Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.
As this is national small business week, could the minister explain what his department is doing to reduce the burden of reporting requirements on Canada's small business?
Lost his last election, in 2000, with 36% of the vote.
Small Business October 21st, 1997
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Revenue.
As this is national small business week, could the minister explain what his department is doing to reduce the burden of reporting requirements on Canada's small business?
Broadcasting Act April 11th, 1997
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-401, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act (broadcasting policy for Canada).
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce my private member's bill entitled an act to amend the Broadcasting Act (broadcasting policy for Canada).
The bill would change the mandate of the CBC to include in its responsibilities the duty to "contribute to the development of national unity and provide for a continuing expression of Canadian identity". This obligation was originally included in the CBC mandate but was removed by the previous government.
I strongly believe that the CBC is a national institution which helps more than any other to foster understanding among Cana-
dians which in turn contributes to the development of national unity. I think its mandate should support this fact.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)
Pensions March 4th, 1997
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake for his motion.
The British pensions paid to some 130,000 persons in Canada are frozen. In other words, they are not increased from year to year to compensate for rises in the cost of living. The same situation exists in many other countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
This is not the case everywhere in the world. Under the European Union's regulations on social security, for example, the United Kingdom indexes annually the pensions it pays to persons who have retired in the Costa del Sol, the French Riviera or elsewhere in the EU.
Under social security agreements the United Kingdom has concluded with many other countries around the world British pensions are also indexed in these countries. They include, to name a few, Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and the United States.
For 20 years the Government of Canada has been trying to persuade the United Kingdom to conclude a social security agreement that would lead to the annual indexing of the British pensions paid in Canada. The United Kingdom has repeatedly refused because of the costs it would incur.
The issue of frozen British pensions has been raised at every level. The Prime Minister has personally discussed it twice with Prime Minister John Major. The Minister of Foreign Affairs discussed the unfreezing issue at his first bilateral meeting with the British Foreign Secretary.
Most recently, in January of this year, the Minister of Human Resources Development went to London and personally discussed the issue with his British counterpart, the Secretary of State for Social Security. I regret to say the British reply is always the same: the United Kingdom cannot afford to index its pensions in Canada.
The Government of Canada believes the fundamental issue at the heart of the unfreezing issue is fairness. The persons who are receiving frozen pensions contributed to the British national insurance scheme during their working years in the United Kingdom. They made these contributions in the expectation they would eventually receive a pension in retirement irrespective of where they might choose to live.
Now, however, depending on which country they decide to spend their retirement years in their British pension may or may not be frozen. The unfairness is compounded by the fact that most of today's British pensioners in Canada served the United Kingdom during World War II or are the widows of British veterans. This point was emphatically made by the Prime Minister when he met with Prime Minister Major on the occasion of the commemoration of the 50th anniversaries of D-Day and V-E Day.
There is also a humanitarian consideration. Many of the British pensioners in Canada came to our country so that they could spend their retirement years with their children and grandchildren who immigrated here. Their frozen British pensions make them more financially dependent on their families. For many this can mean a loss of dignity.
There are undoubtedly also some pensioners in Britain who would like to join their families in Canada but have not done so because their British pensions will be frozen.
On February 5 the social security committee of the British House of Commons released a report on the issue of frozen British pensions. The report unfortunately did not call directly on the U.K. government to change its position on unfreezing. However it pointed out the illogic of the current British policy of indexing its pensions in some countries and not in others. In the words of the report:
Surely no one would have deliberately designed a policy of paying pensions to people living abroad intending to end up in the position we are in today-It is impossible to discern any pattern behind the selection of countries with whom bilateral agreements have been made providing for unfreezing.
The committee's report goes on to recommend a free vote in the British House of Commons:
-to allow members to express their opinion on the principle of whether the government should pay upgradings to some or all of those pensioners living in countries where upgradings are not paid at present.
The Government of Canada views this as a positive suggestion. We hope it will be adopted by the United Kingdom.
