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.


People's Tax Form ActRoutine Proceedings

3 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-214, an act to allow taxpayers to inform government of their views on levels and priorities for the expenditure of tax revenues and to provide for a parliamentary review of the results.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Calgary Southeast for seconding the people's tax form act.

Last week the prime minister defended his government's handouts: $42,000 for a Latin song book, $100,000 for a military golf course, and $19,000 for golf balls. When I gave my constituents the opportunity to fill out the people's tax form they told me in no uncertain terms that they did not want their tax dollars spent on official bilingualism, funding for special interests groups, gun registration, foreign aid, multiculturalism, the National Film Board, subsidies to businesses and the CBC.

Today I am reintroducing the people's tax form act which will give all taxpayers the opportunity to tell the government what they think by voluntarily filling out a form which would be included with each tax kit distributed by Revenue Canada.

If passed, my bill would require the results to be tabulated and reviewed by the finance committee as part of its pre-budget consultations, a report that would be tabled in Parliament. This would make it much harder for the prime minister to defend spending which millions of Canadians have expressly indicated they oppose.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code (Section 227).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill. I thank by colleague from South Surrey—White Rock—Langley for seconding the motion to amend the Criminal Code (section 227).

Section 227 of the Criminal Code now states that no person can be convicted of a homicide if the death occurs more than a year and day from the time of the offence. This private member's bill would allow murder charges to be laid if the assault resulted in death, no matter how long the victim was able to hang on to life.

I was pleased to hear that the Minister of Justice also planned some legislation to scrap this section. I urge her to facilitate this process by supporting my private member's bill. In fact it addresses the very issue. The work has all been done. I look forward to unanimous support from the Liberal government to pass this private member's bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Access To Information ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-216, an act to amend the Access to Information Act (Crown corporations).

Mr. Speaker, the bill will make all crown corporations subject to the Access to Information Act. As it stands now crown corporations such as Canada Post, the CBC and the Canadian Wheat Board are exempt from access to information even though they are subsidized by our tax dollars. One must ask why the CBC and the wheat board should be exempt from access to information. The answer is that they should not and that is what the bill addresses.

During the last Parliament the auditor general published a scathing report on the operation of crown corporations. The bill will open crown corporations to the public and make them accountable.

It is my hope the House will recognize the right of all Canadians and support the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Access To Information ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.


Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-217, an act to amend the Access to Information Act (disclosure of results of public opinion polls).

Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing this Reform bill dealing with the rights of Canadians to know what their government is pulling on them. It is a bill that says Canadians have the right to know where their hard earned but easily spent tax dollars are going.

The bill would force the government to disclose the results of all public opinion polls to the public. Under today's system the government does not have to do this.

The government only releases the results of public opinion polls when it wants to. This is a blatant disregard for the rights of taxpayers. I believe those who pay for the survey must be allowed to see the results of the survey.

If the Prime Minister wants to keep the results of his public opinion polls to himself, he should pay for the public opinion poll himself.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Divorce ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-218, an act to amend the Divorce Act (marriage counselling required before divorce granted).

Mr. Speaker, this year the Vanier Institute advised Canadians that the divorce rate in Canada had now reached 50 percent and that 75 percent of common law relationships break down within the first five years. Sixty per cent of these relationships involve children. When they break down, 85 percent of the families are mother led.

As a result of family breakdown we are creating a most dangerous environment for our children. It is a new fatherless society that is filling up with children who are so emotionally damaged by their parents' behaviour they may have difficulty forming commitments and families.

The bill requires mandatory counselling prior to legal sanction or granting of a divorce, not to try to reconcile a broken marriage but rather to serve two purposes. One is to ensure an appropriate parenting plan is in place for children of a broken family and to address the serious issue of post-divorce acrimony.

I am proud to introduce the bill. I look forward to debating it with colleagues in the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Gurbax Malhi Liberal Bramalea—Gore—Malton, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have the honour to present the following petition.

The petitioners draw the attention of the House to the fact that Canadian consumers are deeply affected by the price hikes in gasoline. Though gasoline is a Canadian natural resource, Canadians have little control over this important resource.

Therefore they request that Parliament encourage the establishment of a gas price review commission to keep gasoline prices and other oil products in check.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Dale Johnston Reform Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by a good number of constituents in the Wetaskiwin riding who are concerned with the sustainability of the Canada Pension Plan.

