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House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was wheat.

Topics

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona is a very experienced member of the House and very knowledgeable in the practices of the House. What he says is quite correct in terms of the use of the word hypocrite.

I have no doubt that it is wrong to call an hon. member a hypocrite directly, but using it in a more general sense is not unparliamentary. However, I am sure the hon. member knows also that during question period particularly and at other times in the House words are used which may sometimes cause disorder.

I suspect that the admonition the hon. member received by the Speaker was delivered on the basis that he believed the hon. member's words might cause disorder. While they may have been parliamentary in the strict sense, the cause for disorder is always something a Speaker has to bear in mind when making a ruling.

The hon. member has stated the position correctly. I am sure there was not an admonition intended of him for using the word in the sense that it was an improper use of the word. I think the admonition dealt with the question of disorder in the House. Accordingly, I hope the hon. member will accept that in good grace.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the reason the use of the word tends to cause disorder is that people think it is out of order when it is not. To the extent that the appearance of a word being out of order when it is not is reinforced by the Chair, that in itself contributes to disorder the next time the word is used properly.

Points Of OrderOral Question Period

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I hope the statement the Chair just made will clarify the situation for all hon. members.

Government Response To PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to 49 petitions.

Administrative Tribunals (Remedial And Disciplinary Measures) ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

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

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-44, an act to authorize remedial and disciplinary measures in relation to members of certain administrative tribunals, to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

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

National Parks ActRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

Steve Mahoney Liberal Mississauga West, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-419, an act to amend the National Parks Act and other acts in consequence thereof (Canada Parks).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this private member's bill, the enactment of which amends the National Parks Act and other acts in consequence thereof, and replaces the term national park with the term Canada park.

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

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Peter Goldring Reform Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this august Chamber, this edifice to Canada's confederation, this esteemed House that welcomed the enjoinment of Newfoundland in 1949, this venerated Chamber that will soon usher in Nunavut as a partner as well.

I am humbled to serve the constituents of Edmonton East and proud to be Canadian as I discharge my duties today by presenting a petition from citizens across Canada, but most notably from the numbers from the province of Quebec.

The petition calls for the Prime Minister and Canada to declare that Canada is indivisible and that this state is presently alterable only by all citizens of Canada and their Government of Canada.

I concur.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think the hon. member knows it is quite wrong for him to indicate his concurrence or otherwise in respect of a petition he presents. I hope he will contain himself within the rules.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a number of Canadians including those from my own riding of Mississauga South. The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that our police officers and firefighters are required to place their lives at risk on a daily basis as they discharge their duties.

Often when one of them is killed in the line of duty the employment benefits do not provide sufficient compensation to their surviving families. Also, the public mourns the loss of our public safety officers killed in the line of duty and wishes to support in a tangible way the surviving families in their time of need.

The petitioners therefore call on parliament to establish a public safety officers compensation fund for the benefit of families of public safety officers including police officers and firefighters who are killed in the line of duty.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to present a petition, pursuant to Standing Order 36, on behalf of a number of constituents from the communities of Logan Lake and Kamloops. The petitioners are concerned about the government's intentions to continue on with the multilateral agreement on investment, most commonly referred to as the MAI.

They point out all sorts of reasons why they oppose the MAI. They raise the question of who supports the MAI. They point out that it is in particular the international corporations that are promoting this. They are asking the government to back off and not proceed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the second petition the petitioners are concerned about the government's intention to change the way senior citizens are provided pensions. They are worried that it will be targeting pensions based on family income. They list a number of other concerns and are basically suggesting that no changes be made until all Canadians have had adequate opportunity to provide input into the decision.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have another petition related to taxation. The petitioners are concerned that 90% of the seats at the stadium for the Blue Jays are really tax deductions and not people simply buying a ticket. They make the case that it is the same for all professional sports. They ask why this kind of tax deduction is permitted, what kind of business is being transacted as they watch a Blue Jays game or the Raptors play or any professional sport.

They consider it to be an absolute abuse of the taxes. They are suggesting that real fair tax reform is long overdue.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present. The first is from my Calgary riding of Nose Hill. It asks for significant amendments to the Young Offenders Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, the second petition asks parliament to enact Bill C-225, a private member's bill introduced by the Liberal member for Scarborough Southwest, which has to do with the definition of marriage.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I have a couple of petitions to present. In the first the petitioners believe that Canadians basically understand the concept of marriage as only the voluntary union of a single, that is unmarried, male and a single, that is unmarried, female.

