Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to eight petitions.
Lost his last election, in 2000, with 22% of the vote.
Government Response To Petitions November 29th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's responses to eight petitions.
Canadian Census November 26th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond to Motion No. 277 which calls for the government to include the word "Canadian" on the question concerning ethnic origin in the census.
First, I would like to point out that for a number of censuses respondents have been able to respond "Canadian" to the ethnic origin question. This question appears only on the long form questionnaire which goes to 20 per cent of the population. In the 1996 census conducted last May, "Canadian" was listed among the examples provided as possible answers to the question on ethnic or cultural origins.
The census has played an important role in the development of Canada. For more than 100 years, the census has informed us about the social and economic development of our country and on the evolving diversity of our population. For the last four censuses, it has provided statistics reported on the number of people who reported Canadian as their only ethnic origin.
I would like to assure the House that Statistics Canada is committed to developing census questions that meet the highest priority needs of data users. Prior to every census, Statistics Canada consults interested Canadians throughout the country in government, in community associations and as interested citizens in an effort to identify information requirements which might best be addressed through the census.
For each census, Statistics Canada carefully tests and evaluates all the proposed questions. For the 1991 census the ethnic origin question went through a particularly rigorous consultation, testing, review and approval process. This process ultimately included approval by cabinet and the prescription of the questions by the governor in council as required by the Statistics Act.
The increasing diversity of Canada's population, coupled with the increasing number of persons who chose to report Canadian as their only ethnic origin in 1991, led Statistics Canada to undertake further consultations and testing on the ethnicity question. This ensured that the census would continue to meet the important needs for accurate data on the composition and characteristics of the population. As a result, the question was modified again for the 1996 census.
Testing of the modified question indicated that people clearly understood the question and that it would produce accurate data. The 1996 ethnic origin question included as examples of possible answers the most frequently reported ethnic origins from the 1991 census. Canadian was among the examples provided since Canadian was the fifth most often reported ethnic origin in the 1991 census. Respondents could report up to four ethnic origins in the space provided. Canada is a country populated by aboriginal peoples, immigrants and the descendants of immigrants. Indeed,
census data show that our population includes people with more than 100 different ethnic and cultural origins. We are all proud of both our heritage and of Canada.
The government acknowledges that for some Canadians the ethnic origin question is a sensitive one. It can be associated with emotional issues such as personal identity, national unity, patriotism or fear of oppressive regimes in former homelands. Nevertheless, many Canadians are proud to report their ancestry or ethnic origins on the census, and indeed are anxious to do so. For them it is a straightforward and simple question.
For others whose families may have been in Canada for many generations or who no longer have any connection to their country of origin, the question may be difficult to answer or may be considered irrelevant. For this and a variety of other reasons many people choose to report their ethnic origin as Canadian and nothing else. The census has provided them with the opportunity to do so and the results have been published.
Since 1981 Statistics Canada has published the number of people who chose to report their ethnic origin as Canadian. This number has been increasing and has reached 765,000 in 1991. As I mentioned earlier, Canadian was the fifth most frequently reported ethnic origin in 1991.
As in past censuses, Canadian was a valid answer to the ethnic origin question on the 1996 census. The data are now being tabulated and will be published as soon as the results are available. Adding or changing questions on the census form is not a task that Statistics Canada takes lightly. The agency must tread a fine line to accommodate many different needs, balancing the many conflicting demands for information with the need to minimize the reporting burden and the intrusion on the privacy of Canadian citizens.
The census provides information which is vital to virtually every sector of society. Census data are used in the administration of more than 80 federal and provincial legislative measures and support critical decision making by private industry and by every level of government throughout the country.
Throughout the years census data on ethnic origin have been of widespread interest to federal departments, provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as agencies and companies of every kind. In fact, these data are among the most widely used data from the census. The data are used to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society, to plan heritage and multicultural programs and to deliver services to an increasing, diverse population.
Statistics Canada has a proven method of treading the fine line between meeting data needs and minimizing the burden on the
public. The Canadian census enjoys wide approval and support from the public and from data users. This House should not get involved in the difficult and complex business of survey design. Rather, we should leave this task to Statistics Canada. Let us give the agency the chance to review the results of the 1996 census and then design and test questions leading to the submission of proven workable proposals for review and approval of cabinet as required by the Statistics Act.
I am confident that the agency can formulate questions that make sense to respondents and still supply the data needed to inform the decisions of government, industry and individual citizens in the first decade of the next century. No decision should be made about the content of the 2001 census at this time. As Canada enters the 21st century it is important that the census questions keep pace with the changes in our society. Consultations for the 2001 census as well as the evaluation of the 1996 census results will bring many new ideas to the forefront, including the need for the collection of statistics on the ethnic origins of the population. The cost of the census and the burden on the respondents must be taken into account before any decision is made to add or to change questions.
I call on members of the House to reject Motion No. 277 and leave this difficult job to Statistics Canada.
Petitions November 26th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from people primarily from the Biggar and Perdue area of Saskatchewan indicating that they wish that the GST be removed from reading materials.
Interest Rates November 20th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, one of the best ways to deal with matters such as credit cards and interest rates on credit cards is by the consumers to indicate whether or not they wish to accommodate such an industry.
When interest rates were high, generally consumers in other areas did not borrow money and did not make purchases, and recently we had it in the housing industry. When interest rates were reduced through the very fine policy of our finance minister, then consumers gained confidence and started to buy houses.
The same can apply in the credit card industry. It is best to leave it to the marketplace. Already there are changes by some of the lending institutions where in certain cases they are instituting credit cards with lower rates. It is best to leave it for the marketplace and Canadian consumers. If the consumers do not like the policy and the high interest rates, they do not have to use the cards.