They are also concerned with the tax hike foisted upon them by the increases in the pension plan and that they will be paying in more and getting back less.

I present this petition on behalf of my constituents.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to present seven petitions today on the same topic.

The petitions contain 100 signatures from Medicine Hat, over 300 from Lethbridge, 132 from Winnipeg—Selkirk, 62 from Regina, and hundreds more from the St. Catharines area of Ontario.

The petitioners call upon the government and draw attention to section 43 of the Criminal Code that says every school teacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child who is under their care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

They request Parliament to affirm the duty of parents to responsibly raise their children according to their own conscience and beliefs, and to retain section 43 in Canada's Criminal Code as it is currently worded.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Kent—Essex Ontario


Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


The House resumed 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, and of the amendment to the amendment.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

When the House broke for question period the hon. member for South Surrey—White Rock—Langley had eight minutes remaining in questions and comments following her speech. Questions and comments. There being none, we will resume debate.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Fredericton New Brunswick


Andy Scott LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to take the opportunity first of all in participating in this debate to express my sincere gratitude to the prime minister for the confidence he has placed in me by appointing me as the Solicitor General of Canada. I am particularly honoured and proud to have been given this task.

I also want to express my regrets to those members particularly from New Brunswick who served in the 35th parliament and were not re-elected. Their leadership will be sadly missed.

Last week we listened with interest and with optimism to the Speech from the Throne opening this the 36th session of Parliament. This occasion was particularly significant to me as a newly appointed minister. This is a parliament with a unique and historic opportunity to provide leadership on national issues to secure the social and economic future of Canadians as we approach the next millennium.

As solicitor general I am responsible for providing national leadership on issues relating to federal corrections, policing and national security. As such I would like today to address this session of the throne speech dealing with building safer communities. I want to provide an overview of the direction my ministry will be pursuing to help protect the safety and security of Canadians.

Canadians identify their feeling of personal safety and security as the one overriding element that contributes to their definition of being Canadian. The notion of living in safe communities is a hallmark of the Canadian identity. We know that crime creates fear not just for our personal safety but also for the safety of our families and our communities. It undermines the very quality of life in our neighbourhoods.

Canada is a comparatively safe society with a crime rate that has dropped steadily over the last four years. Yet there are many indications that Canadians do not feel safe and that is a reality to which governments must respond.

Canadians are entitled to know and feel that their communities are as safe, as peaceful and as secure as we can make them. Since the government's first election to office in 1993, we have made public safety a priority for action. We have made solid gains.

Carrying through on our red book promises over the past four years resulted in an intensive focus on criminal law issues to improve public safety. In particular, Canadians told us loud and clear that they wanted the government to get tough on violent high risk offenders. Here are just some of the measures that we took to improve public safety in that way.

We strengthened the dangerous offender provisions in the Criminal Code, created a new long term offender designation and passed measures to make it easier to detain until the end of sentence sex offenders who victimize children. We devised a national flagging system to help crown attorneys identify high risk offenders.

We established a national volunteer screening system to help organizations screen out child sexual abusers who apply to work with children. We passed tougher laws on stalking and made peace bonds more effective in keeping abusers away from women and children. We passed laws allowing police gathering and use of DNA evidence. Just last week we introduced a bill to create a DNA data bank.

The overarching theme of our safe communities agenda in the second red book is that building safer communities requires a multidimensional balanced approach.

This government recognizes the importance of dealing firmly with those offenders who threaten public safety. Some offenders must be imprisoned and in some cases for lengthy periods of time. This is not debatable in order to protect the public. However, there are others who can be dealt with more effectively and safely without lengthy terms in prison.

Almost all offenders will ultimately return to the community one day. Our best long term protection results from their return to a law-abiding lifestyle in the community. Where this can best be achieved through community supervision, with adequate programs in residential communities this should be our approach. This approach does not mean being soft on crime nor letting criminals go free. It means making these offenders responsible and accountable for their crimes through other means.

The Speech from the Throne speaks to the issue of alternatives. The federal and provincial governments are committed to developing alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders who can safely and effectively be managed in the community.

Let me say also a few words about public attitudes on criminal justice issues as they relate to this subject. A recent Angus Reid survey demonstrated the remarkably strong consensus that exists among Canadians on the need for a balanced and comprehensive approach. According to that survey Canadians believe that the protection of the public and the rehabilitation of offenders are of higher priority than punishment as goals of incarceration.

