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House of Commons Hansard #25 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was treaty.

Topics

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first is from the area of Strathmore, Alberta. The petitioners call upon the government to do something about the Young Offenders Act. There is a list of things which they are asking the government to do. They feel that the government has failed to do anything in the last six years and they want a response.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition containing several hundred names of people from throughout my riding which can be added to the hundreds of thousands of names we already have calling upon this parliament to do something about the decision made in British Columbia regarding child pornography. The petitioners request that the government invoke the notwithstanding clause of the charter of rights and freedoms to put an end to this silliness.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a 36 page petition which calls the attention of the House to the following: that one in every five children lives in poverty; that on November 24, 1989 the House of Commons passed a resolution on this issue; that since 1989 the number of poor children has increased by 60%; and that the year 2000 budget be used to introduce a multi-year plan to improve the well-being of children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table today from the people I represent in Saanich—Gulf Islands and, more importantly, from throughout British Columbia. This petition adds to the 10,000 signatures that have already been tabled on this subject. I also note that in an Angus Reid poll 60% of Canadians called on the government to change our Immigration Act so as to allow refugees who are not genuine to be sent home immediately, without delay.

The petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to change the immigration laws so that people who are obvious abusers of the system can be sent home without delay.

We have about 11,000 signatures on this subject and I would ask the government to take note of these people, along with all of the other people of Canada who are calling for this change.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Reform

Gary Lunn Reform Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I am honoured to present on behalf of the constituents of Saanich—Gulf Islands concerns an issue that arose last spring.

The petitioners request that parliament refrain from enacting legislation which would remove references to God or to the supremacy of God from the Canadian constitution or the charter of rights.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today on behalf of a number of constituents from Edmonton who have asked me to read three petitions. Two of the petitions deal with children who are victims of separation and divorce.

The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to consider the psychological, social and economic needs of the children. They state that both parents ought to have ongoing access to the children in addition to their responsibilities for the welfare of the children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

David Iftody Liberal Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to present a petition on behalf of a number of constituents from Edmonton which states that the majority of Canadians understand the concept of marriage as being only the voluntary union of a single, that is unmarried, male and a single, that is unmarried, female, and that it is the duty of parliament to ensure that marriage, as it has been known and understood in Canada, be preserved and protected. Therefore, they ask that the House of Commons and all members pass legislation to that effect.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today.

The first one bears several hundred signatures of residents from Saskatoon—Humboldt who call upon parliament to enact legislation to amend the Marriage 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.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have, also signed by residents of Saskatoon—Humboldt, calls upon parliament to bring in legislation in accordance with the provisions of the Referendum Act, 1992 which would require a binding national referendum to be held at the time of the next election to ask voters whether they are in favour of government funding for medically unnecessary abortions.

Mr. Speaker, it may interest you to know that I have a private member's bill which essentially would have the same result.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by thousands and thousands of people, possibly tens of thousands, which calls upon the government not to support a proposal made by the heritage minister to place a 3.5% levy on video distribution. They point out that this would cost consumers $65 million a year, that the tax would be in addition to the 7% GST, that it would add between 72% and 200% to the amount of tax the federal government collects on the rental of a single video, and that it would increase the cost of renting a video by between 20 cents and 50 cents.

Considering the number of signatures on the petition, I think the government should take this very seriously.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present another petition from people of the Peterborough area who are still concerned about the situation in Iraq. They point out that the people of Iraq have suffered untold hardship and trauma in the wake of the gulf war and again during the mass bombings. They point out that sanctions, far from helping to destroy the repressive government of Saddam Hussein, have actually strengthened it and destroyed any useful opposition.

The petitioners call upon parliament to strongly appeal to the United Nations, the U.S. and Britain to reject any further military action against Iraq and call for a serious attempt at peace negotiations with Iraq and its neighbours; that in order to build a stable and sustainable society in Iraq, excluding an embargo on military materials, all other sanctions be lifted; and that Canada take a lead in the reconstruction of Iraq by providing food, medicine and other supplies for children.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present to the House 254 pages of signatures from people from the three prairie provinces. What the petitioners are asking for is related to my private member's bill which I introduced today, which is that the federal Access to Information Act should pertain to the Canadian Wheat Board.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition signed by residents of the Grand Bend, Lucan and Dorchester areas. The petition states that the use of the additive MMT in Canadian gasoline presents an environmental problem which affects every man, woman and child in Canada.

