May 4, 1972

?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   FARM CREDIT ACT
Sub-subtopic:   AMENDMENTS RESPECTING LOANS AND POWERS AND CAPITAL OF CORPORATION
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 40 deemed to have been moved.


INCOME TAX-SUGGESTED INCREASE IN EXEMPTION FOR RETIRED PERSONS OR GRANTING OF TAX CREDITS IN BUDGET

NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader; Whip of the N.D.P.)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Stanley Knowles (Winnipeg North Centre):

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, May 1, as reported in Hansard at page 1764, I put a question to the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) in the following terms:

In view of the many urgent appeals being received from senior citizens for the alleviation of their situation, is the minister giving consideration either to increasing the income tax exemption levels for retired persons or granting tax credits in the budget he will be bringing down next Monday evening.

May 4, 1972

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion

The answer of the minister was one I might have expected.

He said:

Mr. Speaker, I have noted the hon. member's representation.

I realize it is against the traditions of Parliament for a Minister of Finance to indicate in advance of bringing down a budget what provisions that budget will contain. Nevertheless, it is also one of our traditions that we have the right to press upon the minister changes to which he should be giving active consideration. Therefore I urge very strongly upon the new Minister of Finance that in this his first budget he show some consideration for our older and retired people.

It is a fact that what our retired people need most is an increase in their pensions. They also need a provision for their pensions to be escalated annually at least to the extent of the rise in the cost of living. I realize that these are matters which come under the aegis of the Minister of National Health and Welfare (Mr. Munro). Nevertheless, the Minister of Finance, when he brings his tax proposals before the House, has it in his power to do something to relieve the position of many of our senior citizens. What he can do is raise the income tax exemption level for retired persons or, in my view better still, provide them with tax exemptions so that retired persons whose incomes are modest will not have to pay income tax on those moderate incomes.

As all hon. members are aware, because I believe all of them are receiving such letters, a number of organizations as well as individuals are writing, suggesting that the income tax exemption level for those 65 years of age and over should be $3,000 for single persons and $4,500 for married couples, with a provision for these levels to be escalated annually. This suggestion comes in particular from various associations of superannuated women teachers and superannuated teachers generally as well as from other groups and individuals.

The government can say, of course, that in this year, 1972, certain changes have been put into effect, namely, that the age at which a special exemption is allowed has been fixed at 65 rather than at 70 as it used to be. It can also point out that the amount allowed as an extra exemption for retired people has been raised from $500 to $650. But in light of the needs of our senior citizens and in light of the fact that costs continue to rise, I suggest that for these people on fixed incomes there is a rationale and a case for their being given special income tax treatment.

I hope, therefore, that the noting of my representation, which the minister indicated the other day, will result in active consideration of the claims of our senior citizens. I have observed in editorial comments in various newspapers, over the radio and on television that it is being suggested that whatever else the minister is able to do next Monday night, he ought not to forget our retired people.

I hope the parliamentary secretary will realize tonight that he has a chance to make a name for himself and a chance to be reported across this country if he will even say that he personally, as one who is close to the Minister

of Finance, will press him, when he brings down his budget next Monday night, to make tax changes that will alleviate the plight of many of our senior citizens.

Topic:   INCOME TAX-SUGGESTED INCREASE IN EXEMPTION FOR RETIRED PERSONS OR GRANTING OF TAX CREDITS IN BUDGET
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LIB

J. Judd Buchanan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance)

Liberal

Mr. Judd Buchanan (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Finance):

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has pointed out that during the oral question period on Monday, May 1, he inquired whether or not the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) was considering including certain items in his forthcoming budget. At that time the minister took note of the member's representation and, as the hon. member has indicated, he feels strongly about this area.

It is certainly well within the rights of the hon. member to urge strongly upon the minister certain action in this area. However, I know the hon. member will appreciate that because of traditional budget secrecy nothing further can be said at this time about what is or is not included in the budget which will be brought down by the Minister of Finance next Monday evening.

Topic:   INCOME TAX-SUGGESTED INCREASE IN EXEMPTION FOR RETIRED PERSONS OR GRANTING OF TAX CREDITS IN BUDGET
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INDIAN AFFAIRS-REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON ACTION TO PROTECT RIGHTS IN RELATION TO JAMES BAY HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT

PC

Paul Yewchuk

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Paul Yewchuk (Athabasca):

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes of the time of the House tonight to speak on behalf of 5,000 or 6,000 Cree Indians who live in the James Bay area, the area which will be affected by the proposed hydroelectric power development.

My remarks tonight arise out of a question which I put to the minister on April 26. I asked whether he would outline the position of the government. I asked how he intends to participate in the action which the Indian people themselves have initiated. The minister's reply was that his officials had met with representatives of the Quebec Indian Association the day before and that he would announce his policy after considering the proposal of the Indian people.

