House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was debate.


House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:35 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, this has been a very interesting morning, as several speakers have suggested.

I compliment the members of the Progressive Conservative Party for voluntarily conceding their opposition day on a matter that is of great concern to them, to debate a motion which I believe they and other parties will not be supporting.

In a certain sense, one is reminded of Nelson Mandela's principle of healing and reconciliation after periods of great intellectual torment and turbulence such as we have experienced. It has been an experience to go through those exhausting hours of debate overnight. It is in a way a trial by ordeal. Many members of this parliament have been through it three times in the last three years. The issue that must of course arise is, can we not do better.

You have been a very indulgent presiding officer, Mr. Speaker, on a matter affecting your privileges and the privileges of the House as an institution. You could have restricted the debate by applying criteria of relevance but you have, sir, if I may say so, shown great generosity in allowing the debate to sometimes stray.

Allow me, though, on the most immediate technical point to make one statement that I think should be on the record. We have an enormous respect for the technical staff attached to the office of the Speaker. These people are not appointed on the basis of ideology or political preference. They are career people. They are professionals. They are technocrats. They serve the Speaker. They will serve your successor whenever that time comes and they will serve no matter what government is in office. I think that should be on record. The Speaker's staff is an extension of the Speaker himself.

Many Speakers are not constitutional lawyers. There is no reason why they should be. They do not necessarily have a great knowledge of parliamentary precedents. The staff supply that detailed knowledge, the history. It is for the Speaker to decide how to use the history. But without that staff, the Speaker could not function. I think it is agreed on all sides that the office of the Speaker, the technical staff, are beyond any reproach and we all have enormous confidence in them.

History has been referred to here. You, yourself, Mr. Speaker, in a moment of passing humour, referred to people losing their heads, your predecessors in that office. That was at a fairly early time. I am reminded of the comment of the great Mr. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes that it is revolting to have no better justification for a present day position than that so it was in the time of Henry II. These are old precedents and we have to review history creatively as something that develops.

The office of Speaker has changed. There is certainly a great difference between the office of Speaker in the pre-modern period, which I suppose could take us up to the time of King James I, and the period afterward. The notion of a contest between the Speaker and the government of the realm is out of date. It was surpassed by the economic and social developments, the English civil war which was a battle between two rival elites, the passing of power from the aristocratic group to the landed gentry, still to be continued later on. The precedents from that era have to give way to the modern office of Speaker and the modern parliament. Today parliament is vastly different from what it was before the Hanoverian kings came into Great Britain and before the system of cabinet government developed and responsible democracy. When Dicey speaks of the sovereignty of the king-in-parliament, he is speaking of parliament as an institution, the government, but the Speaker is a part of that.

This is recognized in the further legitimacy given to your office, Mr. Speaker, by the principle of election, which, as we all know, is very recent in this country. I think it only goes back to your immediate predecessor. However, the extra legitimacy is there to invest you with powers as part of the whole constitutional system of the country.

What Dicey referred to as the thing that makes work the new modern parliament and the modern system of checks and balances within it, was the observance of the parliamentary constitutional rules of game within parliament by opposition and by government. The minority has its rights but so does the majority and the Speaker's function is there to see that the business of the country is not unnecessarily delayed or obstructed. There is a judgment call here that he has to exercise.

As I said, in the last three years of this parliament there have been three different occasions of these marathon all-night sittings that certainly exhaust members and, continued indefinitely, might certainly do worse than that. If there can be 400 amendments to a bill of two or three pages and two or three clauses, then why not 4,000 or 40,000? So we are getting into a very practical issue.

It is interesting to note that other parliaments than our own have changed their procedure. In some ways the pre-emptive concern since the quiet revolution with Quebec issues has obscured the task of modernization and updating of parliamentary institutions and parliamentary processes and we have lagged behind.

I referred in another context a couple of days ago to Mr. Smith Goes To Washington . Jimmy Stewart, the great actor, spoke 22 hours in a filibuster to hold up what he thought was an ignoble project. They cannot do that any more in the United States Congress.

