June 16, 1993

PC

Murray Cardiff (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Murray Cardiff (Huron-Bruce):

The last petition is similar to other petitions that have been presented today.

The petitioners ask for a referendum of the people binding upon Parliament to accept or reject two official languages, English and French, for the government and the people of Canada. I will not go through the rest of it due to the pressure of time and because it has been stated before.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
Permalink
LIB

Joseph Blair (Joe) McGuire

Liberal

Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont):

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege under Standing Order 36 to present a petition from the P.E.I. Atlantic Mission Society of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

The petitioners believe that the use of marijuana causes physical, psychological and financial implications leading to an increase in crime, family breakdowns, further addictions and many other serious problems resulting from drug abuse.

Therefore, these petitioners call on Parliament to urge the government not to legalize the use of marijuana in Canada.

I present this petition on behalf of my colleague, the member for Hillsborough.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MARIJUANA
Permalink
PC

Blaine Allen Thacker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blaine A. Thacker (Lethbridge):

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition on Ukrainian redress and internment, signed by many people from my riding.

June 16, 1993

The petitioners ask for the government to quickly conclude this ongoing negotiation. They seek the recognition that they so rightly deserve, given the conduct and treatment which they and their ancestors received, particularly during the First World War.

I petition and urge the government to move as quickly as it reasonably can in this regard.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   UKRAINIAN CANADIANS
Permalink
PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Hon. Harvie Andre (Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons) moved:

That, when the House adjourns on the day of adoption of this Order, it shall stand adjourned until Monday, September 20,1993 at 11 a.m.; and

That, at any time during such adjournment of the House, the Speaker may, after consultation with the government, cause the House to sit for the sole purpose of giving Royal Assent to a bill or bills, and following each Royal Assent, the Speaker shall, each time, further adjourn the House forthwith until Monday, September 20, 1993 at 11 a.m.

He said: Mr. Speaker, undoubtedly this will be the last time I speak in this Chamber. After 21 years in Parliament sitting on both sides of the House, in various capacities for many hours, one approaches a time like this with mixed feelings.

I remember in the early days we sat till 10 o'clock at night. I sometimes wonder if I have not spent more time in this Chamber than I have spent in any other room anywhere in the country, including my bedroom at home. So it has veiy much become a part of my existence and I am going to miss it. But all good things come to an end.

This is near the end of a parliamentary career for me and it is near the end of this session of Parliament, and indeed near the end of this Parliament.

I thought I would talk briefly about what we have accomplished in this session of this Parliament, which has run from May 1991 to June 1993. It has been quite momentous. We have had the constitutional initiative, the referendum, things that dominated the agenda in 1992. I thought the House would be interested to know that during that time there were 138 government bills introduced, 124 were passed at third reading in the

Routine Proceedings

House of Commons, 107 received royal assent, and I am sure the rest will receive royal assent soon.

A total of 265 committee reports were tabled in the House. Sixty of them asked for a government response, 41 of those were responded to and the remainder are not overdue as the reports are later. One hundred and forty six private members' bills and motions were debated; 36 were votable, four were passed and assented to.

Until recent years that figure would have been zero because in my entire time in opposition I think there might have been two private members' motions that actually got adopted. So changes are occurring. There were five motions carried so we had a total of nine so that a quarter of the votable bills and motions in fact were passed by this House.

Questions on the Order Paper: 537 of which 511 were answered.

Petitions, not counting the ones today: 5,100 of which 4,722 were answered. It has been by any measure productive.

My staff did a little assessment of the number of bills passed each year since 1984 and the days spent on each bill. It was kind of interesting that the average seems to be around 3.5 days spent on each bill in the House if we look at House time.

Recently there have been some accusations that I have been prone to stifle debate but since January to June of this year there were 3.6 days spent on each bill. Compare that for example with 1992 when it was 2.5 days. In fact we have spent a little more than a day longer on each bill this year compared with last year. The data do not support any suggestion of cutting off debate.

I wonder if the House might be interested in knowing how our time is spent each day in the House. I wonder if people are aware that of the time spent in the House 60 per cent is on Government Orders and the remainder is not. Of the total time, 42 per cent is actually spent on government bills. Supply days which are opposition days take 12 per cent and 6.4 per cent is on budgets. Oral Questions take up 10.3 per cent of our time. Private Members' Business takes 8.6 per cent. Routine Proceedings, petitions, et cetera take 5 per cent. Members' statements take 3.5 per cent. Adjournment proceedings

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

take 2.1 per cent. Other things like throne speeches, points of order, points of privilege, Speaker's rulings and so on take 10 per cent.

The accusation that the government dominates is not borne out by the facts. The facts show that the time spent on government bills represents only 42 per cent of the time this House is in session.

If we look at supply days, oral questions, Private Members' Business-admittedly those are split-members' statements, adjournment proceedings and so on I think we find that indeed the amount of total time taken by the government side of the House which has the majority of members is in the order of 55 per cent to 60 per cent. The remaining 40 per cent to 45 per cent is taken up by the opposition.

The agenda is set by the opposition. In fact any suggestions that are sometimes made that government and government only runs this institution or controls all the time is not borne out by the evidence.

One of the interesting concerns that this House has dealt with over the last couple of years has been restraint bills because the deficit has been and is a problem. We have had successive budgets bringing forward cuts to various government programs. In this session alone, from May 1991 to the session we are now just ending, there were 11 restraint bills and every single one of them was voted against by the opposition. For five of them time allocation was required because there was no willingness to end the discussion or the debate.

I thought it was instructive for the House to know this when it comes to concern about the deficit. There is a general suggestion on the opposition side: "Yes, we think the deficit is too high". Each and every measure without exception has been vigorously opposed by opposition members. If they have been making other suggestions for cuts they must be making them in a closet somewhere with the doors closed because I have not heard about that. Have they-

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
?

An hon. member:

Tell us about the helicopters.

The hon. member shouts about helicopters. His party agreed unanimously with the report that in fact the helicopters should be purchased.

The hon. member is from Kingston which I understand has a few military votes. Would he stand up in Kingston and say he is in favour of cutting the defence budget by the $400 million a year that is in fact for the helicopters? Would he stand up in his constituency and tell the young recruits at Royal Military College that they will be sent out in frigates that are not going to have a helicopter on them because his party does not believe in them? Is he going to stand up in Kingston and tell his military people that they are expected to go on search and rescue missions in rough weather which is where they are needed with 30-year old helicopters because he is opposed to modernizing these helicopters? Is he going to go to Halifax where there will be several hundred jobs produced in building these new helicopters and say he thinks they should not have these jobs because he is opposed to those helicopters?

When he and his party are prepared to do that then they will have the right to stand up and say that they dispute this decision. Until then everything else is intellectually dishonest.

