April 13, 1989

QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER

PC

Douglas Grinslade Lewis (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Doug Lewis (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada):

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Shall all questions stand?

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Agreed.

Topic:   ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Subtopic:   QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
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GOVERNMENT ORDERS

SPEECH FROM THE THRONE


The House resumed from Wednesday, April 12, consideration of the motion of Mr. Richardson for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her Speech at the opening of the session. April 13, 1989


LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal):

Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I want to greatly acknowledge the support I received during the last election, and on an ongoing basis, from the members of the riding of Mount Royal. It is on their behalf that I rise to respond to the Speech from the Throne, and I hope I reflect-and I believe I do reflect-the majority views held in that riding.

Every Government makes a Throne Speech, and every Parliament debates it, but the fundamental aim of a Throne Speech is to present a Government's vision of the future. It is to present a Government's evaluation of where it is, where society is, and where it plans to go. Its vision, in other words, for Canada.

I would suggest that this Throne Speech is one the Government can ill afford to be proud of. It is one that looks at a very complex society in an international world that is becoming more and more complex and shrinking nonetheless in terms of international global action. This Government does not seem to be wakening up in the same country, with the same people and the same concerns as those people whom I know, and who are reflected through 57 per cent of the vote of this country.

Canadians are not impressed with this Throne Speech. It is a one-issue, deficit-cutting mind-set, market-force philosophy, and a very narrow-minded vision. The Government cannot and should not be proud of the message it is sending out. This is a Government that will cut wherever possible, and just as an assailant would, it indiscriminately cuts down anything that crosses its path. It is showing an inhumane face where it should have a human and warm response to the people of Canada.

Whether it is cutting benefits to the unemployed, failing to provide adequate resource services for the immigration system-and in my riding immigration is a very serious issue-whether it is ignoring the real needs of workers with respect to retraining and upgrading of skills in reading and in understanding new technologies, Canadians are wondering what type of cold, heartless, Tory Government they bought into in all blindness, I would suggest, in November.

When a family needs space for a quality child care facility, Canadians expect the Government to have solved that space problem, not only talk about it.

The Government talked about the environment, it did not indicate any direct action in one of the most crucial and important areas that affects each and every Canadian, regardless of the political spectrum in which they find themselves.

The Address-Mrs. Finestone

In general, I would suggest that the Throne Speech leaves many Canadians wondering whether Conservatives see many of the challenges that face real Canadians in real neighbourhoods which they deal with every day of the week. I suggest that the Government has no human face.

I am afraid that all we have in the Throne Speech is a lot of the same old tune, and perhaps a few new words with promises that have been recycled and which reflect the fact that the Government failed to act in its last mandate and we can expect very little from it in this one except cuts, cuts, cuts.

The Government agenda is not based on offering better services to the residents of my riding, or of any other riding. Instead, it wishes to disregard those needs. It wants to arbitrarily make cuts wherever it can, and in the view of the Government this is supposed to make it a better world for all Canadians.

While I may have very well-to-do and comfortable citizens on either end of my riding, the centre of my riding is soft. It is an extremely high unemployment area, and the type of proposals this Government puts forward will certainly not help those residents.

Does anyone expect Canadians to be impressed by the fact that it took the Tory Government five months, from November 21 to April 3, to supposedly study and consult about its new mandate. Then the Government had the nerve to deposit a Throne Speech that was one of empty rhetoric. We have vague promises, vague solutions, with a few surprises that had never been promised during the course of its campaign. If this is the best that the Conservatives can come up with in almost half a year of thinking, is there any hope left for the next four years?

Where have all the great promises gone? What happened to the promises of the best adjustment and retraining programs in the world? Well, one heard the new Atilla the Hun, the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mrs. McDougall) tell us where she plans to go. If I was a marginal worker, the last in and the first out, the Minister does not give me much comfort or hope. The fact is that the Minister is in the process of enabling us to depopulate our regions by giving most of our regional people who want to retrain great opportunity and a plane ticket. Of course, there will not be any more railways. We will have to take the plane to go where? To the centre cities of our country. It is a disgrace and the Government should be ashamed of itself.

