June 26, 1980

LIB

Coline M. Campbell

Liberal

Miss Coline Campbell (South West Nova):

Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief as I have a short time left to me from the last time we debated Bill C-3. At that time I referred to the reduction in the amount of time that is needed for someone to earn an unemployment insurance stamp. I noted that although the time period had been changed in a previous amendment, this year the Unemployment Insurance Commission had decided that a reduction in the length of time was required.

Before criticizing this particular regulation that was introduced recently in this House by the minister, I should like to point out that the existing regulation had also been changed to make the required period 20 weeks or 30 per cent of maximum insurable earnings. Now that is to be changed again, to 15 weeks or one-fifth of maximum insurable earnings as the time requirement to earn one stamp. This indicates to me that 20 hours of employment per week, or 30 per cent of maximum insurable earnings, cannot be provided to workers at all times. This hits very directly at one segment of society-part-time workers, and women in particular.

The last time the bill was before the House 1 pointed out this difficulty and commented that it would be very hard for this group to find employment. I have pointed out in committee and in the House that it might be better to combine two weeks in order to qualify for a stamp, but apparently the commission decided that there should be a regulation to reduce the period. This zig-zag from one year to the next is very unfair and it is difficult for people to know how much they must earn in order to qualify.

It seems to me it would be more advantageous in areas such as the one I represent if an employer were able to give a stamp for two weeks combined, rather than the period being reduced as is done by the regulation.

It is possible that the task force is considering this proposition, but at the present time the confusion that has been so much a part of unemployment insurance amendments and regulations in the past few years, still exists.

I would remind the minister that in the notes on the employment program and community development projects that he passed out to members of Parliament, he stated:

Members of Parliament and local advisory groups will be consulted by the minister in the decision-making process and funds will be allocated to all constituencies on the basis of unemployment.

This is the reason I have raised the subject tonight as well as other occasions, and why I will raise it again in the future, until the basis of unemployment has been regulated by the minister and the Unemployment Insurance Commission.

Unemployment Insurance Act

I should like to return to the question of the use of the variable entrance requirement based on the economic region. The last time I spoke, I mentioned the use of this factor which came into effect last July. It has led to confusion in those areas of the country where it is being administered. People do not know, from one month to the next, how many weeks of insurable earnings they need in order to qualify for benefits by next November, December or January.

I would like to reiterate that the economic region-unemployment insurance rates been used by unemployment insurance offices, and by that economic region rate I mean that employed by Statistics Canada and used by the unemployment insurance offices. The other night 1 tried to show to the House the difference and the handicap. It is not only under the variable entrance requirement or under the extended benefits or just in the ability to go into, let us say, the employment programs, it is the harshness that it brings about. Yet, if one looked at the labour surplus rate, which I defined earlier, as the number of regular beneficiaries as a proportion of the labour force, we would look at South West Nova and see that a difference existed between the labour surplus rate and the unemployment rate as indicated by Statistics Canada under the economic region. In fact, it shows such a different picture than the use of the Statistics economic region. The labour surplus rate in South West Nova last year was 13.3 per cent compared to a labour surplus rate of 12.8 per cent for the economic region unemployment insurance rate. The reason that the two sets of data are different, as I have said before, is probably the result of the statistical problem in estimating labour force and unemployed data from a sample that may be too small as used by Statistics Canada.

If we had true statistics, and if one used just the unemployment office in that area, the figures would probably show that in South West Nova the unemployment is as high and as severe as any other economic region in the province. I am substantiated in my theory by the benefits paid out. If one looks back to January, 1978, January, 1979, and January, 1980, by taking that particular month we find that in January,

1978, the total benefits paid in Yarmouth were 15 per cent of the total benefits paid for the whole province. If one looks at

1979, it was 16 per cent, and in 1980 the figure was again 15 per cent. That includes the fact that there were many people who qualified in 1979 who did not qualify in 1980 because of the use of the variable entrance requirement. It is a very severe handicap. It shows that there were 7,046 beneficiaries in January, 1980, at the Yarmouth unemployment office. This is out of a total of 44,552 beneficiaries in Nova Scotia.

That would be about 15.8 per cent of the total beneficiaries in Nova Scotia. Yet if we take a look at the figures for January, and by assuming that January has the highest number of unemployed, and by assuming that in South West Nova the critical unemployment period is in the winter from November to February, and by assuming the estimated impact of Bill C-13 in a district office area of Yarmouth in 1979-80, by taking the individuals who were prevented from establish-

June 26, 1980

Unemployment Insurance Act

ing a claim either because they were a repeater or because of the new entrance provision, there were approximately 1,170 people affected.

