minister's statement was wrong and is wrong. Counsel for the applicants received copies of the correspondence on March 7, 1996. Yet we know from Mr. Amerasinghe's diary notes and from an e-mail dated March 1, 1996 addressed to Mr. John Sims from Mr. Amerasinghe both these men knew of Thompson's letter six days before it was forwarded to counsel.

I phoned Ted Thompson's office and was told by his secretary that he had written to Julius Isaac. I have no doubt he will advise you.

The contents of faxed messages between Mr. Amerasinghe, Mr. John Sims and the deputy attorney general clearly reveal that these officials were aware of this issue or problem days before the letters were sent to defence counsel and is a direct contradiction to what the former justice minister stated in this House.

The former justice minister not only submitted information that mislead the House of the facts of this case, he also withheld information for almost three months regarding this matter.

Ted Thompson committed this breach of judicial independence on March 1, 1996 and yet it was not brought to the floor of the House until the end of May of that same year. Why was this matter not reported the moment the minister knew of it? Why did he wait until the matter became a subject of public interest in the media before he notified the House of what was happening within his department? That is unacceptable and is shameful. It is shameful that the former minister stood in this House on more that one occasion and stated:

From the moment that it came to the attention of the justice officials that Ted Thompson had been to see the chief justice, steps were taken to find out exactly what happened, to get copies of the correspondence and put them in the hands of the lawyers involved in the three cases.

Yet we waited for three months before he notified us of what was going on within his department. It is unacceptable that the former justice minister refused to remove Ted Thompson for his professional and unethical misconduct despite Reform urging him to do so. It was the only proper course of action to clear the air and assure Canadians that the justice department is not staffed by individuals who will violate the judicial independence of our courts. Instead the minister turned the matter over to the former chief justice of Ontario, Charles Dubin, a person, and I quote the minister, “whose experience and integrity in such matters is beyond question”.

On October 1, 1996 the minister publicly embraced Mr. Dubin's findings when he stated “We took the trouble to have a person of unquestioned reputation look carefully through all the facts of this matter. He took the trouble to look through all the facts carefully, speak to the people involved, examine the documents and consider them carefully in accordance with appropriate principles. He concluded there was no basis to fire Ted Thompson”. I say nonsense. Absolute nonsense.

If the former justice minister believed this, why did he order a new investigation into this issue when the contents of the secret documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada were made public during the last week of the federal election? Those were the very documents Mr. Dubin had access to during his investigation.

The confidential documents clearly call into question Mr. Dubin's findings and suggest an enormous deficiency in his conclusions and in his recommendation that left Ted Thompson within the justice department.

In my opinion, Mr. Dubin's report was a whitewash. He completely ignored or glossed over the facts and despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, maintained that Mr. Thompson's conduct although inappropriate was properly motivated and within his jurisdiction. Throughout his report he maintains the charade that Mr. Thompson's meeting was to discuss general administrative matters involving 12 pending revocation cases and that three current cases were mentioned inadvertently. This is a false story and a cover-up described within Mr. Amerasinghe's internal documents to his superiors.

Ted Thompson and Chief Justice Isaac committed one of the most serious breaches of judicial interference ever experienced in this country. The true facts surrounding this enormous violation have been ignored and some say covered up and have just been revealed recently.

In the words of defence counsel quoting Lord Denning, “Had this occurred in England, it would have brought down the government”. But not in Canada because in Canada political interference in the judicial process has become a way of life and the hallmark of the Liberal government.

We witnessed political interference in the Airbus affair and in the Krever inquiry. Can we imagine setting up an inquiry such as the Krever inquiry and then creating legal roadblocks, as it has done, interfering with Krever's mandate.

Then there was the Pearson airport contract. A bill was rammed through the House which denied the injured people due process to file a grievance within our justice system.

In the Somalia inquiry not only was there interference, it stopped the inquiry completely. There was not only political interference, the judicial process was stopped completely and Canadians were denied the full facts and truth about the horrible wrongdoing and cover-up within the Canadian military.

