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House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was finance.

Topics

Member For SherbrookeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom NDP Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, later in the day the leader of the Conservative Party will announce he will be a candidate for the leadership of the Quebec Liberal Party and the leader of the federalist force in the province of Quebec. We wish him well in his endeavours.

The response of the Reform Party has been a partisan call to unite the right in this country. Instead of a call to unite the right it should be a call to unite federalist parties and unite this country around common goals that all Canadians can feel at home in Canada. That should be the goal.

I call on all our colleagues to work toward that common ground for all Canadian people.

At the provincial level, there is already a process under way to ensure Canadian unity that led to the Calgary declaration. Public hearings were held and they were well attended.

It is high time Parliament took its responsibility. The time has come to act.

World PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1998, 1.3 billion people in the developing countries, or one-third of their population, are barely surviving, on less than a dollar a day. Every day, 34,000 children die of malnutrition and disease.

In light of these statistics, and in order to eradicate poverty, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, in conjunction with some 100 organizations working in this area, has launched a campaign under the theme “In common”. The goal of the campaign is to enhance the political and public desire to eradicate poverty in the world.

When will the Minister of International Co-operation take some notice of this human distress? Instead of cutting funding for international aid, as was done in the latest budget, the government ought to be following the example of the CCIC and its partners.

Our congratulations to the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and its partners for this fine, and constructive, initiative.

Old Age SecurityStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Harvey Progressive Conservative Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the bill transforming the present old age pension into the seniors benefit will bring about a drop in available income for most retired persons and a loss of ground for women. What is more, 40% of workers have only public pension plans when they retire.

The AFEAS has been stoutly defending women seniors so as to ensure them of a decent retirement and to enable them to retain what they have acquired after many a long struggle. The public pension plans are essential if the majority of women are to enjoy a decent retirement.

The AFEAS is calling for the principle of individuality to be respected, for there to be a universal basic benefit and tax measures to enhance available income for the least well-off and to provide a tax break for the middle class, which has been crushed by the present government's taxation policies.

The AFEAS is therefore calling upon the Minister of Finance to reflect its recommendations in this new bill.

Reform Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Dan McTeague Liberal Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, it seems that Reform MPs from B.C. have been so star struck by the paparazzi and glamour surrounding the visit of Prince Charles and his sons to B.C. that the usual political hyperbole has risen to new hysterical heights.

Yesterday in his statement in the House the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca said the government uses health care as a political football to look good instead of putting patients first and giving politics a back seat.

The fact is the first reinvestment we made when our books were in reasonable order was in health care, raising the cash floor on transfers by $1.5 billion. As well, this last budget made real commitments in the areas of home care and medical research. That is what leadership is all about.

To date the people of British Columbia await one concrete suggestion from B.C. Reformers that would actually help them in terms of the health care system.

I have one thing to say. Go, Lou, go.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of compensation for hepatitis C victims, I would like to quote what the Minister of Health said. “I do not think victims' claims should be bogged down for 10, 12 or 15 years before the courts.” That is exactly what the Liberal compensation plan is going to do.

I would like one of the Liberal members who is proud of this record to stand and tell me why Liberals are going to let half the victims go through the courts for fair justice.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, no arrangement has been announced as yet for compensation of hepatitis C victims. An announcement will be made very soon.

What will be announced I understand will be in co-operation and through an agreement with the provinces. I am sure that what will be announced is intended to be fair and reasonable. I ask my hon. friend to wait until the announcement is made. Then he will have something to talk about. Right now he is just blowing smoke.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Neylan Dallie, of Pointe-Claire, Quebec, received a transfusion of contaminated blood in 1981 during childbirth. This made her so ill that she underwent a liver transplant in 1994. Since then, the public system has abandoned her.

Why is the government now abandoning her as well, without compensation?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is abandoning no one. As the Deputy Prime Minister has just indicated, there is communication between the Minister of Health and his counterparts at the provincial level in order to come together with a package that will address all of the issues associated with hepatitis C and the contamination, the unfortunate incidents that happened in the last decade.

We are very serious about the way we are approaching this matter. We are very concerned about all of the factors that are part of it. I urge the member to wait until tomorrow when the announcement—

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Macleod.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, just prior to 1986 Ron Smith of Calgary was involved in a major car accident. He had multiple transfusions. He is so ill today that he cannot even play with his four children. Ill not from his car accident but from contaminated blood and hepatitis C.