By adding that figure to the 7,046 registered beneficiaries, we come up with about 8,216, which is approximately 18 per cent of the total for the province of Nova Scotia. We are looking at 18 per cent of the total beneficiaries in Nova Scotia, and one has to consider that in that area we have probably about 7 per cent of the total population of the province and probably some of the lowest salaries earned in Nova Scotia. If we look at the federal-regional rate scale, it shows that South West Nova has the lowest salary scale in Nova Scotia.

1 reiterate this point, because I looked at Hansard the other night and perhaps I did not make it clear enough then as to the acute problem that the continued use of variable entrance requirement will create in South West Nova. I look at it again in light of the fact that 1 reviewed the projects under this bill, and I have to say that I am upset that we are continuing the use of the variable entrance requirement. First, people in South West Nova do not have a definite amount of time that they must work in order to qualify. Second, the use of the money under the new financing arrangement is not going into job creation.

I stop at that point because the use of the unemployment insurance rates based on economic regions in South West Nova has had a cruel effect in that area because of the amount of employment created by the employment programs. 1 say this because in the past under Canada Works it was based on the unemployment rate. If you go to employment strategies it was based on unemployment rates, based on an economic region which did not truly give a good sample of the population that was unemployed in that area at specific times in the year. It goes back to the need for all sorts of employment programs, such as the employment tax credit which does not apply directly. It has some application in the area but it perhaps created about $100,000 worth of job creation last year out of a total package of whatever was used in government tax credits. Yet, that type of employment incentive does not apply to a rural area where the business end of it cannot take that up as a program. They need economic employment stimulation.

I want to say again tonight that I look forward to this bill in committee. I look forward to pressing the minister to find a solution. I ask him not to wait for two years and have two winters of hard times where the unemployment rate for stamps in a given area is not known. I will continue to press this, particularly in light of this bill, and I look forward to seeing what happens in committee. I must say that I find it hard to think that the Unemployment Insurance Commission needs 18 months. I am glad that there is another study under way, but I hope that there will be lots of consultations with the members. Perhaps in the future some of the members will be listened to in terms of the problems which have been suggested to the minister in the past, here in this House and in committee.

1 thank the House for the time allotted to me. I am sure there are many other speakers who wish to speak on this bill and I look forward to the bill coming to committee.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT, 1971 MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

Sidney James Parker

New Democratic Party

Mr. Sid Parker (Kootenay East-Revelstoke):

Mr. Speaker,

I welcome the opportunity to speak on Bill C-3, an act to amend the Unemployment Insurance Act. I am disappointed that the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Axworthy) is not in the House. I realize that he has just had one bill passed. However, I feel that he will have difficulty in putting this one through.

I am very happy to follow the hon. member for South West Nova (Miss Campbell). I wish to comment briefly on an item which she overlooked. In the press release in which the minister announced Bill C-3, he noted that the government plans to introduce regulating changes that would alter the minimum insurability provision. Instead of being required to work 20 hours per week, it would be 15 hours per week.

There is a very serious discrimination against pregnant women who require unemployment insurance benefits. While the minister has looked at the part-time workers, he has discriminated against what is called the magic ten area of women in the work force.

1 wish to relate some of my remarks this evening to problems in Kootenay East-Revelstoke, one of the highest unemployment areas in British Columbia. We have the problem of people having to drive between 90 and 100 miles to register for unemployment insurance. The office is so busy that their applications are sent to Terrace to be processed, approximately 1,100 miles away. These people who paid into the unemployment insurance program while in the work force, and through their employer and the government, have to wait through this procedure.

What I resent even more than that kind of procedure is the fact that 1 received a letter from the Minister of Employment and Immigration just recently telling me that he would prefer if I would deal with problems of unemployment in my riding because his ministry is too busy to deal with them personally. He tried to encourage me to deal with them in my own riding. How can I do that when applications are sent 1,100 miles away to be processed?

I want to deal further with what is happening in my riding. On January 3 there were seven explosive workers who worked on a contract in Fernie. The contract was in a special area of work. The Kaiser resource employees took a strike vote and went on strike January 3. Even though these seven explosive workers were not part of that contract, they were laid off. They received notification from their employer that they were being laid off because of a strike.

These workers applied for unemployment insurance. After driving 100 miles to apply and then back home, they were told they did not qualify and must therefore appear before a court of revision, although a court of revision had been held prior to that on a similar claim that year. The unanimous decision of that court of revision was that these employees would qualify and they were therefore paid.

The unique part of this is that of the seven employees, five were from British Columbia and two were from Alberta.

June 26, 1980

Therefore the five were heard in the province of British Columbia. It was the unanimous decision of that court of revision that they should be paid. The two who went to Alberta appeared before a board of referees. The Alberta decision was also unanimous that they should be paid.

Those seven employees are being subjected to something else. The Unemployment Insurance Commission is going to appeal that decision, taking it to a board of referees. Although this took place on January 3, those employees do not yet know when they will go before an umpire for a decision. This is a cowardly attitude on the part of the Unemployment Insurance Commission. The situation in which these employees found themselves was unavoidable. They had no strike vote and no decision as to when they will return to work, yet they are compelled to go through this kind of procedure.

