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House of Commons Hansard #241 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was magazines.

Topics

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me quote from Hansard :

As long as he keeps silent on this issue, he gives every Canadian...the impression that he himself, the Prime Minister, is there to help his friends, the friends who helped him.

Guess what? That is a quote from the heritage minister back in the days when she believed that prime ministers ought to be accountable.

Why will the Prime Minister not at least uphold the ethical standards of his heritage minister and announce to us all about this conflict of interest?

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, my ministers and I have dealt with all the work I have done as a member of parliament for Saint-Maurice. It is my duty as a member of parliament to make sure that all the programs of the government to create jobs are known, especially when the riding has a 12% level of unemployment.

I would like to tell the hon. member that during the last campaign my opposition tended to say that I had not worked enough in the riding, but now the people of my riding know that I have worked very hard for them.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Deborah Grey Reform Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister continues to say that he is just being a good little MP to help friends get money. He said yesterday that he has nothing more to add. Well, I do.

He had a business financial interest. That same business also received a $1.5 million windfall from the recipient of a $6 million government contract.

I would like to tell the Prime Minister: get up and give the name of one member of parliament who would ever do such a thing.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I would like all hon. members to address the Chair both in their questions and in their answers.

Prime MinisterOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, when a contract is accorded to a bidder that is $2.5 million less than the other, $6.5 million against $9 million, there is absolutely no scandal about it. They should appreciate that this bidder won the bid. They would have called it a scandal if it had been the second one who would have had it for $9 million.

Again, I have the list here of all Reform Party members who have received grants in their ridings for helping their constituents to create jobs. I just want to say that of course they have a very big problem. They have 25,000 votes to count and they have not even counted 25,000 votes.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Quebec has just made public a series of studies commissioned from independent experts to assess the consequences and scope of the agreement on social union.

The general consensus is clear: the social union is a step backward for the provinces, which handed over a portion of their constitutional responsibilities to the government in exchange for money.

Given this, does the Prime Minister still feel that the signing of the social union framework agreement represents a great day in Canadian history?

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think that the Prime Minister of Canada and all the provincial premiers, except one obviously, decided to work together to ensure that all our efforts went to improving the quality of life in Canada in social terms.

I think the ability to work together represents a great step forward. I understand that one premier, who wants to have Quebec separate, must ensure that Canada does not function. He is not looking out for Quebec's interests, but is serving the interests of his party, which lacks the courage to put an honest and clear question in a referendum.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, as for honesty and clarity, I will pass.

Professor Alain Noël of the University of Montreal says, and I quote “Overall, the agreement represents a significant step backward for Quebec...More importantly, the February 4 agreement once again isolates Quebec, confirming...the desire of the other governments...to redefine the country without attempting to win the agreement of the government or even the official opposition of Quebec”.

Does the Prime Minister realize that others beside the sovereignists are rejecting this agreement, including the very federalist Liberal Party of Quebec, which rejects the agreement on social union?

Social UnionOral 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, I have not seen the studies involved. I would be pleased to read them and comment after I have read them.

I do not think that the leader of the Bloc has had a lot of time to read them. In any case, that is not the point. Other studies have been made public.

The greatest architect of social programs in Quebec, Claude Castonguay, said it was very positive. The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly said he could improve on it, but that it was positive.

I would like to quote the principal adviser, “cryptochief” perhaps, of the Bloc. Jacques Parizeau said “Canadian federalism is, with that of Switzerland, probably the most decentralized in the world”.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to Laval University's Professor Guy Tremblay, “The social union agreement tends to increase the centralization of powers in Canada. Almost all the areas covered in the agreement are exclusively provincial in jurisdiction. The federal government sees the agreement as legitimizing its interference in these areas”.

How can the government claim that the agreement is about areas of shared jurisdiction, when leading experts confirm that, on the contrary, it deals with areas that are exclusively provincial in jurisdiction?

Social UnionOral 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

Yes, Mr. Speaker. The agreement says that governments must respect the Canadian Constitution.

The courts have recognized that federal spending authority is legal, regardless of what the professor may think. It is legal, and has been recognized by the courts. In fact, this authority exists in all modern federations, but it has fewer conditions attached and is used the least in Canada.

The agreement requires the Canadian government to meet additional conditions before invoking the federal spending authority. I fail to see how anyone can claim that this agreement is a centralizing measure.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, one of the experts consulted says the following: “Federalism outside Quebec is now going its own way. In this sense, Canada has separated from Quebec”.

Will the government finally understand what Jean Lesage meant in 1963 when he said that Quebec did not defend provincial autonomy simply for the principle of it, but because, for Quebec, autonomy was the specific condition for its affirmation as a people?

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Social UnionOral 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, one of the problems with Bloc Quebecois members is that the arguments they come up with are never their own, but always something someone else said. When we come back with other arguments, they are unable to reply, probably because they do not have a complete understanding of the issues.

There is a second problem I wish to mention, Mr. Speaker, because you are very far away and you cannot always hear. Every day the leader of the Bloc Quebecois hurls insults and nasty remarks at government members. It is a disgrace and when Quebecers find out they will want nothing more to do with the Bloc Quebecois.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Social UnionOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The hon. leader of the New Democratic Party.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

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

The Caledon Institute has released a report condemning the head tax. Listen to what it says.

Canada has the dubious distinction of being the only country in the world that charges fees to refugees seeking permanent protection...Canada is in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of article 34 of the UN convention on refugees.

When will the government start reflecting the values of Canadians and stop aping the values of the Reform Party? When will it kill the head tax?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, Canada has no head tax. We are one of the most generous as far as our policies concerning refugees and immigrants are concerned.

There is a landing fee in this country, and no one has been refused the protection of Canada because of inability to pay that fee. Let us be perfectly clear: Canada remains a country that is very open to refugees from every part of the world.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I am having some difficulty hearing both the questions and the answers. I would appeal to members in this regard.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, given the odious nature of the term head tax, no wonder the Liberals want to call it something else.

Here is what the Caledon Institute has to say:

Outside the federal government, the $975...fee is usually referred to as the “head tax”.

Though the current fee is not racially targeted itself...the inequitable impact of the fee on poor newcomers, most of whom are people of colour from less developed countries, makes the comparison appropriate.

If the government is so uncomfortable with the term head tax, why does it not just get rid of the head tax?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, if we are uncomfortable with the term head tax it is because of the history of this country.

Part of that history is that we had a head tax once for the Chinese people. It was based on race. That is not the case any more. We are proud to have a country without any discrimination. It is a privilege for people who come here to share those values with us.

Merchant NavyOral Question Period

June 9th, 1999 / 2:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I believe was one of the saddest days in my life as an MP on this Hill when all of my colleagues whom I have a great respect for, all of my Liberal colleagues, voted against a motion to compensate the merchant navy men.

When those men were on the Hill on a hunger strike they were led to believe that compensation was going to be looked at so they went home.

Canadians from coast to coast want to know where the Prime Minister stands on the merchant navy issue. Is he for a one time ex gratia payment for these people or not?

Merchant NavyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Nipissing Ontario

Liberal

Bob Wood LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member obviously is referring to a study that was conducted by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs into the compensation issue for the merchant navy.

The committee is due to report shortly. She knows that it would be improper for me to comment on a report that has yet to be tabled.

Merchant NavyOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the motion that I am referring to was dealt with not in camera but in open session of that committee. The report that he is referring to has already been leaked to the Ottawa Citizen and everyone else.