I urge all members of the House to support the motion put forward by the hon. member for The Battlefords-Meadow Lake. The government is already strongly committed to vigorously pursuing an agreement with the United Kingdom that provides for the indexing of British pensions.
Unanimous adoption of the motion will clearly demonstrate the commitment of all parties in the House and of all Canadians to the resolution of this long outstanding problem.
Radioactive Waste Importation Act December 11th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to clarify Canada's approach to the safety of radioactive waste management.
I just want to mention I believe that the hon. member for Red Deer referred to plutonium in his remarks. In looking back at the remarks of the hon. member for Fraser Valley East when he spoke on the bill, he said: "From the outset I want to make it clear that this bill would not ban the importation of plutonium from the U.S. and Russian warheads". He went on to say: "That is not waste. We can still do that and Canadians are willing to consider that option because they feel it is part of what we can do. If we can get rid of the number of nuclear weapons around the world, we certainly are prepared to do our part".
Before I get into a discussion on the Canadian approach to the safety of radioactive waste management, I also want to draw the attention of the House to one of the unintended but important negative aspects of Bill C-236. I am pleased that the parliamentary secretary raised this in her remarks because two of the companies
she mentioned are in my riding, MDS Nordion and Theratronics. They literally could be put out of business if the bill becomes law.
Fifty years ago the company we now know as MDS Nordion began operations with three employees in a temporary government building beside the supreme court, just a few hundred yards away from this building. Today in its segment of the health care industry it is recognized as a world leader in the development, production and marketing of radioisotope products and technology.
The radioisotopes it produces and distributes are used in nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat disease. Every year roughly 20 million diagnostic imaging tests are carried out in hospitals around the globe using Nordion's radioisotopes. Industrial processes too, such as quality assurance and non-destructive testing, rely on radioisotopes supplied by the company.
MDS Nordion is also the world leader in the supply of radiation processing equipment and cobalt 60 used to sterilize medical and surgical supplies and a wide range of consumer products from bandages to contact lens solutions to baby powder. This same technology can be used to eliminate salmonella bacteria in poultry and E. coli, a deadly bacteria sometimes found in red meat, particularly hamburger.
MDS Nordion is a major economic contributor to Canada's economy. It employs more than 600 well educated and highly skilled men and women in Kanata, Vancouver, Laval and overseas. Ninety-five per cent of the products it produces at its main production facility in Kanata are exported to more than 70 countries.
Theratronics employs some 240 people in Kanata. It is recognized internationally as the leader in the manufacture of cobalt teletherapy units and cobalt teletherapy treatment planning systems. It has one of the largest installed bases of cobalt units and treatment planning systems in the world. As a supplier of cobalt sources for these units, Theratronics has a moral obligation to offer disposal services.
Many countries do not have the infrastructure to properly dispose of radioactive material. This is because the quantity of the material generated does not warrant a full program. Developing countries often do not have the financial resources to commit to the disposal of radioactive material or do not have the required expertise. Smaller countries with large populations do not have the land or geography required to set up a radioactive material repository.
As with MDS Nordion, the radioactive material which is being imported for disposal by Theratronics originated in Canada and was created through a nuclear process at the Chalk River laboratories. Cobalt 60 is totally Canadian or being replaced by Canadian made sources.
I wish to make it absolutely clear that the control of nuclear energy falls under federal jurisdiction. To prevent undue risks to human health and the environment, any practice involving radioactive waste management would be strictly regulated by the Atomic Energy Control Board, the AECB, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
The Government of Canada is well aware that the nuclear regulatory body must be competent and empowered by appropriate legislation if it is to ensure that operations in the nuclear industry are conducted safely. The government has introduced modern and comprehensive legislation, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Control Act. This act updates the Atomic Energy Control Act and is currently before the House. I remind the House of this fact in view of statements made during the last two House debates.
During the last two debates members on the other side of the House argued that Canada should not even think of accepting radioactive waste from other countries since it cannot properly manage its own radioactive waste. To support this premise they referred to the May 1995 report of the Auditor General of Canada on federal radioactive waste management. Clearly these hon. members are not aware of the expertise acquired by Canadians over the years. They risk alarming the Canadian public unnecessarily.
