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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

LoggingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laval East

Minister Of Intergovernmental AffairsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Maud Debien Bloc Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, in September of 1994, a certain political science professor stated, with regard to the referendum process in Quebec, that the referendum question was sufficiently clear. First about-face: today this professor, who is now the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, is proclaiming the opposite, loud and clear.

He also said that Ottawa's insistence on the use of the term separation in the question had no legal basis. For this person, who is now threatening Quebec with an anti-democratic bill, this is the second about-face.

Finally, he stated that the terms “sovereignty”, “independence”, “separation” and “secession” were all synonymous. In his third about-face, this person who has since become a minister is now claiming the contrary.

Who is right, the minister or the professor? There is a lack of clarity here, as is obvious in the bill requiring clarity tabled by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the confusion and obscurity of which are striking.

Club ItaliaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Pillitteri Liberal Niagara Falls, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, December 8, while the Reformers were filibustering in the House of Commons, a group of constituent members of the choir of Club Italia performed in the rotunda of Parliament Hill and delighted us with their talent.

The choir is well known in the Niagara area as it often performs in senior citizen homes and hospitals. It is a must in our riding's Canada Day celebrations.

The members of the choir worked hard on their own time holding a series of events to raise the funds necessary to travel to Ottawa. They were proud and thankful of having the privilege of performing on Parliament Hill in the very heart of the nation.

The Club Italia choir embodies what is so great about our country. By keeping their traditions alive, fostering our present culture and wrapping it altogether in an attractive package, the members of the Club Italia choir showed us that diversity is the stuff that unites us and makes Canada strong.

Thérèse PerrierStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Thérèse Perrier, a resident of Masson-Angers in my riding of Gatineau, for her volunteer work in a medical school located in Ishevsk, Russia.

As a professor of health sciences, Mrs. Perrier helped train the staff in administrative and organizational methods. She visited medical schools and hospitals to show how similar methods work in Canada.

Mrs. Perrier made presentations to medical school students on nursing techniques relating to pediatrics and gynecology. She also made recommendations to improve the health care system.

Congratulations to you, Mrs. Perrier, for your dedication, and good luck in your future endeavours.

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the men and women of our armed forces who are returning from a six month NATO deployment in Kosovo. They are to be further congratulated given the fact that our military members are often deployed with inadequate clothing and equipment.

While the much lauded clothe the soldier program is overdue and overbudget, military personnel are still being sent to combat zones without proper clothing. The Coyote, the light armoured vehicle, remains a liability if faced with heavy enemy fire. Twelve of these vehicles broke down with steering problems last summer.

These chronic problems are well known to rank and file members of our Canadian forces who just get on with the job. They should be as well known to this indifferent government that denies any responsibility for this crisis.

During this Christmas season it is time to pay tribute to our soldiers, sailors and airmen who are regularly sent overseas to enforce Canadian military commitments. They often return home with the barest of public recognition, appreciated only by their families and friends.

Let it be otherwise—

Canadian ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

ChildrenStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, UNICEF released a report on progress made over the past century in improving the plight of children. This progress is very real but, unfortunately, it is jeopardized by scourges such as AIDS and military conflicts.

The report calls on governments around the world, and on our collective and individual conscience, to find concrete solutions to the problems experienced by children all over the world.

Canada is making great efforts to alleviate human suffering. For example, our country is taking part in several military missions to maintain peace in various parts of the world. We also contributes to economic and social development projects in poor countries.

A tremendous amount of work remains to be done to reduce human suffering. However, we can be proud of the leadership role played by our government in improving the quality of life of children around the world.

BilingualismStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the Harris government's decision to ignore advisor Glen Shortliffe's recommendation that Ottawa become a bilingual city, and now its intention to appeal the Montfort ruling, are insults to the Francophonie of Canada and Ontario.

As the nation's capital, Ottawa must reflect the bilingual nature of our country. As well, francophones and anglophones living in our capital must have access to services in their mother tongue.

Since this shocking announcement, we have had a motion from the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages calling for bilingual status for Ottawa. But the Prime Minister prefers to wait until he has a chance to speak to Mr. Harris.

Our Prime Minister must show leadership and intervene immediately with Premier Harris in order to defend the bilingual nature of Ottawa.

There is nothing tricky about it: Canada's national capital must be bilingual.

President Of The Treasury BoardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we read in the weekend newspapers that the President of the Treasury Board said she was delighted with her government's bill to fetter the Government of Quebec.

But, on November 27, 1991, the President of the Treasury Board, then a member of Quebec's National Assembly, voted in favour of a motion that the National Assembly call on the federal government to respect the process set in motion by Bill 150 and reaffirm the right of Quebecers to take responsibility for their own destiny and determine their own political and constitutional status.

Such an about-face should not surprise us. In 1995, as the minister responsible for the UNITY operation, she spent the $4.8 million her government gave Option Canada, in contravention of Quebec's referendum legislation.

Clearly, when it came to choosing between the Canadian limousine and the rights of Quebec, the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie went for the limousine.

Economic Development Of MontrealStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak today of an excellent initiative taken by our government to develop Montreal's international vocation.

On December 6, the member for Outremont and Secretary of State responsible for Canada Economic Development announced that our government was contributing $24 million to ensure the development of the international quarter of Montreal, a strategic growing point for the orientation Montreal has set for itself.

This $60 million plus short-term project will generate more than $1 billion in property investment in the long term.

Through the project, Montreal will develop into a world-wide pole of attraction for international organizations.

It represents a clear commitment by our government to the future of Greater Montreal. I am sure that the economic benefits will spread as far as Brome—Missisquoi and throughout Quebec.