April 13, 1989

The Address-Mrs. Finestone

What about the assurances that no social programs would be cut? What does one call the unemployment insurance system? It was an insurance system that is part of the social fabric of this country which is being cut. This will touch tens of thousands of Canadians. Members opposite know that as well as I do. I am glad I am not going to be in their shoes when they return to their ridings and face their very angry constituents.

I would suggest now that the polls are closed, the ballots have been counted, the votes are all in, and Canadians cannot change their mind, the real Tory agenda is left out of the bag. This Government is not showing leadership, nor are Canadians impressed. I see Canadians returning to their old views of this Government before long. Once they settle into their old ways, the habit of putting out nice packaging on empty policies will once again erode the Government's favour.

The return to the old dark days of Tory Government is not far off because their Budget is coming. It is true we have had all kinds of leaks. It is rather unusual. I thought Don McGillivray handled it very well. His article about how our Minister of Finance (Mr. Wilson) was the advance man for his own Budget indicates his concern about how badly it is going to be received. He is trying a temporizing measure in order to soften the blow, telling Canadians: get ready, tighten your belt. Tighten it so tight you can hardly breathe, so that when I present the facts you will open up one notch and say, thank God, I did not drop dead. I am only half-way there.

The old saying was Tory days are dark days. Tory Government is tough Government. I can tell you, tough times are Tory times. I am glad to see all my colleagues happily smiling about the fact that Tory times are tough times. Other than the upper-income bracket, I wonder who else is going to enjoy that kind of approach.

In the Throne Speech there is a section called a caring nation. There is a section called national issues. I would like to talk about the language crisis. If this Government was not in hiding, if this Government had been present and taking leadership when issues of serious concern were facing this nation, perhaps we could have avoided many of the issues of concern.

With respect to the issue of language crisis, I put this point to the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney). When the Government of Quebec told the province and the country of its plan to trample linguistic minority rights in the province, to ignore the Supreme Court of Canada's carefully crafted and thoughtful distinction as it described what could be a well-understood principle of the distinctiveness of Quebec society, where was our Prime Minister?

Where was his voice? Where were the words other than soft rhetoric? The Prime Minister's rhetoric was harsh when it came to Alberta and Saskatchewan, but when it came to the English-speaking minority of Quebec, where was he? I suggest that the destabilization of that community and that society is serious. I suggest that the Prime Minister's voice was absent at a very important time. When the Government of Quebec trampled on linguistic rights and minority rights through Bill C-178, that was the moment that the Prime Minister, and no one else, should have acted, should have interceded, and should have challenged the Premier of Quebec not to ignore the Charter of Rights, not to ignore the three courts including the Supreme Court, the Quebec Court, not to ignore and let wither his own commitment to minority rights, and to ask for the withdrawal of this reprehensible piece of legislation.

Unfortunately for us that historic moment was lost. The Prime Minister did not prevail, nor did his views. I guess we really could not have expected otherwise from this Prime Minister because we now know the Prime Minister believes that the Constitution is not worth the paper it was written on. Therefore, what point was there in his standing up and speaking up for minority linguistic rights? If it was so important for him to amend and to look at Meech Lake, why was it so important if he did not believe in the Constitution in the first place?

The Prime Minister could have been forceful and effective as he was with Alberta and Saskatchewan. He could have redoubled his efforts to ensure that Quebec respected freedom of expression, and have Quebec accept the view that protecting and promoting the French language and culture did not require the sacrifice of minority rights, a view I fundamentally and completely believe in. Quebec's French language needs promotion, protection, and an understanding heart and attitude by English-speaking minorities in Quebec.

April 13, 1989

There are far more creative ways to approach that issue without trampling on English rights in that province, or French rights, for that matter, anywhere across this land. There should be a stamp of bilingual Canada from coast to coast. I have said that from the day I came into this House, from the day we started to look at broadcast and cultural issues. We must see to the stamp of a bilingual Canada, because two languages open the doors to two wonderful cultures, allow us to travel in this world and be better understood by all people. Three cultures and three languages would be better, or four or five, but certainly we should have the two which are the official languages of Canada and the social contract of this country. I acknowledge that the Prime Minister's statement in support of minority rights was made, but my point is, what good are mere words when they do not produce the absolute recognition of minority rights.