Just imagine Mrs. Thatcher's Britain or Clement Atlee's Britain. The House of Commons in Great Britain, from which we derive our inspiration if no longer our binding precedents, functions differently today.

We have passed the stage of the Victorian gentlemen's club of the late 19th century when parliament debated two or three bills a year sometimes. We are into hundreds of pieces of legislation and everybody has to understand that. The parliamentary rules need re-adjustment, and the Speaker in the same way, in a creative, progressive interpretation of history, interprets his lot in that way. I find in this sense that what we have done in the last week is unproductive and uncreative.

If one asks “Does the Speaker not have inherent powers in relation to amendments and legislation?”, the answer is yes. Every piece of legislation, every amendment, is scrutinized in terms of its grammatical accuracy. It is scrutinized in terms of the congruence of the French and the English languages.

I believe also, Mr. Speaker, although I have never asked you about this point, that you exercise a prudent control over what might be called the bowdlerization of the language or inappropriate expressions within it. Is it not within the power of the Speaker to control what he might consider redundant, superfluous or trivial amendments? Can we have an amendment to an amendment? I will not say this in relation to the debate on the clarity bill, but on the Nisga'a bill we had amendments replacing a semicolon with a colon. Surely we are at the point where the functioning of the modern parliament and the role of the Speaker requires the Speaker to use powers, to consult with the technical officers of the staff and, if necessary, to use his discretion to strike out certain measures.

This is not uttered, though, as a criticism of the conduct of all the participants of the great debate of the last few days. As we have all said, there was great feeling in many parts of the House and it is possible that some or all of the main actors might act differently if they were doing it again. Nevertheless, I think the spirit of this motion and the way in which this debate has emerged would be to allow all parties, in the calm and healing spirit after the debate, to consider seriously ways of modernizing our procedures and ways of supporting the Speaker in the constructive use of his inherent, prerogative powers. Can we not do it differently?

I would have hoped that a more constructive measure would be to have somebody, whether it is the committee on procedure and House affairs, come back with suggestions for avoiding these marathon debates; come back perhaps as they have done, I think under your guidance, Mr. Speaker, with the all-party committee that selects private members' bills for giving priority; to come up with suggestions that would aid the Speaker in saying to people who are sponsoring legislation or sponsoring a great mass of amendments to be reasonable and to consider also the rights of all parliamentarians and the country to have business adopted in an expeditious way. Can we not agree on this? I would hope there would be attention to this.

It occurs to me that not everybody has used the facilities available. It amazed me with the Nisga'a treaty, for example, when I was faced with a unanimous report of an all-party parliamentary committee, that we would then later have a marathon debate in parliament. The whole notion of committees was that parliament would delegate responsibility to the committees and then would trust the committees and respect their judgment. Could this have been done with the clarity bill?

We had an extensive debate in December. Was a legislative committee necessary? It is these sorts of matters that now can be approached by all parties.

We should stress that what emerged in all parties, and I think also with our colleagues in the Bloc, was a recognition of your office, Mr. Speaker, its own privileges and a respect for the conduct of the office and the conduct of parliamentary officials. We have trust in the institution of the Speaker. We have confidence in the officers, including the staff members.

The constructive thing coming out of this debate is the concession by all the parties in the House to suspend, with the consent of the Conservatives, their day in parliament, which was to be today, to get on to this issue; and you, sir, to allow a larger debate on the conduct of parliament, which much transcends the technical issue in this motion. That would be the constructive lesson to draw from all of this.

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:50 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to make a few remarks. They will be more in the form of comments, but I would appreciate feedback.

What is one of the most important roles the Speaker in the House of Commons plays?

I want to say at the outset where I am coming from. If the Speaker were to err in his day to day decisions involving a conflict between the government or the leadership and an individual member, that ruling must always protect the individual member. I am making that assumption at the outset.

