On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Won his last election, in 1997, with 45% of the vote.
Points Of Order December 13th, 1999
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Points Of Order December 13th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, further to the Prime Minister's announcement that he wants to introduce a bill denying Quebecers their fundamental rights, I ask for the unanimous consent of the House to table a document that will clarify matters for the House.
It is an article from the Journal de Montréal which explains very well the counter-offensive—
Municipal Grants Act November 25th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his two questions. Since I must be quick, let me simply say that, regarding his first question, I am convinced the Prime Minister understood the question very well, as all Quebecers did. Let us not forget that 93% of Quebec voters actually voted in the 1995 referendum.
The Prime Minister understood the question very well and if he had won by 15 or 20 points, he would now be the first one to say that the question was very clear. But he won by 0.4%. And since I now know the number of people who voted at the very last minute, I do not think the federal government really won. This is why the Prime Minister is so intent on setting the rules governing the next referendum.
As for my colleague's second question, I too wonder why we must proceed so quickly. The other day, there was a question in which it was mentioned that municipalities were asking the government to get the infrastructure program going again. Last week, the minister told us that this would not happen until December 2000.
The government is taking its time regarding infrastructures, and yet they are urgently needed. However, as regards this bill on municipalities—and I see that the Chair is signalling to me—I will conclude by telling the hon. member that I too cannot understand why the government is in such a hurry, considering there are so many other urgent things to do.
Municipal Grants Act November 25th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I am totally in agreement with what my colleague has just said.
As I have just said, we are going to vote yes, but with a great many reservations on certain unfortunate points, the very ones he has just listed.
This is why I said that this famous panel ought to have had greater powers, precisely so as to provide the municipalities with support in certain areas.
In my opinion, it is a cut and dried issue. If the federal government has buildings, or receives services in a municipality, then it should quite simply—particularly with the huge surpluses it has—at least pay for the services it receives, just like John Q. Public does.
This would enable the municipalities and provinces to breathe easier and to balance their budgets.
Municipal Grants Act November 25th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his three questions.
The short answer is yes. I agree with him, and this is one of the reasons the Bloc Quebecois is here now. Since it is impossible to renew this federalism, we have no choice but to work toward the sovereignty of Quebec. Why? Because we feel that the federal system—and I agree with the member on this point—is costing a huge amount of money.
Why collect taxes from the provinces, transfer them to Ottawa and, according to the whim of the federal system, hand them back to the provinces, having taken a small cut? I agree with him 100%.
The other week, the Premier of Quebec said “Give us a federal system similar to that of the European Union and I will go for it immediately”. How does the European Union operate right now? It consists of autonomous governments that give a mandate to the higher organization and pay accordingly. I am in full agreement with such an approach. The provinces should collect taxes and pay Ottawa for the services they receive, as simple.
The federal government is introducing all sorts of services that are costing us a lot of money and doing us no good. This is money that could benefit the provinces.
As the saying goes, if you want it done right, do it yourself. My thought entirely. That is what the Bloc Quebecois is trying to do here, to move this outmoded federal system forward. If this is not possible, the only way left to us to achieve the goals mentioned by my colleague is by working toward sovereignty for Quebec.
Municipal Grants Act November 25th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague has said, this panel will very often be made up of friends or of candidates defeated in the last election. The panel will advise the minister, but it is the minister who will have the last word and make the decisions. It is not, therefore, surprising to see so much conflict between the federal and the provincial or municipal levels of government.
Another point that raises questions is all that is not included in the definition of “federal buildings”, for instance: a ) any structure or work that is not a building designed primarily for the shelter of people, living things, plant or personal property or, for greater certainty, any structure, work, machinery or equipment in..., b ) any real property developed and used as a park and situated within an area defined as “urban” by Statistics Canada, as of the most recent census of the population of Canada taken by Statistics Canada, other than any real property acquired pursuant to the National Parks Act or the Historic Monuments Act or any real property that is occupied or used as a park and has been prescribed to be included in the definition “federal property” pursuant to..., c ) any Indian reserve, except for that part of the reserve
(i) that is occupied for residential purposes by an employee of Her Majesty in right of Canada who would not, but for that employment, live on that reserve...,
Follows a whole list of real property the government reserves for itself, perhaps because of the Constitution. However, I think the government could have used this bill to try to put some sort of order in all of this.
