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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

Human Resources DevelopmentStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, community dollars and staff resources in local employment centres are being shifted to higher populated areas as a result of the new funding formula adopted by HRDC. As a result, communities such as Antigonish and Guysborough in Nova Scotia will be negatively affected.

These new formulas will reduce funding to the very programs that assist individuals, youth, employers and communities in rural Canada. Rural residents will be left with no option but to use electronic communication to access services currently delivered at the local offices. This will result in further delays and complications. The loss of revenues will be felt very severely by the poorest of the poor. Mildly put, this is Robin Hood in reverse.

Clearly the government did not consider the ramifications of its decision and the negative impact it would have on hundreds of rural citizens struggling just to get by. Reallocating government services and resources from rural areas to more populated areas threatens the survival of many communities.

I ask the Liberal government to reconsider its position with regard to its restructuring plans. This is a huge concern to many rural citizens and ignoring the seriousness of this problem will prove that the government cares little and consults less.

Highway SafetyStatements By Members

November 22nd, 1999 / 2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, accident prevention and highway safety are of daily concern for all levels of government. Despite the efforts deployed by all governments, far too many people are still falling victim to traffic accidents.

There has, however, been some good news, such as that announced this past Friday by the Minister of Transport in conjunction with the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators concerning a decrease in road fatalities. They are at their lowest level in 43 years.

These results are encouraging, and Transport Canada will continue to work with the provinces in order to make Canada's roads the safest in the world. This is am ambitious objective, but it is attainable.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, judges gave conditional sentences—that is, no time in jail—for the following recent cases: sexual assault, assault, forcible confinement and threatening bodily harm net a one year conditional sentence.

A wife stabber received two years for attempted murder. The attack took place in a courtroom during divorce proceedings. The sentence shocked people at women's shelters.

A 24 year old was handed a 21 month conditional sentence for marijuana and cocaine trafficking. He lied at the trial and had three prior convictions.

A pedophile received six months.

A 51 year old farmer was convicted of three counts of sexual assault, two of sexual exploitation and one of sexual interference. The offences occurred over four years.

We have the Liberal government to thank for conditional sentencing and Liberal appointed judges for issuing the sentences. So much for justice.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Nisga'a agreement is an affront to the notion of equality. It inflicts race based discrimination on the Nisga'a. It excludes the Gitksan and Gitanyow bands and rejects their claims to the same resources.

The Nisga'a people have had an opportunity to vote on a deal which affects the entirety of British Columbia but all other aboriginals and non-aboriginals have not.

Why will the government not put the Nisga'a deal to a province-wide referendum in British Columbia?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we intend to put this deal to more than one vote in the House of Commons and the other place, a vote by elected representatives of the population of British Columbia and in fact all of Canada.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the government's idea of democratic government makes a mockery of the very concept.

It uses closure and time allocation to choke off debate in the House. It stacks committees and committee hearings. It disregards results of democratic elections like the Senate elections in Alberta. It denies free votes to its own members in the House and it denies votes to other Canadians through referendums like in the Nisga'a case. How can such a government possibly be pretending to exercise democratic leadership in government when it behaves in that way?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are the government because Canadians through our democratic process decided to elect more Liberal members than any other party.

Furthermore, the hon. member wants to do something essentially undemocratic. He wants to do something which he was not asked by Canadians to do, and that is to be the government.

At the same time we listened to the opposition. It wanted to have, as did Liberal members, hearings in British Columbia. It wanted to help choose the witnesses. We readily agreed to that.

We are having debates in the House. We will vote on the results of those debates, so we are democratic in spite of the efforts of the opposition.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, it is that kind of reasoning which led the people of British Columbia to reject the majority of Liberal candidates in the last federal election.

Section 3 of the federal Referendum Act allows for “any question relating to the Constitution of Canada” to be put to the people.

The Nisga'a agreement, particularly in part 2, refers repeatedly to the constitution of Canada, in particular constitution sections 25 and 35. The referendum law is on the books. This issue pertains to it. The mechanism is there. Why will the government not simply use that law?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is our position that this agreement does not change the constitution of Canada. Therefore the hon. member's efforts to say that the Referendum Act applies are simply mistaken, to put the best possible colour on the depth of his error.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Nisga'a treaty is not only dividing Canadians. It is dividing Liberals as well.