Is it any wonder that over 50% of Canadians have lost faith in our courts and in our justice system after witnessing the arrogant attitude that tampering with justice and the rule of law is acceptable. And if you get caught, nothing happens.

In the case of Mr. Thompson, he was transferred to somewhere else in the department. The Prime Minister moved the former justice minister out of justice and into health and this House cannot hold him accountable for the scandal which he has left in the justice department.

In summation of this scandalous affair, it is clear that this all occurred because these people did not want to suffer the embarrassment of a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. They chose instead to violate the independence and the impartiality of the courts and betray the faith and trust of Canadians.

These people have to go. They do not belong in our justice system. They have proven by their actions that they are unworthy of belonging in our justice system.

In view of this terrible government interference which runs like a current through our justice system on a regular basis, I have forwarded a complaint to the Law Society of Upper Canada asking for an immediate investigation into the conduct of Ted Thompson, John Sims and Chris Amerasinghe. In the light of yesterday's Supreme Court remarks regarding Isaac and Jerome, I have also written to the Canadian Judicial Council requesting a more thorough review of Chief Justice Isaac's actions as well as an examination of the conduct of Associate Chief Justice Jerome as referenced in the justice department documents filed in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise for the first time officially in this House. I want to congratulate you and all those who will be occupying the Chair during the course of this Parliament.

I also want to take the opportunity to thank the people of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who have entrusted in me this great honour to represent them in these hallowed halls and in this House.

I want to very briefly comment on the very fiery speech given by the hon. member for Crowfoot. I am encouraged by the member's vigorous pursuit of this issue. He has obviously done a great deal of research and a great deal of leg work to have uncovered these inadequacies and injustices that have occurred on this particular point.

I know that the hon. member has a great deal of practical experience within the justice system. I just want to comment that I as well look forward to keeping this government in check in particular in the area of justice and these atrocities, some of which the hon. member has mentioned, areas such as the Krever report and the Airbus scandal. I too look forward to working with him in seeing that this government is held accountable.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the kind words from my hon. colleague. I would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank him for that and to acknowledge the fact that I was well acquainted with his father who was in this House for many years and who showed the same kind of integrity that his words have reflected.

I appreciate very much his comments and look forward to working with him and reflecting the standard of integrity within this House and within our institutions of government that the people of Canada are demanding and have not been finding, particularly in the justice system, as clearly revealed by the Angus Reid poll of this past summer.

Again, I thank the hon. member for his kind remarks.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, I refer to my colleague's reference when he talked about public confidence in the court system. I recall that last year the member travelled the country and listened to average Canadians, especially around their lack of confidence in the Young Offenders Act.

I would like him to comment on what is the real mood in the community and what are the mainstream Canadian values that Canadians hold which seem to be somewhat different than what they actually get from the justice system. There seems to be a great gap between the mentality and the inside language and the inside operations of the justice system and where they are at and where the public is act. There is great dissatisfaction and the polls are showing that.

I would like the hon. member to comment on what he found when he travelled the country, the difference between what Canadians want and what they are actually getting from the justice system.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, we spent quite a bit of taxpayers' dollars on the 12-year review of the Young Offenders Act. When we talked to ordinary Canadians as we travelled across this country what we found was that they see a lack of ability within the Young Offenders Act to respond adequately to youth crime. We heard that over and over again.

We also heard that the communities want the authority to deal with their own children restored back to them. Families want restored back to them the authority to raise their children in a manner that they think is in the best interests of them, their communities and this country.

There is no question that the Young Offenders Act has formalized to a great extent simple acts that would normally be dealt with by a high school principal or a teacher in the classroom by the discretion of a peace officer. That discretion has been removed by the formalization of the system. Families want this right, this responsibility and this authority to look after their own children returned to them.

