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House of Commons Hansard #167 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offence.

Topics

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to speak to this bill today.

Before I start talking about the corruption bill, I would like to make a couple of points before the House. The first one is that this bill came into our hands late on Friday and depending on what happened in the Senate determined whether it was actually going to show up today or not.

This is an important bill to businesses and to the international community and, as usual, we are ramming it through the last week of parliament. There has been very little planning on this bill. It was signed in December of 1997. We have waited or stalled or put it off and now all of a sudden this bill is so vitally important that we have it before us today.

This is government management. This is the way it handles things. This is the way it takes care of business. Of course we have seen a lot of this. We have seen it in the case of the Somalia report. Murders were committed. There was a cover-up. A commission was set up. It held hearings for months, which extended into years, and finally the cabinet waffled it away and suspended any action on it. A few little guys took the fall and then we moved on.

Right now there is the APEC inquiry. It is the same sort of thing, mismanagement of the issues. Among the APEC protesters was a very well known teacher from my community who is a student at UBC. He has told me all about what happened. He was standing on the front line, around the pepper spray.

Again we have the government's mishandling of this sort of situation, stalled investigations and stalled handling. I point this out because this is how the government manages things, or mismanages things. It waits until it has a crisis. Someone in the OECD said this thing has to be signed and it should have been done yesterday. All of a sudden, here it is in the House and we are expected to ram the thing through with little time to look at it.

The second part of this motion, to which I object strenuously, is the fact that it is coming straight from the unelected, unaccountable Senate. We have a body proposing that this legislation is good for Canadians and good for our businesses. However, it is coming out of a place that has absolutely no credibility, a place that totally lacks legitimacy.

Obviously there are solutions. For instance, Alberta has recently held Senate elections. Mr. Brown receive 331,000 votes. Mr. Morton received more than 261,000 votes. And yet this government, in its wisdom, will not even acknowledge that this happened.

The government is proposing a bill on corruption and, literally, on credibility when it has made so many inappropriate actions and has such a lack of ability to deal with any kind of an issue.

Our concerns are obvious. We would like to have the opportunity to call witnesses. We would like to have the opportunity to look at the various problems and the good points of this bill. We would like to have the opportunity to become informed on this issue. However, it was handed to us on Friday afternoon and we were told that on Monday we were going to deal with it and ram it through the House.

The OECD is made of up of a group of 29 of the most industrialized countries. It is one of the most important think tanks in the free world. Obviously combating bribery in business transactions and what that would do for the international trade scene is something that all of us care about. However, we have desperately handicapped ourselves because of the lack of management.

While the whole bill is very credible, and while we support the principle of it, we have to raise some very great concerns. Above everything, when we look at this we see how naive the government has been in dealing with this.

I cannot help but think of our most recent look at the nuclear situation in our foreign affairs committee. Would it not be great if we had no nuclear weapons? Obviously it would be great to not have nuclear weapons. But what is the reality of the situation? The government seems to have a great deal of problem dealing with reality. It likes to live in a glass house. It likes to think that everything is going along so nicely, so friendly and so well organized. What is the real situation?

The OECD says, above other things, that Canada has a big problem. Our dollar is too low. Our debt is much too high. We have a $600 billion debt which is dragging us down every time we try to get ahead. Will that ever be dealt with?

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

An hon. member

There is $50 billion in interest.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

There is close to $50 billion in interest. Think of what we could do with $50 billion if we had it. Look at the $12 billion spent on health care by the federal government. Look at the $14 billion spent on education. Look at the $22 billion spent on pensions. Close to $50 billion is spent on interest payments. That is the kind of mismanagement that the OECD talks about.

It also talks about the level of taxes in this country. It talks about how we have some of the highest corporate and personal tax rates of the 29 OECD countries. That also is mismanagement by the government not responding to what the OECD has been telling it for so many years.

When we talk about being naive we also look at things like getting our UN seat. Are we going to say that we did not try to influence some of the foreign embassies in getting that seat? Are we going to deny that that is part of an Olympic bid? Are we going to say that we are so perfect that we will never, ever try to coerce someone into supporting us in a position? That is not true. That is not how the real world works. That is not how this government operates.

