House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


The House resumed from September 26 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

11 a.m.

Ottawa South Ontario


John Manley LiberalMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, let me begin by welcoming you to your new position. I know that you will bring distinction to the Chair as you have as a critic for your party in the past. As I recall, part of the time you were criticising my portfolio, but always in a very positive and constructive way.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the constituents of my riding of Ottawa South for re-electing me for a third term. It is a great honour to be able to represent them again here in the House of Commons.

I am also grateful to the Prime Minister for giving me the opportunity to continue as Minister of Industry. In fulfilling this role over the last four years, I have had the opportunity to meet with business people across Canada in all sectors of industry. I have had a unique opportunity to see firsthand the entrepreneurship and dynamism of Canadians at work from coast to coast.

I am entirely enthusiastic about my portfolio and proud of the public servants who work in it with me.

My objective today, in setting out the government's program to this House, is to explain our vision of Canada's economic and social development in a global knowledge-based economy.

What our government set out in the Speech from the Throne is nothing more and nothing less than a new economic framework for Canada, a framework based on one idea: seizing the opportunities presented by the global knowledge economy in order to create jobs and wealth in all economic sectors, ranging from high technology to services and primary resources.

With our vision we will bring into the XXI century a Canada that is united and built on solid economic and social foundations. Our vision will bring Canadians, ourselves included, face to face with the challenge of being the best in the world.

A new global economy based on knowledge, technology and innovation is rapidly emerging. Led by dramatic improvements in computing and communications, this knowledge based economy is changing the determinants of success for individuals, companies, regions and countries. It is breaking the barriers of time and distance, and it is magnifying the role international developments play in our prosperity.

These changes are allowing individuals and businesses to operate across borders, around the world, at the speed of light: sharing knowledge, trading in goods, services and capital 24 hours a days, 7 days a week.

In this emerging new economy, more than ever people and innovations are the keys to growth and wealth creation. The knowledge economy is transforming all industrial sectors from agriculture and natural resources through manufacturing to retail and services. As we move into the new century the new economy will affect the life and work of every person, every business, every community and every organization in Canada.

There is no question that change goes hand and hand with uncertainty. The changing world of work and the introduction of new technologies have left many wondering whether they and their children will occupy a productive and rewarding place in the new economy. But change goes hand in hand with new opportunities.

In an economy based on knowledge and innovation, many Canadians see outlets for their ideas and new horizons for their children. They see new ways of communicating with others throughout the entire world as well as right next door, and new ways of improving their community and enriching their lives.

A key objective of our economic agenda must be to ease the uncertainty of those Canadians who need to adjust to the changing economy and, at the same time, to help every Canadian take advantage of emerging opportunities and realize their full potential.

We have a solid foundation to build on. We are, as we often repeat, according to the United Nations development index, the best country in the world in which to live. With the help of all Canadians our economic fundamentals are now the best they have been in 35 years.

Our focus now must be to construct real opportunities on the foundations already laid. We are already positioned to be a world leader in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century. We have the people, we have the resources, we have the technology and we have the infrastructure.

But having such assets is not enough. We have to mobilize our resources toward a clear objective of being the best. Looking ahead to the millennium, we have an opportunity to explore new horizons, set new goals for our country and work together to reach those goals.

The government's agenda as outlined in the Speech from the Throne sets out clearly the actions that we will take and the partnerships we will forge to ensure that Canada realizes its potential in the new economy of the 21st century.

We are implementing an innovative strategy built on four themes. The first is that of connecting Canadians. Our goal is to make Canada the most connected country in the world, making sure that all Canadians can have access to the electronic highway and information economy by the year 2000. This is perhaps the single most important action that government can take to ensure success in the knowledge based economy.

Through a national strategy designed to provide access to the information and knowledge infrastructure we can enable individuals, rural communities, aboriginal communities, small and large businesses alike to find new opportunities for learning, interacting, transacting and developing their economic and social potential.

By connecting rural and remote communities through public access sites across Canada, we are giving these communities the tools to help further their economic and social development and make the most of their existing resources to tap new markets and create new job opportunities for their citizens.

By connecting all of Canada's 22,000 schools, libraries and learning institutions, we will make life-long learning an affordable reality for Canadians while Canada becomes a laboratory for the creation of interactive, multimedia learning software and networks.

By creating the best environment for electronic commerce, Canada can become a world leader in this emerging field, leading to increased investment in electronic networks and growth in areas such as electronic transactions, multimedia products and on-line services.

By connecting Canadians to the information highway, we will create a demand for digital content, which could strengthen Canada's cultural identity and create new economic opportunities.

