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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreed.

Topics

ReferendumsOral 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 very comfortable with the vast majority of Quebecers who believe it would be better not to have a referendum. But if there is to be a referendum, then it should be on separation, not on a confusing question, and that it would be totally irresponsible to try to achieve separation with 50% plus one.

This is the view shared by the vast majority of Quebecers and, again, it is consistent with the supreme court opinion.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, one consensus is emerging in Quebec against the government bill, while another is emerging in the rest of Canada in favour of it, just like in 1982 with respect to patriation of the Constitution and in 1999 with respect to adoption of the social union framework, which saw Quebec and the rest of Canada go their separate ways.

Does the Prime Minister realize that, whenever Quebec and Canada differ on an important issue, he sides with the rest of Canada against Quebec?

ReferendumsOral 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, this bill is pro-Quebec. This bill is pro-democracy. This bill guarantees us Quebecers that we will never lose Canada through trickery, that we will be able to remain part of Canada for as long as we wish, because we built this country. It is ours and we will not give it up.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Turp Bloc Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, by going ahead with this bill, as he means to do, is the Prime Minister admitting that what he is trying to do is give the House of Commons an actual veto over decisions made by the people of Quebec and over the authority of the National Assembly, a veto over Quebec's democracy?

ReferendumsOral 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, Quebecers are fortunate to have two governments with constitutional powers, two parliaments with constitutional powers, and Quebec's democracy finds expression here as well. Each member of the House has the constitutional and moral responsibility to look out for the interests of all Canadians, including Quebecers.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

December 13th, 1999 / 2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, today the National Council of Welfare and UNICEF slammed our Prime Minister for ignoring poor children.

In Canada today 60% of young families are poor; 1.4 million children are living in poverty. That is the legacy of the government. That is the legacy of the Prime Minister, turning his back on poor children.

Is that how the Prime Minister wants to be remembered?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, historically there is an unwarranted and faulty premise in the hon. member's questions. We have worked actively for poor children. A major example is the national child benefit. We put billions of dollars into it. We will do more. We will continue working for poor children and we will build on the good record we have already achieved.

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, the government's record is 1.4 million children living in poverty. The government is in denial. The Prime Minister is in denial. He does not believe that child poverty is real. I wish the Prime Minister were half as obsessed with child poverty as he is with his poor performance in the 1995 referendum.

Children are a nation's future. A child growing up in poverty will never have an equal opportunity in life. I implore the government to make the elimination of child poverty its first priority.

What will it take to get the government to do that?

Child PovertyOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as was stated clearly in the throne speech, our priority is the elimination of child poverty and the improvement of conditions for all Canadians.

To show how out of touch the hon. member is, instead of standing up and supporting our position on clarity and keeping Canada together, she makes an unwarranted and inaccurate slur on the fine work of the Prime Minister in making sure that the referendum was won by people who want to keep Canada together. Where is she when she has to stand up for Canada in the House? Nowhere.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

Will he advise the House whether, prior to Friday's release of the so-called clarity bill, he not only consulted with but sought the opinion of all provincial premiers on the bill and if he has not, will he be convening a first ministers conference prior to putting this matter to a vote in the House?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:25 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 speaking with the provincial premiers and governments about every file, including unity issues.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, this country was built upon common interests by and for the people here.

We cannot allow the House of Commons to introduce a bill which, in reality, provides a recipe for destroying this country.

Does the government realize that this draft bill is an avowal of failure by this government as far as the future of the federation is concerned?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

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

No, Mr. Speaker. This bill is a follow-up to the supreme court judgment referring back to the political stakeholders the responsibility to establish the conditions of clarity under which they would agree to negotiate the secession of a province from Canada, and it seems to me that one of those stakeholders is the Canadian House of Commons.

Transitional Jobs FundOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, even after the Prime Minister found nearly $1 million in federal grants and loans for the Grand-Mère Inn in his riding, it is out of money again. There are lawsuits over unpaid debts, and now it is even up for sale.

Fortunately for the Prime Minister, Mr. Duhaime was taking the Prime Minister's money losing hotel off his hands at that time, but unfortunately for the taxpayers, it looks like their so-called investment is about to go down a black hole or into cyberspace, depending on what we like to call it.

Why did the Prime Minister give Mr. Duhaime $1 million in the first place? How much money will taxpayers lose over this latest fiasco?