Why does it not pay for the services provided this real property? According to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services in her speech at first reading, and I quote: “The government is provided with direct and indirect useful services in exchange for payments in lieu of taxes”. So they recognize that it is really to pay for the services they receive.
Where is the statement found in the bill's summary I read earlier about improving the fairness, equity and predictability of payments?
Why does the government not pay its due to the provinces and municipalities, since we know that, in 5 years, it will have taken $95 billion in surplus away from the provinces and the municipalities? This kind of money is certainly not growing on parliament hill. This money came from the unemployment insurance fund, from cuts to transfers to the provinces, and from higher provincial taxes because of a lack of indexing, not from parliament hill.
The government should have given this money back to the municipalities and the provinces, because they need it to manage and pay the services provided to federal properties. Again, it would have allowed them to balance their budgets.
Instead, the federal government keeps accumulating surpluses and investing the money in new programs it will eventually drop. But the provinces and municipalities will have to pay for and keep providing services which, some day, the federal government will simply drop.
The Prime Minister recently boasted about having surpluses and not knowing what to do with them.
This bill provided the Prime Minister with an opportunity to do something with these surpluses, if only he had given time to the municipalities to come and meet their members of parliament and if he had agreed to really pay for services provided to the federal government by the municipalities.
The Prime Minister had a golden opportunity to return the federal surpluses to the provinces or municipalities, where they are most needed.
In conclusion, we disagree on three major points, namely the discretionary power, the bogus panel that the government will set up merely to exercise its discretionary power, and the whole part concerning real property, properties for which the government could have transferred money to the provinces and municipalities. However, as I said earlier, just because some clarity has been put in the bill and openness was demonstrated on a number of points, the Bloc Quebecois will support the bill.
Municipal Grants Act November 25th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-10, an act respecting payments in lieu of taxes to municipalities, provinces and other bodies exercising funtions of local government that levy real property taxes.
What does that mean exactly for the ordinary folk? I refer to the bill's summary, which states:
This enactment amends the Municipal Grants Act to improve the fairness, equity and predictability of payments made under the Act. A statement of purpose is included. The enactment establishes an Advisory Panel to advise the minister on disputes concerning payment amounts. It addresses the issues of compensation for untimely payments, defaults on tax obligations by certain tenants of the Crown and the bijural nature of the Canadian legal system. The enactment also makes other amendments of an administrative nature.
The Bloc Quebecois agrees in principle with this bill. And even though we have concerns about some of the points we do not agree with, we will vote in favour of the bill. We disagree on some very specific points. First, on the need to pass this bill in a hurry. We know it has been around for two years. Now all of a sudden it requires urgent attention.
A number of municipalities are currently complaining about being unable to examine this bill in depth and to meet with their member of parliament. I would have liked to meet with the municipalities in my riding—there are 12 of them—to really find out what points bother them. Unfortunately, they are not being given the time to do that, since the government is moving quickly to get this bill passed.
There is also the minister's discretionary power. It is true that such power is found in a number of bills, but I wonder when the government will truly decide to give more power to those directly concerned, in this case the municipalities, and to reduce the discretionary power of the minister who, in the end, is the one who decides and who simply does as he pleases.
I will also talk about the advisory panel—a bogus panel, in my opinion—to which people will be appointed to give advice to the government, not to make any decisions. Also several federal properties are being excluded.
I must say that the new title of the bill is less paternalistic, closer to reality—something which is important to those concerned—and clearer. There is a lot of talk about clarity these days—I will get back to this later on—since, all week, the word clear was constantly being raised during oral question period. It is important to talk about clarity.
It is true that the title of this bill is a little clearer than the former one, which was “Municipal Grants Act”. That title suggested that the federal government was giving grants to municipalities. A grant means a donation or a gift, but that was not the case.
Actually, these grants were used by the federal government to pay for services provided to its properties located on provincial and municipal land. The new title is a little clearer, a little more accurate than the former one, and the minister deserves praise for this giant step.
Judging by the number of times it has used a gag order to cut off debate during the consideration of bills, it cannot be said that this government is always clear. Quite the contrary.