What happened on these restraint bills? Apparently people say that the Liberals are in favour of deficit reduction. Their leader in Alberta walked around with a clock. He is worried about deficits. He had a clicking counter. We hear that all the time yet they voted against every single bill.

How much time did we spend on it? In the House we spent 162 hours debating restraint bills or 61 days. We spent 55 days in committee or 82 hours. A total of 116 days was spent debating. The average time we spent per bill was 10.5 days. That is because the opposition members said that they were opposed to each and every specific cut we made: "Is the deficit a problem? Yes, we have to clear the deficit".

I say that if one seriously wants the people of Canada to vote Liberal in the next election then one will have to do better than that.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
LIB

Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Milliken:

The deficit keeps going up.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
PC

Harvie Andre (Minister of State (Without Portfolio); Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Progressive Conservative Party House Leader)

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Andre:

The hon. member says that the deficit keeps going up. What is his suggestion? It is to vote against every restraint bill and every cutback bill. There is only one other alternative to cutbacks and that is to raise taxes. Is he going to have the intellectual honesty? Is the opposition going to have the intellectual honesty to say it is in favour of raising taxes? Is it going to be honest enough with the people of Canada? It cannot

June 16,1993 COMMONS DEBATES 20929

have it all ways. It cannot vote against every restraint, suggest no others, say the deficit is a problem and not raise taxes. That is impossible.

The hon. member has more integrity than that and I am sure he will be ashamed when he thinks about what he is saying now. He will be ashamed to his core when he thinks about what he is saying now. He knows that intellectual honesty and integrity is not a requirement to be an active Liberal or a prominent Liberal.

We have had a very productive session. It amazes me when I read the front page of The Ottawa Citizen, that great newspaper in our national capital. It said that a number of bills have died on the Order Paper. It is about 0.6 per cent of the bills introduced.

It never would occur to that organization to say it was a very productive session. That might be the truth but I think that any reporter who did that would be fired by the editor because good news is not tolerated. What they must do is denigrate, criticize and ridicule every Canadian institution. We give Geminis to people who produce films saying the Canadian Air Force contributed more to the misery of German civilians than it did to fighting Nazism. We award millions of dollars to people who produce films that say Billy Bishop was a liar and a fraud. We run newspapers in this country that do nothing but criticize continuously and have nothing good to say about this country. I am not talking about the government, I am talking about everything. I think they do serious damage to this institution.

I will miss this institution. I am proud of the 21 years I have spent here. I think this is a worth-while place to be. It is an important place to be. It is an important job, but my goodness it is sobering to talk to people who might consider running to replace me and hear what they say about this job. They say: "Just a minute now. You want me to give up my career, give up my relationship with my family, fight to win an election to come to Ottawa to get abused, be accused of being a thief, to be accused of being interested in nothing but pork barrelling and fraud and be treated with the contempt that the media treats all politicians. Why would I do that? Do you think I am crazy? Why would I do that?"

Routine Proceedings

When we hear that answer a few times we stop and think. I do not care what party we are talking about, if the good people in this country are taking that kind of message from what they read and see, then where does that lead us? Is that going to lead to improved representation? Is that going to lead to a stronger House of Commons? Is that going to lead to better government? Is that going to lead to a better country? The answer to all those questions is no.

If there is one disappointment I have, particularly in the last three years as House leader, it is that we have not been able to turn around that question of how people view this House and how we are viewed as politicians. On both sides of the House, with precious few exceptions, the men and women I have had the pleasure to work with are honourable, decent and well-meaning. They are here at considerable financial sacrifice as well as sacrifice in terms of their families and other obligations without exception on both sides of the House.

Yet to read what is written about us is to believe we are all overpaid, greedy, selfish, dishonest and do not give a damn about anything except our own welfare. That has not been my experience, not in 21 years. I despair sometimes at what these critics are doing to this institution and this country.

I wish for once they would stop, think a little bit and take a little responsibility for what they write. They should check the facts and not get so excited when they catch somebody tripping up. This condemnation of politicians is gotcha journalism. We hear members of the national press gallery saying that all politicians are liars. What is an individual like that doing reporting to the people of Canada? What is an individual like that doing? That is one of my disappointments.

I think it is a serious problem. I do not have an answer or a solution. I hope the next Parliament will have the wisdom to find a solution because a solution needs to be found to that particular problem.

Mr. Speaker, that being said at the end of the day what counts is how we feel about ourselves; all of us, that side and this side. Do we feel good about ourselves? Have we done the best we can do? Speaking personally, I feel pretty good. I do not claim perfection. God there are a lot of things I said I wish I had not said. There are some things I did that I wish I had not done. I wish I had been a little more careful about the feelings of those who were

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

at the receiving end of some of my attacks. I perhaps have not been as sensitive as I should have been. I assume everybody has a hide of beef as thick as mine and that is not always true.

On balance there is really no finer occupation or finer thing we can do than serve our fellow citizens of this great country in this wonderful institution. For that I am eternally grateful to my constituents of Calgary Centre who honoured me with six elections in a row. To my friends on both sides who I have enjoyed and still enjoy, I hope we will be friends afterwards and I thank them for the experiences.

The table officers and those in the House of Commons are professionals. They have been superb. I have had absolutely no complaints at all with the Clerk and others in terms of the House of Commons. It has been a wonderful experience. I hope when all is said and done others can reach the judgment that it was worth while for me to be here. In any event it has been marvellous.

This is a better institution with better people than is sometimes recognized if the only source of information comes from some in the national press gallery. It is a great institution and it has been a pleasure to have been a part of it.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier):

Madam Speaker, following the speech of the government House leader from Calgary Centre, I must say that being from the same class of 1972 I had to work with the member from Calgary Centre for several years. Although we sometimes disagreed I think that most of us have kept respect for each other and I would like to tell him that this place will miss him.

We hope he goes on to a career that will give him the chance to use his great qualities again. I am positive that whatever activity he takes upon himself to do will be done with the utmost care and devotion. I know it is not an easy job to be government House leader. He had to get the job done.

I had a friend here some years ago. His name was Walter Baker. He was in the Ottawa area and was also the government House leader. Walter was a good companion. I liked him and used to kid him. I would say: "Walter you are a heck of a nice guy. It is the gang you hang around with I cannot stand". Sometimes we get into partisan politics but that is part of the process I guess and part of the game.

The minister is right. This House of Commons is probably going to adjourn and the next election will probably result in a lot of new faces around here. I will stand again for election and I hope the people of my riding of Ottawa-Vanier will have confidence in me again. I like and enjoy what I am doing here. I hope their confidence will be renewed. I also believe there is no greater calling than to serve one's constituents. Like many others in this place I have grown to like the House and the people who work here.

I do think we get a raw deal sometimes from the press that says members of Parliament are here to further their own aims and feather their own nests. Sometimes there are people you would not trust to invite to supper.