The decision of the umpire has not yet been finalized. However, if the decision is against those employees, it can be used in any similar incident. The employees do not have the resources to protect themselves. There are another 40 employees of Sawchuck Trucking involved in the same dispute. They, too, have been told they have to appear before a board of referees. After having been out since January 3, only half have been called in for the referee's decision and half are still waiting. They may have to go through the same procedure.

I think that before the minister and the government bring a bill into this House, they should clean up the act we now have. Let us begin to recognize the needs of these people. It is a tragedy that those who pay into the program have to wait for these kinds of decisions. The employee, the employer and the referees all agree, but they have to wait for the commission. That is very wrong. I agree with the process, but I disagree with what has happened in this case.

1 wish to talk a bit about what we should be looking at in our unemployment insurance program. There are almost a million people unemployed, and we have an unemployment centre that does not have the true feeling of the people. That is of great concern. The attitude of the unemployment centre at this time is to try to deny the unemployed person the benefits, for which he has paid. It is time the Minister of Employment and Immigration called in the top union executives and business people to sit around the table and begin looking at where we are going in Canada today. What are we going to do about our problems? We have one million people unemployed. There are people not paying into the program. Possibly I should relate some of the revenue we are losing.

It is important to note in this connection that for every one job created in producing a resource, another six are created in processing it, and yet these are the jobs we export. Unemployment now costs us $5 billion annually in lost production of goods and services, $1 billion in federal tax revenues, $5 billion in unemployment insurance pay-outs. The pay-out for unemployment insurance in 1981-82 is estimated at $5.2 billion.

The minister comes in with a bill that will reduce the application date for part-time workers. The minister and the government should be ashamed with what is happening. The bank interest rate in Canada today has virtually closed down

Unemployment Insurance Act

the housing industry in British Columbia. The lumber industry is almost at a standstill with regard to new development and so on. There are lay-offs in those industries. There is a need for housing yet we are paying out unemployment insurance- when the commission decides to do so. What are we doing?

I asked the minister about an Outreach program which would try to help some of these people. I travelled to Windsor with a delegation of our group and I saw some of the problems in the Windsor area, also. I witnessed the unification of that community in an effort to relieve some of those who are suffering because of lay-offs in the auto industry. If the minister does not realize the gravity of the situation, it is about time a delegation from his party began to travel the country to see at first hand what the needs of the people are.

I want to talk for a moment about the waiting period under the unemployment insurance regulations. Take the case of a man who has been working for a company and who is suddenly laid off. He is in serious trouble to begin with, but now he is confronted with a waiting period. It is as if a man found himself obliged to go to hospital only to be told he had to wait for two weeks for hospital benefits because he did not qualify for treatment. Assistance is needed right away.

In British Columbia, people come into my office in Cran-brook on an almost daily basis with grievances of this kind, and I am told to phone the social welfare office. I say to the minister that this is not a social problem, it is an employment problem, and we should be regarding it in that light. We should not be looking after people under social programs paid for by the taxpayers when the situation has clearly been brought about by a slowdown in industry.

I should like to refer to a communication dated June 26, 1980, which was sent to all members of Parliament by the Minister of Employment and Immigration. Indeed, I should like to read it verbatim before commenting further. It states:

As you know, my portfolio embraces a number of important programs which are highly visible at the local level. Employment counselling, placement, unemployment insurance and immigrant settlement, to name but a few, are examples of the day to day services rendered in the community by officials of Employment and Immigration Canada.

The focal points for the delivery of these services are the local Canada Employment Centres-

In my area, it could be Cranbrook, or it could be Penticton, or it could be Terrace.

-and for immigration matters, the Canada Immigration Centres.

I would like to invite you and your staff to take full advantage of the expertise in the local offices of the commission when constituency needs arise in relation to any of the above programs. I am sure you will find the CEC and CIC managers to be knowledgeable, conscientious and responsive to the requirements of their clients.

While recommending that you bring constituency matters to the attention of my local office managers to better facilitate-

In Creston, which is about 65 miles away from Cranbrook, there is a suboffice, but the suboffice is only allowed to take in material and send it to the central office, and the central office sends it wherever it may be necessary. I believe that

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June 26, 1980

Unemployment Insurance Act

when there are problems of this magnitude it is the responsibility of the department to make sure there are staff who can attend to the needs of the people affected and give them the service to which they are entitled.

