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House of Commons Hansard #57 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tribunal.

Topics

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, certain interest groups in Canada are having a field day with a huge misinformation campaign about the multilateral agreement on investment or the MAI. Canadians are concerned yet they have not heard from the government what the MAI is or how it would be in their interest.

We noticed the minister found time to go to sunny South America in January but he has not found time to talk about the MAI. Why has the minister allowed the left to dominate the debate? Why is the minister not telling Canadians what this deal is all about?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where my hon. friend has been. He must have been sleeping. We make no apologies for the team Canada trip.

It was the largest team Canada trip, over 524 business people from Canada making record sales which create jobs and economic activity.

Since assuming this portfolio I have been more than open and public with the Canadian people on the MAI to the point where we invited the committee to study this report. I am happy that it was obviously an overwhelming endorsement.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that while the minister is going to places like Uruguay to sign an investment agreement that represents one-tenth of one per cent of Canada's investment, he has not got time to talk to Canadians and tell them what it is all about.

There are people in Canada saying this agreement would be the end of Canada, the end of Canadian sovereignty. Why is the minister not responding to those concerns? Why is he not travelling to places like B.C. and meeting this opposition head on?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

York West Ontario

Liberal

Sergio Marchi LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member gets up and beats his chest. It is probably his first question in over three months. Then he has the audacity to say where this government stands.

This government needs no lectures on trade and investment from that party and we have never be afraid of talking to the people about the MAI, opening up the process, inviting members of Parliament to participate in a committee.

I do not think that is doing things behind closed doors. I am surprised the member is taking that position.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of the federal disaster relief program, Ottawa must pay 90% when amounts exceed a certain level, which in Quebec is evaluated at $37 million.

Yesterday, however, the President of the Treasury Board told us that Ottawa was agreeing to fund only 50% of assistance to small and medium sized businesses.

Can the minister tell us why he will not apply the same criteria as those used in 1987 after the tornado in Alberta, when he funded 90% of assistance to small and medium sized businesses?

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, there are two programs: the usual disaster relief fund, which is the one we apply to all provinces, including Quebec.

In the case of the Saguenay, we decided to introduce an additional program for expenses not covered under financial assistance agreements. In that case, at the request of Minister Brassard himself, the costs were shared 50-50.

This was the same cost-sharing formula used in Manitoba, and it is the one we are now offering to the governments of Quebec and Ontario.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister might recall that he offered the same level of compensation as for Alberta in a letter he himself sent to Minister Brassard.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

It was Lucien Bouchard.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

It was a letter from the present minister, sent in 1996—

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Copps Liberal Hamilton East, ON

He was not even there then.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

—for the information of the Minister of Canadian Heritage who probably does not understand because she is not listening.

I would ask the President of the Treasury Board whether he admits that, in 1996, he offered the Government of Quebec the same type of program as Alberta had, five months after the disaster however—a bit late therefore—and why he is not making the same offer this time, when we are within the deadline?

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois would have done better to check his sources with Quebec's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Brassard.

I have here a letter from Mr. Brassard replying to my offer to share costs on a 90-10 basis in which the minister tells me that such a percentage, using the criteria of the Alberta programs, would not be equitable under the circumstances.

He writes: “I suggest there be an ad hoc agreement for compensation of up to $50 million with costs borne equally by both our governments and managed jointly”.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

The fact is that the federal government is not acting in good faith or making any effort to come to an agreement with Quebec. While it could certainly come to an agreement with Quebec about businesses and the power grid, it does not want to.

My question concerns compensation for the power grid. Given the fact that this network clearly constitutes an essential service and that funding could easily be provided under the provisions of his assistance program, for example section 5.5 of chapter 4, why is Ottawa stubbornly refusing to help Quebec?

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, since the current rule came into force in 1988, the requests made by Newfoundland in 1994, Manitoba in 1996 and Quebec in 1996 to compensate hydro companies have been turned down.

This rule has been followed consistently since 1988, and Quebec knew this and still does.

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Brien Bloc Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, under a similar provision, Newfoundland requested assistance to repair its power grid in 1984 and Ottawa said yes. When Manitoba requested assistance in 1984 for its power grid, Ottawa said yes as it did again in 1996 for that province's dikes.

