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House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was trade.

Topics

TradeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to welcome the newest members of parliament and wish them well as they assume their solemn duties and responsibilities to make this parliament work better, to make Canada work better, to make democracy work better for all Canadians. That includes matters of trade. Trade is good.

As the WTO huddles in Seattle, a growing worldwide movement of citizens is calling for fundamental change in our approach to trade. They are calling for trade to be about improving the human condition and improving human lives. On Friday in Toronto the Chinese trade representative stated “This is the WTO. This is a trade agreement. It will have nothing to do with human rights”.

Does Canada stand with China, or does Canada stand with citizens who insist that trade agreements must be about human rights?

TradeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, they are very serious negotiations. All the countries of the world are there.

It is very important that we defend the interests of Canadian products and Canadian programs and make sure that there is more trade around the world. If there is more trade around the world, there is more wealth around the world which will help more people to have a decent way of living. It is the objective of the WTO to stop protectionism and make sure that the industrialized countries for example buy goods and services from the poorest countries of the world.

TradeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, we agree that trade agreements can be beneficial, but it depends on what we put in them. For example, on Friday Canada signed a new deal with China. It gives Canadian banks access to Chinese markets but it ignores child labour. The government had an opportunity to put a human face, a child's face on trade, but it chose not to.

Why will the government not stand up to those who would put profits ahead of the interests of people?

TradeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant Ontario

Liberal

Bob Speller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, our agenda for the world trade talks is to get access to those markets and at the same time to make sure that our social programs are protected.

At the same time, the hon. member knows there are other avenues in which Canada takes a leading role in making sure that human rights are protected. In fact, the Prime Minister, the Minister for International Trade, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs on many occasions have stood up internationally to make sure that child labour and human rights issues are at the forefront of the agenda.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Jean Dubé Progressive Conservative Madawaska—Restigouche, NB

Mr. Speaker, Saturday night at midnight, InterCanadian, the only carrier servicing Charlo, New Brunswick and a number of other Canadian airports, shut down its operations with neither notice or explanation.

Can the Minister of Transport tell us whether he was aware of this situation and if he has any immediate plans for restoring air service to Charlo and other affected Canadian airports?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that InterCanadian shut down its operations Saturday night without notifying the Canadian government or other airlines, or its passengers.

I am told that InterCanadian will be releasing a statement at 5 p.m. today to explain the situation. In the meantime, Air Canada, Canadian Airlines International, Air Nova, Air Alliance and even VIA Rail will honour the tickets of InterCanadian passengers.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, contrary to the minister's answer, the president of InterCanadien Airlines wrote the minister two days ago and said, “This is to inform you that InterCanadien has now reached the final desperate condition that we have been openly warning you about for many months”. He went on to say “InterCanadien considers that its current condition and its anticipated closure are direct and predicted consequences of the actions and omissions of the federal government ministry's agency”.

It is very clear that the government's lack of policy and direction is part of the problem. Will the minister take responsibility, act as a facilitator, bring all the parties together and get InterCanadian flying again?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, to blame this unfortunate incident on the government's restructuring process using section 47 is like blaming the doctor for the illness.

We have never contested that there is a serious problem with the airline industry in Canada. That is why we took the actions we did. These matters are under discussion. There are talks between parties. Air Canada is involved with Canadian Airlines. American Airlines is involved in discussions.

We hope that in the next few weeks there will be a resolution of this issue. In the meantime, ticket holders on InterCanadien are being respected by the other carriers and that will minimize any disruption. In the meantime, all efforts are being made to bring air services back to normal.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

November 29th, 1999 / 2:40 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, court documents show that in the last election the Minister for International Trade received a donation of $10,000 in cash plus other services that he failed to claim as required under the Canada Elections Act. In return, the donor's wife received an appointment to the National Parole Board worth $90,000 a year.

Will the government immediately launch an investigation into these very serious matters?

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is an officer of the House. He knows as well as I do that if there is an accusation that he or anyone else is making regarding electoral contributions, the proper way to make it is through the commissioner of elections. The commissioner is then free to investigate it as he so wishes. He is an independent officer and is free to refer it to the police if he deems that to be appropriate.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the court document I am referring to is an affidavit that was placed before the court detailing the $10,000 donation and the other donations that were not claimed in the elections act. Surely that is enough evidence for the minister to at least start an investigation. The RCMP have tapes that apparently detail the conversations between this parole board appointee and the government minister.

I think the minister should immediately launch an investigation to clear this cloud that now hangs over the head of the Minister for International Trade.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, to repeat what I said previously—and the hon. member across knows better—these investigations are not launched by the government, nor are they not launched by the leader of the government responsible for the elections act. They are launched by the commissioner of Elections Canada.