Like the minister I have been here 20 long years. I sincerely hope that we can change the image in the next few years so that the people of Canada have respect and understanding. The job is not easy. It is sometimes challenging, but it is sure as heck rewarding to the extent that some of us want to come back here and repeat the experience. To those who are leaving from the class of '72, and the member for Calgary Centre has announced he will not run again, I say have a good trip and God bless you all.

I have to address on the adjournment motion some of the items to which the minister alluded at the beginning of his speech. That is the record of this government, the record of this Parliament. It sometimes is good to look back on these things to see where we were at and where we are going.

Last weekend we had the Tory leadership convention of which, Madam Speaker, you were one of the co-chairmen. I congratulate you. I think you did a very nice and very good job. Not alluding to your presence but to all the rhetoric that was put out, I thought for a while we were being fed a lot of historical revisionism by the Tories. Some of them have short memories. Some of the

June 16, 1993

Canadian people who were deeply affected by some of the government's decisions, in my view, have not kept the same kind of memories that the minister alluded to a few minutes ago.

We did not hear a lot about high unemployment in Canada or a doubling of the national debt. We did not hear of the weakening of our national institutions. It is no surprise that Canadians have lost confidence in this Conservative government and have lost it for some time now. We are hoping and praying for a quick election so that we can replace it.

There will be a new Prime Minister in this House come the next election. We hope that the situation will improve with the election of a new government and a new Prime Minister.

The new Prime Minister who will be sworn in on June 25 next, the hon. member for Vancouver Centre, will have a hard time trying to distance herself from the past record. I do not think it is that glorious a record that she will want to run on it. As a matter of fact, there are rumours now that she may recall the House in July to come in with a throne speech and possibly a budget.

The time is short. The Prime Minister-elect to be sworn in on June 25 will want to get some kind of momentum going on her own and for that we wish her good luck, but we do not think that there is enough time now for her to do this at this juncture.

Although the new Prime Minister will have to try to dissociate herself from her predecessor's policies, the fact remains that the policies which she herself preached in her leadership campaign reaffirm her commitment to continue the Conservative government policies we have known since 1984. One of her backers in the leadership race, Minister Wilson, was the father of the GST, one of the taxes Canadians hate most.

It is not surprising to us that most of the front bench ministers and some long-serving members of this House are leaving for other occupations. I think they got the message. Clearly, they have no chance of being reelected and they will leave it to others to run for office.

Routine Proceedings

Obviously, the Tories are afraid to now go to the polls. They will hesitate to the end, flying in the face of the usual tradition that we have an election every four years.

I do not want to dwell too much on that because it is a difficult situation when the record's as negative as the one of this government. To run on such a record is sometimes defeatist in itself. Let us take a look at the record.

Canadians will remember the expression jobs, jobs, jobs in 1984. That was the Prime Minister telling Canadians that his government would create jobs, jobs, jobs. The outgoing Prime Minister has, in my view, a government which mismanaged the economy into the worst recession since the early 1930s. Despite the boom years of the mid 1980s it succeeded in giving us an unemployment rate in 1992 of 11.3 per cent, a high of 11.8 per cent in November, up from 10.3 per cent in 1991. As of April of this year, 1993, the unemployment rate in Canada is

11.4 per cent. Forecasters say that the experts tell us that it is unlikely that the unemployment rate will fall below 11 per cent in 1993.

Meanwhile the average rate of unemployment in the industrialized world, with all the other comparables in all the other industrialized countries with which we compare ourselves, is less than 8 per cent. We are leading on unemployment, yet we must remember jobs, jobs, jobs.

What caused it? A great effect was had on the job employment of Canadians by the free trade agreement with the United States. Free trade was an issue in the 1988 election. We were told at the time that free trade would be the end-all and be-all for the economic future of Canada and there would be jobs, jobs and jobs. The government promised at that time there would be some work force adjustment programs which we never saw. The government had promised that there would be some kind of consideration for those jobs which would disappear to the United States.

We know now that there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have given up looking for work and are waiting at home for economic renewal. Money has run out for training courses in some areas. There were

400,000 manufacturing jobs that were lost since 1989. A

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

great majority of those were in my province of Ontario. It is expected that two-thirds of these 400,000 jobs will never return. Many of those were good paying jobs.

In 1992, 61,822 people and 14,317 businesses went bankrupt.

That is 4.8 per cent more than in 1991. For the third straight year, we have had a record number of bankruptcies. Madam Speaker, I ask who in 1988 promised to reduce unemployment insurance premiums considerably and to raise UI benefits? The Conservatives. Who said that UI premiums would go down? That is false; premiums were increased twice. Changes to the UI Act reduced eligibility for benefits.

Since the Conservatives took office in September 1984, taxes increased 38 times. In 1991, Canadian households paid $21.8 billion more in income tax, not counting transfer payments, than they would have if the tax system had remained as it was in 1984. The corporate share of federal income tax revenue went from 13.2 per cent in 1984-85 to 10.4 per cent in 1990-91. The richest 1 per cent of the population pay less income tax after the first phase of the Conservatives' tax reform than they did in 1984. The rich pay less today than they did in 1984.

A study by Canadian Business Economics, published recently under the title Taking Stock of Tory Tax Reform, revealed that the average family now pays $1,884 more in taxes, not including the GST, than when the Conservatives took power.

No wonder Canadians have lost confidence. Today, more than two million Canadians are living on welfare. In my own province, Ontario, one person in ten depends on welfare. In 1991, two million Canadians went to food banks, and 40 per cent were children under the age of 18. Canada has more food banks than McDonald's restaurants. An estimated 3.8 million Canadians were living below the poverty line in 1990, at the beginning of the recession. In 1990, 60.6 per cent of women heading single parent families were living in poverty. In my own riding, 20 per cent of the families, in other words, one family out

of five, is a single parent family, and the vast majority of these live below the poverty line.

Most of the poor have a full-time and a part-time job. They have to work to make ends meet, to try to find some way of meeting the often substantial needs of their family within an economic framework that offers them very little.

There was no progress in the war against poverty during the Mulroney era. Poverty has increased among children. Between 1989 and 1990 an additional 171,000 children joined the ranks of the poor. All together

1,105,000 children or 16.6 per cent lived in poverty in 1990. The numbers have probably increased since then. Again, this is unacceptable for everyone including, I would hope, all those Tories over there.

In 1988 the government promised to spend $6.4 billion to create 400,000 new day care spaces by 1995. Instead the day care promise was abandoned, making it even more difficult for Canadians to escape the cycle of poverty.

Who eliminated the federal co-operative housing program in 1992 and cut the budget for subsidized housing? The Conservative government.

Last Saturday in my riding, I had the privilege of attending the official opening of a housing co-operative, the Cooperative Desloges, located in the eastern part of my riding. Ontario is the only province that still has a co-operative movement. It is the only province in Canada where people can still have access to a co-operative housing program. Now that the federal government has abandoned and abolished the program, Ontario is the only province where co-operative housing is still feasible. In fact, I must say that the Conservative government's record in this respect is pitiful.

