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House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was heritage.

Topics

2 p.m.

The Speaker

As is our practice on Wednesday we will now sing O Canada, and we will be led by the hon. member for Laval West.

DiabetesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, November is diabetes month in Canada and last Thursday was diabetes day on Parliament Hill. On this day representatives of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation met with members of parliament to inform them of the facts surrounding diabetes.

It was alarming to learn of the seriousness of the disease and I feel it is imperative that we educate ourselves and the public on the impact this debilitating disease has on our society.

Diabetes is a chronic, genetically determined disease that affects every organ system in the body. The disease affects over two million Canadians. It is diagnosed in an estimated 60,000 Canadians every year and it is the fastest growing preventable disease in Canada.

Recognizing the critical impact of diabetes the government recently announced a five year $115 million Canadian diabetes strategy to help prevent and control the disease.

Representatives of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation have asked that members of parliament join them in support of finding a cure by committing to stay informed and informing others of the devastating health, social and economic impacts of diabetes.

I pledge my support to help in this major public health issue and encourage others to do the same.

TobaccoStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Reform Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, half of the respondents to my Surrey Central survey said they were not satisfied with the federal government's efforts to prevent Canadian children and youth from smoking.

While speaking to many students at schools I have seen 12 and 13 year olds smoking.

Our youth have been targeted by tobacco companies and still this government is not doing enough to prevent smoking.

Canadians do not trust the Liberal government to deal with previously secret information from tobacco companies about efforts to sell tobacco and get Canadians hooked. The health minister is using smoke and mirrors by hiring the tobacco insider. Canadians are not fooled for a minute.

Canadian tobacco prices are below those of the United States and that causes cigarette smuggling. But Canadians know that this government refuses to combat cigarette smuggling.

The Liberals are not serious about preventing 45,000 deaths a year caused by smoking.

The Liberals talk the talk, but they do not walk the walk.

Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics TeamStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, imagine five young athletes spending many hours in training sessions and competitions, working to represent our country at the Olympics, only to have their dreams dashed by what one commentator described as dirty politics.

I am referring to the five young women from the Winnipeg based Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Team.

The team was recently denied a well earned Olympic berth by the International Gymnastics Federation. The position was awarded to Brazil, despite the fact that the Canadian team finished fourth at the Four Continents Competition in June. Brazil finished sixth. Canada won the bronze at this summer's Pan Am Games in Winnipeg and placed 13th at last month's World Championships, while Brazil finished a distant 20th.

The Canadian Rhythmic Gymnastics Association has launched an appeal of this unfair decision. I urge the federal government to throw its full weight behind that appeal.

Aids AwarenessStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, the week of November 22 to 29 is National AIDS Awareness Week in Canada. By the end of 1997 Health Canada had reported a total of 15,528 AIDS cases since the beginning of the epidemic. Approximately 70% of those cases have ended in death. Whether by direct or indirect contact, many Canadians have either been affected by the disease or are close to someone who has. It is a reality that far too many people have to deal with.

I think it is important, especially during this week, to emphasize the risks and dangers of this horrible disease. Only through public education and awareness can we even attempt to solve this problem.

In recent years the level of reported cases has dropped, but there is still much work to do and ground to cover.

Research is being done to find a cure and better preventive measures, but it continues to be a deadly disease. We must and we will defeat this terrible disease.

Millennium ScholarshipsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Raymonde Folco Liberal Laval West, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Minister of Education made a priceless comment yesterday: that the millennium scholarship system was a two-tier system. Really now. The students themselves are criticizing the Government of Quebec for the way it has been handling this matter in recent months. They are demanding a solution that will be in their best interest.

The PQ government, finding itself backed into a corner, is trying to pass the buck back to the Canadian government, but the students' response is to tell it to stop digging in its heels needlessly. The Quebec Minister of Education must take this matter seriously, and quit trying to score political points at the expense of the students of Quebec.

As well, the Government of Quebec must make its true intentions clear on the use to which it will be putting the money we will be paying to Quebecers in the years to come.

Mississauga CentreStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, what a difference a few years and a promotion make. Not too long ago the hon. member for Mississauga Centre was portraying herself as a great defender of free speech. No one in this place was about to muzzle her. No, siree, Bob.

Now she aims her broadsides at her own colleagues, members of the so-called Italian caucus, MPs she believes are guilty of treason against the government for daring to do their job, Liberal backbenchers who from time to time slip into committees actually intent on asking ministers a tough question.

Shame on the hon. member for Mississauga Centre for denigrating fellow MPs by attacking those who speak for their constituents and shame on this government for once again making it clear that loyalty to cabinet ministers is far more important than MPs accurately representing their own constituents.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Liberal Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today we recognize the 10th anniversary of the all-party resolution to work toward the elimination of child poverty by the year 2000. Today is no day for celebration.