Whereas it is the duty of parliament to ensure that marriage as it has always been known and understood in Canada be preserved and protected, they therefore petition parliament to enact Bill C-225, an act to amend the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act and the Interpretation Act so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Steckle Liberal Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition has to do with the sanctity of human life. The petitioners believe that the majority of Canadians believe physicians in Canada should be working to save lives, not to end them. They therefore petition parliament to ensure the present provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada prohibiting assisted suicide be enforced vigorously and that parliament make no changes in the law which would sanction or allow the aiding or abetting of suicide or active or passive euthanasia.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from the constituency of Souris—Moose Mountain. It has 15 pages. The people across this constituency from every corner are asking parliament to significantly amend the Young Offenders Act. It is a big issue there and I am pleased to present this petition.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from British Columbians. They are asking parliament to withdraw or cancel the pesticide use permit number 21401898 issued to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the ministry of agriculture and that parliament enact legislation to prevent the spraying of the citizens of Canada with bacteria and chemical pesticides in the future. This petition has been signed by more than 2,000 citizens.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais NDP Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have petitions on behalf of citizens of Manitoba. They request that parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

June 8th, 1998 / 3:15 p.m.

Vancouver Centre B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry LiberalSecretary of State (Multiculturalism)(Status of Women)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to resume the debate on this issue.

I began by saying that I was particularly distressed by the motion on the floor because I think it offends both the principles of democracy and principles of equality that Canada has in fact espoused for so long.

In terms of democratic principles, we are hearing today that the opposition party wishes to state that parliament should have complete say and should have authority over the courts of this land. That is really what the basis of this motion is about.

I went on to say that one of the problems was that in many places where there was no democracy, that is exactly what happens with disastrous results. We only have to look at areas like South Africa and regimes where we know that judges are thrown into jail and people are not allowed to talk about equality or to talk about anything that the government or the parliament of that land does not wish them to speak about.

The danger of having this House tell judges what they should and should not do is it interferes with the fundamental principles of justice. There have been many gains in Canada that have given us a reputation that is enviable around the world in terms of our ability to promote human rights and to foster equality in this country.

Many of those changes have been made because of case law, because of recommendations and because of rulings brought about. The courts in fact have moved parliament to move the agenda forward to recognize the rights of individuals, the rights of groups and to bring about the issue of equality.

When the courts speak to justice, when they make the decisions, they inform parliament. They assist parliament. They hold a mirror to parliament so that we can continue to bring about the things we hold dear as espoused in our charter and as espoused in the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Putting a lid on the courts of this land, deciding that the courts have absolutely no power to move the agenda of justice forward is an abuse of power. That is exactly what is being said today in this motion. It may be put in all kinds of a wonderful manner. It is very common for the party across the way to put this kind of discriminatory, anti-justice statement forward in such smooth and sophisticated language, but the truth is what I am speaking about.

The fundamental truth behind this is about the abuse of power of the House that is being espoused by that party. We have heard the saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When it first came into the House that party talked about justice. It talked about grassroots. It talked about the rights of the people and the rights of the individual. And as soon as it becomes the official opposition we see what power can do. Boy, can it can corrupt.

This is also about equality. The basic and fundamental principle of Canadian society is about equality. Equality is not about sameness. Equality is about recognizing the differences in our society. This is one of the most diverse societies in the world. It is not only diverse in terms of the race of its people, their colour, their religion and their abilities and disabilities. It is diverse in every sector we can imagine that the vibrancy of humanity brings about in its diversity. That diversity gives us strength.

One of the most important things we need to know is the differences that we all share as humans present for us many different barriers that we must overcome if we are to achieve equality. Good government and good justice are about recognizing those barriers and setting different strategies to achieve equality, knowing that when other groups are denied equality under the law we must do something. This is where the courts of our land have led. What that group is saying basically is that it is opposed to fundamental equality.

We also hear the term family values; let us not talk about anything that breaks down the traditional family. I remember what the traditional family used to be. If a young woman had a baby out of wedlock she was chased out of the town. She was a pariah. Nobody wanted to talk to her because she was not married and she had a child.

We also know in days gone by the public service would not hire a married woman because she was taking a job away from a man who was the breadwinner. We know about some of these kinds of things. We know about some of the divisions that have gone on.