Another factor which has led me to make a few comments is that the minister has been somewhat devious in dealing with this matter. On April 26 he said he had received a proposal from the Indians the day before, which was April 25. In the debate in the House of Commons on April 28 he said he had not heard about the proposal until just a day or so prior to that debate. Also, he has said repeatedly that he had not received any request from the Indian people for assistance and that he does not want to be paternalistic and interfere in their affairs.

I think those statements are somewhat misleading. Perhaps this was unitentional, but unless the minister does not read the papers and his mail, he should have known that there was a good deal of opposition to his project based on the fact that these Indians have been hunting, trapping and fishing in the area for 300 or more years and that flooding the entire area would wipe out forever their ability to earn a livelihood. There was no statement by anyone on how they would be compensated or what alternatives they would have, should the old way of life be made impossible on a permanent basis, which would occur through flooding as a result of the construction of dams.

May 4, 1972

On April 22, the Montreal Star-I am sure that the minister read that newspaper-quoted David Diamond's brief as follows:

I really can't understand them . . . those who would destroy other people in order to suit their own selfish ends.

The reference is to the possible destruction of the way of living of the Indian people in this area through flooding which might occur, an area covering 4,000 square miles of forest and valleys. I want to encourage the minister to state his policy. In his discussion on April 28 in the House he said he would have meetings for three days this week-yesterday, today and tomorrow. I would think he would have something to add which might be useful in establishing what the policy is and in allaying the fears of the Indian population in that area.

I think that when the minister said he did not want to be paternalistic he was merely passing the buck. The facts are that the law requires that prior to surrender of any Indian lands an order must be obtained from the governor in council, which means that before any Indian lands Eire surrendered the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development must give his approval. The Indian people have indicated that they want him to exercise his authority as the guardian of their lands, ensure that such lands will not be surrendered until they are satisfied that their land rights have been fully discussed with people of authority, and assure them of a method of earning a living.

Not too long ago the Indian people indicated their intention to proceed by way of the courts to stop this construction. The minister has indicated that since a request was made to him directly for assistance, he will do everything in his power to assist the Indian people. Since the minister ran out of the chamber a few minutes ago, I would like to know from his parliamentary secretary if the minister will assist the Indians with the legal costs if they continue their proceedings in the courts.

So far my comments have been somewhat critical of the minister for his failure to act on behalf of the Indians. The question is: What alternative could he offer them? The first thought that comes to mind is that some jobs could be given to Indian people during the construction, but we know this is really of no value because we must look at the matter from a long-term point of view. Construction, at best, will last only two or three years.

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS-REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON ACTION TO PROTECT RIGHTS IN RELATION TO JAMES BAY HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT
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LIB

Russell Clayton Honey (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order. I regret to interrupt the hon. member, but his time has expired.

Proceedings on Adjournment Motion

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS-REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON ACTION TO PROTECT RIGHTS IN RELATION TO JAMES BAY HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT
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LIB

Allen B. Sulatycky (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development)

Liberal

Mr. Allen B. Sulatycky (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development):

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the question that the hon. member for Athabasca (Mr. Yewchuk) asked the minister on April 26, I wish to state that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Chretien) added substantially to his previous replies during the debate which took place in the House on Friday, April 28. The minister said on that occasion: "Now that the Indians have officially requested my help I am happy to offer them my assistance. They have asked me to meet them next week and I have agreed to do so."

Most hon. members know that the Indian chiefs from the James Bay area and representatives of the Indians of the Quebec Association are in Ottawa at the time I am speaking and are meeting both today and tomorrow with the minister and his officials. It is appropriate at this stage to mention two of the recommendations in the preliminary study of the environmental impacts of the James Bay development project, prepared by the joint federal-provincial task force. The report, published in February, 1972, recommended:

That intensive studies be undertaken of the major ecological problem of the impact of the project on the native population of the territory. These studies should examine the effects upon the Indian mode of life caused by both the changes in the natural environment (e.g. hunting, fishing and trapping potential, travel routes, etc.) and of the abrupt superimposition of an alien culture and technology. The object of these studies should be to improve and protect the lot of the Indians, whether they choose to maintain their traditional way of life or to shift to the industrial community. Present efforts to encourage the active participation of the Indians themselves in such studies should be intensified in order to draw upon their innate understanding of the forces of nature.

Another recommendation was:

That programs be instituted providing full and open discussions with representatives of the native community on the planning of the regional development and on the education and training needs of both Indians and whites that will lead to a reasonable harmonizing of their two cultures.

These recommendations and other subjects will be raised during the discussions between the Indians concerned and the minister. The judicial aspects of the situation will also be reviewed. The minister stated last Friday, and many times previously, that we firmly intend to protect the interests of the Indians. I am sure that when his discussions with the James Bay chiefs and the executive of the association are completed the minister will be pleased to make a further statement.

Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.15 p.m.

Friday. May 5. 1972

Topic:   INDIAN AFFAIRS-REQUEST FOR STATEMENT ON ACTION TO PROTECT RIGHTS IN RELATION TO JAMES BAY HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT
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May 4, 1972