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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was money.

Topics

Fort Garry HorseStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Wood Liberal Nipissing, ON

Mr. Speaker, 82 years ago, on November 20, 1917, the Battle of Cambrai took place with the aim of creating a breach through the German Hindenburg Line. The Fort Garry Horse, as part of the Canadian Calvary Brigade, was given the task of spearheading the assault and the special mission of capturing a German corps headquarters behind the enemy lines.

On that day, Lieutenant Harcus Strachan took command of B Squadron when his commander was killed by machine-gun fire. With his sword drawn, Lieutenant Strachan led a charge of 129 men on horseback to destroy a German artillery battery. He won the Victoria Cross, an astonishing feat of conspicuous bravery and leadership during operations.

Today, the Fort Garry Horse continue to serve Canada with distinction. In recent years, they have been on operations in Cyprus, the Golan Heights, the Sinai and various missions in the former Yugoslavia with the UN and NATO. The Garrys also helped out at home during the 1997 Manitoba flood and the Pan-Am games held last—

Fort Garry HorseStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.

Health CareStatements By Members

November 19th, 1999 / 11:10 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week we witnessed a landmark in health care in Canada. Premier Klein recognized that the Canada Health Act is broken, and he is trying to fix it.

There are currently 187,000 people on waiting lists for surgery alone, and these people are waiting 12 weeks or more for their surgery, more than they have ever waited in the recent history of Canada.

The government has gutted the Canada health system. It has ripped out $21 billion from health care in the country. What is an example of that? In Quebec, cancer patients are being sent south of the border to get the health care they require. In my province, cancer patients are waiting two months to get radiation therapy for cancer.

Premier Klein and Premier Harris are trying to fix the publicly funded health care system. This government has been gutting it.

All we see from that side is rhetoric and trying to penalize other people who are trying to fix the publicly funded health system that this government has gutted.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday I had the misfortune of attending the Indian affairs committee hearing on the Nisga'a treaty in Prince George. Why taxpayers would pay to fly pro treaty witnesses from Vancouver Island and the lower mainland to Prince George while denying locals the opportunity to be heard is beyond me.

Since the government has proven the hearings to be the farce that we feared, will the government now conduct a province-wide referendum so that the people of British Columbia can have a say on the Nisga'a treaty?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the decisions of the committee with respect to witnesses are the decisions of that group. They are not decisions of the government.

Furthermore, the committee hearings are indications of how the democratic processes of parliamentary government are working. People are being heard at the committee hearings, including those not favourable to the treaty. After the committee hearings are completed, there will be further debate in the House at report stage and third reading, as well as in the other place.

The democratic process based on our system of parliamentary government is working and the Reform Party should admit that.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Liberal majority on the committee decided who the witnesses were going to be.

In Prince George on Wednesday the committee only heard from four witnesses all day, three of which were from southern British Columbia. Even though three other organizations backed out at the last minute, the committee chair denied representatives from B.C. in Focus and the Central Interior Logging Association an opportunity to speak.

Only the Nisga'a have had a direct vote on this treaty. Other affected Indian bands have not been granted the same right.

Before it rams the Nisga'a treaty through this House, will the government conduct a referendum so that all British Columbians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike, can have a direct vote on the Nisga'a treaty?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, let me say that the work of a committee, it is very clear under our rules, is for the committee itself. The hon. member should know that. He did not get here yesterday, although he is acting like it.

Furthermore, we are not intending to ram this through the House. We want to provide reasonable time for debate but we also need to take decisions. Parliament is for debate but it is also for decisions. We hope that we will have the support of the Reform Party to let the democratic process based on our system of parliamentary government work.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, why would the government spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly the committee to northern British Columbia and not hear from people from that area directly affected by this treaty?

In fact, taxpayer money was spent to fly an author from Vancouver to speak, yet the people from Prince George, the people who took time off from work to attend those committee meetings, were denied the right to be heard.

Does the government agree with the recently deposed premier of B.C., Glen Clark, that the reason for denying a referendum to the people of British Columbia is because the government knows that it will fail?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should not try to rewrite history, even if it is recent history.

As I understand it, the committee list was agreed to by all committee members collectively. Second, it is the Reform Party that insisted that the committee go to British Columbia. If the Reform members do not like the fact that the committee is going there and that it costs money, this is their fault.

In fact, what the member is complaining about shows that this system works. We are willing to listen to the opposition, even when its concerns are as poorly grounded as the Reform Party's. I do not know why the hon. member is getting up today and saying that we should not be spending money when the Reform Party asked that this be done.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister is not answering the question about the referendum. Support for the Nisga'a deal hardly extends beyond the Liberal caucus room door. Both current and former B.C. Liberal leaders have slammed it.