AgricultureStatements By Members

December 13th, 1999 / 2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to report back to the House on last week's informative committee hearings in western Canada on the farm income crisis. The hearings were very revealing, to say the least.

In a committee meeting in Dauphin, Manitoba, we heard one of the witnesses comment on the Reform Party. The farmer stated that the Reform Party had very clearly stated that it was opposed to subsidies, did not think government should be supporting agriculture out of taxpayer dollars, and was not speaking on their behalf.

Not only was the Reform Party not speaking on their behalf but its chief agriculture critic did not show up for any of the meetings. What was even more revealing were comments made by Liberal members of the committee. Perhaps they should have checked with the minister before speaking.

The Liberal committee chairman stated “AIDA has been an absolute failure and we have got to get out of the ad hoc programs”. The Liberal rural caucus chair also went on to say “I am ashamed”. I too am ashamed and I hope that the government will now place agriculture in a much higher priority on the national agenda.

Big BenStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Ian Murray Liberal Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to pay tribute today to Big Ben, Canada's most famous show jumping horse that died on Saturday at Millar Brooke Farm at the age of 23.

Big Ben, ridden by Ian Millar of Perth, won two World Cup titles, two Pan-American Games gold medals and appeared in three Olympic Games. He was one of only two animals, Northern Dancer being the other, to be inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. Big Ben retired from competition in 1994 following a national farewell tour.

Canadian interest in show jumping was greatly enhanced through Big Ben's international appearances, and the pride inspired by his spirited competition will long be remembered.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we support the bill to clarify referendum rules. There are ways to improve that bill. There should be a clear question in the bill.

Why does the Liberal government not lay out one clear question as a suggestion for a province that might want to secede?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we appreciate the support of the Reform Party for our measure. I would suggest that the hon. member wait for the debate to begin on the bill. There will be an opportunity to consider the point of view of the hon. member.

Basically our approach is that this should be something taken through a decision by the House of Commons after due consultation. I hope that on reflection the hon. member will continue to support that position.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, we support the bill to clarify the referendum rules but there is room for improvement. The required majority is not at all clear.

Why does the government continue to be so vague about such an important issue?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 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 bill is not about the clarity of a referendum. It is about this Chamber's responsibilities relating to the possibility of negotiating secession.

According to the bill, if it is clear, the government will negotiate, and if it is not clear, it will not. The conditions of clarity are what would lead the government to negotiate. That is what the bill is all about.

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, this referendum bill has no focus on improving the federation, no improvement to the way parliament works, no improvement to the way our court system works and no improvement on democracy.

Why is the bill so silent on the issue of improving the federation?

National UnityOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we have already been carrying out a number of important steps to improve the federation. There is a resolution of this House on Quebec being a distinct society. There was the bill adopted by the House on the matter of a veto on constitutional reform for Quebec, British Columbia and other regions. There was the development of the social union framework.

We have been doing a number of important things to improve the federation, and this is shown by the fact that most Canadians, including Quebecers, continue to believe that Canada is the best country in the world in which to live. We will continue to work to ensure that is the case.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, now that the government is moving our way on unity, maybe it will move our way on taxes.

Canadians are now paying record high taxes. They have never paid taxes higher than they are today and they want immediate tax relief. The grassroots Liberal resolutions made at their spring convention are calling for record increases in spending, just as the Prime Minister has said and just as we saw in the throne speech.

Does the finance minister agree with the Prime Minister and with grassroots Liberals that tax relief should be pushed to the bottom of the agenda?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made it very clear, as have the Liberals on the finance committee and grassroots Liberals from coast to coast, that they support the necessity of bringing down tax cuts. They support the government and the last two budgets have brought down tax cuts.

In terms of who is moving whose way, we brought them down. The Reform Party policy in Fresh Start was not to bring down taxes.

TaxationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, after all these years it should be fairly clear that nobody likes Christmas fruitcakes.

We want some clarity now on the finance portfolio. The hon. minister's party does not believe in tax relief. The Prime Minister does not believe in tax relief. Apparently this minister himself does not believe in tax relief or he would not keep raising taxes.

With taxes going up again on January 1, why should Canadians believe for a moment that the minister wants to cut taxes?

TaxationOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, speaking of Christmas fruitcakes, it is a pleasure to respond to the Reform Party. This government brought taxes down in the last budget and in the budget before that.

The basic issue that Canadians want to know is why the Reform Party stands up in the House and pretends that it is in favour of tax cuts when a clear statement in its own election platform, Fresh Start, says that it would not cut taxes before the year 2000.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the draft bill introduced by the government on Friday does not include any objective test. It is up to Ottawa, Ottawa acting as both judge and jury.

Will the Prime Minister recognize that this draft bill is unique and that it is a paradox, since Ottawa will enjoy all the flexibility, while Quebec will have all the constraints?

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, the answer is no.

The draft bill fully respects the rights of the National Assembly, which can ask any question it wants to Quebec voters. However, it is not just any question that can lead to negotiations on secession.

This is what the Supreme Court of Canada said and it only makes sense.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister says he likes consensus. There is a large consensus against the federal legislation among all democratic groups in Quebec, including all political parties at the National Assembly and the overwhelming majority of Bloc Quebecois, Progressive Conservative and NDP members who represent Quebec in this House. Democrats are opposed to that measure.

The Prime Minister finds himself in a provocative group, with allies such as the Reform Party, Keith Anderson, Bill Johnson, Howard Galdanov and Guy Bertrand. Does the Prime Minister feel comfortable with such allies?