The results of the Angus Reid survey suggest how we may further reform Canada's criminal justice system but they also speak to the need to involve citizens in the communities in the development of safe and effective solutions. This is nowhere more important than in our work to address the needs of aboriginal offenders who continue to be overrepresented in our correctional system.

While dealing more appropriately with high and low risk offenders will remain a priority, it is imperative that we also work to prevent crime in the first instance. As stated in the Speech from the Throne, the government will increase funding for community based crime prevention initiatives to $30 million a year. In our safe communities agenda we focus on crime prevention at the community level which is essentially a process of community building with local involvement over a wide range of issues.

There is a wide consensus that successful crime prevention must take a comprehensive approach to tackling the root problems that lead to crime, and that these efforts must start at the earliest stages of a child's life. Our efforts must bring together the expertise of those responsible for housing, social services, public health, recreation, schools and policing. Our efforts should include the contributions of the ordinary citizens who live and work in the very communities we seek to serve and protect.

In 1994 the National Crime Prevention Council was established as part of the national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. Together with the council and the Department of Justice, my department is targeting prevention programs where they are needed and will have the greatest impact.

These include aboriginal communities. In the coming months we plan to work more closely with aboriginal communities to develop crime prevention initiatives. This speaks directly to the red book commitment concerning the reduction of crime in aboriginal communities by assisting these communities in the development of community driven activities.

Another focus of our crime prevention activities involves young people. Issues related to youth crime including the victimization of young people, the most vulnerable members of our society, will continue as a priority in my ministry. We look forward to helping to renew and develop new partnerships between communities, the police, the voluntary sector and all levels of government.

Another area where partnership and co-operation are vitally important and one that is also aimed at improving the safety of our communities is that of information sharing among federal and provincial criminal justice agencies. Corrections staff and the National Parole Board need police and court information to make good decisions on handling offenders. In turn the police need corrections information to deal with released offenders. Here again gains have been made in recent years to bring about improvements.

I spoke earlier of the need for the government to provide leadership in policing. We have made a concerted effort over the last four years to consult with police to determine what tools we can develop to help them fight crime.

To this end just a few days ago I introduced legislation to create Canada's first national DNA data bank. The data bank to be established and maintained by the RCMP will be a powerful investigative tool to help protect Canadians from violent and repeat criminals. With this legislation Canada will become one of only a handful of countries to have a DNA data bank.

Another area where police have said they need more and sharper tools is in the fight against organized crime. Organized criminal activities are clearly a matter of growing concern for the police, the general public and the government. The recent bikers war in Quebec underscores that organized crime is not something intangible, something that happens in dark alleys hidden from view, but can and does have a direct impact on our neighbourhoods.

The international trafficking in illicit drugs with associated money laundering continues to be the highest threat of all. Recognizing that organized crime knows no jurisdictional boundaries, our efforts to fight it are and will continue to be domestic, continental and international in scope. Nationally there is a strong and growing commitment among police and law enforcement agencies in all jurisdictions to work with my ministry and the Department of Justice to build stronger partnerships to combat organized crime.

This fall I will be making in the House of Commons the first annual statement on organized crime to report on the implementation of the anti-gang legislation, Bill C-95, and our efforts to improve co-ordinated enforcement. Also in this regard I will be meeting tomorrow with Janet Reno, the American attorney general, to review progress and identify the next steps in our co-operative Canada-U.S. efforts to fight cross-border crime.

Citizen participation in determining solutions is no longer an option. As far as we are concerned it is an obligation. We in government must not forget our obligation to keep Canadians informed of developments in the criminal justice system. We need to share information about issues of importance to Canadians in order that we can have fruitful and informed discussions on those very issues.

I would also like to speak briefly as a minister from the province of New Brunswick. The throne speech was clear in stating that in order to secure a strong Canada for the 21st century, governments will need to work more closely with others in partnership. We will have to welcome new ideas that are citizen based, pursue more aggressively the strategic alliances available to us and consider collaboration an essential ingredient for our national and regional success. These are important messages. Co-operation, collaboration, sharing ideas and talents and collective problem solving are the essence of our ever evolving democracy. It is about achieving together what we could not possibly do alone.