In 1983, the Prime Minister promised to reduce the national debt and the annual deficit. Every year, and the Public Accounts are there to prove it, the forecasts were way off the mark, to the tune of several billion dollars. Today, we have an annual deficit of nearly $34 billion. We have a national debt of around $460 billion. That is a lot of money, and Canadians have every right to expect

June 16, 1993

members and governments to answer the following questions: Where are we going? What are we going to do? There are things we can do.

The present Prime Minister failed to take advantage of the boom years of the mid-1980s and take control of that debt. Instead he and his government became obsessed with inflation, a problem that we were told at that time existed in Toronto but nowhere else. As interest rates were held high to put the brakes on growth, the engine slowed in Toronto but much of the rest of the country withered.

The Tories intentionally created the first made in Canada recession. Once they had created it they refused to recognize its depth, leading us to our current situation.

They also tried to put much of the blame on global forces and economic slow-downs in other countries. Some economists place the blame squarely on this government's shoulders.

A recent study by the Institute for Policy Analysis at the University of Toronto says that higher federal taxes and the fight against inflation precipitated the recession in 1990 and were the main causes of the sluggish recovery.

In 1991 the recession worsened as the impact of the U.S. slow-down was felt and the goods and services tax was implemented. Imagine that. At the worst moment they came in with a consumer tax which added 1.5 points inflation and did the same thing as if one were to step on the gas and use the brakes at the same time. It does not go very far.

Madam Speaker, I notice you are giving me a signal that I only have one minute left. I wish I could have gone on to further explain how this government has been really incompetent and unable to cope with the challenge of the 1990s. I know that a lot of members of my caucus would like to address this adjournment debate tonight.

In accordance with the provisions of Standing Order 26(1), I move:

That the House continue to sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily

adjournment for the purpose of consideration of this adjournment

motion.

Routine Proceedings

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

All members opposed to the motion will please rise?

And fewer than 15 members having risen:

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
PC

Andrée Champagne (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Progressive Conservative

Madam Deputy Speaker:

Fewer than 15 members having risen, the motion is therefore carried.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink

Motion agreed to.


NDP

Nelson Andrew Riis (N.D.P. House Leader)

New Democratic Party

Mr. Nelson A. Riis (Kamloops):

Madam Speaker, I am happy to rise today to participate in this adjournment debate. I listened with interest to my colleague from Calgary Centre, the government House leader. I would actually echo many of his remarks in terms of this institution. In many ways people have gone out of their way to criticize and ridicule the parliamentary system and have accused members of all sorts of dastardly deeds, most of which are completely inaccurate.

However it is not a perfect system and we ask ourselves what system would be better. I think we would all agree that there are a number of reforms we would like to see incorporated in our parliamentary system. At the top of the list would be to abolish the existing Senate and replace it with something more reflective of a democratic system, certainly an elected Senate. There could be a whole number of changes to the way this institution is run.

A committee has been working on these reforms for the last few weeks. It has now submitted a report and the Standing Orders are being drafted to reflect these changes, which will create a much more inclusive House of Commons in which the role of backbenchers will be elevated, more people will be included in decision making and Question Period will be run in a more appropriate way to the needs of governments of the 1990s. Certainly the call for reform is there.

I wanted to think of something nice to say about my friend from Calgary Centre whom I have had the pleasure of working with for many years. A number of things actually come to mind. The one thing about the member for Calgary Centre is that one never wonders where he stands on an issue. One is never perplexed in terms of his position or in wonderment about his point of view on literally any issue or topic.

He is very straightforward, frank and honest, and as a result he is an easy person to deal with in that respect. As a House leader who was always in a position to carry on negotiations with the hon. member for Calgary Centre I always appreciated his frankness and openness and his

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

willingness not to debate or discuss but at least to share his view as to how events ought to proceed in here.

I wish him well. In many ways he has served his government well. He was given a tough task to move very unpopular legislation through the House of Commons. He did that well. We would certainly criticize the way he has done many things but he has fulfilled the terms of his job description, which is to move government legislation expeditiously. As a result of his approach, to a large extent, more legislation was passed in this Parliament than in probably any other Parliament in Canadian history.

I wish his wife and his family well. Whatever the member for Calgary Centre does in the future I know he will do it with the same dedication with which he has applied himself to serving his government and the House of Commons. I wish his family Godspeed and wealth in their years ahead.

To turn to the task at hand, and that is to discuss this adjournment debate, it is rather a sad day for the country when we are wrapping up this parliamentary session with a number of things that spring instantly to mind. One is that in my judgment Canadians have become very frustrated with the Government of Canada. One of the reasons they have become frustrated is because in many respects this government has changed the face of our country.

In 1988 when the Prime Minister was campaigning across the country he came to Kamloops, as did the member for Yellowhead and a whole set of ministers. They said that if we passed the free trade agreement then we would create jobs, jobs, jobs. What they did not tell us was that those jobs were going to be created in the United States. We thought they meant they would be created in Canada.

As a result it is fair to say that Canadians would have to answer no to the following questions today: Nine years after the present government was first elected in 1984 is my life better today in terms of its future than it was then? Is my job, my career or my profession more secure than it was in 1984? Do my children more obviously have

a good future than back in 1984? Is Canada a more productive and dynamic place than it was in 1984?

The polls tell us that. Canadians are very uncertain about the future. They show that 70 per cent of Canadians are unsure whether they are going to have a job in the immediate future and whether there is any economic security for them and their families. There is probably nothing worse than a society in which people are actually worried and are wondering whether they will be able to provide for themselves and their families in the future. That undermines a lot of the confidence people have in their government institutions and other institutions, be they trade unions or chambers of commerce. People are questioning whether these agencies, organizations and so on are able to provide for them as in the past.

There are four million Canadians who would normally be working at a decent job and who presently are not because they are either fully out of work, jobless, or they are significantly underemployed, working only a few hours a week. No wonder we have a deficit in this country. There are four million Canadians who are under-utilized in the work place, who are obviously not creating the revenues and paying the taxes they would want to be paying. The cost of unemployment insurance and various social service programs is tremendously draining on the federal government.

No wonder we have a deficit situation in this country. The best way to get Canada working is to get Canadians working. We should be taking major steps, such as we have seen other countries take, to ensure that Canadians are getting back to work.

Let us look at Japan for example. It recognized that its unemployment rate had skyrocketed to 3.5 per cent. The Government of Japan said that it had to do something about that. It introduced a massive program that would put Japanese men and women to work. It acknowledged that if people are working then they are paying taxes of all sorts and it is not costing the government revenues, unemployment insurance, welfare and the like.