The main message of the auditor general's 1995 report was not that Canada cannot properly manage its radioactive waste, but rather that it has not kept pace with some other countries, namely Finland, France and Sweden, with regard to some aspects of disposal plans.
Federal officials closely follow developments in other countries and they know about the processes driving the scheduling of radioactive waste disposal around the world. In fact, countries around the world have already expended considerable effort to come to an agreement on the transboundary movement of hazardous and radioactive waste and to establish appropriate principles for the import and export of these materials.
In Canada steady progress is being made in the field of radioactive waste disposal. For example, on July 10, 1996 the Minister of Natural Resources announced a radioactive waste policy framework that will guide Canada's approach to radioactive waste disposal into the next century.
The framework establishes a comprehensive and integrated approach to long term management and disposal of radioactive wastes. The government developed the framework in consultation with waste producers and owners. The policy framework recognizes the federal government's responsibility for developing policy, regulating the industry and ensuring that waste producers and owners comply with legal requirements and meet their funding and operational responsibilities.
Under the policy framework, the polluter pays. In accordance with this principle, waste producers and owners are responsible for funding, organizing, managing and operating disposal and other facilities for their waste. The policy framework emphasizes the Government of Canada's commitment to sustainable development.
I assure the House that the first priority of the Government of Canada is the health and safety of Canadians. The AECB, through various processes, including inspection and ongoing assessments, reviews, and licence renewal, works to satisfy itself that the operations of its licensees are safe.
The bill we are discussing today does nothing to contribute to safety. It adds nothing of value to regulations under the Atomic Energy Control Act nor to those under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Existing regulations are strictly enforced. National and international organizations continue to develop safe practices for the management of radioactive waste including its import and export. The Government of Canada will continue to ensure that any projects or policies that involve the management of radioactive waste do not pose any undue risks to health, safety, security or the environment.
Canada clearly has the ability to properly manage the waste we generate domestically. Banning the import of radioactive waste on the specious grounds that we cannot even manage our own supply is simply not warranted.
I believe votes in this House should be based on credible information. There is no real doubt that Canada has the knowledge base, the expertise, the infrastructure and the regulatory system to ensure that radioactive waste, including imported waste, is treated in such a way that it poses no undue risk to human health or the environment. I urge all members of Parliament to reject this bill.
Canada World Youth November 27th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to recognize a group of students who are with us today from Canada World Youth.
Seven Canadian and seven Russian youths are taking part in this exchange program. The students are spending three months in Smiths Falls and Brockville, Ontario and then will travel to Russia for three months.
Canada World Youth, founded in 1971, is a non-profit organization that co-ordinates international exchanges and non-formal education experiences for youth. This program creates unique cross-cultural learning experiences, develops leadership skills and provides opportunities for young people to become involved with international and community development issues.
The seven Russian students are billeted with seven Canadian families for the three-month period. Volunteer work placements are sought to allow participants to learn how small businesses and community service organizations function.
I commend the organizers for their hard work and dedication which have made this exchange so successful for the last 25 years.
An Act To Revoke The Conviction Of Louis David Riel November 22nd, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on Bill C-297, an act to revoke the conviction of Louis David Riel.
Louis Riel worked tirelessly for Metis people, as well as other residents of the territory, so that they could take their rightful place in Canadian society and exercise their rights and freedoms within the Dominion of Canada.
An historical perspective is always useful to have when examining a matter such as we have before us today in the House.
The Metis people of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory took steps, through democratic structures and procedures, to maintain order and to protect the interests of all the members of the community at the Red River.
In 1870, under the leadership of Louis Riel, the Metis of the Red River adopted a list of rights. Based on the list of rights, Louis Riel negotiated the terms for admission of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territory into the Dominion of Canada. A delegation of three was sent by the provisional government to Ottawa to present the terms to the Canadian government. This action put an abrupt
end to some publicly expressed desires, south of our border, to have American settlers expand northward into Rupert's Land.