Transitional Jobs FundOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, while the majority of Canadians are celebrating the lowest unemployment levels that we have had in almost a decade, 6.9%, there are areas in the country that are not benefiting from this.

The opposition would have those regions suffer due to a lack of employment opportunities. That is not our approach. We have supported the transitional jobs fund and the Canada jobs fund.

Transitional Jobs FundOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the words of Yogi Berra, it is déjà vu all over again.

This time Mr. Duhaime owes the federal government $66,000 in back taxes; Revenue Quebec, $61,000; the town of Grand-Mère, $46,000; the city of Shawinigan, $15,000; and a local contractor, $80,000.

The last time Mr. Duhaime was in this much trouble his first hotel burned to the ground and the Prime Minister came up with $1 million to get him back in business. Will the Prime Minister assure us that the fire trucks are standing by, that there are no more grants for Mr. Duhaime, and will he tell us how much money this will cost the taxpayers?

Transitional Jobs FundOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that the unemployment levels in that area are very high. I also would remind the House that this project was contracted in good faith based on a business plan and on the advice and support of the whole community. In support of this project, we were with the provincial government, Caisse Populaire Le Rocher, the Fédération des Travailleurs du Quebec's solidarity fund, the Groupe Forces, a private sector investor and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, clause 2(2) of the draft bill by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs on the Quebec referendum calls for determination of the majority to be based on the size of the majority, not specified, the percentage of participation, again not specified, and “any other matters or circumstances it considers to be relevant”.

Can the minister, that friend of Galganov and Guy Bertrand, tell us what the matters and circumstances relevant to the evaluation of the majority might be? What is this saying between the lines?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville Québec

Liberal

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

It is very difficult, Mr. Speaker, in the calm of a united country, in the situation we find ourselves today, to predict all of the circumstances, probably difficult and troubled ones, that would occur after a referendum that led to a yes vote, which the government of the province would have deemed a sufficiently clear majority to call for negotiations on secession.

The first ones to make that assessment would be the government of the province. One might think, for instance, that government might be sufficiently forward looking not to want to proceed if the figures were within the zone for a recount; that is one example.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Bloc Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government will decide if the majority is sufficient and if the question is clear enough, taking into consideration the opinions of the political parties in the National Assembly, the governments of the provinces, the governments of the territories, and the Senate, as well as any other opinion it might deem relevant.

Has the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs not made sufficient provision for different opinions in order to be absolutely certain that one of them at least would back him up in not following through on the referendum?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:30 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, for secession to be achieved, a great deal of calm and a great deal of reasonable action will be necessary. Most of all, motives must not be judged; faith must be placed in the intentions of others, and they must be worked with.

If an aggressive approach is taken, calling names and insulting others, then of course secession may go off very badly.

I would invite the leader of the Bloc Quebecois and his team to give Quebecers proof that they have sufficient statesmanship to carry out secession properly, because that is not the case at this time.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, the farm income crisis rages on while the government looks for bureaucratic ways to fiddle with its wounded AIDA program.

Let me read some quotes from the Liberal chairman of the agriculture committee: “AIDA has been an absolute failure” and “we have got to find a way of fixing it or at least coming up with a sequel that will do a better job”.

Since he will not listen to farmers, why will the Prime Minister not listen to his own caucus members and help farmers now?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows that I was meeting with the ministers of agriculture from across the country last week. I wish we could have reached consensus at that point. We still have more work to do. I am working with the safety nets advisory committee to improve the situation, to find other ways, new ways and better ways to assist Canadian farmers. We know they need the help. We know the importance of the industry and we will do all we can.

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Howard Hilstrom Reform Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, listen to this quote: “AIDA has been a disaster all on its own. It still has over $1 billion in the pot, yet only $500 million has been distributed so far”. Those are not my words. Those are the words of the agriculture committee chairman in a statement made last week. Even the member for Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington said that he was ashamed of AIDA.

Does the Prime Minister agree with his caucus colleagues that he has failed farmers, or is this just another example of the Liberals saying one thing out west and doing a different thing here in Ottawa?

AgricultureOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief LiberalMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I remind the House, farmers, and all Canadians of the opposition party's election promise that it would take some $600 million out of support to agriculture. In the last 12 months we have added $1.1 billion.