If he feels he has a legitimate complaint, and obviously he must since he has now asked two questions about it, let him report it to the commissioner and the commissioner will do his investigation as he does in a normal course under the law passed by this parliament.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, close to one thousand people have lost their jobs or are on the verge of losing their jobs.

Thousands are stranded in airports. Some regions of Quebec find themselves isolated. These are the immediate consequences of the situation in which InterCanadian airlines finds itself.

Since this situation is the outcome of the Minister of Transport's inability to come up with a true airline policy for Canada, what does he intend to do now, in light of the urgency of this situation? We do not want platitudes, but concrete action.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the hon. member has been since August 13. The reason we introduced section 47 was because we realized there was a very serious problem. On August 13 we laid out a plan of action that we have followed throughout this fall.

Admittedly, this has caused some consternation to many. However, as I said earlier, this matter is being dealt with by the air carriers. It was very unfortunate what happened to Inter-Canadien's passengers but we have insisted that their tickets be honoured. We look forward to getting further details this afternoon so we can clarify the situation.

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the minister make a commitment not to issue any new licences to regional carriers, such as the new one Air Canada wants to set up in Hamilton, before the unfortunate situation with InterCanadian is settled?

Air TransportationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Don Valley East Ontario

Liberal

David Collenette LiberalMinister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, since he is a member of the transport committee, the entire matter of transportation policy and air policy is being worked on by the committee and by the government. Discussions are going on between the airlines to resolve the situation.

In the meantime, there is a particular problem involving Inter-Canadien. It is a serious problem and hopefully in the next few days there will be a resolution to that issue.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister for International Trade denies having received an unreported $10,000 in cash along with transportation services for his election campaign in return for appointing a supporter to the parole board. However, his official agent has already admitted that transportation services were received from a company in Montreal and not reported.

The House leader for the government knows that a complaint cannot be launched with the commissioner 18 months after the election. So who is going to take the fall for contravening the elections act, the minister or his official agent?

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, there is no question of taking a fall or any such nonsense. This is far more serious than to say something like that, and the hon. member knows it. The information given to me as late as an hour ago is that the official agent had no such information as the hon. member across alleges.

In any case, as I said previously, if the hon. member feels that he has a legitimate complaint, and he probably feels that he does because this is the third question that has been asked—and if the hon. member from Edmonton would listen, perhaps she too would want to inform herself—they should inform the commissioner of elections if they feel they have a complaint.

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Ted White Reform North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, any minister found guilty of improperly reporting campaign expenses automatically loses his seat in the House and cannot accept any patronage appointment from the Prime Minister for seven years. That is a tough situation for a Liberal.

Will the government do the right thing and arrange for the release of the taped telephone conversations between the minister and his Parole Board appointee so that the air can be cleared and we can find out the minister's involvement in this case?

Canada Elections ActOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, no person is appointed to the Parole Board unless they are qualified, have related experience and go through a screening process. That is exactly what took place.

Minister For International TradeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is alleged that, during the 1997 election campaign, the Minister for International Trade, through his chief organizer, Jacques Lamoureux, accepted $10,000 in cash and the use of a chauffeur driven car, which do not appear on his election report, as prescribed by the Canada Elections Act.

Members may remember that Marcel Masse had to leave cabinet in 1985 under similar circumstances.

Does the Prime Minister not consider that the Minister for International Trade is now finding himself in a similar situation and should therefore resign?

Minister For International TradeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is referring to an allegation made elsewhere. He knows the context in which it was made.

If the hon. member feels that the allegation is founded, I would urge him to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who will take whatever measures are required. This includes, of course, if he deems it appropriate, calling on the police.

Minister For International TradeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, we should be concerned that the government does not seem to think that these are serious allegations.

Under the circumstances, would it not be proper for the minister to temporarily leave cabinet, while an investigation is conducted into this matter?

Minister For International TradeOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria LiberalLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first, no investigation has been initiated. Second, the allegation may not be founded.

The hon. member, who is a practising lawyer, is well aware that, when an allegation is made, it definitely does not mean that the person is guilty.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the government has stated that reductions in agriculture subsidies will be a priority in the WTO millennium round of trade negotiations. However, these talks will take up to five years to complete. Farmers cannot wait for five years for these talks to be successful. Foreign subsidies are driving them into bankruptcy today.

Why is the Prime Minister refusing to launch a team Canada mission to Europe and Washington aimed at reducing agriculture subsidies immediately?