Why is Ottawa now changing its tune for Quebec's power grid and saying no to Quebec when it said yes to the other provinces?

Federal Disaster Relief ProgramOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague knows full well that his statement is incorrect. The rule was changed in 1988. It was changed by a Conservative government in which the current premier of Quebec was a minister, so he is aware of the rule.

Again, as I said, since 1988, we have denied Newfoundland, Manitoba and Quebec funding for hydro companies. The precedent is clear, the rule is clear and there have been no exceptions.

IraqOral Question Period

February 11th, 1998 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

While Iraq is showing signs of openness, the U.S. insists on going to war. Canada must not be so narrow minded. In order to get Iraq to comply with the disarmament conditions, we must show good will and lift the sanctions that are crushing civilians. We must avoid war.

Is Canada prepared to promote a diplomatic solution based on the elimination of the sanctions?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, Canada wants very much to have a diplomatic solution. That is why the Minister of Foreign Affairs is in New York as we speak. He visited the United Nations where he met Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Richard Butler, head of the UN special commission.

We believe efforts should continue toward a diplomatic solution. But it must be recognized that unless there has been the threat of force or use of force, Saddam Hussein has never agreed to a diplomatic solution and we must continue with the pressure to make sure he complies with the resolutions and gives up his efforts to manufacture and store instruments of mass destruction.

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we did not get a land mine ban in Canada through the threat of force or by falling in line with the U.S. Protest is mounting from Canadians even within Liberal ranks. The former chief of staff of the UN peacekeeping force in Iraq described Canada's yes sir, yes sir, three bags full, sir as nauseating and nonsensical. Bombing will not solve the problem. Why will this government not uphold Canada's well earned reputation for creative diplomacy and effective multilateralism instead of recklessly abandoning it?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution but, unlike the hon. member, we are realistic enough to know that Saddam Hussein must realize there is concerted action ready to be taken if he does not live up to the UN resolutions to get rid of instruments of mass destruction. Why does the hon. member not listen to her colleague in Britain, Mr. Blair, the Labour prime minister who believes that our position is the right one, the one he is following and not the useless one she is promoting?

IraqOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, we do want some information about the government's position. It has now had the benefit of a debate in the House of Commons, a cabinet meeting yesterday, a predictable announcement. Could the Deputy Prime Minister now inform the House of Commons of the exact objective being pursued by Canada and of the rules of engagement?

Could he further elaborate by telling us under what conditions does he now see Canadian troops withdrawing from this conflict once we meet these objectives?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it very clear what our objectives are, to have Saddam Hussein comply completely with the UN resolutions, that he give up his efforts to manufacture and store instruments of mass destruction and allow full UN inspection.

This is our objective and that of other countries of the world under the auspices of existing UN resolutions.

As far as commenting on rules of engagement, it is premature unless it is determined that there has to be a military solution. We are working very hard to avoid that. The burden of avoiding that is on Saddam Hussein who must recognize that he has to obey the UN resolutions which he signed on to do nine years ago.

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Charest Progressive Conservative Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, the UN resolutions were adopted in 1991. We do not need the government to tell us what resolutions were adopted by the United Nations.

I have a question for the government which, following a cabinet decision and a debate in the House, embarked on a great adventure that could lead to war, to military intervention.

What are the objectives pursued by the government if there is a military intervention? What are the rules of engagement for Canadians whose lives will be put on the line, and what are the conditions for the withdrawal of our troops, once the objective is attained?

IraqOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I already mentioned our objective, which is to convince Saddam Hussein to give up manufacturing and storing weapons of mass destruction.

Until Saddam Hussein is prepared to comply with this requirement, why should we talk about withdrawing the forces of the United Nations, Canada or Great Britain? In my opinion, Saddam Hussein's cause will be helped if we start talking about the withdrawal of our troops before he makes it clear that a diplomatic solution is not in the cards.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bruce Starlight wrote to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development last fall a confidential letter alleging corruption on his reserve near Calgary. That private letter was leaked to the chief on the reserve who is now suing Mr. Starlight in court.

I just talked to the Starlight family before I came here and it confirmed that it has never received a response from this minister, not even an acknowledgement.

How is it that Mr. Starlight's letter got leaked to the chief but the minister never extended him the courtesy of a reply to his letter?