By putting government services on-line, we can facilitate communications between government and the people like never before. Government services will be available to Canadians wherever they are 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

By connecting Canadians to each other, to their institutions and governments and to the rest of the world, we will all better understand who we are and Canadians will have the tools they need to maximize their potential.

These are only some of the many advantages we will enjoy when we link up with the new economy.

The second theme is realizing our international potential. Increasingly our prosperity is dependent on making the most of our international opportunities. One in three Canadian jobs depends on trade and every $1 billion increase in exports generates 8,000 new jobs.

With team Canada we have improved our trade and investment performance but there is still much more that we must do to secure Canada's place in the global economy. Building on the team Canada success, we will consult with our industrial partners to further broaden our trading base outward in the world. We are already extending our team Canada approach to help Canadian businesses prepare at home to compete and win in international markets.

Through Investment Partnerships Canada, we are working with industry on a focused marketing campaign in priority markets to attract investment to Canada by multinational firms because investment equal jobs.

The third theme is investing in innovation and knowledge. Last year 12 of Canada's top thinkers on science and technology were appointed to the Prime Minister's Advisory Council on Science and Technology. Part of their advice was:

A high level of investment, excellence in education, accelerated innovation through science and technology and an increased emphasis on the commercialization of science and technology, will spur job creation and generate increases in the standard of living for Canadians.

We are taking this advice to heart. We must promote those knowledge intensive sectors where we are already strong, where the opportunity for growth and global leadership is highest, and where the opportunities for young Canadians are the greatest.

Canada has winning sectors, sectors on which we can build and grow to world leadership, for example, aerospace, environmental technologies, biotechnology and telecommunications and information technologies. Together with industry we will set goals and targets to improve Canada's global ranking in these and other sectors.

We also believe there is enormous growth potential for traditional sectors such as forestry, mining and agriculture to innovate and adapt information technology and biotechnology to improve productivity, to reach new markets and to develop new products.

By investing in Canada's research facilities and government and university laboratories we will maintain one of the best research and development infrastructures in the world. We will also improve and expand the knowledge base that individuals and businesses need in order to succeed. We will see our $800 million investment in the Canada foundation for innovation used to leverage additional private and public sector investments to renew and expand the research infrastructure at Canadian universities and teaching hospitals.

Last year the government established technology partnerships Canada to make fully repayable investments in innovative firms that are developing leading edge knowledge based technologies. We need to continue to use the leverage of this successful program to ensure that more products with high growth potential in key sectors reach the world marketplace.

We will build on the National Research Council's highly respected industrial research assistance program, winner of the prestigious Ernest C. Manning award, to help small and medium size businesses to develop and commercialize new technologies. We will increase the participation of Canadians in the new economy.

Supporting innovative companies and building knowledge infrastucture is not enough in itself. True competitive advantage in the knowledge economy is achieved only through developing the brains and skills of our people. The transition to the new economy is not automatic. Some Canadians will be better prepared than others to take advantage of these opportunities, and some Canadians will need help to rise to the challenges. The government is committed to making a difference so that all Canadians can participate fully in and benefit from the new economy.

Canadians are among the most well educated people in the world but the knowledge economy both challenges us and offers opportunity to ensure that quality education is accessible and affordable to every Canadian. The prime minister announced a key part of our response to this challenge last week. The Canada millennium endowment fund will invest in academic excellence and will provide thousands of scholarships each year to help give Canadians access to universities and colleges.

We will also develop new programs to help young Canadians acquire the experience and marketable skills to take advantage of the opportunities in today's job market. We will focus aboriginal business investment programs on more long term strategic investment opportunities for all aboriginal peoples. This will help to develop and strong and resilient economic base and foster partnerships among federal, provincial and aboriginal governments and the private sector.

We will help rural communities diversify their economies and capitalize on new business opportunities by supporting their efforts to identify and build on their strengths to acquire and use new technology and to strengthen small and medium size businesses to create new jobs for rural Canadians.

Canada will prosper in the global knowledge based economy. We will have the opportunity to enrich our lives, create jobs, promote prosperity and ensure a future for our children.

If we look toward the future, we see a Canada in which the harsh reality of economic change gives way to new opportunities, a Canada where jobs and growth support a stronger society, a stronger nation.

We see Canadians connected to other Canadians. We see a Canada where children in an Inuit community in Nunavut can interact over the Internet with children in a First Nations school in Ontario, a Canada where an electronic trade information service connects a Nova Scotia telecommunications business with an Alberta partner to bring its product to market in South America, and a Canada where citizens in the Saguenay use their website to connect with fellow citizens in Manitoba on the challenges of rebuilding a community. We see a Canada where more and more Canadians can maximize their potential and realize their dreams.