So they have taken steps. Even President Clinton in the United States has decided to attempt to move a package through Congress again. Its sole purpose is to

June 16, 1993

provide employment, education and training for an increasing number of American men and women.

What are we doing? At the top of the list we have the NAFTA, this Mexico-U.S.-Canada trade deal. I do not want to be terribly simplistic about this but we are saying that we want to get into a situation in terms of continental North America in which our manufacturers, suppliers and producers are competing with someone in a country like Mexico which pays its employees 58 cents an hour.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out what the implication of this is for the future of our country, to say nothing about the present. Let us think of the thousands of young people coming out of our school systems, colleges, technical schools, business schools, universities and so on who are now looking for gainful employment so they can play their rightful role in the development of this country.

They are now being confronted with a situation in which an employer who has a factory, plant, mill or processing system, whether it is data processing or processing lumber, now has a choice to make. The employer could locate the operation in Canada and pay $18 an hour, in the northern tier of the United States and pay $12 an hour for the same level of expertise or training, move it down to Louisiana, Mississippi or southern Texas and pay $7 an hour, or move it down over the Rio Grande and pay 58 cents an hour.

If one's job as an industrialist or a business person is to maximize the profits to one's shareholders and one could pay people $18 an hour or 58 cents an hour for similar skills then it does not take much imagination to know where one is going to move the operations. We do not have to do more than turn on our television sets and listen to Ross Perot in the United States. He is a multi-millionaire, a man who has made a small fortune, who when asked how he reacted to the NAFTA said that he could take his fortune and increase it five-fold in the next few years if he moved a good number of his operations into Mexico. If he could pay his employees 58 cents an hour with virtually no benefits then he could make a lot more money than he is now making in the United States.

He said that if the NAFTA is signed there will be a massive flushing sound as jobs are flushed from northern

Routine Proceedings

United States and Canada into Mexico. That is the reality.

We might say there are other benefits and so on but the reality is basically that we are being asked to tilt the playing field in Canada from wages of $18 an hour down to compete with somebody who is being paid 58 cents an hour. These are the extremes, but that is what we are up against.

We have already seen it. Previous speakers have indicated that since the free trade deal with the United States was introduced over 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost as plant operators, and we cannot blame them, moved their operations to the United States because there was no need to keep the branch plant in Canada open.

Let us face it. We are 48 hours by truck from the Mexican border, which means that any manufactured products can be delivered to Canada within 48 hours. That is the kind of continental system we are talking about. There were 400,000 manufacturing jobs lost. Many of those jobs will never come back.

We are talking about the future. What incentive will there be for a Canadian entrepreneur, a Canadian business person or a Canadian industrialist to locate their operation in Canada when they can locate it in the southern states or northern Mexico and pay their employees a third or a tenth of what they are paying here in Canada, knowing those finished products have full access throughout continental North America? There is very little incentive. That is the kind of legacy the present government is leaving us.

The other critical matter, and I cannot leave the discussion on the NAFTA without referring to it, is that there is no question when we look at that trade agreement that there are some areas of it from which the government has said that it wants to be excluded. Raw logs is one of them. In other words, we do not want to sell raw logs to the United States for processing. We do not want to send our raw logs to Mexico for processing. Raw logs are excluded.

There is another area that is excluded and that is unprocessed fish. On the east coast, Atlantic Canada and parts of Quebec, unprocessed fish cannot be moved for processing down to the United States.

Routine Proceedings

Those are two items. The one item that is conspicuously absent is fresh water. Our lakes and rivers, in my judgment, are now for sale to the highest bidder, be that an American firm or in the future, a Mexican firm. Do we really want to sell this last resource as we would a chunk of coal or a piece of copper or a codfish?

Is water like that? I do not think it is. Water is life itself. We would be well advised, knowing the pressures that will be coming in the future as populations increase in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, to have as much influence as we can to ensure that those water resources are here for future generations of Canadians before we start giving it away or selling it off as simply another commodity.

Those people who say that water is not part of the NAFTA agreement are doing a real disservice to the people of Canada. Significantly the witnesses who appeared before the committee hearings, as limited as they were, were very clear that water is included. Some of the politicians across the way say it is not, but I will listen to the experts, particularly those experts in international trade.

I want to refer to one other item and that is the GST. The GST was introduced allegedly, at least this is what people were told, to reduce the deficit. The deficit has not been reduced. The deficit continues to be about the same as it was year after year after year.

The GST is doing something to the Canadian economy that I do not think we can stand by and passively ignore. The GST has turned into a virtual killer tax for small businesses. What is particularly bad about it is that small businesses are creating the jobs now and into the future. It is not the large corporations, not the Crown corporations, but those small businesses with 10, 20, 30 or 40 employees. That is where the jobs are. As more and more corporations recognize they are like lumbering dinosaurs in an ever-changing economy, they are hiving off more and more of their work to smaller firms or offshoots of their large corporate organizations.

That is where the jobs of the future are and yet small business is being absolutely smothered by the GST. Not only that, because of the GST there is not a single member of Parliament in here who does not know that the underground economy now is growing because of it.

The whole tax system is bizarre, but the GST now has driven even more of the economy underground.

The last guesstimate I heard at a finance conference in Toronto recently is that about $100 billion annual transactions are in underground economy transactions and therefore untaxed. If that is accurate or even in the ball park, that is the deficit. Under normal taxation levels, if that underground economy was brought up on the table to be taxed as we do all business transactions, that would take care of the deficit.

More and more Canadians now are in a barter system, are paying cash for building a new house or a new cottage. I just talked to two or three people within the last week who are having houses built and paying cash for almost all of the construction because it saves them, they feel, about 25 to 30 per cent on a brand new house. Of course none of that is taxed.

People say: "If you do not have the GST, where are you going to get the money?" It is a very legitimate question.

Let me give two or three examples. One is this family trust notion. I do not know how my colleagues across the way actually passed that, but when that family trust tax provision went to the finance committee, I went to that committee meeting because I just could not believe it was as bad as people were saying it was. The tax experts said they could not believe the government was doing this. It is a giveaway to the richest families in this country, where they are able to avoid taxes for an entire generation.

Is that the kind of taxes we want? Why would the government include that kind of a tax provision? But they did. How many billions of dollars are going untaxed because of that provision alone?

What about a wealth tax? The other day on the business pages of The Globe and Mail, one of the major bonding firms was saying that we are one of the few countries in the western world that does not have a wealth tax so that those people who inherit, say, $10 million dollars should pay some tax on it.

Virtually every country in the world does that except Canada. Who inherits $10 million? It goes back to the very wealthiest families and they get this windfall tax break. We could go through our tax system right now,

June 16, 1993

look at those tax loopholes, loophole after loophole, and start closing them off.