The answer to my question “What is one of the most important roles the Speaker plays?” is, to protect the rights of individual members, to protect individual MPs from the power that the crown exercises, the government, the people in authority over us. We must always respect that authority. I respect your authority, Mr. Speaker. As well, we must always ensure that everyone here is accountable.

There are many ways that you, the Speaker, do this. Obviously there are upfront decisions that you make every day in the day to day proceedings of the House, in debate, in question period and in the routine proceedings of the House. But there are also behind the scenes activities that take place in parliament which are very important to individual members. There are the support services that assist members in their ability to represent their constituents.

We deal primarily in this place with the making of law, the rules that all Canadians must play by and, in order to assist us in dealing with legislation, we as individual members need to have good quality, confidential research and legal advice in analyzing and drafting legislation and amendments. The legislative support staff is used mainly by opposition MPs, as the government has its own staff to do its work. MPs in the House lose confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege with their lawyers, but the government does not because it employs its own.

Since 1993, and I think the member may agree with me, I have watched the degeneration of debate in the House. We spend much less time in actual debate than we did when I first arrived in parliament. Why? It is because there has been a decline in the democratic process, in the spirit in which affairs should be conducted in the House. Much of that is due to the heavy-handedness of government. Members of the opposition have been trying to use the standing orders of the House to make their voices known. The standing orders are there to ensure we have democracy. Democracy needs to ensure that minority voices are heard. I use the word “minority” loosely because we in opposition represent 60% of the people of Canada.

I appeal to the Speaker to preserve that atmosphere of democracy which should surround all the debate and support services in the House. I cannot think of one good reason we cannot have client confidentiality in the legislative support services provided by the House of Commons. I have heard all of the excuses, like the parties have negotiated the changes, the support staff work for the House, et cetera, but the office of the Speaker exists to protect us and must not allow any change in this area which erodes the protection and support individual members must have.

I thank the Bloc for introducing this motion. It allows me to bring forth this concern.

I would like to make one more tiny point. The recent change in policy of the House of Commons was really done behind the backs of members—

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I would love to give you more time, but there are only 10 minutes for questions and comments, and I am going to give the floor to the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra.

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member made some very thoughtful comments. I think there has been a very marked decline in parliament since we were both elected in the class of 1993. I think a lot of this relates to the unexpected but foreseeable consequences of televising the House. This has put an accent on question period which has changed very markedly from the traditional role of question period to a form of most interesting and exciting soap opera. However, it has taken away attention from the debates.

When I attended as a scholar in earlier years, the debates were interesting and lively and, by the way, there was much participation. I think that is something to consider. A logical development of this would have been to invest the committees with more power, to follow the way of the French or the American committees. I think this is a reform that has been in waiting for perhaps 50 years because we have been concentrating on other things.

I would have one comment, though, on committees. The committee on the clarity bill was a legislative committee. Once it is a legislative committee it is within the domain of the Speaker to exercise a certain degree of guidance over the conduct of the committee. I am told that the Speaker's powers have not really changed, even with the rules, but by custom they have been allowed to fall in abeyance. I think there would be a good disposition in the House to encourage the Speaker, whomever the incumbent is, to exercise those inherent powers of the office more fully and not to succumb to this loose parliamentary practice where, in a sense, the House sometimes seems to be conducting its own Rafferty rules.

I know, Mr. Speaker, you have had some vexation with this and it might be a lesson from this debate to use your powers. You would have the encouragement and support of the House to do that.

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I will now go to the member for Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, but there are only two minutes left before statements by members.

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

1:55 p.m.


Yvan Bernier Bloc Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. I am sure I will still have the opportunity to ask more questions this afternoon.

Many members have said that raising this issue was a serious matter. What I would like to ask the member for Vancouver—Quadra is this. Does he not believe that it is precisely because we hold the office of the Speaker of the House in such high esteem that we are convinced he is the only one who can settle the dispute we are having, with regard to the legislative counsel and the clerks?

He is the only one who can do it because they come under his budget. He is the boss and he can decide when, how and what can be done. Is the member in agreement with this statement. As a constitutional expert himself, could he tell me whether there is another way, when we are in the middle of the debate on a bill, when we have lost confidence in the way things are being run, when the government refuses to put its bill on the back burner, than to appeal to the Chair?

