November 8, 1978

PC

Mr. Epp

Progressive Conservative

From June 1, 1974 to date, what lawyers in the Constituency of Provencher were given work by the Department of Justice and what amount was each paid per year?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-LAWYERS IN PROVENCHER
Permalink
LIB

Claude-André Lachance (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada)

Liberal

Mr. Claude-Andre Lachance (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice):

In so far as the legal agents of the Minister of Justice are concerned: None.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-LAWYERS IN PROVENCHER
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

The questions enumerated have been answered. Shall the remaining questions be allowed to stand?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-LAWYERS IN PROVENCHER
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

[ Translation]

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-LAWYERS IN PROVENCHER
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LIB

Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. Yvon Pinard (Parliamentary Secretary to President of Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
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LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Is that agreed and so ordered?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
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?

Some hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Sub-subtopic:   MOTIONS FOR PAPERS
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PRIVILEGE

LIB

James Alexander Jerome (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Speaker:

Order please. Before calling orders of the day I should state that I said earlier I hoped to dispose of the very interesting question of privilege raised by the hon. member for Northumberland-Durham (Mr. Lawrence) no sooner than today. I have found it is not possible to bring together all of the considerations involved. Indeed, it is a question of privilege which touches upon six or seven very significant aspects of our procedure. I hope to be able to dispose of this matter tomorrow.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   PRIVILEGE
Sub-subtopic:   MR. LAWRENCE-MINISTERIAL CORRESPONDENCE
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

BUSINESS OF SUPPLY

PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Joe Clark (Leader of the Opposition) moved:

That this House lacks confidence in the government because of its failure to bring better air service to Canadians through the implementation of a competitive air policy, and condemns the state takeover of Nordair.

He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to note that the very flexible Minister of Transport (Mr. Lang) is in his place in the House-the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Justice and the minister in charge of the Wheat Board. Indeed, as I saw him give instruction to you today, sir, I thought perhaps he had aspirations in respect of your chair as well.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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?

Some hon. Members:

Oh, oh!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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?

An hon. Member:

A great guy.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark:

The purpose of this motion is quite straightforward, Mr. Speaker. What is quite remarkable about it is, that this motion appeared last night and I suppose several minutes afterwards we suddenly received a statement from the Minister of Transport and Minister of Justice, his first statement in some time about national air policy. I naturally would not suggest there was any relation at all between the minister's

November 8, 1978

choice of last night to announce some element of national air policy and, the fact that our motion was set down for debate today, just as I would not suggest there was any relationship at all between the fact that the government was condemning the program of restraint, that we had proposed and then began to adopt a pale imitation of it; or, indeed, any relationship at all between the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau), standing in this place not long ago, condemned the Kingston conference of myself and various premiers, and then at the first ministers' conference the other day proposed what he had condemned; or indeed any relationship at all between the likely conclusion in the budget to come down next week and, the proposal calling for deductibility of mortgage interest payments. Those are all, of course, simply remarkable coincidences.

We have in this statement of yesterday the latest in a series of quite desperate acts by this government, all leading away from the development of any kind of comprehensive national air policy upon which Canadians can count or upon which the airlines can count. I should say in passing, sir, that this is simply one more act of indifference, to use a mild word in this House; this policy statement was issued outside this House of Commons, instead of here where it should have been issued by the Minister of Transport and Minister of Justice speaking on motions. I know why he did not do that. He chose to go outside the House because he did not want to face questions here in parliament on the policy matter he was revealing. Nonetheless, this is an affront to this House and something which should not be indulged in, and it should not be the continuing practice of this government.

What we have here is not the first air policy of this government that has been brought down in an election atmosphere. I can recall another, as can my colleagues from Winnipeg, all of whom now sit on this side of the House. There were two members after the last election of the other side, but they are no longer there, and that is due in some measure to the fact that there was a promise made and deliberately broken in relation to the establishment of maintenance facilities at the Air Canada hangar there. Indeed, the government promised that the facility would be used for wide bodied aircraft, sir. One wide bodied aircraft showed up in that hangar, and that was on the day it was officially opened. Since then there has been nothing back of any width greater than the credibility gap between what this government says and what it does.

There are various elements I want to address in dealing with this country's air policy today. One element is overriding, and that is that we still have no coherent, long-range national air policy. I would hope that the minister will today at least do the House of Commons the honour of trying to explain his latest pirouette in the name of policy. I would like him to tell us, and I am pleased to see that he is taking note, the detailed nature of the consultations between his ministry and Air Canada before this policy was brought down. I suspect there was none, and unless the minister wants to let that suspicion stand on the record he will have to answer it by telling us precisely the

National Air Policy

nature and the detail of consultations with Air Canada relating to a matter which touches Air Canada directly.

We would like to know from the minister today, when he speaks to answer, the nature of the recent conversations between his officials, himself and representatives of Quebecair or of Eastern Provincial Airways, which are most directly affected by one element of the minister's statement in which he talked about the movement "towards the development of a smaller number of strong regional lines than are operating now."

The question we want an answer to is, who is going to absorb whom? What mergers is the government talking about? What has been discussed with the companies proposed to be merged, or is the government simply going to buy them all out-naturally not on a permanent basis, but just for a little while in order to sell them again, which appears to be the minister's program in respect of Nordair?