The issues are very complex and very numerous today and easy solutions are elusive, so elusive in fact that any chance for successful solutions usually requires collective thinking and action. Governments at all levels are becoming more mindful of this new imperative in the conduct of their business. As a result citizens can expect better decisions and more informed policy making from their leaders. This is important too in deciding what the state itself can do best and what the state should concede to the community as a better place for certain things to get done.

For example Canada's old age security and medicare benefits are regulated and funded by the national government and rightly so. The enviable success of these programs would not have been achieved without the resources and overarching presence of the federal authority. Regulating and distributing the country's wealth to achieve equitability among the provinces is a proper role for the federal government. However there have been other initiatives emanating from the nation's capital which have been more effectively implemented regionally or even better at the community level if that option were considered.

I earlier indicated my commitment to involve communities in the issue of crime prevention. Fixing crime in the different communities in our country will come only with the direct and meaningful involvement of those placed in and knowledgeable about the particular communities in which they reside.

The role of the national government in such cases should not be to prescribe solutions; rather government's role is to encourage and help facilitate a process of problem solving at the community level from the ground up. This approach to governing is not indicated only for crime prevention. Communities it turns out are the best places to address a range of problems from poverty and unemployment to human resources development.

Thanks to the foresight of the four Atlantic premiers an Atlantic vision conference is being organized next month in Moncton. The conference is planned as an important step in a process of sharing and discovery aimed at economic recovery in Atlantic Canada.

The federal government will participate in the proceedings. In fact I will attend the conference from start to finish. Other federal ministers will also attend. The deliberations will be conducted in a true spirit of partnership, federally, provincially and interprovincially. This is as it should be and the better will be the chances of success for the conference and for our region.

We know that economic growth solutions in Atlantic Canada will be found in Atlantic Canada if each of the four provinces seeks solutions on their own for a stronger economy. The Atlantic vision conference will feature sharing, collaboration and consensus building. It aims for the crystallization of federal, provincial and industry participation in the region's future development.

While we recognize there is a great deal to be done, it is the beginning of a voyage toward economic recovery.

The Atlantic premiers deserve our commendation for their vision in undertaking this project. The leadership in Atlantic Canada recognizes it is a part of a larger community which is Canada. The challenge is to find ways for all Atlantic Canadians to both contribute to and share in our national bounty. The Atlantic vision conference plays quite largely in making this possible.

This will be a collaborative exercise, one which I understand very well. In my own constituency I have made it a practice to hold regular, broadly based, very visible community forums. I held a forum on aboriginal justice issues during the third week of August in Fredericton. Other consultations I have engaged in in the short time I have been solicitor general include meetings with IACOLE, the Canadian criminal justice system, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the aboriginal police chiefs and the national reference group which we established with some 40 organizations. We spent a day together here in Ottawa discussing the issues of importance to that community. I also visited the RCMP depot in Regina to discuss policing issues with members of the RCMP.

We approach the new millennium with great optimism, but we also recognize that difficult decisions will have to be made. I firmly believe that we are on track, that we are making progress and that we are well equipped to handle both the challenges and the opportunities which lie ahead.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.


Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week I had the opportunity to ask a parliamentary secretary a question about section 745. In her response she indicated she felt the legislation which the government had brought forward achieved a fair balance. I can tell the minister, man to man, that it does not.

I have had people visit my office who have been fearful for their lives. They are fearful because of a murder which occurred 15 years ago. The murder was so bad that the presiding judge said there would be no opportunity for parole for a minimum of 25 years. That was a condition of the sentence. My constituents have now been put in the position of being fearful for their lives.

I say this from the bottom of my heart. I have never been in the presence of people who have been so petrified, so scared for their lives. This was a case of first degree murder. The judge said it was such a heinous crime that the individual would not be permitted parole for 25 years. These people are being put through a meat grinder.

I would like the solicitor general to answer my constituents. How is it that this government can be so unfeeling and so callous toward the victims, the family members of the victims and the family members of the murderer himself? Why do they have to go through this?

Second, today when a judge sentences a first degree murderer and says this crime is so heinous that this individual may not have the opportunity for parole for 25 years, what do those words mean? They mean nothing. Under existing legislation he will be able to apply for parole in 15 years, notwithstanding the sentencing recommendations of the judge.

Can the solicitor general please explain to my constituents, indeed to all Canadians, why the government insists on giving this open door policy to first degree murderers at the expense of the people who are the victims in these cases?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to reassure the member of my own strong feelings about these issues as well. Surely all members of the House would recognize that each of us deals with people in the circumstances that the member has referred to in our activities as members of Parliament and each of us is moved by those stories. I am certain the member recognizes that of all of us.