This week the Prime Minister refused a chance to really make his mark for minority rights by supporting the motion of my Leader, the Right Hon. Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Turner), that would have obliged the federal Government never to use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to override fundamental freedoms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Did he take that opportunity? No. As the Leader of the Opposition said, if the Prime Minister is really committed to minority language rights, this would be the way to at least show the direction. The lack of leadership is rather obvious. Once again the Prime Minister lost the moment, and only history will judge that loss.

I applaud this year's report of Mr. D'Iberville Fortier, our Official Languages Commissioner. I support his call for full federal leadership in the protection of minority rights. The anglophone experience remains a humbling one in Quebec for the time being, but my hope is that this Government will in the remainder of its mandate ensure that its commitments to minority rights become more than just words by ensuring that minority rights are not trampled upon again by any Government, federal or provincial.

The second issue that I wanted to address relates to corporate concentration and take-overs, which is talking about Canada's future.

The Address-Mrs. Finestone

The lack of leadership is apparent from this Government's failure to provide any kind of vision for Canada. They are selling off our heritage. If they don't believe me, I suggest they read the paper we were sent by the F.T.Q. which urges us to stop this cultural and economic take-over.

I believe that the F.T.Q. and the Caisse de depot have expressed their concern and their disapproval of this Government's failure to act. In a word, our common heritage is going down the drain.

I will read what they wrote:

that deregulation, privatization and free trade have precipitated an unprecendented wave of sales, mergers and restructuring;

that plant crossings by Gillette in Ville St-Laurent, by Jarman Shoes in Lachine, Kruger in East Montreal, and shutdowns announced at Northern Telecom in Aylmer and Sanyo in ville St-Laurent, will result in numerous lay-offs.

Other companies are mentioned as well. This is something that has been completely ignored.

that other companies have merged or are thinking of doing so to survive free trade, thus causing even more lay-offs, for instance, Domglass with Consumers, Canadian International with Wardair, Molson with O'Keefe and Imperial Oil with Texaco;

that Canadian companies are being sold or are about to be sold to American interests which are buying us lock, stock and barrel;

I hope that sooner or later, the Government is going to look at this country and decide whether it is going to sell everything we own.

The Government has been hiding from a wave of mergers and take-overs that have begun to sweep the country.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

I would ask the Hon. Member to conclude her speech. Before questions and comments I will give another minute to the Member so that she may conclude.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Finestone:

If I have to terminate, I will just deal very quickly with one other area in which I feel the Government has changed its mind and has failed in its leadership.

I refer to its choice to end restrictions on official contact with the PLO allowing for upgrading to top level. Speaking for myself, I regret my Government's turn toward increased contact with the PLO, an organization

April 13, 1989

The Address-Mrs. Finestone

that has proposed of late a moderate agenda for western consumption while reaffirming to its own people in Arabic the PLO's commitment to the strategy of stages for the liberation of all of Palestine. This is an organization that professes a willingness to reach political compromise, yet still refuses to repudiate its covenant which calls for Israel's destruction.

I must also express deep personal concern regarding the endorsement of the Secretary of State for External Affairs (Mr. Clark) of Palestinian self-determination. Because of its particular meaning in the lexicon of the Middle East, and its code word effect, I fear that many will choose to interpret his comments to mean Canadian support for an independent Palestinian state, or whatever else the Palestinians will unilaterally choose. That interpretation would contradict longstanding Canadian policy which has assiduously avoided pre-judging the outcome of negotiations. Indeed, Canada has, and I trust will, continue to support vigorously a peace process based upon direct negotiations between the concerned parties and an incremental approach toward lasting peace in that region.

At another time I will indicate my concerns in terms of the communications and culture dossier in my remarks following the Speech from the Throne. I hope that although there are many comments made about communications and culture as a senior issue the item-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Are there questions and comments?