House Of CommonsRoutine Proceedings

March 16th, 2000 / 1:55 p.m.


Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

I have every confidence in the office of the Speaker of the House. He must exercise his authority with confidence. He has the skills and he must be encouraged to exercise his powers. Up to now the Chair has had a self-censuring attitude. This has been going on for several decades unfortunately, but that can be changed.

Liberal Party Of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, the Liberal Party begins its biennial convention, bringing together delegates from all regions of our country.

Men and women will come to discuss Canada's economic and social future. They will determine the choices and options to meet the challenges of 2000s.

In short, we will debate matters that are of public interest, the facts of life and, most importantly, we will propose and adopt ways to improve the quality of people's lives.

I therefore wish good luck to the organizers of this major political event for our political party, and there is no doubt our government will draw on the proposals made this weekend to enrich its work.

British Columbia Fruit GrowersStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, British Columbia fruit growers are experiencing serious problems because of low prices and high expenses in their orchards. In order to compete in world markets many have begun replanting to high density, better quality fruit trees.

Two such people are my constituents Bill and Sheila Ackerman, orchardists in the Kelowna area since 1985. Until the orchard is once again productive Bill and Sheila must rely on off farm income.

Does the federal government commend the efforts of British Columbia fruit growers? No. In a callous ruling government tax collectors have chosen to restrict the deduction of legitimate farm expenses, preventing the Ackermans from providing a decent living for their family.

Farming in this country is already in jeopardy. Rulings like this one will only contribute to its further decline. I strongly oppose this decision and call for the ministers of agriculture, finance and revenue to overturn this unfair ruling.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, a report commissioned by Environment Canada reveals that up to 100,000 seabirds are killed every year in the oily waters off the coast of Newfoundland. I am certain that Canadians are as angry as I am that these waters are being used as a dumping ground for oily wastes by ships headed to the U.S.

Due to totally inadequate environmental surveillance and ridiculously low fines for polluters, these ships pump their bilge with impunity before they reach U.S. territory. A conviction for fouling European or American waters can cost shipping companies up to $1 million. In Canada the average penalty for the few ships apprehended has been a puny $7,000.

When will this country get into active pollution regulation enforcement and commit the funds to make our enforcers a real threat to these environmental criminals? They cannot get away with causing the slow death of seabirds in Europe or the U.S., but they do it in our waters where the fines are merely a cost of doing business. I ask members—

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

Barakova MineStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Jean Augustine Liberal Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned when disasters bring hardships to and take the lives of people in regions around the world. I rise today to draw the attention of the House to the Barakova mine disaster which took place last Saturday in the eastern region of the Republic of Ukraine.

The Barakova mine explosion was caused by methane gas mixed with coal. This horrific tragedy is said to be the nation's worst national industrial disaster since its independence in 1991. The disaster claimed the lives of 80 miners, hospitalized many and brought tremendous emotional suffering to families.

I join my constituents in the Ukrainian community and all Canadians in extending my deepest sympathy to the survivors and to the families of those who are now suffering as a result of this disaster.

Government Of OntarioStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to take part in a round table discussion in Coutice in my riding last Thursday. This meeting centred on economic development and transportation in Durham. We had representatives from agriculture, municipal government, truckers, environmentalists, and indeed from all walks of life.

The people of Durham are tired of the finger pointing that the Harris government of Queen's Park is so famous for. While we work into the wee hours of the morning here in Ottawa, the legislature in Queen's Park has not even sat this year. We know which government is working for the people and which is not.

The people of Durham want government to work toward resolving their health care problems. Canadians know that over $80 billion in total health care spending, or around 9.2% of our GDP, makes us one of the biggest spenders in health care in the world.

No, it is not about money. It is about management of that money. The Harris government taking health care money out of designated trust accounts and spending it on other things is part of the management problem. The people of Durham want the Harris government to stop playing cheap politics and get back to work.