When we go to the stadiums around the country and see those big boxes filled with people having a few drinks, eating little sandwiches and so on, having free tickets, those are all tax deductions. Why should the people who are working be paying for their tickets to the football game, the hockey game, or baseball game and some people sit up in the big boxes all tax free, paid for by the taxpayers of Canada? Why would we allow that to happen and to continue year after year?

Obviously we need to do a number of things. We need to re-examine the GST and find ways of replacing it within our existing tax system through proper tax reform. I believe we have to abandon this notion of NAFTA before we lose everything that makes any sense in terms of future jobs for our young people and their children of the future.

We obviously have to be cognizant of the fact that our health care system is at extreme risk to a certain extent because of the off-loading the federal government has been doing. In my judgment it has not been paying its fair share toward the establishment and maintenance of a health care system that is universal across Canada so that the same service would exist in P.E.I., Manitoba or British Columbia. It is in danger of changing. We are soon going to find we have 12 different health care systems as opposed to one if we are not careful.

If there is one thing we must do in the future it is to acknowledge the fact that the most important people in this country are young people and those people that are working to upgrade, reskill and improve themselves in order to play their rightful role in the economy. That means post-secondary education. That means our colleges, vocational schools, universities, business schools and so on, which allow Canadians to improve their skills and their ability to compete locally and internationally. We must place more emphasis on the whole area that we generally call post-secondary education. That simply means more financial support and perhaps using what existing financial support we have in a better and smarter way.

In closing I simply want to say those are the last few hours of this session of the House of Commons. The next time we come together will be after the general election. The people of Canada will have a chance to

Routine Proceedings

evaluate what the various political parties put forward during the election campaign and to be part of that great process that we call democracy. Thank goodness we have such a process.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
PC

Blaine Allen Thacker

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Blaine A. Thacker (Lethbridge):

Madam Speaker, I feel privileged to rise and speak on this adjournment motion on the last day of this Parliament and on my last day here as a legislator, having spent some 14 years in that capacity.

On the one hand when I listen to the members who have retired from the classes of '72 and '68, the ones who have been here 25 years, 14 years seems like a very short period. Maybe I should be running again. On the other hand when I realize that the average tenure of a member of Parliament is less than five years, 14 years seems like a long time and 25 years seems like forever.

If I might I could spend my whole time rebutting the points made the hon. member for Kamloops. In fact I could give his speech, never as good as he does, but I could give all of the points he has made because he makes them again and again and again. He continues to make those points in spite of the fact that they have been carefully answered to the fullest extent and to show that they are simply not correct. But I will not do that.

Suffice to say with respect to the comments that my friend from Kamloops has made, Canada has to decide If we want to be part of the global world economy, which we must as a trading nation when over one-third of our income comes from global trade, or whether we want to be a little island of 26 million people with a wall of China around us. Canadians know instinctively that we cannot isolate ourselves and have the high standard of living we have.

In the election in Alberta the New Democratic Party was entirely shut out. It did not get one seat. That is simply a reflection of how well the ordinary citizen understands the difference between the socialist philosophy and how that reflects itself in the reality of their lives having seen what has occurred in B.C., Saskatchewan and particularly in Ontario.

I am confident that Canadians, when they get to an election, will once again choose a Progressive Conservative government because in fact, like the distinguished member for Calgary Centre, we face facts. We make

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

decisions based on the reality of today rather than on some ephemeral idealistic socialistic view of the world.

I am here first of all to express my thanks to the electors and citizens of Lethbridge and southwestern Alberta who by their votes have permitted me the privilege of being their representative here in Ottawa for the last 14 years. They did so in four general elections and they returned me with majorities each time. For that I thank them.

You will notice, Madam Speaker, that I used the word representative because to me that is a special word as compared to the word delegate. I have never believed that I was a delegate with an obligation to go home and to try by some mechanism to decide what a majority of my electors from Lethbridge would want to do. That is what a delegate would do and would come down like a machine and cast a ballot.

No, no. A member of Parliament is a representative. I represent that area. But I am a member who speaks for all of Canada and must consider the interests, the judgment and particularly the points of view of other Canadians. A representative has an obligation of course to listen to the views, the opinions and the judgment of one's electors. One has an obligation though to listen to the views expressed by other members of Parliament who themselves have been elected by 100,000-plus people and come with a different perspective.

The big difference in our country now, Madam Speaker, as you so well know is no longer Catholic, Protestant, French, English, Quebec, the rest of Quebec. The big differences now are people who come from large metropolitan areas and those of us who come from smaller cities and people who come from the rural parts of Canada. That is the adjustment, the compromise and the consideration that we have to spend a lot of time on as members.

We also as members and representatives have an obligation to read about the topic in the legislation we are faced with and to study the issue and then face the ultimate responsibility to make a judgment call and to act in the best interest of all of Canada.

I have been very proud to be a representative and even though I have made decisions that many people in my riding have been opposed to, most of them have come

and said that I have been a reasonable representative and have acted fairly in the interest of the country.

Another word of thanks would be to my staff who over a period of 14 years have served me very well. I cannot name them all but there are a few who I would like to mention. Mrs. Sheelagh Brown served on this Hill many years before I came and continued with me for many years as did Mr. Robert Harrison. Mr. James Christie has worked many years in the riding. Those people face a particular problem because all of the anger and the unhappiness of people tends to be focused upon our staff. Mr. Jamie Christie has served me so very well in that capacity. Mr. David Robins, Mr. Darrell Pack, Mrs. Kathy Dedo-Markus, Ms. Cathy Tron, my present staff in Ottawa, Anne Lanier, Alan Andron, Bridget Pastor Jr. and Meagan Thompson have all worked hard not only for me but for the best interest of the people of Lethbridge. For that I thank them.

What can I say in summary? It is certainly better to win than to lose and I have done both. It is better to be in government than it is to be in opposition and I have been in both. The reason it is better to be in government is that you can, even as an individual member of Parliament, have an influence and change the legislation and the policy of this country. Even when you make a mistake, and we have made a few, you can regroup in the morning and come back and try to do better because you still have the power.

As a westerner I can remember when I first came here. We had three traditional beefs that we were all raised upon and fed with at the knees of our grandfathers, grandmothers and our parents. One was the manufacturing tariffs that it was felt in the west put an unfair burden upon us because most of the manufacturing products came out of central Canada. There is quite a bit of mythology around that and factually often it is not correct. But that was the mythology. Now they are all gone and we do not have that historic complaint in the west. That will go a long way toward making us feel more and more like we are part of the whole country.

Transportation inequities. We always heard how we had to pay the freight on the raw products leaving the prairies and on the manufactured goods coming back. Over the last few years we have had a very sophisticated

June 16, 1993

manufacturing sector in the west and the transportation inequities have been substantially done away with. For example, the cost of shipping on the railways has dropped some 27 per cent since 1984. That is very helpful to us. The tariffs which are essentially taxes upon our own people are now largely a thing of the past.