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Lise Bourgault (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Health and Welfare)

Progressive Conservative

Ms. Bourgault:

Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in what the Hon. Member or Mount Royal (Mrs. Fine-stone) had to say in her response to the Speech from the Throne. She said that the unemployment rate was incredibly high in her fiding. My comments being those of someone not from her riding, I imagine the Hon. Member would say that my perception of Mount Royal is perhaps slanted. However, when we think of Mount Royal, we think of a riding that is relatively well-off, compared to rural ridings where the unemployment rate is sometimes as high as 17 or 18 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Hon. Member of Mount Royal whether- She appears to be, and of course all Opposition Members are, against the unemployment insurance reform program. After all, they are against practically everything. Canadians know that, Mr. Speaker.

She forgot some very important points. For instance, she said her party was against the program, but have they offered any alternative? I wish she would tell me, for instance, why she is against the fact that the Government helps someone who is on unemployment insurance and who enters a retraining program to get a steady job. The world is changing, and companies are changing as well. She doesn't mention that. She criticizes the program without offering any alternatives. Let's talk about the retraining program let the Hon. Member tell us quite honestly whether she is against employees enrolling in a retraining program. That was my first point.

My second point is that she did not mention the positive aspects. She did not mention that the Government has added nearly ten weeks of parental leave to the existing maternity leave for women.

This is a very positive measure which women have been asking for for a long time. Of course, the Hon. Member would rather overlook the positive aspects of the Minister's unemployment insurance reform!

Finally, Mr. Speaker, she mentioned a language crisis. There is no such thing! There is a sign crisis in Quebec, not a language crisis. Canadians agree as far as our two official languages are concerned. However, Quebec has a sign crisis. They are trying to distort reality, Mr. Speaker, by making the notwithstanding clause look like the end of the world. The Hon. Member is a great fan of the former leader of the Liberal Party, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. She cannot be that fond of him today, since he was the one who gave the provinces the notwithstanding clause. The Hon. Member is more or less saying: Well, we gave you a clause, and now we don't want you to use it. So the notwithstanding clause is the provinces' business, and signage is the business of the province of Quebec. The Hon. Member knows that. They are playing petty politics with a subject that deserves to be taken seriously, more seriously than the attitude reflected in what the Hon. Member has been saying in the House.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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LIB

Sheila Finestone

Liberal

Mrs. Finestone:

Mr. Speaker, it may be because of ignorance or lack of understanding of what is going on in my constituency of Mount Royal that my colleague failed to grasp the points I was trying to make. But I made myself very clear; I said that the people living in two areas of my riding can be considered well off, but that there is also a high level of unemployment in the center of my constituency. We are the immigration centre of Montreal, the landing point of immigrants coming from over 35 countries. We are a reflection of Quebec's reality. We are proud of these immigrants. We are proud of their input, of their contribution to our society. But we have to remember that they are starting a new life here, in Canada, and they need some form of training suitable

April 13, 1989

for our new market. But if you don't give them the necessary assistance through unemployment insurance and training, they will contribute nothing. So far the necessary assistance has not been for the coming.

Next you talked about the sign language crisis, you said I made a big fuss about that. Well, let me tell you that when you are rejected from your home, you will know how it feels to be an outcast. I was-

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Marcel Danis (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

Order, please. I would remind Members that because of the order that the House adopted yesterday speeches are 15 minutes and the question and comment period is only five minutes. That does not give much time, so I would ask Members to keep their comments or questions short. The same applies to those who are answering.

We will resume debate with the Hon. Member for Red Deer.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Douglas Fee

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Doug Fee (Red Deer):

Mr. Speaker, like my hon. colleague, I too welcome the opportunity to participate in the Throne Speech debate. Every time I enter this Chamber I do so with a profound sense of gratitude to the electorate of Red Deer who entrusted me with the privilege and responsibility of representing and speaking for them. On their behalf, it is my intention to work as diligently as possible to make certain that their views are heard by this Government.

We in Alberta were very pleased that the honour of moving the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne was given to an Albertan. I would like to congratulate the Hon. Member for Calgary Southeast (Mr. Richardson) and the Hon. Member for Bourassa (Mrs. Gibeau) on the excellent speeches they gave to introduce this debate.

