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House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-20.

Topics

Quintette Coal MineStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the residents of the town of Tumbler Ridge in my riding of Prince George—Peace River were informed that Quintette coal mine, the town's largest employer, will be shutting down in August. Unfortunately the combination of low commodity prices and a rise in the Canadian dollar has forced it to close down nearly three years ahead of schedule.

Tumbler Ridge is a small, close knit community nestled in the Rocky Mountains where helping one's neighbour never goes out of style. At this time of crisis, when the economic future of the town and its residents is so uncertain, it is important for all levels of government to lend their support by cutting red tape and encouraging economic diversification projects such as value added wood mills, peat moss extraction opportunities, natural gas facilities, destination ski resorts and increased tourism ventures, to name only a few.

No one is looking for a handout, just a helping hand. Opportunities abound. The challenge is for all three levels of government and the private sector to put their collective heads together to find the right combination that will save Tumbler Ridge.

The EnvironmentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Aileen Carroll Liberal Barrie—Simcoe—Bradford, ON

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week The Globe and Mail reported that the Canadian Environmental Industry Association is worried that Canada's rules allowing the dumping of untreated hazardous waste into landfills are too lax. The industry itself is warning that Canada risks being flooded with cancer causing wastes from the United States because of Canada's weak regulations.

It is not the import of waste that the industry is warning us about. It is the practice of dumping toxic pollutants into landfills, banned in the United States but still legal in Canada.

There are treatments for destroying the dangerous materials, but the matter is under provincial jurisdiction and the Ontario government has taken no action whatever to match the more rigorous U.S. rules. This negligence has been noted by the U.S. EPA. It reflects badly on Canada's reputation internationally, let alone on the health of Canadians who live in Ontario.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill NDP Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, March 8 is a time for us to celebrate the first International Women's Day of the new millennium. Women's day is a time to reflect and celebrate the progress that has been made in achieving women's equality in our homes, communities and across the world.

This year the stage is set for the exciting seven month long event, the World Women's March, otherwise known as March 2000. After the success of the Bread and Roses campaign in 1996, the Quebec Women's Federation decided to expand its idea and create a forum for women to talk, lobby, protest and march all around the world.

March 2000 will begin on March 8 across Canada and will continue until October 15 with a large rally in Ottawa. For the next seven months organizers of the women's march will draw attention to two key issues: poverty and violence. Whatever gains women may have made, poverty and violence are still huge obstacles to achieving true equality and justice for women in Canada and throughout the world.

For Canadian women the next seven months will be very exciting. It will be a time for creating and renewing relationships and connections around the world in solidarity with our sisters. The women will all come marching, marching hand in hand.

Bill C-20Statements By Members

March 3rd, 2000 / 11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, when Mr. Facal, the Quebec minister of intergovernmental affairs, testified before the committee examining Bill C-20, he reminded the members of the committee that this bill served simply to, and I quote:

—obscure the Canadian problem, forgetting that more Quebecers voted yes than there are voters in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined. Bill C-20 will not get rid of the sovereignists or the idea that Quebec will become a country some day.

He continued:

The National Assembly is the sole custodian of the right of the people of Quebec to decide its political status. Quebec existed as a political entity before the Canadian federation was created and by exercising its right to choose its political status freely it helped to create Canada in 1867. Never forget that.

He concluded as follows:

In joining this federation, the people of Quebec neither renounced its right to chose another political status nor intended to hand over its destiny for all time to a parliament the majority of whose members come from outside Quebec.

Groupe D'Imprimerie Saint-JosephStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, almost three years ago now, the Corporation Saint-Joseph acquired the former Queen's Printer, Canada Communication Group.

Today, this former government agency in Hull has a new name: the Groupe d'imprimerie Saint-Joseph. There is more than just a simple name change involved. It is one more step in the move to the private sector.

After its acquisition, the Groupe d'imprimerie Saint-Joseph was restructured, and the head office invested in the latest technology in order to expand its potential.

After 130 years of service to the Government of Canada, the new Groupe d'imprimerie Saint-Joseph has made remarkable progress to become a competitive business. With three divisions and over 500 employees, the Groupe d'imprimerie Saint-Joseph is considered the largest supplier of printing and related services in the Hull—Ottawa region.

The new name marks changes in a historic institution. May the Groupe d'imprimerie Saint-Joseph and its employees enjoy a long life.

Health CareStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, the present Liberal government has created today's crisis in our health care system. After seven years in office it is still in a state of denial in terms of its responsibility. Here is its record: no plan, no vision, no ideas. It is still “make it up as we stumble along”, a day to day patchwork approach to the single most important issue in the country.

Responsibility for this crisis falls at the doorstep of the Prime Minister and his government. He, and he alone, created the crisis and Canadians want it fixed.

International Women's DayStatements By Members

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Wednesday, March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for all of us to celebrate women's talents and accomplishments. It is also a day to take stock of the tremendous amount of work that needs to take place in Canada and around the world to ensure that women really do achieve equality.

Domestically the theme “Canadian Women Taking Action To Make a Difference” provides a broad opportunity for all of us to encourage our youngest women to pursue their dreams.

In Burlington our fourth annual International Women's Day breakfast will be our biggest ever. Maureen Kempston Darkes, president of General Motors, will be sure to inspire and encourage all in attendance to continue to work hard. Thank you, Ms. Darkes for your generous offer to get the message out, to mentor others and to be living proof that women do make a difference and they do take action.