The petitioners call upon parliament to set, by the end of this calendar year, national clean fuel standards for gasoline with zero MMT and low sulphur content.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition which is signed by residents of my constituency of Burnaby—Douglas, as well as others. It notes that the Constitution Act, 1982 guarantees freedom of conscience and religion in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The petition notes that contributing to the Canadian military through payment of income taxes is regarded by the petitioners as an infringement of the freedom of conscience or religion of those citizens who conscientiously object to participating in any way in the military and associated activities. Therefore, they call upon parliament to establish peace tax legislation by passing into law the conscientious objection act which recognizes the right of conscientious objectors to not pay for the military, but to apply that portion of their taxes that was to be used for military purposes toward peaceful, non-military objectives.

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

November 22nd, 1999 / 3:15 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request For Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 52(2) to seek leave to propose an emergency debate on Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's recently declared intentions to challenge the principles of medicare and the delivery of health care under the Canada Health Act.

On Tuesday, November 16, Premier Ralph Klein went on the airwaves and announced his intentions to pursue contracting out to private for profit forces of in patient hospital services.

Although Alberta has a record of privatization in many areas, this announcement on November 16 constituted a fundamental shift, a profound change, a radical departure from Canada's public health system and the principles of the Canada Health Act.

The action announced last week by Premier Klein is a threat to the fundamental public nature of Canada's health system.

It is the responsibility of the federal government under the Canada Health Act to address this threat and to ensure that the letter and spirit of the law are maintained.

In presenting my case today for an emergency debate I will state three points. The first has to do with the urgency surrounding this issue. I would simply suggest that the sentiments of Canadians and the comments by the architects of the Canada Health Act suggest to us that there may be a fundamental violation of the Canada Health Act. We need parliament to take prompt action.

Second, Canadians are counting on parliament to speak to this fundamental issue of national identity, a fundamental defining feature of our Canadian identity. Canadians are looking to us to address this very serious issue.

My third point has to do with the fact that in the views of many, Alberta's position actually may be incompatible with the Canada Health Act.

There is a real need to act immediately, especially given the fact that we have chapter 11 of NAFTA and the upcoming negotiations at Seattle around the WTO. At any time any part of our health care system in any part of the country is opened up for involvement by a private sector force, particularly an American private sector force, our entire Canadian system is opened up to that possibility. It is a very dangerous precedent setting move which must be addressed on a timely basis.

Members of parliament need the opportunity to speak out on behalf of their constituents and Canadians everywhere in the face of this threat to the principles of medicare. This is an area around which the government has administrative responsibility. I am talking about an act which was passed in the House in 1984 and clearly outlined the principles of medicare, of universality, of accessibility, of comprehensiveness, of portability and of non-profit administration.

It is also related to the fact that the government may be responsible for some of the threats to medicare and the fact that Alberta moved in the first place. I refer simply to the accord signed by the government in 1996 with Alberta that opened up the door to private health care. I also refer to the very significant reduction in transfer payments by the government to all provincial health care systems.

I think we have a number of important points to make. I think nothing short of an emergency debate is in order today.

Request For Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I note the hon. member sent the letter to me earlier today in both official languages. I also note that this was her first request for an emergency debate.

That is why I left her a little more room than I usually do in making her case, but in my opinion it does not meet the criteria for an emergency debate at this time.

The House resumed consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, it was a few months ago that we had a debate in the House on another opposition motion from the Reform Party. Reformers were jumping up and down in the House and demanding that the House of Commons approve a resolution to go to the Supreme Court of Canada to get a constitutional ruling on the Nisga'a treaty. Here we are today with another opposition day motion from the Reform Party. They are jumping up and down today on what? Now they want a referendum.

One thing has become very clear in this debate, that the Reform Party wants anything but negotiation and resolution. It will look at anything rather than sit down, negotiate and look for workable solutions such as has happened with the Nisga'a treaty. That has been its agenda.

We need to be very clear that today's debate on the motion from the Reform Party has nothing to do with any principle around this issue. It has to do with a Reform Party agenda to create division. It wants to seize on this issue because it sees it as a political gold mine to create fear, uncertainty, bias and anti-aboriginal sentiment.

Surprise, surprise. It is now lined up with the B.C. Reform Party, the B.C. Liberal Party, and is on its little campaign with Mr. Campbell and Mr. Vander Zalm. What a great alliance. Let us make no mistake that it is really a campaign of political opportunism to systematically, consciously and deliberately conduct a campaign of misinformation, fear and opposition to entitlement of aboriginal rights.

If there were any doubt of that we just had to listen to question period today to hear the questions from Reform members, including those by the leader of the party who said that the Nisga'a treaty was an affront to equality. The Reform leader is dead wrong. He knows it. Everybody knows that this treaty is actually about equality. It is about social justice. It is about restoring rights to aboriginal people.

The motion before us today has nothing to do with democracy. The referendum just happens to be the flavour of the day that the Reform Party wants to use. It has nothing to do with democracy. It is clearly a desperate attempt to derail a 20 year treaty process that has been negotiated in good faith by the Nisga'a people, the representatives of the federal government and the provincial government. It has now resulted in an historic agreement that is just, that is fair, and that is a perfect fit with our constitution.