These terms of admission, or union, form part of the Manitoba Act. This act provided for certain guarantees for Metis people, who were then in the majority, including schooling and religious rights, as well as recognition of the French and English languages.
The rights of other citizens were also clearly set out. This was Riel's vision of a united country, with each citizen participating on an equal basis.
After negotiating the entry of Manitoba into Confederation, Louis Riel was elected three times by acclamation to the House of Commons. All hon. members know that acclamation is a rare event in the political process, an action accorded only to those who command the greatest respect from all quarters. Such was the stature of Louis Riel in Manitoba at that time.
From the late 1870s to the mid-1880s the territory west of Manitoba was undergoing significant change. Indians were not the only occupants of this region. Both English speaking and French speaking Metis and settlers of many nationalities had moved west of Manitoba. These people banded together to advance their requests to government for the maintenance of their rights.
The Metis asked Louis Riel to assist in negotiating with the government. This took place at a time when Metis people and others felt the government had not responded to the plight of the people in the North-West Territory. This had led to extreme tensions.
The Metis people of the territory led by Louis Riel, decided to take action to secure their interests. Several military expeditions were dispatched to the west. Sadly, this led to a conflict in which lives were lost. Louis Riel paid with his life for his leadership in a movement which sought protection for the aspirations and interests of Metis people. This loss was devastating to Riel's family and has been a heavy burden for all Metis people.
The Metis people have since honoured Louis Riel's memory and have continued his purposes. The Constitution Act of 1992 recognizes and affirms existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the Metis. Governments have honoured Louis Riel in numerous ways. Commemorative stamps have been issued to honour Louis Riel.
The government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, funded the publication of the collective writings of Louis Riel. This was published by the University of Alberta Press in 1985 to commemorate the anniversary of the North-West rebellion. Copies of this scholarly work have been deposited in all major Canadian libraries.
On March 10, 1992, the House of Commons passed a special resolution honouring Louis Riel as a founder of Manitoba and recognizing his contribution to the development of western Canada.
The government takes very seriously its obligation to honour one of its sons for his many contributions. On May 16, 1996 a new statue of Louis Riel was unveiled in Winnipeg. The Metis people see this depiction of Riel as a statesman as a proper and fitting tribute. Funded by the government, the statue is situated on the grounds of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
Riel's statue overlooks the Assiniboia River just west of its confluence with the Red River, two of the major transportation routes of the settlement in that era of our country's history.
At the unveiling the Minister of Foreign Affairs and member for Winnipeg South Centre told the gathering that Riel was a father of Confederation for all Canadians. Lieutenant-Governor Yvon Dumont, a Metis, said the unveiling of the statue establishes Riel's status as Manitoba's founder. Mr. Dumont said: "He is a hero to all Canadians. Today we hold our heads higher".
The government will continue to work closely with Metis leaders and the family of Louis Riel to find meaningful and appropriate ways to celebrate Riel's contributions to Confederation. The government will continue the dialogue begun with the Metis leadership in order to arrive at a satisfactory solution concerning his conviction. We will also continue our discussions with the leadership on this and other matters through the existing bilateral process with the Metis National Council.
I cannot accept the premise on which this bill was put forward. When Bill C-297 was tabled, the hon. member for Rimouski-Témiscouata asserted that Riel was hanged "because he was Metis, because he was francophone and because he stood up for a distinct society". Statements such as these do no justice to Louis Riel. They are incompatible with his purposes.
Riel was an eloquent, articulate defender of Metis rights as well as those of all members of the community, whether aboriginal or non-aboriginal, anglophone or francophone. Louis Riel believed in Metis having equal rights and participation within Confederation. Metis formed a substantial part of the population then and he championed the rights of minority groups.
Louis Riel would likely be saddened today by the divisive approach being taken by the Bloc in this debate.