We saw program after program, such as the Sparwood program in Sparwood, B.C., coming from the people. People, in spite of all the money and interference by the government through legislation like the Young Offenders Act, were bringing forward programs to protect their children and to keep them out of the criminal justice system. At the same time we see obstacles being placed in the way by the components within the justice system that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in an industry that spends $10 billion a year on youth and adult crimes.

There is much to do in amending our laws in this country, including the Young Offenders Act, in order to regain the confidence of Canadians and place back into their hands the authority and responsibility to raise their own children in a manner they think is in the best interests of themselves, their children, their communities and this country.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Allan Kerpan Reform Blackstrap, SK

Madam Speaker, again as many before me have, I would like to offer my congratulations and best wishes to you and all those who will occupy the Chair through this 36th Parliament.

One of the things that the member for Crowfoot talked about in his address and also in the questions and comments is the frustration that Canadians have with our legal system. We have seen just this past summer things like the section 745 hearings for people like Clifford Olson who is a self-admitted child killer of 11 children.

I wonder if the member would like to comment on how things like the section 745 hearings have an effect on the people's frustration with the justice system.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, when we pass laws that destroy the peace of mind of citizens, what are we doing? It is one thing to see the interpretation of the law that affects the sense of justice of our people. It is another thing to see the law itself create that feeling where the peace of mind is destroyed, where they cannot be at peace knowing that the justice officials are not going to interfere with the judicial independence of a judge that they may have to appear before and that they will get a fair hearing, that the individual who commits a crime will be punished in a manner according to the circumstances surrounding the offence. We are hearing this all across the country. The polls are reflecting it.

I cannot understand why the government will not move and support the will of the majority in areas as simple as removing section 745 from the Criminal Code, the faint hope clause that gives special rights and advantages to killers in this country, and on the other hand punishes innocent people in this country.

We see Bill C-68 which is so frustrating for millions of Canadians. What is it doing? Again, it directs punishment to innocent, law abiding people while ignoring to a large extent the criminal users of firearms.

When we see laws passed and maintained that are punishing the innocent and creating inconveniences for the innocent, the law abiding tax paying Canadians, while at the same time giving special rights and privileges to the offender, there is something wrong with the picture and there is something wrong with the justice system in Canada.

The only way the people can speak is through their elected representatives in the House, through the polls, letters to the editor, through petitions to this place, letters and phone calls to ministers of cabinet. They are expressing that discontent and a degree of frustration that indicates they have lost their sense of justice. It has been destroyed by the actions and the laws passed by this House.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you and the other Speakers who will occupy the chair and rule on our debates to ensure that we conduct ourselves with the level of decorum that Canadians expect of their parliamentarians.

I would also like to ask for the patience of the members in the House to thank the people of Hillsborough for returning me to this place as their voice in the House of Commons. It is a great pleasure for me to serve my constituents and I plan to serve them well.

I wish to speak in support of the Speech from the Throne, but I also wish to speak of this Parliament.

The throne speech was very up beat. It spoke of the great opportunities that await us in the new millennium. It also set the stage for how we as Canadians will prepare our nation to enter the new century as a strong and united country.

I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. The only reason the throne speech took such a positive tone is the successes of Canadians over the last four years. The Liberal government with the help of all Canadians turned the country's financial books around.

It has been said many times that a healthy economy leads to a healthy society. This government also believes that a healthy society contributes to a healthy economy. And it is obvious after hearing the throne speech that the government plans to deliver both to Canadians.

While there are many ways the government can work to improve our way of life, it has targeted priority areas such as our youth, health care, innovation and national unity. These areas represent the greatest potential for Canada.

As the prime minister said, our children are our most precious resource. The Liberal government will continue to create more opportunities for our youth, opportunities for better education, more employment opportunities, a healthier lifestyle and a secure public retirement income system. In short, our government will secure Canada's future through our youth.

At the same time, we must maintain a public health care regime. There is no escaping the needs of a growing population. This is why the Liberal government introduced public health care 30 years ago and that is why the Liberal government will secure it for another 30 years and beyond.