New Democratic Party November 4th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, the NDP member for Regina-Lumsden has, in this House on prior occasions, referred to corporate donations made to the Liberal Party. It is interesting that such references are made without the hon. member looking into his own backyard.
For the period ending December 31, 1995 it is interesting to note that the NDP has received donations from such corporations as ScotiaMcLeod, $13,207; Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, $10,800; KPMG (Peat Marwick), $10,000; Weyerhauser Canada, $9,000; Cargill Limited, $6,500; Deloitte Touche, $6,200. The corporate list goes on and on.
Questions On The Order Paper November 1st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
Government Response To Petitions November 1st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table in both official languages the government's response to 15 petitions.
Radioactive Waste Importation Act October 31st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to inform the House of the negative consequences of passing the legislation proposed in Bill C-236.
There are many negative consequences of the proposed act. My intervention will concentrate on the negative consequences to the health of Canadians and other residents of developing as well as developed countries. It will also concentrate on the negative consequences on sustainable development activities that may require international co-operation.
Canada has no plans to import nuclear fuel waste. Nevertheless Canadian officials are participating in the development of international recommendations on the practice of importing and exporting radioactive waste, particularly low level radioactive waste.
The International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA indicates that a state exporting radioactive material should take the appropriate steps necessary to permit readmission into its territory of any resulting radioactive waste which the importing state cannot dispose of properly unless another arrangement can be made.
Thus the bill would affect the availability of medical, industrial and research equipment containing radioactive sources for developed and developing countries.
With regard to developing countries, very few of these have disposal facilities and therefore may not be able to avail themselves of this type of equipment. In many cases, Canada is the leading exporter of such equipment and in some cases the only supplier to the world. Since many developing countries are in no position to adequately dispose of any radioactive waste resulting from the use of such equipment and materials, these countries may have but two alternatives.
The first alternative is to turn to a non-Canadian supplier, if available, that would accept the return of radioactive waste but that may or may not properly dispose of this waste. The other alternative is simply to give up the health and environmental activities. This would necessarily increase risks to both health and the environment and make it more difficult to move toward sustainable development activities.
If we believe that giving up good medical practice is not desirable, then to which states will the resulting radioactive waste be exported? Canada has the technological capability to properly manage this waste. Would passing the bill put forward by the member for Fraser Valley East indicate to the world that we are shirking our responsibilities to the developing world?
We were very pleased to hear the member opposite state in the previous debate that "Canada has a responsibility as an advanced industrial society to look for ways of helping other societies that are perhaps having a little trouble right now to find ways of treating the nuclear waste produced".
How do we help these countries? By pressuring them to spend considerable sums of money to deal with their own radioactive waste resulting from various uses, including medical procedures? Many developing countries cannot afford to do so and must export their waste if they are to benefit from the peaceful and beneficial uses of nuclear energy. Should developed countries close their borders to them? If so, then not only would they not be helping in the development of these countries, but they would also be wilfully inhibiting the progress of developing countries toward sustainable development activities. This would be contrary to Canada's international relations, particularly in view of our past and present activities in assisting countries that are endeavouring to develop in a sustainable manner.
The legislation proposed in Bill C-236 could also impact on international co-operative activities on overall waste management services not only with developing countries but also with developed countries, particularly with the United States. Good co-operation with our neighbours on waste management issues is essential in view of future special circumstances which may arise requiring mutual assistance for the safe and effective management of waste.
For instance, there have already been cases in other countries where hospitals have had to stop using certain medical procedures on patients because they were unable to ship the resulting radioactive waste to national disposal facilities due to temporary unavailability. In such instances it would be more than justifiable on a health basis to permit shipping the waste to a neighbouring country either for storage or disposal purposes until the temporary problem was resolved.
A ban on the importation of radioactive waste might seem questionable to our neighbours. Therefore this bill would hamper Canada's assistance and co-operation with nations around the world, resulting in a decrease in the quality of health protection systems for Canadians and for residents in developing as well as developed countries.
I urge the members of the House not to vote for this bill.
Supply October 24th, 1996
Madam Speaker, the Canadian Tourism Commission was created in February 1995. This public/private sector partnership was able to take advantage of positive external conditions, for example, expanding economies, fluctuating exchange rates and structural developments to regain market share in key areas and reduce the travel deficit.
In his February 27, 1996 response to the speech from the throne the Prime Minister spoke of the CTC as a remarkable success which will serve as a model of partnership between the various levels of government and the private sector for the 21st Century.
In establishing the CTC the Prime Minister challenged the industry to match the federal government's financial commitment of $50 million annually within the three years of its creation.
Partners in 1995-96, the first year of operation, provided approximately $40 million in co-funding programming. To date, in 1996-97, it appears that the target of exceeding $50 million in partner funding will be met.
Results to date are impressive. Canada's travel account deficit fell from $4 billion in 1994 to $3 billion in 1995, a decrease of 25 per cent.
In 1995 tourism employed 488,500 persons directly. This was a 2 per cent increase in tourism employment in 1995 over 1994. Statistics Canada estimates that in 1995 tourism spending in Canada amounted to $41.8 billion, up from $39 billion in 1994, a 7 per cent increase. In 1995, 17 million international tourists visited Canada, up 6 per cent over 1994. Tourists from the United States increased by 4 per cent to 13 million while tourists from overseas countries rose by 14 per cent to 4 million.
Bombardier October 24th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting again that Reformers concentrate on this matter when we have a company that is a world class manufacturer of airplanes. They concentrate on matters like this.
The hon. member mentioned elimination of grants in their programs. They talk about the elimination of regional agencies as well. They would eliminate all the work that has been created in areas such as western Canada by organizations like western diversification, Hitachi in Saskatoon and other industries. They are trying to do that. That is unfair to regions that are developing.