I would like to remind the House of the resolution adopted in 1992 by the House, which recognized the unique and historic role of Louis Riel as the founder of Manitoba and his contribution to the
development of Confederation. It further agreed to support the true attainment both in principle and practice of the constitutional rights of the Metis people.
Whatever we do to find a way to address this important matter, we should do so in a manner which is acceptable to the family of Louis Riel and to Metis.
Veterans Week November 5th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, last year and over the previous five years, Canadians marked the 50th anniversaries of the events of the second world war. The anniversaries led to unprecedented media coverage of the commemorative ceremonies for such historic events as the Battle of Britain, the Dieppe landing, the Italian campaign, D-Day and the end of the war. Across the country veterans organizations helped communities stage special ceremonies and celebrations that brought to mind the way of life of a different time, and the spirit of dedication of those who served Canada.
We must not let go of that sense of respect for the generation of the second world war now that the 50th anniversaries have passed. I invite all Canadians to take time this Veterans Week, November 3 to 11, to reflect upon the contributions of those Canadians who brought our nation through some of its most trying times and gave it some of the proudest moments in our history.
Canada Savings Bonds October 11th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance.
While most Canadians are pleased to see low interest rates, some seniors have expressed concern about preserving their investment income. Many seniors rely on Canada savings bonds. What can they expect from this year's launch of Canada savings bonds?
Crosskeys Systems Corporation October 3rd, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute today to Crosskeys Systems Corporation of Kanata.
This morning the Prime Minister was in my riding to officially open a new building for Crosskeys, which is an affiliate of Newbridge Networks.
In addition, Crosskeys received an award which names it as one of Canada's 50 best managed private companies recognizing its commitment to product quality and a team approach to customer relationships.
Crosskeys, founded in 1992, is a very young company. This is a Canadian company that is a success in global markets. Its software and services are at work in telecommunications systems around the world. In just a little more than four years Crosskeys has gone from being a start up to being an established international competitor in
its sector. As it has done this, it has created jobs with a future. It has helped cement the reputation of our community as a hotbed of new technologies.
This is one more example of how the high tech companies in Kanata, our very own silicon valley north, are changing the face of the national capital region and assuring our position of global leadership in the information age economy.
Income Tax Act September 27th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today in favour of Motion No. 30 brought forward by my colleague from Mississauga South.
At the outset I would like to say that I have not looked at all of the financial implications of this motion and, from that perspective, we must bear in mind that this is a motion and not a bill. What we are really trying to do is encourage the government to look for ways to fulfil the objectives the member for Mississauga has in mind. I am very pleased to see that there is so much support on both sides of the House for this motion.
I think it is fair to say that there is a growing sense among Canadians that governments at all levels place less value today on the role parents play in raising children. One may argue that it is a personal decision to have children and that society already plays a large role in the development of those children. We can look at health care and education as two examples of general tax revenues being used for the indiscriminate benefit of all of us.
The fact that all taxpayers contribute to the education system demonstrates that society has historically recognized that well educated children and, as a consequence, a well educated workforce and citizenry are good for the well-being of the whole community.
The decision to have children means years of financial sacrifice for parents. There is a further loss of income if one parent stays home to look after the children. I have long believed that income splitting would be the preferred way for governments to recognize the costs involved when a parent stays home to care for a child or children. My colleague from Mississauga South has already introduced a bill which proposes that to the government and I still believe this approach should be looked at by the government when it is looking for ways to help families.
In the past 50 years we have seen a dramatic change in the Canadian family. In 1968 only 30 per cent of families had two incomes. In a 1994 study by Statistics Canada 60.4 per cent of all families were dual earners. Now more often than not both parents work outside the home. One of the reasons for this change often is that both parents have vital careers and want to continue their professional lives.
However, as a recent Angus Reid survey showed, over 70 per cent of parents where both were working and had preschool children said that if they could they would choose to have one parent stay at home to provide for their children. However, this choice is not available to all families. The realities of today's economy force many parents to both work just to make ends meet.