With regard to the lack of continental marketing, from western Canada there was a lot of support for the Liberal Party when it was the party that wanted to get into laissez faire in free trade agreements in continental marketing. That was the traditional Liberal position. The Conservative Party opposed it because the Conservative Party was so locked into its trade links and its idea of being part of the British Empire that the Conservative Party opposed free trade again and again. That was never in the interest of western Canada.

I have been proud to be part of a government that had the courage to face it, take the hard decisions and then go to the people and actually win. In my judgment the last act of emancipation of Canadians which freed us up as a true country and nation in the world was the reaffirmation of free trade where they returned us to power having put that to them. Canada truly grew up when we realized we were part of the world and could face the world under a free trade agreement.

On an entirely personal basis, I want to say how much I enjoyed working on the policy and the legislative end, whether that was in transportation, justice or a little bit in agriculture. I really thank the Prime Minister for giving me interesting assignments as a committee member, as chairman of standing committees and legislative committees and two parliamentary secretaryships. The access to information and privacy report which we put in a number of years ago will one day come to be seen by parliamentarians as the basis for making changes to those statutes. I sat on a task force that reviewed national security which gave me a very interesting perspective of this country and more recently a report involved in the recodification of the Criminal Code.

I also want to thank the Prime Minister for the national leadership that he has provided on federal-provincial relations, on fiscal matters and on social matters. I am firmly convinced that history will vindicate the positions that he took and will see him in the proper

Routine Proceedings

light. I must say that of all his strengths intellectually and on the issues, he never lost sight of the fact that we were his caucus.

You will know, Madam Speaker, that I had an operation in 1990. I was recovering during the Christmas period. On Boxing Day, lo and behold the telephone rang. I just picked it up in the normal course and it was the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister was personally calling a backbencher who is not important at all in the scheme of things day to day, but he was concerned enough that he phoned. I thought that was quite a wonderful thing.

My only regret is the treatment that the national media have given because they really refused in the case of our Prime Minister to give a balanced presentation of his persona.

If they had done that, had they even just been fair, he would have been around here for many more years because he had so much more to give.

This brings me to my last issue and it relates to the role of the media. It is not I think for Parliament to do anything about it but I believe the national press gallery has to somehow come together and set up a governing body and a disciplining body where they can bring some internal self-control and discipline upon themselves.

Regretfully I have noticed that over the last 14 years they have become highly destructive toward the public life of this nation. They have focused on personal traits of members of Parliament and other people in positions of responsibility in this nation. These are personal traits that are largely irrelevant to their ability to govern the nation. In short, they have been unbalanced and they have been unfair.

As I say the solution is not a statutory matter but a question of professional discipline. As better and more educated people go into journalism and aspire to a higher professional standard of journalism that should stress balanced reporting, both sides of the story, fairness and more than anything else relevancy to the issue at hand. At that time I believe the public life of the nation will be much better.

In conclusion, I am proud to have been a politician.

June 16, 1993

Routine Proceedings

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
LIB

Ronald MacDonald

Liberal

Mr. Ron MacDonald (Dartmouth):

Madam Speaker, this is a bit of an historic day I guess for anybody who is watching. We are all guessing because it will be up to the new Prime Minister once she is sworn in to decide when this place finally does adjourn for good and when to have a general election.

I think for anybody who has listened to the debate that this is the day a lot of members of this place are giving their speeches. Indeed Mr. Paproski yesterday as a matter of fact had many tributes paid to him for his long service to this place and for the friendship and for the changes that he brought to this place.

Before I start I would like to say for the record that Steve Paproski, if I can be so bold as to break the rules, is one of those rare individuals who actually has some influence on rookies coming into this place. As Acting Speaker, Mr. Paproski was helpful many times in this place by the way that he handled himself and the way that he allowed some of us newer guys to sometimes bend the rules but never quite break them. He sent over little notes to try to tell us how we might be able to do it a little better the next time. He was certainly helpful to me. It is a pleasure to have served with somebody of that stature.

When I learned that Mr. Paproski was not going to be here again it caused me a little concern. He is the type of individual who certainly has brought a lot to this place and has brought a lot of respect here and I will certainly miss him from here. I wish him the best.

Today the debate is on something else. This is the adjournment debate. The adjournment debate that we are talking about is really about the government's record. This may be the last time that many people get to speak in this place. Certainly it is probably the last time in this Parliament that most of us wall get to speak in this place.

It is a time for reflection. Almost five years ago the previous government went to the polls and we had a general election. We had the great Canadian debate about free trade. During that debate people took sides. It was an emotional argument. Many times the facts just did not make any difference. Nevertheless we had a national election campaign in which people felt very strongly about the issue of free trade.

The government opposite had campaigned that free trade would not only open up the United States market to our producers and to our products but would lead us to unprecedented growth in this country. By unfettered access to U.S. markets everything would be well again.

The Prime Minister of today said: "Please forgive me because when I ran in 1984 and promised jobs, jobs, jobs I really did not know how to provide them. However now the panacea is going to be the free trade deal with the United States".

I fought hard against that deal almost five years ago because I am a free trader and I believe that the deal that had been negotiated by the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister's cabinet was a bad deal for Canada. I believe that that deal did not have the safety nets in it necessary to allow Canadian industry to develop and prosper so that the best interests of the people of Canada would be looked after.

Lo and behold, almost five years later what do we have? We have our manufacturing sector in Canada, primarily in southern Ontario, the economic engine of this country, laid to waste. There has been an economic disaster in the manufacturing sector with more than

400,000 jobs lost in that sector alone.

So much for free trade. I think if the Canadian public could have a go at it again and roll back to that great debate there would be no question of the outcome and there would be no question as to the survivability of that particular deal.

Shortly after getting elected as a member from Atlantic Canada-from Dartmouth-I came to this place to try to represent the best interests of the people in my riding, region and nation as a whole. One of the underlying foundations of this country has been a belief-our country was founded on this-that everybody in this country, no matter where they live, should have a reason to expect that they can share in the collective wealth of this country.

Successive governments since Confederation have worked toward that particular underlying principle of nationhood. What we have done over and over again was to say that it did not matter if one lived in Saskatchewan during the dirty 1930s, it did not matter if one was in the dust bowl during the times of drought and it did not matter if one was in Atlantic Canada or northern

June 16, 1993

Ontario when the economy went down. The Government of Canada has a fundamental responsibility to interfere if necessary in the free flow of capital and goods and money in this country to equalize opportunity.

That is why we are different than the United States. It is because we believe fundamentally that that is our right and indeed the requirement of governments.

We have a thing called regional development in this country and it has not always worked. I agree with that. Some of the programs that we have put in place to try to deliver the policy of regional development have been absolute disasters.

However starting in about 1987 we saw this government beginning to move away from a commitment to regional development. It basically said that if it did not make absolute economic sense today then it would withdraw from it. In the first budget after this bunch got back in in 1988 the government started to retrench from its commitment to regional development.