One of the main causes for complaint in my riding is the length of time taken to process claims. I believe responsibility rests squarely on the Government of Canada because the local offices do not have the staff to enable them to carry out the work which has to be done. 1 appeal to the minister to take a more serious view of the unemployment situation in Canada and to bring down a bill which will establish much better facilities than exist at the present time.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT, 1971 MEASURE TO AMEND
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NDP

James Douglas Manly

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jim Manly (Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands):

Mr. Speaker, 1 should like to share some of my thinking on this bill. To my mind it appears to be a chiselling bill from a chiselling government. It reminds me of the time I first became aware of some of the unfairness attached to unemployment insurance as it was first introduced, when I was growing up in the forties. I remember when my father paid into this program and then, when the time came for him to collect, he was not able to do so because of a technicality. Later he was a seasonal worker on construction and always he faced the question of whether or not he would have enough unemployment insurance stamps to enable him to collect insurance after he was laid off.

Unemployment insurance was not the icing on the cake for our family in those days. Rather, in times of unemployment it was our bread and butter. Thousands of workers across Canada and their families shared this reality. In my work with native Indian people on the north coast of British Columbia, I saw how important this same question was to seasonal fishermen and cannery workers. We have built the Canadian economy around the need for seasonal workers, but we have denied those workers all but a few crumbs from the table of Canada's plenty.

In 1971, with the passing of the Unemployment Insurance Act in its present form, we took a large step forward from the days back in 1940 when unemployment insurance was introduced for the first time. Unfortunately, 1971 was the high point. Since then the government's desire to provide a measure of economic security has been steadily weakened by a false set of priorities. Any commitment to economic justice has been over-shadowed by the cloud of unemployment which hangs over this country. Unemployment may not have been what the government wished for the Canadian people, but it is what the government has brought about as a result of its mismanagement of the economy.

The government has failed to deal with the need to provide jobs for Canadians. Instead, it has looked at the growing amount of money needed to finance the unemployment insurance fund and has found ways to chisel out of its commitments. Bill C-3 is only the latest in a depressing series of bills which have chiselled away at the 1971 program. The government goes backwards instead of forwards.

In his speech introducing the bill the minister said the amendment would lower the government's share of the cost of unemployment insurance. In 1979 the government's share of the cost amounted to 31 per cent. Under the new regulations it will drop to 20 per cent. The extra costs will be shifted on to the backs of employers and workers, a most regressive move. However, this allows the government to weasel out of its earlier commitment. We all know that unemployment insurance is expensive-too expensive to the tune of $5 billion a year.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE ACT, 1971 MEASURE TO AMEND
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PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION


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


ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE-DEALING WITH GRIEVANCES OF RCMP OFFICERS

PC

Elmer MacIntosh MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Elmer M. MacKay (Central Nova):

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to express my appreciation to the Solicitor General (Mr. Kaplan) for being here tonight. He will remember that on May 30 he indicated to me that he hoped to bring in some legislation to deal with some of the inequities which presently affect members of the RCMP and that he might answer some questions about individual grievances.

1 see that two of the outstanding grievances involving former members McCleery and Brunet have been dealt with. I am sorry to say that they have been dealt with in a very summary way because it appears that the Solicitor General did not even bother to intervene himself but turned it right back to the commissioner again. I would like to ask the minister tonight to explain his philosophy about his ministry and whether he is content to leave not just the management and control of the force to the commissioner but also the guidance and direction with which he, as minister, is charged under the act.

We do not have much time this evening to discuss the issues very fully, but I do want to take the opportunity to ask the minister if he will deal with another grievance which has been long outstanding, that of a member named Danch in Nova Scotia, whom one of his predecessors indicated he would view sympathetically in that the man won his case in the Federal Court but was left with a fairly large legal bill which neither he nor his solicitor has been able to persuade the government to pay.

There are also grievances which are not long-standing, but they are current, and one might say they are pending. I was disappointed that the Solicitor General did not answer my letter which I wrote to him over a month ago involving a man

June 26, 1980

named Robert McGarry, an informer of the force. I explained to the minister that I thought it was something he should look at personally, and 1 gave him some names. I am reminded of the time when 1 wrote to a former solicitor general about Warren Hart. 1 got no answer then either until I raised the matter in the House of Commons, so I reluctantly ask the minister tonight, would he please-and 1 will put it on the record-interview some of the people about whom I told him in my letter of May 22, to see what the situation is?

It appears to me-I may be wrong, and only a proper investigation can tell-that this man McGarry has been subjected to extreme pressures by one or more members of the force and perhaps has been asked to perjure himself in the process. Some of the spin-offs are going to be before the criminal courts. I do not want to be too specific, but I do ask the minister again to look into the matter and to interview people like Superintendent Yelle and Inspector Boivin. 1 have reason to believe he would get good, reliable information from Sargeant Gilles Boudreau and Corporal Mineault. I also ask him that these men be given every courtesy and not in any way be discriminated against or affected because of circumstances which may or may not exist here.

