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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judges.

Topics

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member should know that yesterday we tabled legislation which will introduce a total ban on tobacco sponsorship over the next five years.

After a transition period, to give an opportunity for those events to get other sponsorships, we are going to have a ban in this country against tobacco sponsorships well ahead of the Europeans, well ahead of the Americans. Once again we are going to lead the world in our anti-tobacco efforts.

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, on this issue the Minister of Finance could stand in his place and do something he rarely does, and that is support the Minister of Health. He obviously has not done it on the hepatitis C issue.

If he did consider raising tobacco taxes, there would be a 30% reduction in the number of new smokers, particularly young smokers, especially if that increase was coupled with tough advertising and education.

Will the Minister of Finance consider doing that to help save young Canadians?

TobaccoOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the government has made it very clear that it is desirous of increasing taxes on cigarettes and it is certainly prepared to do so. It would require an agreement between the federal government and the provinces, including the Conservative government of Ontario. We are prepared to do so as quickly as we possibly can. The provinces, however, have said to us that they do not want any risk of increasing contraband. We understand their position, but we are talking to them.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sheila Finestone Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Last Thursday at a function in Montreal, Canadians of Pakistani, Chinese and East Indian heritage shared with me their deeply felt concern over the nuclear testing which has led to a really unstable situation in the area.

Can the minister tell this House what action the Canadian government has taken or is taking with respect to enabling a return to stability in the southeast Asia area?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is very encouraging to see the broad range of representation in the member's riding supporting what I think all Canadians support, which is that we must put a stop to the spread of nuclear weapons.

The actions that we have taken began with the Prime Minister's meeting at the G-8, where he renounced the testing and asked that a series of measures be taken by all countries. Since then we have followed up to lead at the NATO meetings in a condemnation. We also led at the OAS just this last week and we will be attending meetings next week.

It is absolutely essential that we put the nuclear genie back in the bottle and Canada will do everything it can to make that happen.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, for weeks now the Minister of Fisheries has been refusing our suggestions to amend Bill C-27, the fisheries protection act. As it stands now, Canada will not be able to prosecute foreign vessels who are breaking our laws. Ironically, when Premier Tobin sends a letter asking the minister to make amendments, he turns around and says “No problem”.

We know the Prime Minister asked to have this letter kept under wraps, but what we do not know is who is running fisheries and oceans: Tobin or the member for Victoria?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Victoria B.C.

Liberal

David Anderson LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is a member of the fisheries committee he should understand that neither I nor the premier of Newfoundland run that committee. He should also know, if he has attended the meetings, and apparently there is some doubt about this, that in fact the bill is now before the committee. If the committee proposes amendments, that is good.

The rest of us in the House will consider them when the bill is reported.

National Highway SystemOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, in response to a question from the member for Chicoutimi this week, the Minister of Transport said that he had had no request from Quebec's transport minister for financial assistance with respect to route 175 between Quebec City and the Saguenay.

How could the minister make such a statement when a letter containing a very clear request for help repairing route 175 in the Parc des Laurentides and signed by the Minister of Transport for Quebec on May 27, was faxed to his office on the eve of the Edmonton meeting? What kind of game is the Minister of Transport playing?

National Highway SystemOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, the statements that were attributed to Mr. Brassard were clearly made in the aftermath of the Edmonton meeting.

Route 175 was not raised at that meeting. Obviously the minister for Quebec has some interest in Route 175.

The fact is we talked about the national highway system funds potentially being available. If those funds are available, route 175 would be eligible for funding, subject of course to the approval of the Quebec government.

There is no contradiction in what I said two days ago and what I am saying today.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 the Prime Minister clearly stated that the change to the UI system put forward by the Conservative government was having a devastating effect on Canada's unemployed. Why the flip-flop? Currently, 780,000 unemployed workers do not qualify for UI.

Will the Prime Minister stand by his campaign promise and help the unemployed by using the $17 billion surplus to widen accessibility to UI?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, some aspects of this reform were not working at all. The fact that the family income supplement we introduced in our reform applied to total family income and not to individual income, as it did under the preceding government, was clearly unfair, and this was recognized in all the reports on how the system was working.