In terms of the government's reaction to the circumstances that we found when we took office in 1993, actions were taken. They have been repeated often and I will repeat them again.

The reality is the likelihood of a person's being able to exercise what has become known as the faint hope clause in the Criminal Code has been limited by the fact that now there is a screening process where a judge would have to determine the likelihood of success. Originally in the legislation eight out of twelve members of the jury had to make that determination. Now it has to be unanimous. Those are just two things.

The bottom line is that the likelihood of that option being exercised, the likelihood of people having access to liberty, as I think the reference was by the member to an open door policy, is not really reflective of the likelihood of that happening. It is really more likely to be an extremely faint hope. That is the position of the government to this point. It is one that I believe does strike the balance that the Minister of Justice refers to.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the solicitor general for attaining one of the highest positions that any lawyer in this country can attain.

My question is a furtherance of a question brought forward by the hon. member from Saint John. It refers to the devolution of powers of ports police to municipal police officers and potentially RCMP officers. This has happened most recently in Vancouver. There are plans to do the same in the port of Saint John as well as the port of Halifax.

How does this sit in terms of its consistency with the government's position in terms of firearms. Trying to keep illegal firearms out of this country is going to be a huge problem when we have municipal police officers trying to do the specialized job of policing ports.

How does the policy that the government is putting forward in terms of firearms sit with its decision to devolve this specialized task presently performed by ports police?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his intervention. It is our first opportunity to engage in this place, and I suspect it will be the first of many. That is a healthy thing among maritimers, I am sure.

I should also correct the reference in his question to the fact that it is the highest office perhaps that a lawyer can hold. It is also the highest office a sociologist can hold, I think, since I am not a lawyer.

I would like to speak specifically to the question of port police. I have had occasion to meet with the authority in Saint John. We have discussed this issue on a number of fronts, having to do with questions of security and also questions of job security and so on. I know members opposite are concerned about that. I have begun an initiative to see what might be done in that regard.

We have to remind everyone that there remains an overarching criminal responsibility with the RCMP that is collaborative with whomever, local police authorities in our ports. The good work of the former mayor of Saint John to bring the municipal police force to the level it is will lend itself to a wonderful port authority and police authority in that city.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, we just mentioned the devolution of powers from the RCMP to local police forces.

In the province of Quebec, we know that, for some time now, the Sûreté du Québec has been taking on a lot of responsibilities throughout the Quebec territory.

Earlier, during question period, when the transport minister was asked if the RCMP would remain in Mirabel and Dorval, he said that there would be no devolution of powers to Quebec police forces in that area. But that is just for the time being.

Has the solicitor general heard of a timetable for the transfer of police duties from the RCMP to the Sûreté du Québec or other appropriate police forces in Quebec? Could he tell us what we can expect in the future?

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton, NB

Mr. Speaker, the presence of the RCMP at Mirabel and Dorval reflects changes that are going on with regard to those two airports that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the country.

As far as the timetable is concerned, it really falls within the responsibilities of the Minister of Transport in terms of his responsibility to provide the security of those airports. The RCMP, in this case, is simply meeting the needs as they are identified by him. As to how long we will be doing that, I say quite honestly that will be really up to the Ministry of Transport to make that determination. The RCMP is simply there meeting that need as requested.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Vancouver Quadra B.C.


Ted McWhinney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Scarborough East.

This government has delivered on its key 1993 election promise to restore fiscal responsibility to the nation after the record $42 billion annual deficit we inherited from the predecessor Conservative government.

As the Speech from the Throne has noted, we are now well ahead of our own optimistic 1993 projections to balance the budget by the year 2000. We expect to achieve this budgetary goal no later than the fiscal year 1998-99.

We are putting the debt to GDP ratio on a permanent downward track and we have undertaken to devote one-half of the anticipated annual surplus to a combination of reducing taxes for Canadian citizens and amortizing the vast accumulated national debt left behind by the predecessor Conservative government.

The other half of the anticipated annual surplus will be addressed to the social and economic needs of Canadians. In striving over the period 1993-97 to get rid of those huge annual budgetary deficits that had become standard practice, we insisted on maintaining the integrity of our famed Canadian social security network and our pensions and free national medicare systems. We will continue these policies.