While it would like to stand in this place and talk about how wonderful it is, what a great manager it is and how good a job it does, when we look at it we do not have to go very far below the surface to see the level of mismanagement and how it handles the way the House operates. The whole process of presenting this bill is a perfect example of that sort of mismanagement.

We can talk about corruption in many different ways and I will try to explore some of them. Obviously, we oppose corruption. We are, after all, one of the countries in the world that has a great role to play in setting an example.

We can see how corruption can undermine the very workings of various governments. It can destroy developing democracies. It can literally cause countries in transition to go backward. We can talk about countries such as Sudan and others which are in transition and have moved back and forth.

Corruption distorts public confidence in the whole process. I would even say that public confidence has been held up to question because of the mismanagement of this government. It leads to the misallocation of valuable resources.

When there is corruption, there are resources going off to the wrong place to do the wrong thing, ultimately to the detriment of the people of that country.

Again, I would come back to Canada and look at the allocation of resources. I would ask, are these being allocated according to what is best for the people of Canada?

It hurts the private sector. It distorts the operation of the markets. It deprives ordinary citizens of receiving the benefits of the flow of wealth. Whenever there is corruption within the system that obviously can happen. Above all else, it hurts the poor people of the world. From this government's standpoint, we often hear about their concerns and about human rights abuses around the world. We see very limited action in that regard, but we certainly hear the words being spoken from the other side.

We need transparency in international reporting and in international business deals. We could look at the way NGOs operate and go a long way in increasing our transparency. We could also look at CIDA.

Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member has 28 minutes remaining. I know he is just getting into the body of his speech, however, he will have the floor after question period.

It being almost 2 p.m. we will proceed to Statements by Members.

Professor Mohamed ElmasryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Professor Mohamed Elmasry of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo who was inducted as a fellow in the prestigious Royal Society of Canada in Ottawa on November 20, 1998.

Professor Elmasry was invited to join this elite group due to his invention, development and his help in the industry introduction of several new technologies influencing the growth of microelectronics in Canada and abroad.

His research has resulted in five distinct generations of integrated circuit designs, and his revolutionary work on low-energy logic circuits some 20 years ago is now finding wide application in portable telecommunications.

Professor Elmasry has done pioneering work in artificial neural network chip design, self-learning chips, speech recognition systems, vocoders and echo cancellation. He holds nine patents and is the author or co-author of 12 books and more than 250 scientific publications.

I congratulate Professor Elmasry on his new fellowship and wish him well in the future.

InquiriesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the resignation of Gerald Morin puts into question every previous ruling by the RCMP Public Complaints Commission. On October 7, 1996, I filed a complaint with the commission concerning RCMP negligence in dealing with farmers' complaints against the Canadian Wheat Board. The response confirmed, without a doubt, the warning that my effort on behalf of farmers would be torpedoed.

The inaction of two former Liberal solicitor generals on these complaints plus the government's relentless prosecution of farmers even after it lost the Sawatzky case and appeal, proves something is badly wrong in our justice system.

The government's willingness to jeopardize all Canadian exports to the U.S. to avoid an independent audit of the wheat board demands an immediate judicial inquiry.

Pepper sprayed students, imprisoned farmers and confiscated property. What next?

Opera OntarioStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I draw the attention of the House to the Hamilton based Opera Ontario, Canada's fourth largest opera company. In recognition of the significance of its achievements, Opera Ontario has been awarded for the second time in three years one of the six $25,000 lieutenant governor's awards.

I have had the supreme pleasure to see a number of the company's productions and I can without hesitation attest to the quality of its work.

The success and recognition given to such organizations as Opera Ontario show that there is a living, breathing arts community in Hamilton that is as sophisticated and dedicated to quality as any other in Canada.

I say congratulations to Hamilton's Opera Ontario. I look forward to seeing the company build on the success it has already achieved. I am convinced that it will continue to be a vibrant and growing contribution to life in Hamilton and surrounding communities in southwestern Ontario.