I think that some clarity is in order from this government, which wants so much clarity from the provinces, particularly the Province of Quebec, when it comes to past referendums and referendums not yet held. As recently as yesterday, during oral question period, the Prime Minister was working himself up and saying that he would not negotiate the morning after a referendum if the question was not clear, regardless of the supreme court ruling. Yet this was not what the supreme court ruled.
The supreme court said that it was not up to the Prime Minister to decide whether or not the question was clear. The supreme court ruled that he must negotiate, failing which Quebec could take action.
Speaking of clarity, here is another example. I remember the 1980 referendum, in which Pierre Elliott Trudeau, with the help of his henchman, told us that a yes meant no, that a no meant yes, that Quebecers were telling him they wanted change in the federal system, and that there would be change. He staked his life on it. With the sort of clarity that calls a yes a no and a no a yes, the results are not surprising.
Recently, in the great rally in Montreal just before the 1995 referendum, the present Prime Minister promised Quebecers that he would renew Canadian federalism. “Decentralized federalism” was what he called it. At the present time, we are faced with a centralizing and dominating federalism that no longer even recognizes this founding people, the people of Quebec.
Clarity is something this government was desperately in need of. That is why the minister must be congratulated on at least changing the title of the bill to make it clearer. The new title is less paternalistic and more realistic, as I said, and the Bloc Quebecois agrees with the change. As I have also said, however, the Bloc Quebecois still has questions on certain very specific points.
We have difficulty recognizing the discretionary ministerial power in this bill. Instead of appointing a panel to advise the minister, it would have been easy to give this panel real power.
As has been done in a number of areas, the municipalities could have appointed one person, the government another. These two could have appointed a third and, instead of advising the minister, the panel could have really settled disputes between the municipalities and the federal government. But no, the minister appoints the members of an advisory panel whose role is to provide him with information.
Division No. 54 November 18th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of my constituents and my party to address Bill C-3, an act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other acts.
We thought that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada would have used the opportunity provided by the throne speech delivered on October 12 to let this very controversial bill, formerly Bill C-8 during the first session of the legislature, die on the order paper, like so many other bills.
Indeed, the primary purpose of a throne speech delivered half way through a mandate is to allow the government to adjust some of its policies, to review certain bills or to let them die on the order paper. Such was not the case with this legislation.
The minister is reintroducing the same bill, in spite of the numerous concerns expressed by the public, particularly in Quebec, and is pursuing the same goal, which is to fight Reformers on their own turf, on the right, so as to improve her party's image in western Canada.
Bill C-3 does not merely amend the Young Offenders Act, it repeals it. In it the minister sets out the new principles applicable to youth crime, which means that the basic principles of the Young Offenders Act, including respect for adolescents' special needs, will be replaced by new ones that have nothing to do with the specific characteristics of youth crime.
My colleague responsible for this issue, the hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm, suggested in a letter to the minister this summer, sent after he learned that the government was proroguing the session, that she take advantage of the opportunity provided by the throne speech to withdraw her bill for the following reasons:
Your reform has no justification. Statistics clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the way the law is being enforced in Quebec, based on the special needs of adolescents and individual treatment tailored to the specific characteristics of the adolescent and not to the nature and seriousness of the offence he or she has committed.
Statistics in Quebec demonstrate just how right my colleague from Berthier—Montcalm was. As I have already said, Quebec has the lowest youth crime rate in Canada. Yet in her bill the minister maintains her focus on seriousness of the offence and on repression, rather than reintegration. Why does she insist on this? What is she hiding, if not a desire to move to the right along with Reform, to the detriment of children?
This bill, if implemented as drafted, risks marking young people for life and turning them into hardened criminals rather than putting them back on the right road. The most intriguing element in this situation is the fact that the minister, in agreeing to what she calls a degree of flexibility, an opting out mechanism, shows that she has some doubt about her bill.
The minister claims there is flexibility, because provincial prosecutors will have, in each case, to decide whether or not they are opposed to the imposition of adult sentences on 14 year olds.
This same government, which intrudes all too often in areas of provincial jurisdiction in the name of a sacrosanct national standard, will allow, with this bill, differences in application that will be left up to provincial prosecutors.