It seems that every time that one brings out a grievance- and there are many involving someone in the force-that there are unfortunate repercussions, and 1 hope the minister will be able to confirm tonight, speaking of that, that the matter involving the Association of 17 Divisions is not controversial any more and that members of the force are perfectly free to talk about it and to be active in it, because the minister well knows that it has been four years since the Marin commission of inquiry recommended certain changes, and to this date nothing significant has been done.

I take the minister at his word that he will do something before the summer, if at all possible, to bring in some changes.

This brings me to the last point, which 1 think is very important, because this is something which ought to be a high profile matter of concern to the Solicitor General. I will refer him to an article by Nick Auf der Maur in the Montreal Gazette of Wednesday, April 9, 1980, in which this columnist raises a point about one man, although he does not know the name of the corporal, whose name is James Wood, whom I have known for some years. This is the man who was widely credited with much of the good work which resulted in the expulsion of 11 Soviet spies not too long ago. This man has not been treated properly, and I think Nick Auf der Maur has summed it up fairly accurately, according to my knowledge of the matter. I will read briefly from his column, as follows:

It has been a little over two years since Jamieson and the RCMP justly and proudly revealed their coup. There has been no further word.

Meanwhile the agent who could be touted as a genuine Canadian hero ready to risk his life, has been languishing in Ottawa.

He has received no promotion, no bonus, not even a token little medal in recognition of his services.

There arc rumours he is under heavy pressure to accept an RCMP transfer to oblivion. Why wasn't he given the hero treatment lavished on Ken Taylor? Why

Adjournment Debate

was he never given any credit, even in private, let alone in public? Why does the RCMP treat its heroes as suspects?

This is an extreme case. Corporal Wood does not feel comfortable going before the McDonald commission, without his own independent counsel. In the past the government has paid independent counsel's fees. They have paid the fees of Warren Hart's counsel. They have paid the fees for McCleery and Brunet's counsel, as well they should. They have paid counsel fees for one of the minister's predecessors, the Hon. J. P. Goyer, and I have no quarrel with that. But why do we have these instances where there is so much apparent injustice?

1 am asking the Solicitor General to take seriously the powers that he has to guide and direct the force, not to interfere but to look into some of these things personally. It can be done, it is not difficult. By way of example, let me point out the case which you might remember, Mr. Speaker, of a lady who practically used to freeze herself to death outside the House of Commons for months looking for redress. It was possible to do something for her, not a great deal, but something to relieve her. You need not tell me that the minister cannot do these things if he wants to.

I hope my friend the Solicitor General will look into some of these grievances, and there are many of them, and that he will do something to identify with some of the rank and file, to use a labour expression in the force. I do not doubt his good will but I expect he is under enormous pressure from those people who are close to him, and I urge him to take a more humanitarian and direct interest in some of these cases. If he errs in judgment, he will only earn respect for it because, if he is not right, he will be on the side of right.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE-DEALING WITH GRIEVANCES OF RCMP OFFICERS
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LIB

Robert Phillip Kaplan (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Bob Kaplan (Solicitor General):

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the spirit in which the hon. member made his remarks, and I want to assure him that 1 do move beyond what he tonight called a closed circle, or the upper echelons of the RCMP, in trying to make the right decision in exercising direction over the RCMP, because I recognize fully that it is my responsibility to provide direction to the RCMP under their statute. I am aware of my responsibilities, and 1 believe I do exercise them.

However, that is not to say that I necessarily agree with the positions that are put to me by a variety of people, including the hon. member. He mentioned and I have mentioned before, the long over due RCMP act based on the recommendation of the Marin commission. This commission reported four years ago, as the hon. member said, and, by rights, legislation should have been brought in immediately following reception of that report because it contained very good advice to the government, and it will definitely make many of the internal procedures of the RCMP more fair and equitable. I think that the best way for me to deal with some of the matters to which the hon. member has referred and called inequitable is to do my best to bring that legislation forward rapidly, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

I want to deal with some of the specific cases to which the hon. member referred. He referred to the cases of McCleery and Brunet and argued that I have done nothing. In fact I

June 26, 1980

Adjournment Debate

made the same decision as his own government did when they were in charge of the matter and when my predecessor, Allan Lawrence, was directing the RCMP, which was not do anything for Brunet and McCleery. That was the conscious decision which my precedessor made, I assume, and I have made the same decision. 1 made it after asking for legal advice from the law officers of the Crown about what options I had.

1 learned that I could not directly reinstate an officer of the RCMP even if 1 had wanted to, but I did not have that authority. While the commissioner had the authority to do it, under those circumstances the legal opinion was that he could only do it if he felt, on review of the situation and of the past circumstances, that natural justice had been denied to the individuals concerned. 1 bluntly asked him that question in a formal way. 1 asked him to review the circumstances and, since he has the discretion, I asked him to let me know whether, in his view, natural justice had been denied to Brunet and McCleery. He informed me in due course that it had not, and therefore he was not prepared to take action. 1 have not been ignoring the matter. I have addressed it, and I decided to do what my predecessor did, which was not to take any action on their behalf.