Natural DisastersStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Armenians around the world will take time today to recognize the 10th anniversary of the tragic earthquake on December 7, 1988. On that sorrowful day over 25,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of Armenians were left homeless and injured.

This year Armenians will reflect on the crippling effect of nature's fury and share with the victims of Hurricane Mitch and natural disasters everywhere the common bonds of human suffering, human courage and human resolve to overcome and persevere.

I urge my fellow members of parliament to join Canadian Armenians in mourning the victims of the 1988 earthquake and to continue the effort to provide relief to the victims of natural disasters everywhere.

Monique SiouiStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Liberal Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, “Pay equity is very much in the news these days. Monique fought for equity, plain and simple”

Those were the words of Richard Kistabish, the husband of the late Monique Sioui, who was awarded for the first time the rights and freedoms award for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Wanaki, the couple's daughter, accepted the award on behalf of her mother, who died last year from an illness.

At the award ceremony, we were reminded that she was the president of the Quebec native women's association in the mid-1970s. It was also pointed out that “Monique Sioui addressed acutely sensitive issues such as native children being adopted by non-natives and discrimination against native women under the Indian Act”.

According to Richard Kistabish, Monique Sioui got involved to bring about some changes: “She worked very hard at changing the status of women. She also worked with neglected children. She fought against discrimination by getting involved in the community. She wanted to act as a bridge between the white and native cultures.”

It is an honour for us all to say thank you to Monique Sioui.

National Friendship CentresStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the first nations friendship centre at Vernon in my riding will host an open house on December 10, national friendship centre day.

Human Resources Development Canada has not included the friendship centre movement in its new aboriginal human resource strategy although half of Canada's aboriginals now live in cities. This leaves friendship centres without any way to address urban aboriginal employment and training. I toured the Vernon centre where people can get services like training referrals and help in preparing resumes.

I was impressed by the huge caseload these folks handle. For example, family support and crisis intervention averages 47 cases per month. Nationwide friendship centres also help develop feasibility studies and business plans to promote long term employment in such diverse ventures as catering and day care.

However the aboriginal urban initiative which the friendship centres run is scheduled to lose its funding on March 31. I urge my colleagues to support the national friendship centre movement.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, December 4, I was honoured to participate in a special candlelight and roses commemoration for the victims of the Montreal massacre. The hour of remembrance was held at the Women's College site of the Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre.

Our two guest speakers were Professor Wendy Cukier, President of the Coalition for Gun Control, and former mayor of Toronto, Barbara Hall. Professor Cukier spoke emphatically about the need to recognize the significant role that rifles and shotguns play in the high number of women assaulted and killed by their intimate partners and the importance therefore of our new, strong gun control legislation.

The need for prevention was echoed by Barbara Hall, chair of the national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. Ms. Hall stressed the need to use all available resources in order to make our communities safe for women. We must create an environment in which women feel safe. By doing so, we will in turn have created safer communities for all of us to live in.

Friday's event was a reminder of the terrible consequences of violence against women. Clearly we must focus on preventive measures. We cannot allow such an event as the 1989 Montreal massacre to be repeated. We cannot allow violence against women to continue. We must never forget.

Violence Against WomenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in Montreal and across Canada, the tragedy that took place nine years ago at l'École Polytechnique, in Montreal, was remembered. December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

I would like to pay tribute to all the organizations that, tirelessly and without recognition, provide assistance to abused women and their families.

Each year, in my riding of Ahuntsic, the director of the Mélanie Cabay foundation, Mireille Bélisle, who lost her daughter Mélanie, holds a rally whose ultimate purpose is to eradicate violence.

It is an event where individuals and community organizations come together to show solidarity against all forms of violence in our society.

I invite all members of the House to support the Secretary of State for the Status of Women and Multiculturalism and her territorial and provincial counterparts in their leadership in the Iqaluit declaration and their commitment to end violence and leave a safer world for our children.

Maria MachStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, there is someone among us who has a birthday today. She is 18 years old and she is from Aldergrove, British Columbia, in my riding. What makes her so special is that she is one of our parliamentary pages. Her name is Maria Mach.