Thank you to the people in my community for allowing me to represent them in a place that used to keep women out.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, this morning we received an extensive communications plan developed by HRDC to position the release of the internal audit on the billion dollar boondoggle. It includes discussions on strategic considerations, storylines, media strategies and time lines. It was dated August 30, 1999. Given this, is the minister planning to stick to her story that she only found out about the audit on November 17, 1999?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, speaking of communications plans and stories, I am surprised the hon. member did not get up and with her first words admit that she was totally wrong yesterday when she said Export Development Corporation had given a $10 million line of credit to Earth Canada.

She was totally wrong on that. Her colleagues' accusations were baseless. If she had respect for the House, for herself and her party, the first words she should have spoken would have been to withdraw, to retract and to apologize. That would be communication.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is the government that cannot get its story straight.

I find it very hard to believe that the minister's department was in the process of developing a department-wide action plan in August to deal with the release of internal audit results and that the minister knew nothing about it.

Again this communications plan is very extensive. It talks about release strategies and the need to equip the minister with questions and answers, question period cards and media lines.

How can the minister expect us to believe that she did not know anything about the internal audit until November 17, 1999?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is showing her ignorance of government and how it works.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would hope we would refrain from this kind of comment in question period. I know that the member for Calgary—Nose Hill would also want to refrain. I would invite the parliamentary secretary to continue with her answer.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

When there is a problem in the department, it is the job of the deputy minister and senior officials to prepare solutions and options for the minister's perusal. I would remind the member that the final audit report was not finalized and brought in until the fall. Before it was presented to the minister it would have had to have the problems outlined with potential solutions.

These draft communications plans to which she refers were part of the potential solutions to be put before the minister after the audit was finalized and the plans were finalized. That happened on November 17, 1999.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister needs to know what her department is up to.

I quote from a letter from her deputy minister, which says, “Since June, when the interim audit report became available, we have devoted intensive and sustained management attention”.

In June HRDC set up a working group to deal with the internal audit. In August it started developing a department-wide action plan. By the end of August her department had produced an extensive communications plan.

Let me ask the minister one more time, how could she possibly be unaware that her department was in high gear—

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources Development.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party may jump to conclusions before a final report comes but we do not.

The department did what it should have done. When the first results showed something to be worried about, it began to prepare for the final report. There is nothing untoward about this.

The exchange of letters she refers to took place in December 1999. They show that the minister was determined to be open, transparent and to have a strong management response to these problems.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is revealing that the very first thing the department did once it knew by the interim audit that there was a big problem in the department was to develop a communications plan rather than fix the problem.

Here is what actually happened. The communications plan and strategy was ready to go as of August because there was a crisis in the midst, but the minister waited until January to release the information on the audit. Why? She waited by happy coincidence until the day after we submitted an access to information request.

How long was the minister really planning to keep it under cover that she had actually bungled a billion dollars?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, why does the Reform Party not fix its own problem, restore its dignity and credibility and start off by acknowledging that it was totally wrong in its baseless accusations against the Minister for International Trade when it said that he was involved in giving a $10 million line of credit to Earth Canada? That was totally wrong. Reform members are showing their lack of credibility, their lack of respect for the House and for Canadians by keeping quiet on this and trying to have some diversionary tactic which does not stand up to examination.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, if this a diversionary tactic, it looks like the Grand Coulee Dam over there.

Everyone knows what is going on. The department knew there was a crisis. The interim audit pointed to all the problems: the reporting; the lack of reliability; the lack of statistics; the lack of credible job numbers; and the lack of everything we have been talking about for the last month. What did it do? It did not fix the problem. It said it would have to develop a communications plan. A communications plan went ahead in August. The department suggested that the audit be released in October. What happened? The minister waited until January when the access to information request came in. Why?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Oakville Ontario

Liberal

Bonnie Brown LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the record on a few things the member said. First, their billion dollar bungle implies that a billion dollars was lost. Such is not the case. We have reiterated that over and over again. The minister moved with alacrity as soon as she had the final report and the final management plan. She ordered a stronger management plan. As soon as it was prepared she released it.

The communications suggestions that Reform members are referring to are naturally part of the whole methodology to deal with the problem. They are nothing more than that. But they will put a negative spin on everything.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we heard that there were nine investigations under way at Human Resources Development Canada. Today, we learn that there are 12. The number increases with each passing day. Pretty soon they will run out of investigators.

Is it not high time the government called an independent public inquiry into everything that is going on at Human Resources Development Canada?

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I call for a public inquiry into why the Bloc Quebecois has nothing to say about the fact that the Parti Quebecois in Quebec City is not spending $800 million today to help the sick and improve health care in that province.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is because of answers like that that we are calling for an inquiry, because they are obviously trying to hide things. That is what is going on.

And what they are trying to hide is that, too often, names like Fugère, Champagne, Gauthier, Lemire, all in Saint-Maurice, all friends of the Prime Minister, and all under investigation now, keep coming up. Is that not enough?

Rather than burying issues here in the House—that is apparently the role of the Deputy Prime Minister—he should answer questions, assume his responsibilities and show himself worthy of his job.

Human Resources DevelopmentOral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray LiberalDeputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, we are still hearing names of people like Bouchard and Landry—