I could refer as well to Danch, McGarry and the Association of 17 Divisions and the efforts that 1 made to establish good relations with the Div-Reps who are the recognized group through whom I operate in trying to deal with the concerns of the rank and file of the RCMP.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE-DEALING WITH GRIEVANCES OF RCMP OFFICERS
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ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE-ALLEGED SUPPLY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES TO NATIVE COMMUNITY IN B.C.

NDP

Svend Johannes Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby):

Mr. Speaker, I should like to associate myself briefly with the remarks of the hon. member for Central Nova (Mr. MacKay) who has been doing an excellent job in this House for some years now in raising concerns about the questions of discipline and the lack of natural justice in the disciplinary process of the RCMP. I assure the hon. member for Central Nova that we in this party fully support the efforts which have been made and will continue to be made to bring some natural justice to this process.

My remarks tonight are a follow-up to questions I raised with the Solicitor General (Mr. Kaplan) on May 26 concerning the report of the McDonald commission. 1 should say that since my question on that date the commission itself has made a ruling which certainly affects substantially the question 1 asked and, indeed, the answer the Solicitor General gave to my supplementary question.

The concern which we on this side of the House have in dealing with the McDonald commission report is that there was a series of allegations made throughout the course of the hearings of the McDonald commission. Some of those allegations were made in private, behind closed doors, and others were in the public eye about wrong doing. That doing consisted of any number of criminal activities. It included forgery, theft, illegal opening of mail, violations of the Income Tax

Act, arson, impersonation, breaking and entry, and a number of other similar offences.

In addition we are quite frankly concerned about the level of knowledge of the political masters of the RCMP before and during this particular period of time. We are concerned to know to what extent the political master of the RCMP at the time, the solicitor general, turned a blind eye to the illegal actions which were being taken by members of the RCMP. We are concerned to ensure that it will not just be members of the force at the junior levels against whom criminal charges are laid. If there has been evidence of illegalities, certainly criminal charges should be laid. But it is not only those persons who should carry the can, in effect. Indeed if there was knowledge and acquiescence on the part of their political masters, they too should accept responsibility and that responsibility should be carried out, where necessary, in the form of a sanction under the laws of this country.

The concern we have is that the evidence of wrongdoing, according to the commission, will not be made public. The evidence of individual actions of wrongdoing will not be made public. The legal conclusions which are drawn by the commission in examining evidence of wrongdoing will not be made public. The submissions on that question are to be made privately. The Solicitor General assured the House that, in particular, references to individuals in connection with various allegations will be made public. 1 certainly hope the Solicitor General intends to carry out this particular mandate.

The concern we have is that because of suggestions of involvement at some fairly senior levels on the part of former colleagues of the Solicitor General, it is not good enough to tell the House and people of Canada that this report on wrongdoings by the security service of the RCMP will be compiled, that the submissions with respect to individual wrongdoing will be kept secret, and then it will be up to the government of the day to decide what to do with those particular recommendations and, indeed, decide whether or not to make those recommendations public.

We have seen too many instances in the past of the disrespect on the part of the government and members of the government opposite for the law and forjudges in this country. 1 need only refer to a few instances over the past several years. There was the Sky Shops affair involving influence peddling. There was a former public works minister who picked up the telephone and called a judge, when one of his colleagues was cited for contempt by that judge. I refer to Mr. Drury. Indeed, his colleague, Mr. Ouellet, was cited for contempt and convicted of contempt of court in the province of Quebec. Francis Fox was not convicted, but he was forced to resign because of an improper signature on a form with which he was involved in his past. John Munro picked up the telephone to call a judge on behalf of one of his constituents. He is the hon. member for Hamilton East. 1 see that my friend, the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre (Mr. Knowles), is looking around. I realize that I should be naming ridings instead of names, and I apologize for straying from that formality.

June 26, 1980

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE-ALLEGED SUPPLY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES TO NATIVE COMMUNITY IN B.C.
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NDP

Stanley Howard Knowles (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Knowles:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE-ALLEGED SUPPLY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES TO NATIVE COMMUNITY IN B.C.
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NDP

Svend Johannes Robinson

New Democratic Party

Mr. Robinson (Burnaby):

The concern that we have-and I hope to have an assurance from the minister on it-is that any evidence not only with respect to violations of criminal law but which might lead to disciplinary action on the part of the RCMP, and evidence which might point to acquiescence or to actual knowledge on the part of former solicitors general, will be made public.