Maria was born in Langley, British Columbia, and went to Aldergrove Secondary School. She always had a grade A average and received a $10,000 intern scholarship at the University of Ottawa.

Maria has a deep interest in reading, music and plays the piano. She enjoys skiing and ringette. She has been active in her church and on student council at school. She has travelled to Papua, New Guinea, Australia and Europe.

Maria's mother, MPs in the House and I wish to express the best birthday ever for one of Canada's future leaders, Maria Mach.

The Late Alphonse PichéStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, a great poet is being buried at Trois-Rivières, Mr. Alphonse Piché, who died on December 2.

A year after his birth in Chicoutimi in 1917, his family moved to Trois-Rivières, where he remained for his entire life.

His poetry celebrated the great St. Lawrence, love and life, and it transcends age, ill health and death. Mr. Piché was honoured by numerous literary prizes, including the Governor General's Literary Award, and an award bearing his name is given out annually at the Salon du livre de Québec.

According to Alphonse Piché, the task of the poet is an impossible and unending one, balancing imbalances, recording the unspoken, translating the unspeakable, tackling the absolute. To him, the greatness of man lay more in his attempts at discovery than in his actual discoveries.

I would like to quote some of his own words in tribute to this remarkable poet: “Sleep, my brother, there in the soil of eternity, take your rest among the endless generations, safe in the bosom of mystery, your mystery”.

Reform PartyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is talk of attempts at a rapprochement between the Reform Party and Mario Dumont's Parti de l'Action démocratique at a meeting to be held this coming February.

It is obvious that the Reform Party is trying every possible way to get closer to Quebec. Why not court the Parti Quebecois while they are at it?

The Reform Party cannot understand that its views on the future of Canada and of Quebec are of no interest to the people of Quebec. The Reform Party quite simply does not understand Quebec, which feels this union of the right to define the future of our country is going nowhere.

The Reform Party is totally disconnected from reality as far as Quebec is concerned. It should face up to the fact that it is wasting its time by trying to get Quebec onto its bandwagon.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor NDP Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, many Canadian farmers are facing their worst crisis since the dirty thirties and they are pleading for our help. Last week about 400 letters from Saskatchewan farmers arrived stating they need immediate assistance to allow them to plan their 1999 crops.

We have been trying since February to bring this emerging disaster to the attention of the House and the minister. Now finally the farm crisis is on the front page and it appears the government is preparing to act.

I was disappointed to hear the minister say last week that no money will flow to farmers until after they have filed their tax returns. By then we fear many of them will be forced off the land.

We must have a detailed program outlined here before the House rises this week to allow farmers to take this information to their lending institutions.

Men and women on Canadian farms produce abundant and safe quantities of food for us and the rest of the world, and all they seek is to be able to make a decent living doing so.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is required to make known his position with respect to WTO negotiations by April 1999.

With the deadline just months away, we can only conclude that the federal government has come up empty. To date, there is no sign of any serious consultation.

Recently Quebec agricultural producers, processors, and distributors, as well as the UPA and MAPAQ, came up with an initial proposal: with the OECD showing more flexibility, the United States taking a tougher stance, and little give from Asia, Japan and Europe, the UPA is calling for the status quo.

Canada has slashed its funding more than any other country, and everyone admits that it is a pushover. If he hopes to defend the farmers of Quebec and Canada, the minister has to get out of Ottawa: it is urgent that he consult the agricultural sector and take a firm stand based on what he hears.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Susan Whelan Liberal Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we spend less than 10% of our disposable income on food. Our food costs are among the lowest in industrialized countries. Only the Americans at 8% spend less while others pay up to 24%. The efficiencies of our producers directly benefit consumers.

Today, because of complex international conditions of lost markets, oversupply and foreign subsidies, Canadian farm families are on the brink of financial disaster. This threat to the viability of Canadian farmers is a threat to our supply of healthy, affordable food. Imagine what we would pay for food without our domestic supply.