This government has frequently intruded into almost every other business in the country in the name, of course, of non-intervention-the policy announced by the Prime Minister the other day. It has now become involved in the airline business. I should say to the minister, if I can get his attention, that we would be particularly interested if he would tell us his plans and the plans of the government in regard to Quebecair. We would like to know particularly if it is Quebecair that is the favoured purchaser of all or of part of Nordair and, indeed, if this policy which was created and announced last night is designed for some reason which the House has not seen to serve some interests of Quebecair, or to meet some concerns that the Government of Canada might have in relation to that particular company. I hope the minister will be forthcoming in all of those particular matters.

I want to take in order some of the questions which arise here. First I want to deal with the very novel idea of the Minister of Transport and Minister of Justice, and presumably of his government since he occupies so many of its portfolios, that the best way for the Government of Canada to protect the private sector is for the government to buy an airline that members of the private sector themselves want to buy. The minister knows that Great Lakes, at least, was ready to match the Air Canada bid, and he knows there was at least one other private sector industry in the Hamilton area prepared to buy Nordair. He knows that these offers exist already and he does not have to wait or to shop around for somebody to buy what the government is buying. He knows these offers exist already.

I must say, sir, that only this government could pretend to protect the private sector by bidding against it. The minister says in his release that it is his objective to return Nordair to private ownership within a year. We in this House of Commons have heard that line before, sir.

In 1974 the then minister of industry, trade and commerce, who was I think also in orbit although perhaps not quite as high or as briefly as the present minister, told us that de Havilland and Canadair were being purchased by the govern-

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November 8, 1978

National Air Policy

ment on an interim basis so that they could be resold to private investors. That was four years ago and there has been no action whatsoever on that undertaking. I feel very safe in predicting that as long as this government is in office there will be no action either to return Nordair to private ownership.

If it was the government's real intent to return Nordair to private ownership, it had a very simple, very direct course of action open to it. It could have ordered Air Canada to withdraw from the initial attempt to purchase control of that company and allow new, private owners to bid for its shares. After all, it was not exactly a fire sale in this case. The company has been a profitable carrier. There were at least two, and there may well have been more, private groups ready to bid for its shares.

Air Canada, acting with this government's blessing, did not act to save an airline, it acted to increase its share of the Canadian market and thereby to further restrict competition. The minister's action yesterday in putting Nordair into direct government ownership simply serves to make a bad situation worse. The government's action yesterday helps put its restraint program in the proper perspective. In the name of restraint it has been cutting out research projects and provincial programs. They have been aiming at programs where they know there will be very strong resistance, so that the velocity of the resistance will make it look like this government is in fact taking a strong stand in the name of restraint. Indeed, relating to the air industry, the government proposes to increase the taxes on Canadian passengers, but with all of this they still go out and buy an airline which they do not need and which does not need to be the subject of government spending.

I am sure that most Canadians will remember and contrast the statement by the Prime Minister on television in early August when he said he was going to reduce government intrusion into the private sector. Now, three months later, in the name of reducing intrusions into the private sector the government buys a private sector airline for which there were private sector purchasers.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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?

An hon. Member:

That is called flexibility.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark:

My colleague says that is called flexibility. It is also called an absolute inability to keep its word to the Canadian people which sets in very clear context just how hollow and how much of a sham is the commitment by the government to restraint. Indeed, it underlines once again that this is a government which has very little respect for the partners in the Canadian economy or the Canadian community. This is a government whose instinct is to intervene and to attempt to control. We are talking about the air industry here today, but the interventionist attitude which has injured the air industry in Canada is the same attitude which has caused an atmosphere of conflict within this country, whether it is with the provinces, the private sector, voluntary groups or among ordinary Canadians.

This attitude on the part of the government corrupts the idea of government involvement through Crown corporations or other means in the private sector economy. It corrupts the

idea of the Crown corporation being established as a last resort. This is another classic case of the government moving into the private sector, not because it needs to-because there were other purchasers and alternatives-but simply because the Government of Canada wants to own another airline. They have said that they will divest themselves of it, as they said four years ago they would divest themselves of Canadair and de Havilland. Their word is as good today as it was four years ago, which is to say it is not worth the paper on which the minister has stated his intentions, as his colleague did some four years ago.

We on this side of the House understand, as this government very clearly does not, that there is a very real threat in terms of both cost and unfair competition when a government unnecessarily creates state-owned ventures that are not subject to the same kind of financial restraint as private industry. We understand, too, as this government obviously does not, the inherent conflict of interest in having a state-owned company competing with privately owned corporations in a field like transportation, where the government sets the rules and regulates so much of the activity. Indeed, there are occasions, as there have been in the past, when it makes sense for the government to establish Crown agencies or Crown corporations.

I am privileged to be the leader of a political party that in its past has had the courage to recognize that because the private sector could not meet particular needs it was essential for the public sector to move in. It also requires courage and imagination to recognize that there are many times when activities are best left to the private sector. This is clearly one of those circumstances.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
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?

An hon. Member:

Why?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
Permalink
PC

Charles Joseph Clark (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Clark:

A member on the other side, I think a member who is interested in transportation issues, asks why. The answer to the question is quite simple. There were private sector purchasers available and therefore there was no need for the government to intervene.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
Permalink
?

An hon. Member:

What about Pacific Western Airlines?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   BUSINESS OF SUPPLY
Sub-subtopic:   ALLOTTED DAY, S.O. 58(9)-NON-CONFIDENCE MOTION-LACK OF COMPETITIVE AIR TRANSPORT POLICY
Permalink

November 8, 1978