In Quebec, a number of organizations belong to the Coalition pour la justice des mineurs. They believe the minister is making a serious mistake by making repression the focus of her bill. These organizations include the Commission des services juridiques, the Conseil permanent de la jeunesse, the École de criminologie of the University of Montreal, the Montreal community legal centre, the Fondation québécoise pour les jeunes contrevenants, the Institut Philippe-Pinel, the Association des chefs de police et pompiers du Québec, the Conférence des régies régionales de la santé et des services sociaux, the Association des centres jeunesse du Québec, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, the crown prosecutors' office, the Association des CLSC et des CHSLD du Québec, the École de psychoéducation of the University of Montreal, the Regroupement des organismes de justice alternative du Québec, the child welfare league of Canada, the Canadian criminal justice association, the Association des avocats de la défense du Québec and the Société de criminologie du Québec.
This is quite a number of organizations that are close to adolescents and that think the minister is making a mistake.
There is another example that warrants considerable thought, although it is somewhat different. Last Thursday, in a riding next to mine, in the town of Valleyfield, the Association des groupes d'intervention en défense des droits en santé mentale du Québec was holding a conference on isolation and restraint, on surviving and eliminating them.
Interviewed in La Presse , Dr. Tomkiewicz, renowned world over for his work in juvenile delinquency said:
Isolation and restraint accomplish nothing. I cannot see how they are therapeutic. With adolescents, the first thing to do is to talk to them, listen to them, get to know them, in short, treat them like individuals with their own story, and a capacity for love. Since 1960, I have been reducing the aggressiveness of young people through creativity, art, theatre, film and photography, and it works.
And this took place just recently, last week, not far from my riding.
Members will agree that what he has to say bears no resemblance to the Liberal philosophy, a policy which I would describe as repressive.
Bill C-3 broadens the group of offenders who may be tried in adult court to include 14 and 15 year olds. It establishes a sentence of custody for young people at higher risk and repeat offenders in cases of violent offences.
The example I gave earlier is much more consistent with the enforcement of the legislation in Quebec and the vision of the Bloc Quebecois than the repressive philosophy of the Liberal party.
According to the newspaper article on the conference, several other guest speakers shared Dr. Tomkiewicz's views. Among them were Gilles Gendron, a professor at the University of Montreal, Daniel Michelin, of the Centre jeunesse in Montérégie, and Marc Bélanger, of the Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse.
I cannot understand why this government, which has been spending millions on consultations in various fields for the past year, supposedly to avoid making any mistakes, is now ignoring not only the recommendations of specialists, but the experience and excellent results obtained in Quebec.
Once again, we note that the problem with Canadian federalism lies more in its implementation than in its form. That is why I hope that the minister will take into account the views of and results obtained in Quebec and amend this much contested bill.
Infrastructure Program November 3rd, 1999
Mr. Speaker, I speak for the municipalities in my riding, including those of Mercier, Châteauguay, Delson and Saint-Constant, which sent me resolutions and are calling for the immediate implementation of a second infrastructure program, as was mentioned in the latest throne speech.
The first program, funded a third by the federal government, a third by the provinces and a third by the municipalities, was really successful because the federal government fully respected provincial jurisdictions, which it unfortunately does not always do.
The riding of Châteauquay is impatiently waiting for the federal government to give back some of its many budget surpluses taken from the provinces so we may finish two projects begun some 20 years ago: the renovation of the Saint-Constant railway museum and highway 30 in the direction of the 401 to take some pressure off the south shore bridges to Montreal.
Transportation Of Nuclear Waste October 26th, 1999
Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I received in my riding office a copy of the resolutions of the cities of Delson, Saint-Constant and Châteauguay addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada on the subject of the transportation of nuclear waste from Russia and the United States via the St. Lawrence seaway.
In my riding, some 100,000 people live along the St. Lawrence in the municipalities of Delson, Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Constant, Kahnawake, Châteauguay, Mercier and Léry and are very concerned about the possibility of environmental accidents. In addition, these cities draw their drinking water near or from the St. Lawrence.
This government, which is spending millions on consultations with the public in certain areas would be well advised to put an end to its silence—at no cost to itself—acknowledge receipt of these resolutions and put a stop to this project that represents a danger to the people living on the shores of the St. Lawrence.