Members will note from the Speech from the Throne that the government has understood, better I think than governments in other countries, that the approaching 21st century will be a knowledge century dominated by those who have mastered the new sciences and technologies and who have comprehended the infomatics revolution.

In our last budgets we invested heavily in education capital from the $167 million for the TRIUMPH advanced physics research project at the University of British Columbia, with its direct spin-off to major industrial export contracts abroad, to the foundation for innovation with $800 million for modernizing advanced research infrastructures in health and medicine, environment, science and engineering, and the $50 million a year for creating networks for centres of excellence.

Canada leads today in the aerospace industry, biopharmaceuticals, biotechnology in agriculture and fisheries and environmental information and telecommunications technologies.

Where our last budget offered $137 million in post-secondary education support for 1997 and substantially increased scholarship and tax credits for post-secondary students and their families, the Speech from the Throne commits to a new millennium scholarship endowment fund intended to reward academic excellence and to open access to universities and colleges for the well qualified children from low and moderate income families throughout Canada.

In recognizing the key to national economic prosperity and access to meaningful long term employment for our young people lies in community investment in higher education and in advanced research, the government has learnt the main lesson from the ending of the cold war that dominated world community relations for half a century after World War II.

The old political military base of world public order where effective power was determined by the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that one had in one's arsenal is completely out of date. Of what value are those remaining ICBMs in their silos and an aging nuclear powered submarine navy if one's economic house is not in order?

The new base of world public order in relations between states is economic-industrial. The use or the threat of the use of force as a solver of international problems has increasingly yielded to peaceful modes of dispute settlement that rely heavily on friendly co-operation and reciprocity and mutual advantage.

In the Speech from the Throne there is a renewed commitment to an activist, independent, internationalist role for Canada in the world community in the tradition of our one time Prime Minister and Nobel peace laureate Lester Pearson whose centenary we celebrate this year. In this spirit we are co-operating with like-minded countries in revitalizing and modernizing and also democratizing the United Nations by seeking to expand the membership of the security council on a more broadly representative and legally egalitarian basis without any extension of those special privileges that were conferred on the five permanent members at the time of the UN's founding in 1945 and which seem increasingly out of date.

In addition to continuing our longstanding historical commitment to the protection of the international environment and to the conservation of the earth's diminishing natural resources, as part of, in the United Nation's own phrase, the common heritage of humankind, we have led in the achievement of a new international treaty signed by 90 countries recently in Oslo banning anti-personnel mines which have so cruelly killed or maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent non-combatant men, women and children around the world in the bloody civil wars of our times.

Rather than pursuing some far off larger international consensus that might have included also holdout superpowers at the price however of open-ended exemptions or delays or special geographical regional exceptions, our foreign minister has preferred to move now on behalf of a clear and unequivocal treaty text that really does have some teeth in it.

At the formal signing ceremony in Ottawa this December, we do expect other countries beyond the 90 who have already rallied to the cause to join and to help perhaps to educate by their own positive example the numerically small but still important and also politically disparate groups of holdout states.

We will continue our efforts on two oceans, the Atlantic and the Pacific, to ensure respect and full compliance with existing international law obligations, both multilateral and also special bilateral as to the protection of endangered fish resources and their equitable sharing under law.

We will maintain the position that we have advanced in the international battle against the Helms-Burton law that a state in the application of its own national laws is limited as to any purported extraterritorial reach by the legal principles of international comity and the duty at the same time to respect the legal sovereignty of other states.

We are continuing our efforts to establish an international criminal court which as a court of universal and general jurisdiction would replace limited geographical sectoral bodies like the recent ad hoc jurisdictions as the former Yugoslavia and also Rwanda. It might necessarily extend also to cover United Nations peacekeeping forces and other regional or state forces operating under UN legal authority or under the UN aegis generally.

The end of the 20th century as an era of historical transition has seen a remarkable convergence of two contradictory historical forces: the movement toward supranationalism and political and sometimes economic integration on a regional or at least transnational basis and the revival of local nationalism and ethnocultural particularism sometimes on a pathological basis that finds its outlet in internecine conflict within the one state.

Our renewed commitment in Canada to a strong internationalist foreign policy indicates our own Canadian, more optimistic view of the coming century and of the ability to achieve a genuinely one world outlook in a plural world community through the United Nations and related international institutions of the world community.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am indeed honoured to rise in the House today, the House that John George Diefenbaker, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Tommy Douglas have spoken in. It is for me a great honour as the son of a market gardener to speak in this House in this country.