We also wanted to put the system on an hourly basis in order to give Canadians a fairer and more equitable system. There is no contradiction, because we wanted to improve on previous reforms and correct some of the errors made by the previous government.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I wish to draw to hon. members' attention the presence in the gallery of Dr. Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission of the European Union.

Presence In GalleryOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

June 4th, 1998 / 3 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have a document that appears to have been leaked from the government House leader's office that indicates this House will recess on or about June 16. I would like to find out from the government House leader if that is in fact true and ask him what the business is for the remainder of this session.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting question. If this was leaked from my office, someone has obviously misread it.

This afternoon we will continue and hopefully complete Bill C-37, the Judges Act amendments at report stage, followed by Bill C-26, the grains legislation, then by Bill C-3, the DNA bill.

Tomorrow we shall consider second reading of Bill S-2, the transportation safety board bill, and report stage of Bill S-3, the pension benefits legislation.

As already announced, next Monday and Tuesday are allotted days. After the supply is disposed of on Tuesday evening, our priorities will then be the completion of Bill C-37, at third reading hopefully; concurrence in the Senate amendments to Bill C-4, the wheat board legislation; and the completion of other bills already mentioned.

In addition, among other matters we intend to pursue the completion of the following: Bill C-38, respecting the Tuktut park; Bill C-25, the defence legislation; Bill C-27, the fisheries bill; Bill C-20, the competition legislation; Bill S-9, the depository notes bill; Bill C-30, the Mi'kmaq education bill.

This is a heavy load to complete before the adjournment date set by the standing orders. I intend to consult the other House leaders to determine whether we will require evening sittings to meet this deadline. I hope that we do not, but as I have been saying for some time, it is clear that we have at least two more weeks of intensive work.

I know that the rumour mill has it that the House would be adjourning much earlier. Some people have even said, and quite irresponsibly, that we could be adjourning as early as June 12. This is plain silly. There is more work to be done. I would hope to be able to adjourn by June 19 if all goes well.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the government House leader could comment in terms of legislation expected to be introduced but not passed by the summer break. Can he tell us whether he expects that the House will have an opportunity to see the post-TAGS legislation and whether or not the government intends to bring forward legislation having to do with the implementation of the seniors benefit? Certainly a lot of people would like to know whether or not the government intends to proceed with this. They hope that it does not, but they would like to know what the government's plans are in this respect. Perhaps the government House leader could enlighten us on these two issues.

Business Of The HouseOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, obviously it would be inappropriate for me to comment on legislation which has not yet been introduced.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee; and of Motion No. 2.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

When the House broke for question period the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River had the floor. There were remaining to him five minutes in his allotted time.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as always it is a pleasure to rise to speak. It strikes me as somewhat unfortunate, as it seems that the four or five times I have spoken this spring my presentations have been interrupted by that one hour question period. Today continues what has been set as a tradition for my presentations.

I remark at the outset in reply to the government House leader who just spoke about legislation we have to deal with and he hoped we would not have to have evening sittings. I think that is certainly the hope of everyone.

The reality is, if the option is that the opposition just cease being opposition and we rubber stamp everything that the government has brought forward in order that we can get all this legislation, this heavy load as he called it, through, that is not going to happen. If it requires that we sit well into the evening over the next couple of weeks, then that is what we will be doing in order to represent the concerns of Canadians who live and work out in the real world. They have some very deep concerns with the legislation the government wants to ram through the House of Commons.

When we adjourned the debate just prior to question period I was in the midst of talking about Bill C-37, specifically about Motion No. 2. We are at report stage of Bill C-37, an act to amend the Judges Act. Motion No. 2, which was brought forward by my colleague from Crowfoot, deals with accountability and having the reports of future recommendations by the commission that will be set up under Bill C-37 to consider judges' compensation, wages and benefits packages brought before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

What I was getting at is that this is really an issue of accountability, of bringing an element of public scrutiny to these reports. In this way the general public can have some input through their opposition members of parliament at the standing committee as to what they feel is fair compensation for our nation's judges.