Whether they live in rural Canada, in a city, on the east coast, on the west coast or anywhere in between, Canadians deserve a government that is innovative, ready to lead and ready to advance new efforts to secure their future in a new economy. By connecting Canadians, by realizing our international potential, by investing in innovation and knowledge, and by increasing the participation of Canadians in the new economy we are acting to turn the promise of a new century into new opportunity for all Canadians.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in listening to the minister as he was speaking about advantages and the various things that the government is trying to bring into play. With his ministry being responsible for the CRTC, I find it somewhat incongruous that he would be speaking this way. Many of the people who try to bring new technology to the area of communications are thwarted time and time again by the CRTC.

The minister will know that there are a number of cases which are before the courts, some of which have been appealed directly to cabinet. He will also know, as industry minister in the last Parliament, that during the time that cabinet sat there were probably in the neighbourhood of half a dozen serious decisions involving the CRTC which cabinet looked at, many of which were overturned.

What is his government going to do? What is he going to do? What is the Minister of Canadian Heritage going to do to straighten out the CRTC, to get rid of the incestuous relationships which there appear to be between some people who have been in the CRTC, who are now out with companies which are presently applying to the CRTC or vice versa? What will he and his government do to make it workable so that the CRTC will be able to do what it should be doing?

Better yet, the CRTC should be completely revised from the bottom up so that we can get on with the business of building Canada as it should be built, as the technological centre that it could be in the world.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.


John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is a broad range of issues in the question on which we could have quite a long discussion.

Let me say first that I do not share the hon. member's pessimism about the state of the CRTC as it currently exists. In fact, we are a party to the World Trade Organization's recent agreement on telecommunications. I will advise the member that there will be a bill coming to the House shortly to implement our obligations under the WTO with respect to the telecommunications agreement. Perhaps we can have some good debate at that time on some of these issues.

The CRTC, as an independent body with a transparent process, separate from the political process, is a model which we could only wish all of our trading partners had fully implemented. He will know that many Canadian companies find themselves thwarted in their attempts to obtain licensing in other countries by a process which is neither transparent nor subject to any appeal or judicial review.

The member will know that I have participated in giving direction to the CRTC in certain cases and in changing its decisions where I had the jurisdiction to do so. In Canada it is still a better process than that which exists, I would say, in virtually every other developed country. I am not quite as pessimistic as he.

Second, we have certainly experienced quite a few difficulties over a period of time. We have tried very hard to make wise appointments to the CRTC. Over the last year and a half we have seen in my view the effect of that. We will always have unhappy participants before the CRTC because somebody wins and somebody loses.

I suggest to him that really key to the process is that we have a system in which the decisions are made by an independent body whose decisions are subject to judicial review and policy appeal to cabinet. It is not done behind closed doors by politicians, and I think that is a desirable way to adjudicate these issues.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to point out right off that the Minister of Industry recently aroused my sympathy and that of a number of my colleagues when he said the monarchy should be abolished. I congratulate him because he was involved in the same struggle as that fought by our forebears. He expressed his pride in being a member of the Canadian people. We support his cause.

I would ask him to arouse our sympathy a little more. I have two questions for him. First, could he say he also believes in the existence of a Quebec people. Second, could he say this people has the right to be free, as he put it so well in the case of the Canadian people being free of the monarchy? The Quebec people therefore have the right to be free of the tutelage of a majority that is not of its own.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

The Hon. John Manley

Mr. Speaker, I must say to the hon. member that, as industry minister, I had the opportunity to travel around the world; I have seen for myself that, as far as the quality of products, services or technology is concerned, Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses are recognized all over the world. The maple leaf is a well-known trademark. It is a great asset in international trade in every part of the world.

I do not understand why a country like Canada which has benefited so much from its diversity of cultures and languages would even discuss a change which could weaken the partners of a country that is such a global success story.

I will add that, in the areas we are trying to help, that is to say international trade and technology, a third company like Bombardier would benefit Quebec far more than a third referendum.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the minister's outline this morning on the strength of our economy and the position that we are in to take full advantage of the opportunities of the future.

However, I think he embellishes the picture. Shining through all of this is the fact that 50 cents of every dollar that Canadians earn goes to taxes in one form or another. This perhaps has contributed to the fact that the report is that one child in every five is living in poverty, that we have an aboriginal lady who has to live in a van in Alberta on one of the richest reserves in Canada.