William Barker, VcStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Inky Mark Reform Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, this week marked the 70th anniversary of the death of Canada's most decorated war hero, Lieutenant-Colonel William Barker, VC. Lieutenant-Colonel William Barker, VC soared through the sky during the first world war, shooting down 50 enemy aircraft in his famous Sopwith Camel biplane.

Born in 1894 in Dauphin, Manitoba, Barker joined the Canadian Mounted Rifles in 1914. He spent a year in the trenches before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps where his efforts went on to win him the Victoria Cross.

He died test flying an airplane near the Ottawa Rockcliffe airport in 1930. His funeral was the largest ever in Toronto's history with more than 50,000 spectators and a cortège of more than 2,000 soldiers in uniform.

On June 1 the heritage minister will unveil a commemorative plaque in his honour in Dauphin, Manitoba. The Snowbirds, another Canadian icon, will take to the skies to celebrate this special occasion. I invite all members to attend this historic event.

Highway Accident In Saint-Jean-Baptiste-De-NicoletStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Louis Plamondon Bloc Richelieu, QC

Mr. Speaker, this morning, in Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Nicolet, six preschool children died in a highway accident.

Four children died on impact, a fifth child died on the way to the hospital and another child died later. Three children remain in hospital, one of them in critical condition.

On behalf of myself, the Bloc Quebecois and all members of this House I offer my deepest sympathy to the families facing this terrible catastrophe.

I would like them to know that we share their pain and hope they may have the courage to carry on through this awful trial. I would also like to express the hope that the children currently fighting for their lives in hospital may fully recover as quickly as possible.

I would remind all the families affected by this tragedy that, as the great writer Alexandre Dumas said one day, those we have loved and lost are not where they used to be, but they are with us always wherever we may be.

Prime Minister Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will congratulate our Prime Minister, if I may, for his determination to work on behalf of the interests of Canadians.

The bill on clarity in a way confirmed the supreme court opinion that, unequivocally, a question on the future of Quebec had to be clear, as did its results.

The Canadian government had to face up to its responsibilities, and that is precisely what we are doing. What we are dealing with here is our country, its future, and our determination to preserve and improve it. That was the challenge faced by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

Today I wish to salute the courage and determination, and the worthwhile accomplishments, of our Prime Minister, who is the leader of a strong government, a team with the future of our country, Canada, at heart.

Minister Of Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Jim Pankiw Reform Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, three Canadian children have been illegally held in the state of California for over six months. Yesterday Canadian authorities met with their counterparts in the state of California to obtain custody of these children, but instead of gaining custody they will have to apply to a California judge three weeks from now and hopefully obtain custody then.

They have already been there for six months and three more weeks is entirely unacceptable, especially for young children to whom three weeks is a lifetime.

I would like the Minister of Foreign Affairs to explain to the House why sparing the life of convicted murderer Stanley Faulder in a Texas prison warranted his direct personal intervention but he will not lift a finger to help three Canadian children be returned home where they belong.

CanadaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House we passed an historic bill, Bill C-20, to protect the interests of all Canadians when it comes to the possibility of a province indicating its desire to separate from Canada, but today a senior American defence official is quoted as referring to Canada as the 51st state.

The Canadian Minister of Industry is indicating his desire to eliminate the foreign ownership rules of our most important of industries. The Canadian Minister for International Trade is still discussing ways of giving away our sovereignty and resources such as water through the WTO.

The Conservatives and Reformers would only like the Liberals to put up their for sale sign faster. Only New Democrats such as my colleagues from Halifax West, Winnipeg—Transcona and Regina—Qu'Appelle are standing up for Canada. I ask the Liberals who are having their convention this weekend which flag they will be flying, the Canadian flag or the American flag?

CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore knows that using props in the House is quite out of order.

Liberal Party Of Canada ConventionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


René Laurin Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, instead of coming up with a new face at the head of their party, the federal Liberals have decided to give a younger look to their membership, by inviting thousands of young people to attend their national convention this weekend in Ottawa.