What bothers Canadians most about the issue of an 8.3% increase in salary for judges? I suspect that probably what bothers them most is some of the rulings that they see from some of the judges. I want to be very clear in saying that it is some of the judges, not all of them. A lot of them are making judgments and rulings that are defensible to the general public. Certainly increasingly it seems that there is one underlying theme running through a lot of the judgments that come down from our courts.

Earlier in talking to report stage Motion No. 1 of Bill C-37 I referred to three specific cases that are fairly well known in my riding of Prince George—Peace River, the Feeney, Solomon and Baldwin cases and ultimately the judgments that were rendered with those cases. My concern is I do not feel that in a lot of the cases where the judges are actually legislating or making law rather than fairly interpreting the law that their decisions are supported by the general public.

I hear this increasingly from my constituents and I think the Feeney case is a classic example. It does not seem to matter any longer whether an accused is innocent or guilty. What seems to matter is whether it is legal or illegal. The courts seem to be more concerned about technicalities rather than guilt or innocence. There is something sadly lacking in our legal system which is masquerading as a justice system today.

We will not be supporting this bill. We do not feel that the Canadian public at this time will defend an 8.3% increase in judges' salaries when they cannot understand or support a lot of the decisions that these same judges are making.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. It has come to my attention and I think to the attention of other House leaders and members of parliament that tomorrow there is a press conference scheduled in Room 130-S by Mr. Ernst Zundel.

It is a matter of great concern to all members of parliament that the premises here should be used for this purpose. I would like to register my concern and I am sure others may want to rise on the same point of order.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue a little further than my colleague, the House leader for the New Democratic Party.

The conference to take place Friday, June 5 at 10.30 a.m. in the Charles Lynch press conference room, Room 130-S Centre Block, I think flies in the face of what Canadian people truly believe. This fellow is a well-known Holocaust denial spokesperson. I cannot believe that the people responsible for the Charles Lynch conference room would allow such a thing to happen.

I would like the government House leader to give this House the confidence that not only will this not occur but that it will not occur again as far as the booking of that facility for such an individual is concerned.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the comments made by my colleagues. I think this entire parliament and the House itself borders on being brought into disrepute by having a press conference hosted by this individual, given his statements and his well-known position, as was mentioned, on the issue of the Holocaust.

It really borders on lunacy that this would be permitted to take place in this building which is supposed to be the bastion of tolerance and moderate thinking. That this would take place on Parliament Hill really challenges the bounds of credulity when one considers that this is going to happen tomorrow.

I am hoping there is some way that the government can remedy this. I am anxious to hear the response from the government House leader.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I became acquainted with this condition around 1.45 p.m. this afternoon.

Upon being notified, I immediately contacted the officials of the Press Gallery on Parliament Hill who I understand have the responsibility for these premises.

I expressed to them my dissatisfaction with the fact that this building, the house of democracy in our country, was going to be utilized in any way, shape or form for the benefit of one Ernst Zundel. The people informed me that, in fact, the room was accessible to this person, but that they were going to look at it further, and I really hope they do.

I indicated that although I had not spoken to the other members of the Board of Internal Economy I was confident that I was speaking on their behalf when I expressed my displeasure at the fact that Mr. Ernst Zundel would be using part of the parliamentary precincts to host this press conference.

Members will know, of course, that the government itself does not administer any part of the building, much less that room. However, having heard the comments from other House leaders and being reinforced by their support, which I believe I am by the statements I have just heard, it is certainly my hope that those who are in charge of reserving this facility will change their minds forthwith and ensure that this press conference, if it is held at all, is held elsewhere and not in this building.

Points Of OrderGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the representations made by the hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona, the House leader of the official opposition, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough and the government House leader will be drawn to the attention of those who are responsible for the administration of this room.

I stress, as the government House leader has pointed out, that it is not a matter which is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Speaker directly or of the Board of Internal Economy directly, but that it is under the administration of the parliamentary press gallery, as I understand it.

I am sure these remarks will be drawn to their attention forthwith and we will await developments. I do not see any point in continuing a discussion on this point at this time.