Could the minister comment with regard to his glowing picture of the position that our economy is in and our society is in with regard to these particular issues? There are other issues but I see I do not have time to touch on them. Could the minister address those two issues, the rate of child poverty in this country and the fact that we have aboriginal people living in worse than third world conditions?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.


John Manley Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member puts his finger on two of the big problems that we have to address in Canada. No one would seek to describe a picture in which everything is perfect or all the work is done.

I think that in relative terms compared to anywhere else in the world, where would the hon. member prefer to live? Where are the problems more manageable than they are in Canada at a time when we have our economic fundamentals finally improved to the point of being the best in 35 years?

I would not disagree with him that the mountain of debt which was accumulated over 20 years is one of the causes of the problems that he has identified. It is the cause of the level of taxation which he knows is still lower in Canada than in most other developed countries other than the United States. But at the same time, what we know and what the theme of the remarks was meant to point out is that we are at a point in time where the global economy is changing. It is changing for Canada and for all other nations of the world. We are positioned to not only succeed but to succeed beyond the possibility for anybody else to succeed. Let us seize that opportunity. It will undoubtedly hold the key to reducing child poverty and aboriginal isolation in Canada.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I intend to share my time with my colleague, the hon. member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac.

Mr. Speaker, in congratulating you and the other Speakers, I want to thank first the voters of Palliser for the confidence that they extended to me on June 2. Without offending the Bloc members, it was a unique experience to enter the House of Commons for the first time a week ago today. It is an honour not only to represent them but also to work hard on their behalf over the life of this 36th Parliament.

To the members on the opposite side I would like to take a few minutes to explain the riding of Palliser, which is in south central Saskatchewan. Palliser is a riding that is centred around the city of Moose Jaw and includes small towns, farm lands, ranches as well as the southwest quadrant of Regina.

If there was ever a riding that the Liberal Party should have won on June 2 in the province of Saskatchewan, surely it was the riding of Palliser. Since the Saskatchewan voters are at least as sophisticated as those in the rest of the country, I want to take a few minutes to explain why it did not win in Palliser. Some of the answers are contained in what is and is not in the throne speech of last Tuesday.

There is for example nothing on national transportation and only the barest of references to agriculture. On social policies there is a very thin veneer but almost without any substance to it. This is particularly surprising especially because the government has 65 percent of its members from one province. I would have thought the government would have recognized this deficiency and have begun to address it in the initial throne speech but that was not to be. The government quickly needs to get out of the Quebec City to Windsor corridor so it can hear from the people in the rest of the country and begin to address their concerns.

In the area of transportation it is ironic to have heard in the last week so many references to Sir John A. Macdonald and his vision for building a new country and note there was absolutely no reference in the throne speech to the matter of transportation. On that point I would like to read a part of a letter which came to me from a Saskatchewan person following the throne speech:

The one item that intrigues me about the Speech from the Throne was the fact that 130 years ago the leaders of this country saw the necessity of a national transportation link.

The fact that transportation was entirely ignored in the throne speech would indicate to me that instead of preparing for the 21st century the Liberals aren't even up to speed with 19th century leaders.

We see this through the dismantling of so much of our transportation system, whether it is the privatization of air and sea ports, the privatization of the CNR, the abandoning of branch lines in western Canada or the doubling of freight rates in the post Crow era.

There is also no commitment to a national highway system despite the fact that this government enjoys $5 billion per annum from gasoline taxes. Canada is the only OECD country which does not have a national highway system. That makes it harder for our companies and our workers to compete in the global market.

Saskatchewan as everybody knows is a landlocked province and good transportation is absolutely essential to move our products to port, to create and retain satisfied customers and to feed a hungry world. I would have thought that in all the talk about partnerships in last week's throne speech, this is one way to work with the provinces and territories to develop a true national transportation policy.

On the subject of agriculture, it is one of Canada's best export earners. Here again a national strategy is required. We need to build for the future through trade expansion and value added products. At the same time we note that R and D in agriculture has been cut by billions of dollars in recent years.

I do want to sincerely extend best wishes to the new minister of agriculture who was here a little bit earlier and his elevation to cabinet. Our hope is that he will work with the opposition parties to help farmers and rural Canadians across the country. On a personal note may I say that I know the area of the country that the minister comes from and I am sure he will be conscientious of working with all of us.

Let me turn quickly to the social safety net and particularly the subject of intergenerational transfers and what it has meant in the past to be a Canadian. It was an unwritten agreement which stated “as a young person let me pay a reasonable tuition fee and I will help you in your retirement”. Certainly that was there when I was at university but now the social safety net is being torn apart. It began under the Tories and has been continued by the Liberals. The result is that tuition fees are going through the roof and nobody in their right mind is going to come out of university with a $35,000 or $40,000 bill for his or her education and say “Sure, I will pay that off and then I will be glad to help you with your pension”.