I represent the riding of Scarborough East which is bounded on the east by the largest urban wilderness park in Canada, the Rouge River Park, and on the south by the Scarborough bluffs which rise from the shores of Lake Ontario.

I have lived all my life in the riding. The riding was at one time a rural area of sleepy villages and was largely agricultural. Since that time Toronto has grown out over top of the riding. Had you said to my father or anyone else at the time that buses would be running up and down in front of his front door, he would have questioned your sanity.

It is a riding of about 100,000 people, 40 per cent of whom describe their mother tongue as something other than an official language. As a consequence in our constituency office we serve our people in at least eight languages.

The purpose of my speech is to talk about the role of a parliamentarian in this parliament which takes us into the millennium. It is a wonderful opportunity on the part of any parliamentarian to be able to participate in the process. During the time leading up to the writing of the Speech from the Throne, the prime minister invited members of our caucus to make submissions to him, both written and oral, concerning the contents of the Speech from the Throne. I was very pleased to see that the prime minister picked up on certain themes and ideas and wrote those into the Speech from the Throne. I would like to thank the prime minister for his willingness to listen to us as members of his caucus.

In particular the prime minister embraced the idea that this parliament and the government will be taking this nation into the 21st century. It is a monumental opportunity to foster a sense of nationhood, a sense of growth in our country and a sense of where we as Canadians can come together. We cannot simply expect that this will happen. Nationhood needs to be nurtured much like children need to be nurtured.

We as members of the 36th Parliament will be given a privilege never afforded to any of our predecessors. We will take Canada into the new century and the new millennium. We can make it a noble time to build our nation or we can make it a destructive time.

Our citizens watch us daily and frequently they do not like what they see. For instance, the 26th Parliament engaged in an intense debate about the national flag and the result of that debate graces this Chamber today.

The 27th Parliament introduced full health insurance to Canada. It was hotly debated, but its defenders, Prime Minister Pearson, Minister Martin and MP Douglas, won out. As a result, Canada now has one of the best health systems in the world. This is one of the things which define our country and a source of general pride. It is an affirmation of Canadian values.

That parliament and that government also set this nation on a course to celebrate in a manner never seen before. Canada was strong. It was proud and it was united. I remember travelling with my family from what was then a relatively provincial Toronto to the sophisticated city of Montreal to see that great city for the first time and to wonder at Man and his World exposition and to ride on the metro. Every community in Canada celebrated its centennial in one manner or another. My own community raised a hospital and today it still serves our community well.

Those parliaments did great things. Likewise this parliament can also do great things as we distance ourselves from the financial doom and gloom of the past number of years.

I was delighted to see that a member of the 26th Parliament, namely our prime minister, has asked a member of the 25th Parliament, namely the deputy prime minister to initiate the organizational process required to appropriately mark our entry into the millennium.

The government will help strike partnerships between governments, communities and people in celebration of the new millennium. Many Canadians have original ideas and suggestions for millennium projects. Parliamentarians of all parties will be given the opportunity to suggest activities to mark the millennium.

He has invited members of Parliament to mark the millennium in ways that will celebrate our great nation. We will be able to go into our communities and ask our citizens for their input. It is a wonderful opportunity for the House to make submissions to the government.

It has always been a source of disappointment to me that so few Canadians seem to appreciate or are aware of their history. I had a number of rather salutary experiences this summer which made me aware of that.

I attended Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in the valley of the forts and I was instructed about the history of that area. I as an speaking Canadian was not aware of the significance of the role played by the valley of the forts in the preservation of our nation. There was basically guerrilla theatre between the Mohawks, the English, the Americans and the French.

I had occasion to attend a University of Ottawa conference on the constitution. What struck me forcefully was a presentation by aboriginal peoples and the dates of points of significance to those people of which I was not aware.

I was interviewing a candidate in my office, a Tamil woman. I asked her how and why she came to Canada. Little did I know that her answer would touch us both in such a profound way. She was married in a traditional Muslim ceremony and her husband thereafter immediately left for Canada. Her next communication was from her husband's family to indicate that he had died. She came to Canada for his funeral. She then was able to stay in Canada and by one means or another gain her citizenship. She returned home and her passport was lost. A Tamil woman in Sri Lanka is a vulnerable person. When the Canadian embassy was able to intervene and secure her, she at that point felt like she was a Canadian. She spoke with such tremendous conviction that I was absolutely astounded.