Farmers meet the normal challenges of weather and cyclical price fluctuations. However the current crisis is not normal, not of their making and could not be foreseen.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food is working toward a solution. I urge him to continue his efforts to develop a national disaster program to meet these extraordinary needs. All Canadians will benefit in the long term. All Canadians want and need a healthy food supply.

Bernard LordStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the future premier of the province of New Brunswick is in Ottawa today.

On October 21, Mr. Lord was elected to the New Brunswick legislature by capturing the long time Liberal seat of Moncton East and is now the leader of the opposition.

Mr. Lord is committed to offering New Brunswickers a new grass roots approach to politics. His vision is one of a prosperous province with better education and improved health care in each region. He wants to build a better New Brunswick, a province with a thriving economy.

At the dawn of a new millennium it is vital for New Brunswick to have a leader at the service of the people. Mr. Lord will never abandon our responsibility toward the youth, seniors and workers of New Brunswick.

Over the past nine years the Liberals in the province have stood by and watched a brain drain of over 9,000 young New Brunswickers leaving the province. Doctors and nurses have left and the dignity and freedom of seniors have been taken away.

New Brunswickers look forward to a brighter future under the solid leadership of Mr. Bernard Lord. Today I salute the future premier of the province New Brunswick, Bernard Lord.

Boys And Girls Club Of OntarioStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 the Boys and Girls Club of Ontario started a scholarship program to help pay for the rising costs of post-secondary education for its youth members, many of whom face financial challenges. From an initial $4,800 and 6 awards, the program has grown to over $37,000 and 49 awards being given out this year.

I congratulate Asha Moore, Charles Baker and Adrian Sutherland from my riding of Scarborough East. All three have won a scholarship involving the Scarborough East Boys and Girls Club.

Asha Moore is now in her second year of the social work program at Ryerson. Charles is in his second year of computer engineering at Ryerson, and Adrian Sutherland is presently enrolled in recreation leadership at Centennial College.

I congratulate each and every one of these students for their motivation, their enthusiasm and drive to succeed in life.

Gun ControlStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday I had the opportunity to participate once again in a radio phone-in show in my riding. Guess which issue garnered the most questions during the hour I spent with Dick Sequins on CJDC in Dawson Creek. Was it APEC, taxes or health care? No. It was gun control.

Despite the wishes of the Liberal government this issue will not go away. Rural Canada will not forget how the government has targeted legitimate firearm owners instead of going after those who choose to misuse guns for criminal acts.

Bill C-68 will not ensure public safety. It will not produce safer streets. Gun owners in my riding continue to question the stupidity of the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to register the firearms of peaceful law-abiding Canadians while the RCMP drastically cuts back due to the lack of funds.

I can tell the Minister of Justice that Bill Farion, a constituent from Fort Nelson, speaks for thousands when he said in a recent letter that he has “no intention of co-operating with this expensive boondoggle”.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the solicitor general.

On Friday the chair of the public complaints panel investigating the APEC affair resigned citing new interference from Ottawa. Gerald Morin cited interference from the Liberal appointed chairman of the commission, Shirley Heafey. He said her tampering made the panel's work impossible.

What possible excuse does the solicitor general have now for not replacing this panel with an independent judicial inquiry?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am taking the liberty of answering this question because the question relates to something the Prime Minister deals with, setting up judicial inquiries.

I want to say to the hon. member that the chair of the commission according to press reports says that she is dealing with the matter that has been the subject of press coverage. Second of all, the whole issue of apprehension of bias on the part of the commission is still before the courts. Surely we should let the courts come to their decision which they are ready to do as quickly as possible.

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the solicitor general has had two weeks to practise being solicitor general. It is time to take the training wheels off and answer my questions himself.

Ms. Heafey's interference was bad enough to make the panel chairman quit. She tampered with the panel's independence. She interfered with its decision making. She refused to deal with charges that their phones were bugged.

Who directed the actions of this Liberal appointed chairman? Who ordered this interference from Ottawa in the role of this particular panel?

Apec InquiryOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, there was no interference from Ottawa. This is an independent body that deals with allegations against the RCMP. I ask the opposition to let the public complaints commission do its work.