As Campaign 2000 noted in a report made public today—and I recognize the presence of some of the members of Campaign 2000 in the gallery this afternoon—as a country we have collectively failed to reduce child poverty rates over the last decade. Indeed the number of poor children in Canada has increased.

But nor should today be a day of mourning or condemnation. As the recent Speech from the Throne indicated, children have become the top priority of this government. Let today rather be a day of reflection and rededication; reflection on our failure certainly, but also a recommitment to our national mission of improving the lives of all of our children.

Accueil Bonneau ChoirStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this tenth anniversary of the motion voted on in this House concerning the elimination of poverty among the children of Quebec and of Canada, we thank the Accueil Bonneau choir for speaking, or rather singing, on behalf of all children who have been hurt by poverty.

The Accueil Bonneau choir is the vibrant expression of twenty or so people who have known hunger and marginality and have regained their dignity and self-respect.

Since its modest beginnings in 1996, singing in the Montreal metro, the choir has given more than 750 concerts. It have just released their fourth record, has helped set up five choirs of homeless persons, and has been invited to sing for the United Nations.

Thank you, Pierre, Nicolas, Carlos, Ben, Jean-Louis, Claude, Michel, Rénald, Enrico, André, Jocelyn, Léo, André, Alberto, Léon, Roby, Michel and Pierre, on behalf of the children of Quebec and of Canada.

Tvontario's French Language NetworkStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, on November 19, Impératif français gave its conditional support for the arrival in Quebec of TVOntario's French language network, TFO, so long as Quebec subscribers did not have to pay extra.

A fine mess in order to actually say no to the arrival of TFO in Quebec. I would have preferred to see more courage and determination by Impératif français. It is committing the same mistake as the Bloc Quebecois and treating francophones outside Quebec with total disdain.

Once again, Impératif français has fallen into the trap of declining the invitation to stand up and defend the cause of francophones in Canada. It prefers to erect a barrier between francophones.

I would like to reassure francophones outside Quebec of the solid support of the Liberal Government of Canada for their cause.

Nisga'A AgreementStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Reform Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, the province-wide referendum in British Columbia on the Nisga'a agreement should have been supported by all opposition members in parliament. It was the federal Progressive Conservative government which brought in the federal Referendum Act, 1992 and sought the views of Canadians on the precedent setting Charlottetown accord. For its part, the New Democratic Party professes to have a special commitment to democracy since it was its predecessor, the CCF, that supported such measures as referenda, citizens' initiatives and recall. And of course the Bloc Quebecois is constantly lecturing the House about the democratic rights of the people of Quebec to decide their own future on constitutional issues.

Yet yesterday when the Reform Party presented a motion to hold a referendum in British Columbia on the precedent setting Nisga'a treaty, where were the opposition parties? Make no mistake, their hypocrisy will not be forgotten. Shame on them all.

The Late Jeannine SéguinStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with a heavy heart that I rise today to pay tribute to a grande dame of the francophone community in Canada.

Jeannine Séguin died yesterday in Cornwall at the age of 71. Francophone Ontario and the entire francophone community in Canada have lost one of their leading lights.

Vigorously and devotedly, Jeannine Séguin defended the rights of francophones and promoted the French language.

During her stint at the head of the École secondaire Saint-Laurent in Cornwall, not only did the school change its name to La Citadelle, but, in 1973, it became exclusively French.

Jeannine headed a number of organizations, such as the Association des enseignants franco-ontariens, the ACFO and the Fédération des francophones hors Québec.

In the Cornwall area, she was one of the founders of Pro-Action, which meets the basic needs of the francophone community by providing a link between it and government.

In 1962, she was awarded the papal medal Bene Merenti and, in 1985, she received the Order of Canada.

On behalf of my colleagues and all French Canadians, I offer my deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago today I stood in the House to support Ed Broadbent's motion to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Today we stand not in celebration, but in mourning that one in five children lives in poverty. That is more than in 1989.

New Democrats challenge the policies that have led us to this shameful situation: the policy of free trade, which has led to lower wages and more working poor; the policy of getting out of social housing and creating a housing crisis for the poor; the betrayal of promises for a national child care program; the cutbacks in unemployment benefits and the pushing of families on to welfare. All of these and more were deliberate policies that could have been decided otherwise. Shame on the Liberals. They have made stepping on the necks of the poor the cornerstone of their political legacy.

Like the unbridgeable chasm between Lazarus and the rich man in the Biblical story, there is an unbridgeable gap between the Liberals and the poor that no amount of tinkering with the child benefit will make up.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I remind the Prime Minister that the surpluses which are making him so happy were generated by plunging tens of thousands of families into poverty.