My final point is that 1 would like to hear a comment from the Solicitor General with respect to the suggestion which I made in committee and in this House, that the full report of the McDonald commission be considered, if necessary-and, indeed, it would be necessary when dealing with certain aspects of the report-in an in-camera session of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs in order that members of Parliament, on all sides of the House, may have an opportunity to provide input into the very important questions of the accountability of the RCMP and the political accountability of the people who govern the RCMP.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE-ALLEGED SUPPLY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES TO NATIVE COMMUNITY IN B.C.
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LIB

Robert Phillip Kaplan (Solicitor General of Canada)

Liberal

Hon. Bob Kaplan (Solicitor General):

Mr. Speaker, I have been accused by the hon. member from time to time of hiding behind the McDonald commission and wanting to delay everything until the report is completed. Since that is the subject of tonight's question, 1 would remind the hon. member that before he came to this House his party was certainly as active as any other party in pressing that this commission be established, that it be given broad powers and that it not be limited in any way.

The commission was set up in response to that type of representation, which, as I say, came not from only his party. Now that it is established and taking a long time in doing its work-longer perhaps than anyone expected-but doing a very thorough job and demonstrating daily its independence- it is a luxury which only the opposition can have, to turn on the commission and argue that, without waiting for it to complete the job for which it was set up, we should begin to expect the Attorney General (Mr. Chretien) and the attorneys general of the provinces to be laying charges.

Only the opposition can have it both ways and argue that an independent commission be set up, that it be given full powers, and then that it be ignored and overruled when the evidence which it may turn up from day to day suggests to the opposition that someone should be laying charges against someone. I am not taking that position, and neither is the government. We support the commission. We are complying with all it requests, we are appearing weekly before it in its hearings, and we are waiting, as the Attorney General of Canada has indicated, for its recommendations before deciding whether or not action should be taken and, if so, what action should be taken within the federal jurisdiction with respect to any unauthorized acts against our laws which are mentioned by the commission.

Of course our view does not apply to the provincial attorneys general. If they decide that they would like to conduct investi-

Adjournment Debate

gations and lay charges now, then that is within their jurisdiction. I would co-operate with them fully so that they could exercise their jurisdiction. However, when the McDonald commission made the decision to which the hon. member has referred, to hold hearings in camera in connection with individuals and their behaviour, I agree with that decision.

I think that the commission is demonstrating basic fairness and decency because, after all, hearings by the McDonald commission into this matter could be going on while the provincial attorneys general are laying charges and holding hearings. What could be more unfair to individuals than to be tried in two places and to be subject to examination before the McDonald commission in what the hon. member would like to be a public forum on the one hand, and on the other hand, if the hon. member's advice were taken by the attorneys general, an individual could be facing charges in another court on the very same day and at the very same time as he is appearing before the McDonald commission. 1 do not think the procedure he recommends is fair in any way to any of the individuals concerned, and 1 am surprised that he would seriously argue both those positions at the same time.

I have indicated that when the report of the McDonald commission is delivered to the government the recommendations which deal with individuals and findings which deal with individuals, will be referred to my colleague, the Attorney General. I shall recommend to him that all such findings be made public.

The hon. member has now asked, as he did when I appeared before the justice committee on estimates, that the entire report be made public or, if it is not made public, that it be brought before an in-camera meeting of the justice committee. That is an excellent suggestion, Mr. Speaker, which other people have also made, but whether the government could comply with that request will depend on the nature of the report.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE-ALLEGED SUPPLY OF WEAPONS AND EXPLOSIVES TO NATIVE COMMUNITY IN B.C.
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POST OFFICE-DEPLORABLE MAIL CONDITIONS IN CALGARY STEPS TO IMPROVE

PC

Frederick William Wright

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bill Wright (Calgary North):

Mr. Speaker, on May 16 I presented a motion under Standing Order 43 asking the government to direct the Postmaster General (Mr. Ouellet) to correct the deplorable postal conditions in Calgary North. The motion was not adopted.

On June 5 I asked the Postmaster General whether he would direct the Post Office to correct the problem in Calgary North which is not only deplorable but is inexcusable.

Calgary North is one of the fastest growing urban areas in Canada, but it has 4,000 homes without any type of mail delivery. Residents have to drive as far as ten miles in order to collect their mail, which most of them do at 7 a.m. The postal depot is closed at 3.30 p.m. Because it is a new area and usually both parents work, there is no other time they can pick up their mail.

June 26, 1980

Adjournment Debate

I know of a case of senior citizens who moved into a retirement home and who will be compelled to move again because they do not have mail delivery and, of course, they cannot go out every day to collect it. Many of these people were not told there would be no mail delivery. They expected it, and are paying for it.

1 know of another couple who moved to Calgary North from Montreal. They simply cannot believe the government would behave in this manner.

Businesses in my riding suffer tremendous pressure because of this situation. Just a week ago one couple wrote telling me that they were in some financial difficulty because of the problem. I know that the Post Office is doing the best it can, but there is extreme pressure at the depot and the mail cannot be handled there. It just sits there and sometimes people cannot get in every day to collect it.