Another chief priority of the government is supporting innovation in Canada's economy. Similar to the theory of continuous learning for workers, Canadian firms must continually strive to improve and update their processes. Our international competitors are not standing still, so neither can we.

The federal government has a role to play in supporting research and development and its uses within the business world. That is why I am glad to hear that this government will build on its prior achievements of maintaining innovation as one of its main priorities.

Recently we have seen a slight evolution of the federalist approach to the issue of Quebec's secession. Yes, we must illustrate to all Canadians, especially the people of Quebec, the benefits of living within Canada. But we must also bring frankness and clarity to any debate on the unity of Canada. I want to make it known that I support the recent initiatives of the federal government and the provincial and territorial leaders.

As I mentioned before, I want to discuss more than just the Speech from the Throne. As we can all see, the make-up of this Parliament is unlike any in Canada's history. It is unprecedented for the House of Commons to have five official parties.

Since 1993 Canadians have wanted a change in the federal system. The presence of so many regional parties is evidence of that desire. Some change has occurred but I think the results of the June election illustrate that Canadians are not yet quite satisfied.

Just like our industries must be capable of innovation, so must our Parliament be ready to change. By improving our Parliament we may better serve Canadians. In consequence, Canadians may better respect this institution and its members.

With such an extraordinary mix of political parties in the House I believe the time for change is now. I say to my hon. colleagues there will never be a better time than now to change this system.

Most of this change concerns increasing the role of an MP. A member who is not in cabinet usually has little opportunity to influence legislation and other measures of policy. But if a group of members band together, then perhaps influence can be achieved because the rules of the game are stacked against us.

Of particular importance in this Parliament is the role of committees. There are now 14 committees with each containing 16 members. Many of us know from previous experience that all too often there is insufficient time for each member to probe the issues with questions to the witnesses.

As well, there is always the fear that the committees are viewed as rubber stamps for the government. The committees should be a second defence for Canadians to be protected from unintended implications or oversights, but committees need a sufficient amount of time to conduct an effective analysis of government policy.

Along the same lines is the issue of resources available to committees. Currently each committee must apply for funds for each individual study. A number of committees share a clerk with other committees or parliamentary associations. Researchers from the Library of Parliament are assigned to various committees. I do not believe this is good enough.

In my opinion we should take some lessons from our neighbours to the south. Committee chairs should have the resources to arrange his or her own experts on staff. They should be in addition to research assistants available to other committee members.

Having more resources would allow members time to conduct a more thorough study of the issues that come before them. But we cannot provide more resources without allowing the committees to actually use them.

The government must change its approach and be more open to change. We have here a wealth of knowledge. The collective knowledge of all 301 members of Parliament can be a force of benefit for Canadians. As it stands now only the few in cabinet have any real opportunity for input.

In addition, I believe there should be more business referred to committees. In recent years it appears that more measures which should be in legislation and debated here on this floor are bypassing the House by being included in regulations.

Any legislation the government introduces is debated here, but often it seems that the real meat of the legislation is contained in the corresponding regulations.

I realize that this approach provides more flexibility to the government because it is easier to amend regulations. I admit there are times when it is justified, but this approach can easily be abused. Putting the meat of the legislation in regulations does not allow Parliament a direct opportunity to investigate government policies.

There is a balance that can be obtained by referring all regulations to the appropriate committees. This will allow them to be studied and improve the impact of services to Canadians. As well there have been a good number of issues over the years that could have been avoided if committees of Parliament were given more matters for analysis.

For example, I am sure that if the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs had studied the helicopter procurement initiated by the former Conservative government, any controversy could have been avoided. Then we would not still be dealing with this issue so many years later.

One final point concerns private members' business. I believe there are many improvements that can be made to allow private members more opportunity to introduce and pass meaningful legislation.

Part of our role here should be to act as legislators. Currently really the only legislators here are those in cabinet.