The 1.4 million Canadian children living in poverty want the Prime Minister to know that a poor child is a child who does not have equal opportunity, because he does not have the necessary resources to fulfil his potential.

A poor child is a child who lives in a family where his health or his parents' health is deficient because of a lack of financial, physical and psychological resources.

A poor child is a child who lives in a family that must spend a large part of its meagre income on rent.

A poor child is a child who lives in a family where unemployment is the norm, for lack of stable jobs.

Mister Prime Minister, when you drive parents to poverty, when you drive the provinces that must meet their needs to poverty, it is the children you are targeting, and that is a shame.

Child PovertyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Diane St-Jacques Progressive Conservative Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to remind the government about some disturbing figures.

Close to one and a half million children are living in poverty. Child poverty now stands at close to 20%. This means that one child in five is living in difficult conditions in Canada, and the situation is getting worse.

There is also an increasing number of young people living on the streets, without a home, without a family and without money. A new generation of homeless people is now taking root on our sidewalks.

The parliamentary resolution passed 10 years ago is not going to be respected. Thus, our government will have failed and will have shown a blatant lack of leadership in this worsening crisis.

Yesterday evening, a number of Canadians gathered around parliament's centennial flame and held a silent vigil to protest against the shameful situation of child poverty. This protest is a reminder to us all that we must work harder to ensure that each child and each young person is entitled to a bright future.

HockeyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, not since the Canada-Russia hockey series in 1972 has there been so much excitement and anticipation surrounding a single hockey game. The match-up I am referring to pits the government benches against the opposition to establish the bragging rights to parliamentary hockey supremacy in Canada once and for all.

This hockey battle of the century gets under way tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. at the Corel Centre in Kanata. Believe it or not, admission is free and parking is free.

Regardless of the score, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario will be the big winner of the evening. We will be passing around the hat to raise funds for this important community facility.

It is bad hockey for a good cause, so let us score a hat trick for the children's hospital.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, when support for sovereignty in Quebec was strong before the last referendum, the Prime Minister grovelled before Quebecers promising distinct society and anything else that would change their minds.

Now that Quebecers show signs of weariness with constitutional matters, with referendums on sovereignty, the Prime Minister restimulates interest in this issue with his own referendum proposal. His potential allies in Quebec say that this approach is completely misguided. Why can the Prime Minister not see that?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister heard that two weeks ago the minister of intergovernmental affairs, Mr. Joseph Facal, said they will not respect the judgment of the supreme court. The Prime Minister of Canada heard last week that the premier of Quebec said that there will be a referendum during this mandate.

The Prime Minister of Canada has the responsibility and, I hope, all members of the House also, to make sure that there will be a clear question and a clear majority when there will be a referendum, as it was stated by the Supreme Court of Canada.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has never got it right on the proper mix between plan A and plan B on this issue.

Reform has advocated being tough and presenting plan B when the sovereignists were growing in strength. But Reform has also always advocated presenting a third way, one that would be particularly attractive to Quebecers when they became weary with sovereignty and the referendum.

The Prime Minister should be offering reform of the federation, not tinkering with referendum rules.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we had a proposition in the House of Commons that met a very longstanding request by Quebec and other provinces. We legislated a veto right for the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and B.C. That was very important and the Reform Party voted against that at that moment.

Right after the referendum, we had a resolution in the House recognizing Quebec as a distinct society and the Reform Party voted against that.

Another thing we said was that we would transfer manpower training and we have done that.

We have done our piece of work, but the premier wants—

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Leader of the Opposition.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Reform

Preston Manning ReformLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the House why the Prime Minister is on this misguided course. It is because he is being driven on this issue by his ego, not by the interests of Canadians.

The Prime Minister's personal reputation has always been lowest in the province that knows him best, in Quebec. He has been dismissed by the sovereignists as Trudeau's lackey; and he has been dismissed by the federalists as the guy that almost lost the referendum in 1995. Now the Prime Minister is trying to salvage that reputation by this misguided initiative.

Is not the real problem here that the Prime Minister is putting his own legacy ahead of the national unity issue?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, yes, I want this party to be recognized as the one which is not afraid to make sure that there will be a clear question and a clear result and that Canada will stay together.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this government is offering Quebecers nothing but the status quo or separation.

Instead of provoking a sovereignist debate, this government should offer Quebecers a third approach: renewal of the Canadian federation.

Does the Prime Minister not see that he is becoming one of Quebec's winning conditions?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister is Canada's winning condition. That is what counts.

We are not refusing to look things squarely in the face when we ask the separatist government of Quebec to comply with the supreme court decision. I believe the Prime Minister of Canada is only doing his duty.