Being a dual earner family causes other problems, in particular the extra expense of child care. This additional child care expense is substantial. For example, when a second spouse is working and earning $25,000 with two children in child care the net pay is less than $100 per week. In many cases it does not justify the family hardships and sacrifices made when both spouses are working.
I would like to read a letter from one of my constituents whom I have spoken with at some length. He has written to me recently again, Mr. Don Bell from Kanata, Ontario. I will quote one paragraph from his letter:
Existing income tax laws provide day care rebates to the lower income earner in a family, rebates which increase as salary increases. This encourages the second wage earner to work full time, even overtime, to maximize benefits. A custodial parent with children finds it easy to obtain welfare benefits after divorce, making marriage break-up financially attractive. What incentives are there for parents to stay home and care for their own children, or to stay married and assume responsibility for each other's care? Sadly, there are none. Dependent child deductions have disappeared from the income tax form. The spousal deduction has been so eroded by inflation that even a small part time income wipes it out, again leading both parents to work and burn themselves out full time.
As the tax system stands now, there are no significant benefits for stay at home parents. Motion No. 30 would help remedy this oversight. By providing a caregiver tax credit, the federal government would be making it possible for many parents to decide whether to work or stay at home.
I would actually go beyond what is in the motion. I would not limit this to preschool children. It is important that we have parents available throughout a child's development through school and try to avoid problems of latch key kids coming home from school when there is nobody home.
I am not sure why this was limited to preschool children. Perhaps this is looked on as the art of the possible, but if government is looking at using the tax system to help families raising children, it really has to look at supporting families right through to the end of high school for children.
One could also argue there would be immediate economic benefits if the government is to adopt Motion No. 30, assuming that it encourages people to stay at home. Those parents who choose to stay at home to raise their children will immediately free many jobs. This would lead to a lowering of the unemployment rate and, in addition, will open more quality child care spaces. This will ensure that the children of dual earner families have professional care givers looking after them. Those child care workers are individuals who have the education and training to make a child's preschool years a rewarding experience.
More important, this motion will have a substantial positive effect on the next generation. As we all know, children are the future of our country and we, as today's parents, have an important influence on the shaping of their character and beliefs.
Study after study shows that the early years of life are instrumental in the development of a child's lifetime character. One of the latest of such studies, published in April 1996 by Dr. Steinhauser of the Caledon institute of Social Policy, concluded with the statement that society needs to develop a system: "designed to help all families better meet the critical developmental needs of their children while increasing their sense of mastery and control of their own and their children's lives. Then and only then can we be confident that the next generation of children will have the good early childhood experiences that will enable them to achieve, for themselves and for society, their potential for personal success and for both human and economic productivity".
This motion does not deal only with the raising of children. It also recognizes the needs of people caring for the disabled, the chronically ill and the aged.
We are each aware of people whose lives are affected totally by the demands placed on them by caring for loved ones who are ill or disabled.
In particular I think of an elderly woman who spoke at one of my town hall meetings on health care whose husband has Alzheimer's disease. Essentially this woman, who is not all that well herself, finds herself up all hours of the day and night tending to her husband's needs. She loves her husband and wants to keep him at home as long as she can but she is burning herself out. She feels there is absolutely no recognition of the fact that she is providing this care.
There are many others out there as well. I am involved with the Alzheimer's Society. This is a growing problem. We will continue to see this grow in the future.
If there is any possibility of keeping someone out of a public institution, we should look for ways to support those who are willing to make all those sacrifices involved in looking after somebody 24 hours a day in the home.
This is important for parents to know that society recognizes their contribution. Those who provide care to the ill, the disabled or aged also have this need.
The financial aspect is extremely important but also the fact that society recognizes what people are going through. These are stories we rarely hear about because they are behind closed doors in people's homes. There are tremendous struggles going on out there. We need to in some way let people know we appreciate what they are doing. The demands on our chronic care system are only going to continue to grow over time.
I wish to again congratulate my colleague from Mississauga South on this motion. He is being consistent and persistent when it comes to raising these problems with us. I hope with the goodwill of the House we will have this motion passed when it comes time.