B.C. Liberal leaders are opposing this deal. Gordon Campbell called it “an unacceptable slight to all Canadians”, while his predecessor, Gordon Gibson, urged MPs to “say no to a separate government structure for Indians”.

The Liberal government here is determined to ram through the Nisga'a deal without letting British Columbians have their say. Why will not the Indian affairs minister just admit that he is afraid of holding a referendum?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to read a little referendum that just took place last week in the riding of the member for Skeena.

There was a race for mayor and, as I understand it, the mayor was very much in favour of the Nisga'a deal. There were 3,500 votes cast and Mr. Jack Talstra got 2,056 of them, and he is big supporter of the agreement.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, they had a referendum in Smithers too and it did not go exactly the way the minister would like.

When the Indian affairs minister introduced the Nisga'a treaty bill in the House he said that he would invoke closure if he just did not happen to like the way the debate was going. Now that is democracy in action. He also said that he would not use a referendum because it is just too complicated for the people of B.C.

Let me ask the minister what part of the bill is a little too complicated for the folks in B.C. to understand. What would that be?

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Kenora—Rainy River Ontario

Liberal

Bob Nault LiberalMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, let me make it very clear that the government's position is that we take our responsibility very seriously in the House. That is why we were elected, to make choices and decisions for Canadians. We will not take the easy way out by going to referendum every time we have to make a policy for the people of Canada.

Let me say something else to the hon. member. This particular party represents less than 9% of Canadians in the polling just done in the last few weeks. Why is it that we somehow have to accept what it would like Canadians to do and what it would like us to do when the other 91% of Canadians say the government's—

Aboriginal AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. leader of the Bloc Quebecois.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, in an interview last week, the Secretary of State for Science, Research and Development said that the government was getting ready to impose its own rules on Quebec in the event of a referendum. Persistent rumours to this effect are appearing in the newspapers.

Since this is my first opportunity to question the government about this, will the Deputy Prime Minister tell us whether the government intends to intervene and dictate the rules of the next referendum to Quebec?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously there is absolutely no question of the government doing any such thing.

On October 21, the Premier of Quebec said as follows “When the supreme court has ruled on a question of law, we have no choice but to follow”.

The supreme court has ruled that Quebecers have the right never to see their membership in Canada questioned, unless they clearly renounce it. The Government of Canada has always respected this right.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, by his answer, the minister is suggesting that he will intervene, while saying that he will not. He is suggesting that the National Assembly is not capable of enforcing the rules of democracy on its own.

Does he realize that, ultimately, what he wants to do is once again impose the will of nine provinces and the federal government on the National Assembly of Quebec?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, obviously the National Assembly has the right to put whatever question it wishes to Quebecers.

The House of Commons has the responsibility to determine under what clear circumstances it would take the very serious step of negotiating the end of its constitutional responsibilities toward a quarter of the Canadian population by allowing the break-up of Canada.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the federal government seems to want to set the rules of Quebec's referendum process and bases its claims on the requirements of the rules of democracy and on the need for a clear question.

What gives the minister the right to think that the federal government is more credible than Quebec when it comes to formulating a question? Is he basing it on the clarity of the question in the Charlottetown referendum?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the Charlottetown referendum question referred to a signed accord. The accord was complex, and this is one reason Canadians did not approve it—

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

—but it was a signed agreement.

The question in 1995 referred to an accord between Quebec and Canada that had not been signed. A single question contained two issues: one on independence and one on remarriage with Canada. That is not a clear question, in the opinion of the vast majority of Quebecers.

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, the vast majority of Quebecers are represented by three parties in the Quebec National Assembly.

Before he imposes a referendum question, is the minister aware that all the parties represented in the National Assembly oppose intervention by the federal government on this issue?

Intergovernmental AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion LiberalPresident of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, we are obviously not talking about imposing a question in a provincial referendum. The Government of Canada and the House of Commons cannot impose a question in a referendum held by a provincial government.

There are, however, two things. First, the 1995 question was a PQ one. The Liberal Party in the National Assembly did not approve it, and the leader at the time said that the question was misleading. Second, the Government of Canada will never be induced into negotiating the break-up of Canada, the end of Canada for Quebecers, with a misleading question.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the elimination of child poverty by the year 2000 was to be Canada's noble millennium project. Instead, the government opted for a grab bag of mini projects.

As a result, 1.4 million children are living in poverty today. Why did the government hijack Canada's millennium project?