Successive governments have tinkered and cut social programs under the rubric of a user pay mentality with the result that they are breaking social contracts between generations. We can all cite examples, the CHST, employment insurance, CPP, and that contradiction in terms called the seniors benefit.

We are going backwards in our quest for social justice and fairness. This regression is aided and abetted by the false start program of the Reform Party.

Last week there were lots of tributes paid to Stanley Knowles, the late member of Parliament for Winnipeg North Centre. If Stanley had been around he would probably have had another arrowroot biscuit and a cup of tea in quiet celebration of the fact. We could honour his memory better by introducing progressive changes like affordable tuition, a decent pension plan and a fair and equitable tax system.

Stanley's lifelong friend Tommy Douglas said it very well a number of years ago, “The measure of a nation's greatness does not lie in its conquests, its GNP, its gold reserves or its skyscrapers. The real measure is what it does for the least fortunate and the opportunities it provides for its youth to lead useful and meaningful lives”.

Finally let me try to encourage the government House leader and the members opposite to do the job that all of us were elected to do in this Parliament. Regardless of our political affiliations, we are all here to represent our constituencies to the very best of our abilities. I would say to the government House leader and the government, do not frustrate but rather ensure that standing and select committees have sufficient powers and are vested with sufficient authority to carry out the work ahead.

We have five recognized parties in the House and that means we require a mature and modern approach to deal with it. It is the first time that we have ever had five parties. If the government follows that advice, it will be very good for this 36th Parliament, it will be good for Canadians and it will be good for the future of parliamentary democracy.

I will close by moving our party's subamendment in this throne speech debate. I move:

That the amendment be modified by adding after the words “legislative program that”, the following: “in failing to set targets and timetables to reduce unemployment and in failing to strengthen national programs such as medicare which promote the equality of all Canadians and the unity of the country is an affront to fundamental Canadian values”.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The amendment moved by the hon. member for Palliser will be checked by the table officers. We will resume with questions and comments.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know if the New Democratic Party agrees that this government should send a team Canada group into the Atlantic region so that there will be a better understanding of the needs of our people in the Atlantic region, and find a way to create the jobs for all those mature people who are out of work, the moms and dads who want to work, who want to feed their families and pay for the education of their children and get back their dignity.

I would like to know if they agree with that.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I do not think this caucus would oppose that in any way. I would also want to acknowledge the fact that the people from that region sent a number of opposition members, including eight from this caucus, to Ottawa to voice their concerns about what was not happening in that part of the world. I appreciate that there is a reasonable delegation from the member's party also.

The point that I was trying to make at the outset was that I would hope this government would be listening to people who live beyond the Quebec City-Windsor corridor and reaching out so that we can move this country ahead into the 21st century.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, the industry minister chose earlier not to answer a question a Bloc Quebecois member was asking him.

The hon. member was asking whether or not the House recognizes the existence of a Quebec people; given the importance of that question, I will turn to the NDP member and ask him if, as a representative of the New Democratic Party, he can give us an answer.

Does his Party recognize the existence of a Quebec people? I would really like him to give us a clear answer because this question is closely linked to the Speech from the Throne, when it comes to national unity and the unique character of Quebec society. We in Quebec believe this is not enough.

Even some federalist Liberal organizers say it is an empty shell. I would like to know in no uncertain terms whether or not the member from the New Democratic Party recognizes the existence of a Quebec people.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.


Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I think the question that the hon. member from the Bloc is asking was in effect answered by this House and this caucus on Thursday last when we voted against the Bloc amendment. There is really no need for us to delve into that further at this time.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:40 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The amendment moved by the hon. member for Palliser is in order.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:45 a.m.


Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to take part in this debate.

First I thank the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac for electing me to represent them. It is certainly a great honour. I want to talk a bit about the throne speech and what was in it for the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac.

I am here today as a member of Parliament representing people who felt it was time to put a stop to the painful cuts caused by the Liberal government.

It was time to elect someone they called one of their own: one who knows what having to borrow money for post-secondary education is; one who knows what poverty is; one who knows what having to look for a job means; one who knows what it is to be a single mom; one who knows what fishing lobster is all about; one who knows what wood cutters do; one who knows how people survive on social assistance because some of them are my friends.

Maybe some time we should stop and think about how they live. Many of my friends on social assistance do not know what it is to have gifts under the tree at Christmastime. Many of us here have never been in that situation. Many of my friends do not know how they will feed their children or where they will be tomorrow.