Why has the Prime Minister not forced the uncaring health minister to provide compensation for every single victim?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as recently as a year ago this matter, regrettable as it is, was not even on the table. The Minister of Health made it his personal objective to ensure that the issue of hepatitis C contamination was brought on the table with his counterparts at the provincial level. They are working together on a package that deals with the issues on the medical side as well as all other issues.

I do not think it is fair for any member of the House to play on the emotions of people who have suffered this terrible tragedy. We are engaging in a resolution that we hope will solve all the problems.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the treatment of victims in Canada's blood scandal by the government has been unequalled. All hepatitis C sufferers in this tragedy deserve equal treatment with the HIV or AIDS victims who suffered the same fate.

Why is the minister discriminating against those who contracted hepatitis C before 1986? Why will he not agree to compensate them too?

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is expected that as early as tomorrow there will be a package for hepatitis C victims announced on behalf of the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

I suggest that the hon. member wait until tomorrow. Then he can raise questions based on the actual program. Right now he is taking up the time of the House on matters we are not in a position to talk about.

HealthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Reed Elley Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think the people who sent letters to me about this issue will accept the minister's response at all. This could be a scandal as great as the tainted blood scandal itself.

I have received numerous letters from people who are in this situation. Why are they to be denied compensation, a chance for a better life from this government which refuses to abide by the very recommendations of its own report?

HealthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Eglinton—Lawrence Ontario

Liberal

Joe Volpe LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, at the risk of sounding repetitive, the negotiations are still ongoing. The announcement has not been made.

I think it is pretty shoddy politics to try to pit one group of sufferers against another. The government is trying to resolve an issue that has been longstanding. I urge the member to be patient and to address the issues to the House tomorrow. As they come up with specific questions, they will get specific answers.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

March 26th, 1998 / 2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, a number of the provisions of the multilateral agreement on investment, more commonly known as the MAI, impact directly on provincial jurisdictions.

I am thinking of the clauses on social matters, labour standards, the environmental clauses and the cultural exemption, all of which are areas of exclusively provincial jurisdiction, or in some cases shared jurisdiction at most.

Under the circumstances, will the Prime Minister make a formal commitment to call a conference of the premiers as soon as possible, before he proceeds any further?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. friend knows, the negotiators are constantly in touch with every province apprising them each time a set of negotiations takes place. The province of Quebec has equal access to all the information, as does every other province in Canada.

I understand that a statement was made in Quebec today. We are not yet in possession of the text. When we are, we will be able to comment on it more fully.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, nothing my hon. colleague has said prevents a first ministers' conference from being held, and in my opinion the situation demands it.

During the NAFTA debate, the Liberals, in opposition at the time, demanded a major debate in this House in order to discuss all matters relating to that agreement. I am not speaking of an opposition day, but rather a debate on the government's position if there is such a thing.

Could the Prime Minister or the parliamentary secretary commit to a real debate in this House on all the implications of the MAI?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, as far back as February 19, the federal and provincial trade ministers met for a third discussion of Canada's objectives and the bottom lines for the MAI. The positions advanced by Canada in the MAI negotiations reflect the discussions that took place at that time.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for International Trade.

International concern over the MAI is growing.

In this context, will the Minister for International Trade not recognize that this agreement concocted by the OECD, the club for rich countries, is very likely to penalize the poorest countries and that it would be better therefore to start negotiations afresh under the auspices of the World Trade Organization?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, there is an ancient Chinese saying which says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

We began with international investment agreements through NAFTA and we have that in existence at the present time. Right now we are trying to get 29 countries to sing out of the same hymn book. Once we do that, we will take it to the WTO where over 100 countries will be able to participate in the same agreement.

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, the agreement provides that a sector will automatically be covered, unless it is expressly excluded.

Does the minister not think a provision like this should not be in an agreement of such importance?

Multilateral Agreement On InvestmentOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, there is no agreement. Canada has signed no agreement on this matter. Negotiations are continuing, and if there is no agreement that represents our interests, there will be no signature by the Government of Canada.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, federalists cannot simply wish the Conservative leader well in his mission and then set aside the Canadian unity file, nor should Canadians be sidetracked by unite the right hoopla. What is really needed is leadership, leadership to unite the country.

Will the Deputy Prime Minister give an undertaking to this House today to urge the Prime Minister to convene a meeting bringing federalist leaders together in this House to build a common agenda for a united Canada?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been giving leadership in maintaining the unity of this country. I am confident he will continue to do so with great success.