Gordon Campbell called the deal an unacceptable slight to Canadians. Gordon Gibson said “Say no to a separate government structure for Indians”. But these Ottawa Liberals want to ram this deal through British Columbia.

Why will the Indian affairs minister not just admit that he is afraid of holding a referendum because he knows it will fail?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Reform Party continues to suggest that somehow there were no meetings relating to the Nisga'a treaty.

I understand that during the provincial part of this whole discussion, the province had 27 different meetings in different communities in British Columbia. In fact the longest debate in the history of the B.C. legislature was on this particular agreement. There were over 500 consultations with interested groups when the Nisga'a agreement was being debated when the AIP was in progress.

I am not sure I understand where the member is coming from when he says that B.C. people have not been heard. We have heard them loud and clear.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Grant McNally Reform Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, for four questions now we have asked about the referendum aspect of the Nisga'a deal and why the government will not allow people from British Columbia the opportunity to have a referendum on this deal. That is the question the minister is avoiding, the Deputy Prime Minister is avoiding and the government is avoiding.

Why will the government not just admit it is refusing to allow a referendum on the Nisga'a deal because it knows it will lose?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I pointed out previously, that having referendums on matters is not consistent with our democratic approach to parliamentary government.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Herb Gray Liberal Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is right. We handle our approach based on the democratic principles inherited from Great Britain. I do not know why the hon. member opposes our democratic parliamentary system.

Speaking of leaders of the British Columbia Liberal Party provincially and their views on this, I am sure Reform supporters in British Columbia were not asked in a referendum whether the Reform Party should be supporting the provincial Liberals. Why did they not have a referendum on that?

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has confirmed that the investigation on grants in the audiovisual sector is targeting only one company, most likely CINAR.

So far, however, two companies have been identified and there are reasons to believe that others are involved.

Instead of restricting the investigation to just one company, does the government not have a responsibility to broaden it to the whole industry throughout the country?

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, allegations have been circulating for over a month. When it all began, the government asked the RCMP to investigate.

Again, if the Bloc leader has information that could be useful to the investigation, we ask him to contact the RCMP directly.

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if we had not reported here facts that had been checked and that were verifiable, there would not even be an investigation, because the other side does not want one, and that is the problem. They may have things to hide.

We are asking for a Canada-wide investigation. The president of Quebec's Union des artistes, Pierre Curzi, said it was important to look at the whole industry.

If the government truly wants to shed light on this issue, does it not agree that a Canada-wide investigation is required to look at all of Telefilm's activities? The investigation must not target just one company, whether in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal, but the whole industry. Stop hiding behind all the investigations—

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. I would ask all members to address the Chair.

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is not for us to tell the RCMP how to conduct its investigations.

When allegations are made to us, we have a responsibility to ask the RCMP to investigate. That is what we did.

That being said, members opposite are wrong if they think the government does not care about the integrity of its funding programs. We have always cared about that, and we will continue to do so.

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government clearly wants to hush the matter up.

It is refusing systematically to answer the many questions put to it. It gives short shrift to information that the RCMP is investigating only one firm, when the problem is much greater. It is holding off following SODEC's example and calling on Revenue Canada to look into this matter.

Why is this government refusing to investigate this entire matter? Could it be because many friends of the Liberal Party are involved?

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is really deplorable to be hearing the allegations we are hearing this morning.

Allegations have been made. An investigation has been called for. It is not for us to tell the RCMP how to carry out its investigation. I hope that the member opposite realizes that.

I have already said that the government is responsible for the way its grant programs are administered, and it intends to see to it that its responsibilities are properly discharged.

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, Micheline Charest has been involved in Liberal Party funding operations and was appointed by the Prime Minister to the board of the millennium scholarship fund.

The Minister of National Revenue who, until recently, practiced in a firm of lawyers specializing in copyright, is refusing to initiate an investigation by his department, unlike what has been done in Quebec.

Given the scope of the problem and the troubling facts undermining the government's credibility, is there no way to initiate a cross-Canada investigation into the matter?

Audiovisual ProductionsOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, an RCMP inquiry is under way. I invite the member opposite to pass on all relevant information he may have to the RCMP. In addition, the government has always ensured that its programs were well and honestly administered, and we have every intention of ensuring that this continues to be the case.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, a Statistics Canada report shows that poor families with children are $1,500 per year worse off than when the Liberals took office. Three-quarters of that drop is due to the government's vicious cuts to unemployment insurance. Mr. Speaker, $1,500 can mean a lot to a poor kid: decent breakfasts, warm boots, maybe a special toy at Christmastime.

Why is the government taking this money from poor kids?