Some know what it is like not to wonder if they will be able to feed their children or be able to pay the $100 registration fee for a six year old to join hockey. Some know what it is like to live in shelters for battered women. There are many of us out there and no facilities to accommodate the need.

Some know what impact sun and rain has on tourism in the Atlantic. Does everyone understand the impact a rainy summer on the Atlantic region when the tourists do not come? Not only does it affect workers. It also affects businesses.

I am one who knows the impact of government cuts on small and medium size business. When people do not have money to spend businesses do not sell. I am one who knows what it is to be a seasonal worker.

I am proud to stand before the House on behalf of the people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac and on behalf of seasonal workers. Seasonal work is important in Atlantic Canada but misunderstood by the Liberal government.

Seasonal workers have been called every name in the book by the Liberal government, from being dependent on the UI system to being lazy and drunk in taverns and not wanting to look for work. This is from the ex MP for Beauséjour, the prime minister himself.

It is interesting when we think about it that they are the same so-called lazy people he so proudly came to beg for support to get his one way ticket to Ottawa. I take part of the blame for his being prime minister; the people of Beauséjour elected him and gave him that opportunity.

Members may be wondering today what the riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac got from the Prime Minister in return for electing someone who is not from the area. It gives me great pleasure to tell you all about it.

First, we got cuts in health care, which have resulted in an unacceptable situation for our seniors. We all heard about the two employees who spoke up against the unacceptable situation in nursing homes caused by the cuts in transfer payments to the provinces. I must denounce the disciplinary measures taken by the management of the Providence home in Shediac against two employees who tried to pressure the federal and provincial ministers into putting more money in health care so that they could properly care for our seniors. These are the people who fought for our country during the Second World War. The present government shows absolutely no respect for our senior citizens.

We also saw cuts in unemployment insurance, now called employment insurance, a name I do not agree with at all.

Even though the Prime Minister had promised during the 1991 election campaign to shorten the qualifying period, today we find ourselves with a system that no longer meets the needs of the unemployed. People call us in our riding offices crying and saying their employment insurance benefits have run out and their seasonal work is not due to start for another two or three months. There are also people who do not qualify at all for employment insurance, such as part time workers in hospitals, schools, plants, and so on.

They even closed employment centres like the one in Bouctouche. Instead of helping rural communities overcome the lack of jobs, the federal government is taking away from the unemployed the necessary tools that could help them rejoin the labour market.

They also cut the staff of other employment centres, like the ones in Shediac, Sackville and Richibuctou, at a time when there is a surplus in the employment insurance fund.

Cutting jobs in our rural communities does not only translates into lost services. It has a disastrous economic impact on these communities because these jobs are the only ones that pay reasonably well.

We must start trying to understand the situation in which rural communities find themselves. In our region, jobs are not found on every street corner.

Let us see what Sackville received from the Liberals. We no longer have an animal pathology lab. Approximately 60 employees lost their jobs at Maritime Atlantic. The armouries is on the way out. Can we imagine that in a town of 5,400 residents Sackville is fighting to keep its post office open? After going door to door during the campaign I call Albert County the forgotten land. It has been absolutely ignored in every way imaginable.

We must not forget jobs, jobs, jobs. The Liberal government forgot a word in its promise of jobs, jobs, jobs, and that word is cut. The Liberals meant job cuts, 45,000 federal jobs. Not only were the jobs gone but the service with them.

In New Brunswick we are getting job creation at $6.25 an hour. Has anyone calculated how much money a person makes at $6.25 an hour for 35 hours a week and how much that person is paying for child care? I have talked to those people. I have had single mothers around me crying because they just do not work.

The $6.25 an hour jobs are for a maximum of 26 weeks so they can go back on EI. It is a vicious circle. They end up poorer in the end than when they started working. Now the Liberals are wondering why there are so many poor families.

As I look across the floor I can see who is responsible for the increase in poverty. It is the Liberal government. While it caters to the bank, families are suffering. This is not acceptable. Liberals should be ashamed. They should be setting targets for the reduction of unemployment just as they have set targets for deficit reduction.

Then we have the GST. We are rid of the GST in New Brunswick. We have the HST instead. We now pay 15 per cent tax on children's clothing, electricity, heating, and it goes on and on. Again it attacks low income families. When will it stop? The young people graduating from high school have lost all hope in post-secondary education.

All the cuts came with an extremely high price. Poverty has increased. Businesses are closing. People are losing their jobs. Families cannot take that stress any longer. Many families depend on the fishing industry as a way of life. The failures of past and present government policies have driven them to complete despair and destroyed their proud and historical way of life.