It brings me to the point that we do not speak to each other. We speak past each other, we speak around each other, but we do not speak to each other. I would offer to the Deputy Prime Minister the suggestion that we use means, both electronic and written to start the process of communicating to each other, that our history be recognized that there are at least four groups, aboriginal people, French people, English people and immigrant people who experience Canada in their own way. I ask that the Deputy Prime Minister explore ways in which that can be done.

I would suggest that we need to assemble stories and pictures from across our land so that we will be able to communicate to each other what is historically and personally important to us so that we can make our communities even stronger. I would suggest that is a fitting way to mark our millennium.

As well, Canada needs to develop its symbols of nationhood. I believe that one way to celebrate our millennium would be for our government to strike a millennium medal. That medal would be set out so that individuals in our country who have contributed to our nationhood would be recognized by the government and by Parliament. Similarly, a millennial stamp could be issued which again would mark the build-up of our nationhood.

Those Parliaments were great and those parliamentarians were great because they encouraged their citizens to do great things. I am hopeful that this Parliament will similarly encourage its citizens to do great things.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4 p.m.


Gérard Asselin Bloc Charlevoix, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I will start with a reply to each of the hon. members who have shared their time.

The first speaker referred to the deficit left behind by the Conservatives, which the government succeeded in cutting by $42 billion. I would remind the hon. member that the Conservative reign was preceded by 21 years of Mr. Trudeau in this House, which makes the Liberal government primarily responsible for the debt.

The government is right to be concerned about the deficit. The Bloc Quebecois will do everything in its power to help the government reduce its deficit. As we have been saying since our arrival in this House in 1993, we do not want to reduce the government's deficit by cutting assistance to the least well-off and hardest-hit members of our society, including the unemployed. It is, of course, easy to reduce the deficit by $42 billion when the government does so, as I have said, by cutting benefits to the most disadvantaged and to the unemployed, and by such actions as helping itself to $5 billion from the employment insurance fund.

The present government is increasingly concerned with other people's business, and less and less with its own. And how did it manage to reduce the deficit by $42 billion? By pulling out of regional economic development, as I will explain. We know that the present government has pulled out of wharf operations. The federal government has pulled out of the wharves belonging to Transport Canada, Harbours and Ports Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, and Parks Canada. Why? To privatize its infrastructures and transfer them to provincial or regional authorities so as to avoid running a deficit.

Similarly, as part of its policy to hand over the operation of airports, the government is withdrawing from regional airport development. Charlevoix has struggled to maintain the Charlevoix airport, but the government refuses to refurbish this airport, which has been neglected for a number of years. No money has been spent on it, and today they want to transfer it to Charlevoix.

The federal government boasts of reducing the deficit by $42 billion, but it did so by cutting employment insurance, by closing regional offices and especially by cutting transfer payments to the provinces. This forces provinces like Quebec to make financial adjustments by cutting in the sectors of health, education and social assistance.

I would like to ask a question in closing. Do members agree that we can reduce the deficit without cutting aid to the most disadvantaged and that we should continue to eliminate waste? Allow me to cite only two examples, since I have only five minutes. I could list several hours worth of examples of government waste, but I will mention only two: promoting Canadian unity and promoting the Canadian flag, which has been recognized for over 100 years.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

September 29th, 1997 / 4 p.m.


John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think I saw that movie last week. It was not very good. I am seeing the movie again this week. It has not improved. I expect that I will see the movie again next week. The hon. member needs to know that as we enter into the millennium we can do it together.

We have been celebrating as a nation Canada's hockey victory over the Soviets 25 years ago. I would ask the member to think of a subsequent Canada-Russian series in which there was an absolutely sublime pass from the boy from Brantford to Super Mario and Super Mario deked the goalie and tucked it in upstairs. To me that is a metaphor for what we are as a nation, what we have been as a nation and what we can be as a nation.

I am sincerely hopeful that Quebec will be part of this nation. But the year 2000 will come and we will do it together in a stronger fashion.

Speech From The ThroneGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I must make a comment regarding the order of speakers today. We are going to change this order immediately because members taking part in the debate must be in the House and must rise when the Speaker announces resumption of debate. There were some who were not here and I would like to change the order so as to enable them to take part.