That is not just my opinion. That is the opinion of business leaders. That is the opinion of labour leaders. That is the opinion of thousands of people and hundreds and hundreds of groups in British Columbia that have come to the same conclusion.

I attended the aboriginal affairs parliamentary committee meeting last Friday in Vancouver. I had the honour to hear some of the witnesses who came before the committee. I heard Mr. Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress; Mr. Jim Sinclair, president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour; Angie Schira from the British Columbia Federation of Labour; and Mr. John Shields, former president of the British Columbia government employees' union.

They laid out for us was how they as a labour movement had been very involved in talking to their members, the hundreds of thousands of members of the labour movement in British Columbia. They toured the province to get out information, to get feedback and participated in the advisory committee that existed.

We also heard from some very well known and high profile business leaders in our province, including the head of B.C. Hydro, a former Social Credit cabinet minister. We heard from the chair of Vancouver Board of Trade and from the chair of Canadian National Railway.

Their message was very simple and very clear. They too had observed and participated in the process. They wanted to see this treaty ratified by the House because they understood that it brought about a certainty, an equality and a real partnership in the relationship between aboriginal people, between the Nisga'a people and non-aboriginal people which includes the business community.

They told that committee very strongly in no uncertain terms that they wanted to see this treaty go through because they believed that negotiation and resolution was far preferable to conflict, litigation, and year after year of court battles, lawyers, uncertainty and economic chaos. That came from the business community.

I thought it was a very good hearing, but I have to say that I was also ashamed to be at that hearing. A bunch of people came in, apparently with their leader, Mr. Vander Zalm. He sat there very smugly with a grin on his face as his members hurled out obscenities and all kinds of insults. They were just a bunch of yahoos. Their sole agenda was to disrupt a democratic process and to create fear and uncertainty. Their agenda was the same as the Reform Party's agenda.

It is important for us to know exactly Mr. Vander Zalm's position. He is saying publicly that the treaty will perpetuate the old reservation system of isolated collectives and feudal overtones. Mr. Vander Zalm, like the B.C. Reform Party, like the federal Reform Party, is dead wrong. He knows that he is pedalling information that is a distortion of what is actually going on.

Even today in the Globe and Mail the chief negotiator for the federal government has made it clear that the Nisga'a final agreement brings to an end the application of the Indian Act to the Nisga'a and to their lands. The Nisga'a will own Nisga'a lands just as other Canadians hold title to their lands. Through the final agreement all the individual Nisga'a homeowners will receive private property rights to their residential lots. We can clearly see that Mr. Vander Zalm's assertion is dead wrong.

I also note that we heard from Reformers that they wanted a referendum. It is important to note that when B.C. as a province joined the Nisga'a treaty negotiations the government of the day agreed that the province would ratify the treaty in the legislature. There was never any mention of a referendum being raised.

By the way, who was the government in 1990? Surprise, surprise, It was Mr. Vander Zalm's government. It was the Social Credit government that agreed and set the ground rules for the treaty negotiation process.

We have heard that only through a referendum will there be consultation. It has become very clear that a referendum is being used as a smoke screen and a ploy to derail the treaty.

If we want to look at democratic process, if we want to look at consultation, we only have to see what happened in British Columbia and note that this legislation has had the longest debate of any legislation in the history of the province at 116 hours. There were 450 meetings with advisory groups and the public. There were 31 public hearings in 27 communities. There were 20,000 calls to a 1-800 information line and more than 250,000 visits to the provincial aboriginal affairs ministry website.

Anyone who has taken the time to objectively look at what this process has unfolded and to look at the information that has been provided to the public will be very clear that it has been transparent, democratic and open. There has been real debate on the issue.

Instead what we see today is a motion from the Reform Party that is simply frivolous. It is more than frivolous; it is destructive in its intention to sabotage what has been a very good model for a process for coming to a treaty. Not that this treaty will become the template for all other treaties, but the process of negotiation and resolution is something we should abide by.

I want to say to the Reform Party, shame on it for using the guise of a referendum to derail what has been a democratic process. Shame on it for saying that it stands up for equality, yet it is here today to deny the Nisga'a people their equality under the constitution. Shame on the Reform Party for distorting this treaty and for peddling all of its propaganda out to the communities so that people now are totally confused.

The truth must be told. It will be told. This treaty will be ratified.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. My apologies to the House for interrupting the question and comment period of the spokesperson for the New Democratic Party, but following discussions between the parties I believe if you were to ask, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That at the conclusion of the present debate on today's opposition motion, all questions necessary to dispose of this motion be deemed put, and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Tuesday, November 23, 1999, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Thibeault)

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?