The throne speech mentioned a deep concern for aboriginal issues. If the government were so concerned about the first nations, why is the Big Cove Reserve suicide situation not recognized as a crisis? Two more young first nations people have died over the last three months since the help line was cut due to insufficient funding. Unfortunately there was nothing in the throne speech to give hope to the elderly, the students, the sick, the unemployed and the small and medium businesses of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac. Let us not forget we got one thing: we got a senator.

I thank the people of Beauséjour for paying off the deficit and all the other unemployed, sick and students of the country who paid the deficit. If members do not believe me they can ask the banks.

In closing, if a mother starves her child it is called child abuse, but if the Liberals starve a million children it is called balancing the books. The pain has to stop.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac for her excellent speech. It was her maiden speech in the House of Commons and I congratulate her.

I met the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac a few years back, when the Standing Committee on Finance was travelling across the country. She always represented the most disadvantaged members of society with dignity and in her speech today she is once again standing up for those who do not have a voice in this Parliament.

My question for the member for Beauséjour-Petitcodiac is not about her undeniable social commitment, but about the existence of a Quebec people in Canada. Does the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac share the point of view of her colleague, who just replied that the New Democratic Party had voted against the amendment proposed by the Bloc Quebecois—that the existence of the people of Quebec be recognized—and that it had nothing else to say, given the vote? Does the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, in her great wisdom and as an Acadian representative, share her colleague's opinion, or does she recognize the existence of a Quebec people?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is true that we voted against the motion because we have a great belief in national programs. But we most certainly recognize Quebec as a unique people. You have your language and culture, in your country, as do we Acadians. But that does not mean that we want to drop our national programs. That is why I believe strongly that we should keep our country together.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also add my congratulations to the NDP member on her first speech.

I have a very short and succinct question to ask. She mentioned in her speech the little phrase “paying off the deficit”. That is a total misnomer. There is no such thing as paying off the deficit. The deficit is an amount of money that one borrows. At best one can reduce the amount that one is borrowing.

The increased spending promoted by the member, and I presume her party, would require additional borrowing. Thereby more and more taxpayers' dollars would be sent to the financial organizations of the world instead of financing and paying for needed social programs. There is a tremendous contradiction in the NDP platform. The more borrowed money we spend on social programs, in the long run the more money we send to financial institutions and deprive it from being available for social programs.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.


Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I guess the member is not understanding that we have a problem and that is who pays that deficit.

I said it is the unemployed. It is the sick. It is the elderly. Did any banks pay on that deficit? Did any of the very wealthy pay on that deficit? He should check with the people who cannot feed their children any more.

What the hon. member should understand is who is suffering today because of deficit reduction. We have no problem with deficit reduction, but why should everyone not pay their fair share? We have not seen that from the Liberal government.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders



Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I reiterate that we have not paid off the deficit because that is a physical impossibility. The deficit is the amount of money which is being borrowed.

The member is confusing it with the reference to debt. The fact is as long as there is any deficit the debt will increase.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders



Angela Vautour NDP Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, try to explain that to a mother who cannot feed her children or to the person who just lost his or her job. Believe me, at this point no one is worried about that.

What I am worried about—

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders


The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders



Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time allotment this morning with the hon. member for Oxford.

I rise to address my colleagues in the highest forum in our country and in so doing I acknowledge with considerable humility the great honour and privilege which has been bestowed on me by the people of Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate you on your appointment and offer you my best wishes.

As the Prime Minister pointed out in his speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne, this Parliament will be the last one of this century and the first one of the new millennium.

As such, the opportunity to participate in this Parliament is an historic occasion. I will spare no effort to meet the challenges it will present.

I am here today by the grace of God, by the support of my husband and family, and the commitment and hard work of many volunteers and friends. I am most grateful to them, as I am to all the citizens of Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford for their trust and their support.

My riding is balanced, with the city of Barrie to the north, Bradford West Gwillimburyberry to the south and the towns and farms of Innisfil in between.

The northern portion of Barrie and Innisfil have not sent a Liberal member to Parliament since Duncan F. McCuaig, the father of our current mayor in Barrie, Janice Laking. He represented the riding from 1935 to 1945. It is an honour and a great privilege to bring this part of Ontario back to the Liberal fold after some 52 years.

The city of Barrie is an exciting phenomena of explosive growth, combined with a superb geographical location that affords its citizens an enviable quality of life. It is situated on the shores of Lake Simcoe and enjoys all the amenities that top recreational facilities and dynamic economic growth provide.