People have been discriminated against because of their colour or because of all of their differences. We know that there was a time when the diversity of the House would never have occurred because people were not even allowed to vote in this country because of their differences.

These were all brought about by the parliaments of the day. It is our charter of rights and our legal system and the courts of the land that have moved the agenda forward so we are the people we are today.

To stand here and say that this is about denying the family and about breaking down the family is the same as when we used to say if we let people of a certain colour into a particular place it would change the tone of the place. Do we want them to live next to us when landlords and ownership of land was built so that everybody could not live next to each other? Women were not considered to be persons and could not sit in the Senate. These were the laws of the land. We are talking about suggesting that parliament knows all and sees all.

We talk about the new family of today being a group, a unit. The fundamental recognition is that they support each other financially, emotionally and bring about stable units in our society. How many of us are here and have been brought up by a single mother? How many of us are here because we have come out of a blended family? We now see from surveys of families that people are not necessarily getting married, that many structures are common law structures. Are we suggesting that there is no room in this fundamental understanding of what is a family of what is a bond of support between two people, that it must be so narrowly defined and be limited to the old ways?

One of the hon. members from the official opposition stood up in the House today and said that this has been going on for millennia. Precisely. All kinds of offensive acts have been going on for millennia. People have been denied justice in this world for millennia.

Now is a good time for parliaments of the land to consider how the issue of justice is served, that it is not only served by the parliaments of the land, that it is served in many ways by the courts of this land. Justice has to do with the recognition of difference and acknowledging and respecting difference, as well as looking at the stability of our communities and the things that make them stable.

People do not have to be of a particular colour, sex or sexual orientation in order to love, to support, to be caring and to uphold the structure of society. It is not limited to any one group in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you I am very offended by this motion. You have no idea. I am getting rather incensed right now.

Civil society must be based on the premise of respect for differences. This is what our society is based on. Reform's failure to recognize this says how out of touch its members are with the reality of the lives of the people they say they are supposed to serve.

Everyone recognizes the things Canada has done. Canada for the fourth year running is the best country in the world in which to live in terms of human relationships. Three years ago Canada received a humanitarian award from the United Nations. It was the first time a country had been given this award. This award was given because Canada is the only, and I underline the word only, country in the world to have been able to give justice and equality to all its diverse people in a timely and equitable manner.

We are the only country that recognizes that equality is about difference and about recognizing difference. There is no room in Canada for diversity is what that party is saying. The narrow definition of families is what really offends me. It should offend everyone who lives in a non-traditional family in this country.

I want to conclude by saying that when we talk about how we bring about human rights in this country, it is not about looking back at what we used to do in the “good old days” because many of those good old days were very bad old days. We must look at ourselves as a country that has a role to play in the world. It is a country which I firmly believe in the next millennium is going to be asked to take up the mantle of leadership. It is not because we are the wealthiest country in the world because we are not. And it is certainly not because we have the mightiest army in the world.

The world is looking to Canada because we have defined the concept of democracy. We have defined the concept of human rights. We have defined the concept of equality in such a way that we have given life to the people of our country. It allows them to walk proud. It allows them to take their place under the laws of our land. They can all achieve whatever is their fundamental potential. And we can have a society where everyone regardless of their colour, their race, their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion can feel that they really and truly belong, that they have a place in this society.

For us to believe that we as parliamentarians know it all and have all the answers and cannot listen to what the justices, the supreme court and other people in our land tell us is absolute arrogance which offends me as well.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is quite shocking to listen to a minister of this government who sits in cabinet utter such responses to a motion brought forward in a democratic way for discussion on the floor of this House.

The hon. minister says that she is offended that the opposition would bring this motion forward for debate. I wonder what her vision of democracy is all about when she is offended by free and open debate in this place. It is rather shocking. I think it tells quite a bit about this government, its weaknesses and its inability to want to face questions and debate in an open way.

I would like to ask her a quick question. She mentioned family. She mentioned all sorts of things in her rambling discourse. I want to ask her about a comment made by her own colleague, the government House leader in a letter he wrote to a constituent in 1994.

The government House leader stated “I object to any suggestion that would have homosexual couples treated the same way as heterosexual couples. I do not believe homosexual couples should be treated as families. My wife Mary Ann and I do not claim we are homosexual. Why should homosexuals pretend they form a family”. This came quite shockingly from the government House leader.

I would like to know if she agrees with her colleague in cabinet.