Unfortunately I do not have time to expand on all the issues I wanted to cover. Suffice it to say I believe the time for change is now.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I wish to offer my congratulations on your speakership once again and to all those who will be occupying the chair.

I would like to ask the member, very briefly, to comment on this question. Does the member agree that one of the primary functions of government in a civilized society is to provide for the peace and safety of its citizens? I was wondering if at the beginning of this Parliament he would assure us that he would agree with that statement.

The reason I ask that is I have been here for four years now and cannot understand why law and order is not more of a priority for this government.

I want to give the House an example. I am very familiar with what is happening at our local high school in Yorkton. My children have attended there and they tell me what is going on. There is a serious problem with young offenders. Many of them will attend school the next day and boast about their exploits. This has a very negative effect on all the other students. They begin to say “what does it matter what I do, who cares?” It affects their studies. It affects their job.

Unless people realize that the law is made to be respected, they lose the thing which holds us together as a society. The glue which holds us together becomes soft.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his questions.

Yes, I believe it is the role of government to provide stability within a country. I have grown up in this country and I believe, as others do, that it is the greatest country in the world.

I also believe, along with government, that the individual members of society have a role to play in ensuring that we have a safe country in which to live.

One of the problems we have in society today is that too many things over the last number of years have been foisted on to government and the roles of family members and other organizations have gone by the wayside.

I believe this government should and will continue to look after the main interests of society, that being one very important interest.

The FamilyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, thousands of concerned parents from all across Canada have been sending me petitions supporting my private member's motion to recognize the right, responsibility and liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children and their right to pursue family life free from unnecessary interference from government.

Many parents feel their rights and responsibilities are threatened by the government's attempts to fully implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a UN charter which has never been approved in this Parliament.

Parents are afraid that their rights and responsibilities to properly discipline their children are threatened by the direction the Liberal government is taking. They say that if the convention is fully implemented government bureaucrats and the courts will have absolute power to determine what is in the best interests of the child and parents will be powerless.

The problem seems to be that government is paying more attention to what the bureaucrats and foreign politicians are saying in the United Nations than what parents are saying here at home.

Niagara Grape And Wine FestivalStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to invite all members of the House to one of the top 100 festival events in North America. The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival celebrates the annual harvest of grapes from Niagara's 16,000 acres of vineyards. Thanks to the efforts and talents of local vintners, Niagara wines are more popular than ever and are expanding into the ever growing international market.

Industry Canada's industrial research assistant program has helped to improve the quality of Niagara vines and Niagara wines. A new Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute is being sponsored by a government and industry partnership and will be officially opened at Brock University next month.

The federal government has also worked with the Niagara young people under the youth internship program, providing skills and experience for youth in jobs in the wine industry.

I congratulate President Paul Speck and General Manager Gerry Ginsberg on the festival's endeavours.

Speech From The ThroneStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, the agenda our government unveiled in the Speech from Throne is a clear cut action plan for four more years of positive change. Canadians from coast to coast to coast have worked hard, made tough decisions and sacrificed much, and now we are seeing the results.

Almost one million jobs have been created since 1993, we are witnessing the longest sustained increase in youth employment since 1990, consumer and business confidence are up, a balanced budget is within our grasp, interest rates are at an all time low. On June 2 Canadians voted for success. They voted for kept promises and they voted for a better tomorrow.

Fiscal responsibility? We will balance the budget by 1998-99. Job creation? We will invest in key areas like technology. Quality health care? We will help Canadians who care for family members at home. Opportunities for youth? We will continue our successful internship and summer job programs and increase access to post-secondary education.

These initiatives demonstrate that this government is—

AlgeriaStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Hélène Alarie Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Algeria has been a site of bloody conflict for years now, and the situation has been deteriorating rapidly in recent months. Civilians, most of them women and children, continue to meet ghastly deaths. Having lived in that country, I cannot understand how the international community can remain unmoved by the unbearable situation the people of Algeria are in.