While its early settlers hailed mainly from Britain and northern Europe, including such historic figures as Lord John Graves Simcoe and the legendary Sam Steele of the Northwest Mounted Police, Barrie now joins other cities in reflecting the multicultural diversity of Canada today. Indeed, one of the country's fastest growing cities, Barrie will double its population by the year 2001, largely due to many of Toronto's immigrant families moving north.

The workforce in Barrie is well educated, highly skilled and diversified. The city has a strong automotive manufacturing sector, plastics manufacturing and a strong industrial automation sector. The city is well represented internationally by companies like Albarrie, Yachiyo, Canplas and Alloy Wheels.

Bradford West Gwillimbury in the south of my riding has a population of 17,000 and has outpaced Barrie in developing a strong, multicultural mosaic. The municipality is home to 450 businesses and is impacted greatly by the Holland Marsh, the heart of Canada's vegetable industry, the salad bowl of Ontario. Over 90 percent of the produce of the Marsh is processed and packaged in Bradford West Gwillimbury where the agri-industry is a major contributor to the local economy.

The town of Innisfil is a mixed urban-rural community in south Simcoe. Last year the celebration of Yonge Street as 200 years old held special significance for Innisfil as much of its history was impacted by the development of what was known as Penetanguishene Road and later Yonge Street. This was the route used by the settlers who came from Europe to clear the land and develop their farms.

Today Innisfil has a population of 26,000 with many skilled workers who commute to nearby urban centres and many who work in the industrial manufacturing sector of the municipality.

It is then with great pride that I come to Ottawa to represent this diverse yet typically Canadian part of Ontario. The citizens of Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford supported my election to the House of Commons because they strongly endorsed the government's track record on reducing the deficit and moving the country into the requisite of fiscal responsibility.

Everywhere I went during the June election I was told that the pain had been real but worthwhile since the strategy of achieving a balanced budget had been successful. This was what my constituents had accepted as a very real priority. I was told by many that to fail to continue along the road to debt reduction following the elimination of the deficit would be very erroneous indeed.

The businesses in my riding count heavily on the government to stay the course and provide the stability that allows for reinvestment in the economy that will contribute in the long run to the long term creation of jobs. While I agree with that plan, I also believe it is very much incumbent on business, large and small, to partner with us in the creation of these jobs by providing internships, providing youth with the skills and mentoring that gives them the experience and life skills to help them obtain gainful employment.

Youth and adult unemployment are not the responsibility of governments alone. They are the responsibility as well of business and industry that are able to grow and prosper in an economy turned around by the courage of this Liberal government.

The people of Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford also believe that the reinforcement of our social programs is a major goal for the government and it is one that I heartily endorse. The delivery of the Canada Health Act is vital. Addressing the causes and cures of child poverty are also vital. The willingness and flexibility to work with the provincial governments as our partners to achieve these goals is very much a part of the government's approach.

To reconcile the dilemma that the continued support in Quebec for sovereignty, however diminished as the polls suggest, is a personal goal and one that contributed greatly to my decision to run for Parliament.

As a new member of Parliament, the walls of my office are bare except for one framed poster I brought with me. The poster reads “If you want peace, work for justice”—“si on veut la paix, il faut travailler pour la justice”. It is an activist slogan but then we are all activists or we would not be here.

Indeed we want peace, the peace that results from a resolution to the current dilemma that some Quebecois are unconvinced that their future is best realized within the framework of the Canadian Confederation.

The road to that peace is through justice. We must determine what is a just sharing of powers, what is a just treatment of a unique culture and unique province within the constitutional framework, what is a just guarantee of minority rights within the part and within the whole.

It is my firm belief that we are capable of giving, of taking risks, of finding the just solution. I am not naive; I know we still have a ways to go. But it is very important to remember that the principles of social justice have long been a part of the Liberal Party's philosophy. That is why the majority of Canadians chose a Liberal government and that is why I am a member of that government.

The concept of social justice is what gives Canada its reputation for compassion and tolerance. It is partly why we are considered the very best country in the world today.

Do not forget, my friends from Quebec, that as a Canadian I share your history and your dreams, and that I will share your future. I will do everything in my power to see that we share this future together. I came to Parliament to help keep this country together.

I look forward with great anticipation to the challenges and victories we will achieve in this, the 36th Parliament. I have a sense that the goals we all share will move us forward in our common quest for the betterment of Canada.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

12:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Mark Muise Progressive Conservative West Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your appointment as deputy chairman of the committees of the whole House. I am also taking this opportunity to thank the voters of West Nova for asking me to look after their interests—