In my question to the minister I referred to the ridiculous cost of all this. An analysis has shown that if all those people affected were to drive that ten miles every day the cost would be around $2 million per year. The Post Office has agreed that $200,000 per year would correct the situation. If we take that to the ridiculous, then on a national scale, with 200,000 homes in Canada without any type of mail delivery-70 per cent of which are in western Canada-it would equal approximately 2.5 million barrels of oil per year. So the Post Office itself could save approximately 50,000 barrels of oil per year, at a much lower cost to the taxpayer, if it established a proper postal service.

In Calgary North the averages are not national averages on mail delivery. Business is up 12 per cent over last year at the central postal station at the airport, and it was 12 per cent the year before. In Calgary the number of people who come to the various post offices is up 37 per cent. We have an average of 2,500 people moving to Calgary each month. In Calgary North we have an average of 200 homes going up per month. These people have nowhere else to go. They have to use this postal service, and yet they are paying for something which they do not have.

1 asked the Postmaster General to do something about this. In his answer to me on June 5 he said that he is actively considering this. I am also in touch with the Post Office. 1 know where he sits on the matter. I know he has problems out there, and I will not make any more for him. Nevertheless, I must say to him that if he does not act soon, then I am prepared to stand up here and give him some facts which may not be so agreeable. 1 know where the Post Office is sitting on this question. I know where the problems are, but the people in the riding do not understand the problems of the Post Office. All they understand is that they are paying for a service which they are not getting.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE-DEPLORABLE MAIL CONDITIONS IN CALGARY STEPS TO IMPROVE
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LIB

David Michael Collenette (Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. D. M. Collenette (Parliamentary Secretary to President of the Privy Council):

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to answer the hon. member on behalf of the Postmaster

General (Mr. Ouellet). The Postmaster General has noted that the hon. member for Calgary North (Mr. Wright) has raised by question, motion, and now in adjournment debate, the problem of letter carrier extensions for his constituents. It is a problem that the Postmaster General is quite aware of, and I understand the Postmaster General told the hon. member last week in the House that this matter has been preoccupying him and is under constant discussion.

I am sure he knows, and I am glad to note the fact that he is not going to add to the department's problems in dealing with Calgary, that the problem is a direct result of the tremendous growth in the Calgary area. An average of 2,000 people are arriving in Calgary each month and mail service must be provided to match such unprecedented growth. The number of points of call for letter carrier delivery has already exceeded by 255 the figure projected for March 31, 1981, in last year's business plans. The obvious solution is to increase the staff of the Post Office and add more letter carriers, but Canada Post has been called upon by both Conservative and Liberal governments in the past two or three years to do the opposite, in other words, to reduce person years. The effect of this person-year restraint is to achieve and maintain zero growth for letter carrier person years. I would ask the hon. member to keep in mind the government's restraint program which the hon. member's party also followed while it was in office.

The Post Office has not been idle in coping with the expansion in Calgary, however, and people without home delivery have been coming to the post office for regular pick up. At last count there were 3,403 customers calling for their mail, 1,000 of them at one depot alone. This adds to the work load of the counter personnel, and it has been brought to the attention of the Postmaster General that the crew at depot No. 10 now open its doors at 6.15 a.m. rather than 8 a.m. in order to accommodate their customers.

1 might also tell the hon. member that the Post Office has been experiencing staffing problems with inside workers-but of a different nature. The post office has been experiencing problems in attracting and maintaining workers. In fact there is a turnover rate of 65 per cent to 70 per cent in Calgary alone. The new collective agreement criticized by some, including some of the member's own party, as giving an excessive wage settlement, is what is needed to achieve stability in this sector according to the government.

Canada Post has several methods of getting the mail to the public. One of the most common methods is that of the individual picking up his mail from a post office box in a small town post office, in his apartment building or in a large business complex. Another is by general delivery over the counter. Still another is by rural route delivery. In the cities, both business and residences have been provided with door to door service. While this method of delivery is relatively efficient in business areas, the cost per item of mail delivered in the residential areas is relatively high. It is significant to note that the milkman, the breadman and the dry cleaner have cut back or eliminated entirely daily service to residential areas. Obviously, they are faced with the same high costs.

June 26, 1980

I notice that my time for the answer is almost up. this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at eleven o'clock.

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE-DEPLORABLE MAIL CONDITIONS IN CALGARY STEPS TO IMPROVE
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LIB

Cyril Lloyd Francis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Liberal

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. The motion to adjourn

the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, Motion agreed to and the House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.

Friday, June 27, 1980

Topic:   PROCEEDINGS ON ADJOURNMENT MOTION
Subtopic:   POST OFFICE-DEPLORABLE MAIL CONDITIONS IN CALGARY STEPS TO IMPROVE
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June 26, 1980