Although the two Hon. Members represent ridings that are very distant from each other, and they each spoke in one of the official languages of Canada, they articulated a common vision for Canada. In the Throne Speech Her Excellency the Governor General outlined the Government's vision for the country. She laid out the goals and priorities for this mandate. I want to take this opportunity to reflect and discuss how these issues will affect my riding.

The Address-Mr. Fee

On November 21 of last year the voters of Red Deer returned a Member to the Progressive Conservative Government. They voted for the Canadian-American Free Trade Agreement. They voted for fiscal responsibility. They voted for the Party best able to govern. In Red Deer they voted for the Government, the first Government in many years, that paid attention to the issues and concerns of westerners.

In 1984, the Government that took office recognized the needs and aspirations of the regions of the country and set about to rectify some longstanding ill feelings. The Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) showed real leadership in bringing together the First Ministers to discuss constitutional change. Through co-operation and effort he reached a milestone in constitutional history, the Meech Lake Accord, an Accord supported by all 10 Premiers and all three federal Parties. This spirit of conciliation and harmony laid the groundwork for a more unified, dynamic and competitive country. Prior to 1984, Mr. Speaker, Red Deer, like the rest of Alberta, was deep in the throes of a recession that had been fueled in part by the disastrous national energy policy, a policy which devastated the small Canadian-owned service companies. The Government dismantled this program. We also got rid of the petroleum gas revenue tax. As a first step in the mandate of the first session of this Parliament we achieved secure access to the huge U.S. market by means of the Free Trade Agreement.

To quote the well known Alberta journalist who has not always been in support of this Party, "If Brian Mulroney can achieve the free trade with the United States, he will have done more for western Canada than any other Prime Minister in Canadian history".

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Douglas Fee

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fee:

The positive impact of the Free Trade Agreement has already been felt. We have seen increased investment in Alberta. In my riding a consortium headed by Shell Canada is planning to invest some $700 million to build a state-of-the-art natural gas and sulphur recovery plant near Caroline, Alberta. The plant is going to create some 1,200 construction jobs and over 150 permanent jobs. Over $17 million a year will be pumped into our local economy.

April 13, 1989

The Address-Mr. Fee

Another positive example: Just north of my riding, Novacor Chemicals is investing some $600 million to expand its petro-chemical plant in Joffre. According to the president of Novacor himself, "This investment would not have happened without the Free Trade Agreement". Access to the U.S. market and lower tariffs will create 200 new permanent jobs in Joffre.

Agriculture is still critical to the economy of my constituency, Mr. Speaker. For a variety of reasons known to most of the Members of this House farmers are hurting. Some have lost their farms, but when you talk to the farmers, they acknowledge that never has a government done so much for agriculture as has the Conservative Government in the last four years.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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PC

Douglas Fee

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Fee:

This Government was there when farmers needed it, whether because of low prices or drought. If not for the billions of dollars paid in support during the last four years, there would have been many more farms lost. The problems that are facing agriculture are complex. They are not going to be solved overnight, but this Government, through its Ministers, is working with farm groups and actively pursuing reform of the crop insurance system and a stabilization program in order to provide farmers with a more secure market-oriented environment.

The fundamental problem facing farmers across the country is one of uncertainty. We cannot go on responding to emergencies on an ad hoc basis. We need to have a system in place that will allow farmers to plan for the long term.

Agricultural reform is also needed at the international level. International trade subsidy wars are devastating our farming economy. Rural subsidies now cost approximately $200 billion a year. I believe that our farmers are the very best in the world. Our products are quality products. We can compete against anybody, but it is difficult to compete against the world treasuries of other Governments. Canada and this Government have taken a leadership role in negotiations to eliminate unfair agricultural subsidies. I congratulate the Minister of State for Grains and Oilseeds (Mr. Mayer) and his officials for their part in the recent GATT negotiations at Geneva that achieved some significant agreement in this area.

There are those who say the West has been ignored. They have not been paying attention. This Government has been listening and acting, and will continue to listen and act for the West and for all of Canada.

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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?

Some Hon. Members:

Hear, hear!

Topic:   GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic:   SPEECH FROM THE THRONE
Sub-subtopic:   RESUMPTION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY
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April 13, 1989