The truce announced by the Islamic Salvation Front for October 1 ought not to lull us into complacency. For the desperate Algerians, and for our fellow Canadians who fear for their brothers and sisters, it is vital that action be taken.

Many Algerian immigrants living in my riding of Louis-Hébert are concerned about the relatives and friends they have left behind. It is high time that each of us makes at least a minimum show of solidarity.

I am therefore calling upon this government to speed up the family reunification procedures for Algerian nationals, which are dragging out forever despite the urgency of the situation.

Minnijean Brown TrickeyStatements By Members

September 26th, 1997 / 11 a.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take this opportunity to comment on the 40th anniversary of an important event in black American history and to congratulate a Canadian citizen who is part of that history.

Forty years ago nine youngsters demonstrated tremendous courage in dealing with segregationist policies which excluded them from attending mainstream schools in Arkansas. I applaud those individuals, in particular a present Ottawa resident, Minnijean Brown Trickey, who was one of the Little Rock Nine. Ms. Trickey's act of courage opened the doors to many African American children to be admitted to the Little Rock High School and brought the issue of segregated schools to the forefront of American politics.

Bravo Minnijean Brown Trickey, a proud Canadian.

Gfi Control SystemsStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate one of Kitchener—Waterloo's many technology based companies.

GFI Control Systems is a Canadian company that is positioned to become the global leader in the development of production of clean alternative fuel engine control systems for gaseous fuel powered vehicles. Worldwide demand over the next five years is forecast to be 2.7 million alternative fuel vehicles. GFI employs 102 full time people and uses 64 local suppliers.

At the end of August GFI's investment in research and development with the help of a $4.3 million loan from Technology Partnerships Canada paid off. GFI was awarded by the Ford Motor Company the single largest alternative fuel vehicle contract ever by a big three auto maker. This contract is valued at more than $100 million and has resulted in the creation of 125 new jobs.

Congratulations to GFI and congratulations to Technology Partnerships Canada.

Police Officers Of CanadaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Allan Kerpan Reform Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, this weekend more than 4,000 police officers and their families will travel to Ottawa to pay tribute to their colleagues who have fallen in the line of duty. Every day in this country police officers sacrifice their own personal safety in order that the rest of us remain protected from the criminal acts of a few.

Unfortunately, every year some of these courageous men and women pay the ultimate price for their bravery. Even more remain permanently injured as a result of their work.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank on behalf of all Canadians the valiant, self-sacrificing efforts of the members of our nation's police forces. Our safety is very much a result of their bravery.

LandminesStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the recent announcement in Oslo, Norway that nearly 90 countries had agreed on a treaty that would ban anti-personnel landmines is a tremendous achievement for Canadian diplomacy.

Everyone in the House should be extremely proud of the role played by the Prime Minister, the Canadian delegation in Oslo and especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs who has been nominated for Nobel Peace Prize. While the landmines treaty to be signed in Ottawa on December 3 is a first step toward a solution, the next phase will be to get these landmines out of the ground.

I am pleased and proud that two companies in my riding of Nepean—Carleton, Computing Devices of Canada and Thomson CSF, are actively engaged in leading edge technology for landmine detection and clearance, technology which will save lives.

With the help of funding from the government, these two companies are working to ensure that Canada remains in the forefront of a solution to this serious international problem.

Quebec EconomyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Monique Guay Bloc Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says there is nothing more illusive than a million dollars, when he wants to scare Quebecers who, in his opinion, are a little too keen to be masters in their own house.

Yesterday, however, Intrawest announced it was investing an additional $500 million in its tourist mega project at Mont Tremblant.

Intrawest president Joe Houssian said he was not worried about the political climate. He went on to say that Tremblant would have a long history that would go well beyond the political history of the region.

The Bloc Quebecois is delighted and congratulates Intrawest management on its wise decision. Quebec is and always will be an excellent place to invest, and business people know this, so the federalists can use as many scare tactics as they like.