At first glance, it would seem that an old party could not be faulted for wanting to rejuvenate its base of party faithful by seeking memberships from young adults, whether students or workers. However, when that objective prompts Liberal organizers to approach a group of some forty students in the lower grades of secondary school, 13, 14 and 15-year olds, holding out the prospect of an all-expenses paid trip to Ottawa, and when this is done behind the backs of parents and school administration, there are grounds for objection. This is unacceptable and irresponsible.

Thanks to the initiative of Jean-François Coderre, president of the federal Liberal association for the riding of Joliette, that is exactly what happened in a least one comprehensive high school in my riding.

What next? Recruiting in the elementary schools or in daycare centres? One may well wonder.

Manigance Folk GroupStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Claude Drouin Liberal Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, the second edition of the international folklore festival will take place in Tokyo, Japan, in July. A total of 73 countries, including Canada, will take part in this international event held under UNESCO and the IOC.

Some 2,000 participants will present, through dance, the cultural elements of their respective countries.

Canada will be well represented by the folk group Manigance, from the town of Sainte-Marie.

Until now, this group has played a major role in the cultural development of the region that I represent, and has been a source of pride for all the residents of Beauce.

From now on, we will share that well deserved pride with all Canadians, through this very prestigious international event.

I wish Manigance the best of luck during the event and I know it will do a great job at representing our country at the world level.

Health CareStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance was reminded on many occasions not to forget health care in his new budget. In his budget speech of February 28 the minister indicated that post-secondary education and health were the big priorities of Canadians. He then went on to say that these two areas would receive a one shot infusion of $2.5 billion spread over four years and 10 provinces.

In the case of Newfoundland, that amounts to $10 million a year for four years. If we assign half of that to health care, that is $5 million a year spread over 34 hospitals and health care centres, about the cost of one doctor per institution.

The finance minister did not forget health care but he came very close to forgetting health care. With an underfunded health care system in crisis and a budget in surplus that simply is not good enough.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, every year the world celebrates International Women's Day. This year was no exception, and at this time I would like to draw attention to the vital roles women play in our rural communities and the contributions they make to the agriculture industry in Canada.

Farm women are integral to the success of the country's agriculture and agri-food industry. In addition, through their volunteer work and their community leadership rural women play an important role in strengthening their communities.

These women have helped to make the agriculture industry the success that it is today. They will have a hand in shaping the future and making this industry and their communities better places in which to live and work. I applaud them for their contributions.

Correctional Service CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, would you like a membership in a club that gives you more time to lift weights, play baseball and ping-pong? It is easy to join. One just needs to be an inmate at Drumheller Annex in Alberta.

The assistant warden says the reason for giving prisoners more leisure activities is so they will not want to escape. Last year Drumheller had nine escapees.

Apparently Correctional Service Canada has decided inmates spend too much time just watching TV and chatting. What is CSC's solution? Give the inmates more perks so they will not want to escape. Officials are even going to add a gym, woodworking equipment and an activity room. Is this part of prison rehabilitation so inmates can get future jobs as ping-pong instructors?

What will the minister offer victims and victims' families? Law-abiding citizens must often deny their own children such benefits in order to pay the taxes that provide perks for prisoners.

Today's lesson for the solicitor general is prison is not supposed to be fun and games.

QuebecStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.


Maurice Godin Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary battle over Bill C-20 is over, but the political fight has now begun.

The undemocratic nature of Bill C-20 reveals the base instincts of this government, as it pursues its assimilating attack against the people of Quebec, while showing its inability to renew a federalism that is centralizing, dominating and wasteful.

Through their support of this bill, the federal Liberals from Quebec are showing their true colors and are confirming their subservience to the interests of the rest of Canada.

The excellent budget brought down in the National Assembly this week marks the beginning of economic deliverance for Quebec. Pursuing the battle will make Quebec's social and cultural deliverance a very close reality and its political emancipation a greater possibility than ever.

Together, let us continue the fight, the fight for the freedom of the Quebec people.