We used to have economic regional development agreements. They were called ERDAs. They were agreements between the federal Government of Canada and the provincial governments for veiy special cost-sharing programs to develop the silviculture industry in a place like Nova Scotia, mineral exploration and development agreements and fisheries development agreements. These are types of things that will create wealth and employment opportunity in our regions.

These were programs that were negotiated between the two levels of government to try to ensure that the necessity of equalizing opportunity in this country took place. However between 1984 and 1989-90 this government refused to renegotiate $1.44 billion in regional development agreements with places like Newfoundland-before the fishery was destroyed-or Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island. It removed $1.44 billion from an economy of only 2.4 million people. Yet it said it was committed to regional development.

I was the ACOA critic. My colleague from Central Nova on the front benches opposite was the minister. I have no doubt in my mind that his effort was in earnest and his intention was honest in trying at that cabinet table to promote the real interests of Atlantic Canadians.

Private Members' Business

However, he presided over drastic cuts to the ACOA budget. With ACOA there was great fanfare and $1.05 billion. It was going to replace the other regional development programs that had been in place. But we saw in its first two budgets that this government cut back the money and stretched it out by an extra two years.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
?

An hon. member:

Reprofiled.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
LIB

Ronald MacDonald

Liberal

Mr. MacDonald (Dartmouth):

It reprofiled, as the minister said. Somebody in this House suggested that the minister should be reprofiled himself for his lack of ability to protect the interests of Atlantic Canadians.

Take the port of Halifax. Dartmouth is on the shores-

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink
PC

Charles Deblois (Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole)

Progressive Conservative

The Acting Speaker (Mr. DeBlois):

I am sorry, but it being 7 o'clock p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 30(6), the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business, as listed on today's Order Paper.

Topic:   NATIONAL NEIGHBOURHOOD ACT
Subtopic:   PETITIONS
Sub-subtopic:   MOTION TO ADJOURN
Permalink

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

THE ENVIRONMENT

NDP

James Ross Fulton

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jim Fulton (Skeena) moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider establishing the public right to sue government institutions for failure to protect the environment.

He said: Mr. Speaker, on four occasions this week I have given speeches and on leaving the Chamber I had my hand shaken as members said: "That was a great speech. It is good to see you go, pal".

I am reasonably certain that this is my last speech, this being the last order of business. I am honoured to have the opportunity to move the last motion to be debated in this 34th Parliament particularly as it concerns an area and a topic very close to my heart. That is protecting the environment.

The motion to establish the public right to sue government institutions for failure to protect the environment is something we have long needed. I will demonstrate in the next 20 minutes why the House should, as soon as it

Private Members' Business

resumes sitting, pass legislation in order to have this occur.

The intent is to protect and conserve the ecological systems of Canada, obviously not all of them entirely intact in their wilderness state, but certainly to maintain them in an ecologically functioning state. This is something we know is not occurring with the contamination of the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence, the Fraser River and most of the fresh water systems in Canada. There is contamination even into the Arctic, into the polar bear populations and so on.

Only those in this House needing remedial education would fail to realize that we are on the brink of a precipice. We must turn away from the kind of institutional operation I have seen here for more than 14 years and that we see throughout the whole of this country and around the world.

The principle that would be invoked by this opportunity to sue government institutions for failure to protect the environment is that it would promote environmentally sound decision making. That is something one does not find in government departments or on the floor of this House.

It would facilitate meaningful public involvement, something that does not occur in this country. We do not have the well-funded and well-integrated environmental organizations and foundations that the United States and other countries have. Our environmental organizations are small. They are poorly funded and are certainly excluded from the political and institutional decision making.

It will provide for government accountability, something which there is little if any of at the moment. It will protect intact every ecosystem in Canada through the development of an environmental registry. I recall recently a witness before a committee said that if you have a dream and you have a timetable, then you have a plan.

With this motion I am suggesting the dream of a protected ecosystem for the whole planet. A timetable was attempted to be put in place at the world summit in Rio a year ago. Regrettably that was not adopted by the major developing or developed countries in this world. We have to hope that at least Rio triggered a new

political awakening. It certainly has not triggered a new environmental consciousness as yet.

This proposal would trigger reviews. It would give the public the opportunity to get involved. It would trigger investigations. It would provide a trigger for public prosecutions. Most particularly, it would provide for access to the courts and the potential for not only the polluter to pay, but for the regulator and the enforcer to pay. Of course it is the government itself that is responsible for most of the lax regulation and lax enforcement and the destruction of our environment.

Before carrying on with the specifics of this motion, I would like to take a moment to thank the many people in my constituency for sending me here and for helping me here and in the constituency. They know who they are and I am grateful. I also thank my staff here in the House of Commons and in the constituency for the endless hours of diligent support they have provided to me.

For my education in politics and in life skills I thank my father Blair and mother Margaret who live in Vancouver and put up with a wild and almost always thankless son. Their support has been total and that has made me a proud son.

For putting up with the endless hours of travel, late nights and stress, I thank my wife Elizabeth. She has borne the brunt of this job and has borne two wonderful children along the way, our son Blair who is now 11 and our daughter Katie who is 9.1 plan in the years ahead to make up for the parenting they have missed in the busy parliamentary years since 1979.

It is for the love of family, friends, constituency, this great country and this wonderful planet that I have served and I am proud for having done so.

This motion is an attempt to put in perspective a monitoring process for government institutions to provide for the enforcement of laws and regulations that have been passed by legislatures of this country and to speed a new process.

There is significant non-compliance with regulations and laws to protect the environment and this is epidemic in Canada. I recall only two years ago in British Columbia that in some areas of the province more than 80 per cent of certain types of waste disposal and waste discharge permits had been in significant non-compliance

June 16, 1993

by large industry for more than a year. Giant corporations like the Alcan Corporation were simply flouting the law. Any fines they would get were simply considered to be the cost of doing business. That is no way for Canada's environment to survive.

Let me give another example right in the backyard of Parliament. A company by the name of Tioxide has just closed, one of the worst toxic contaminators of the entire St. Lawrence system. Over the last 10 years its operations in Europe have been under intense scrutiny and regulation by the governments in Europe. It has recently been given environmental awards for being so environmentally appropriate. Elere in Canada because of significant non-compliance, lax enforcement and weak-willed politicians it remained one of the worst polluters in Canada. When it was actually told to start cleaning up even a little bit, it simply shut its doors, gave the flying fickle finger of fate to Canada and moved its operations offshore.

That will continue to happen if we go the route of the North American free trade agreement, which my friend from Kamloops touched upon. Environmental standards will go to the lowest common denominator on the continent if that piece of legislation regrettably gets through in a majority Liberal or Conservative government coming to power later in 1993. The North American free trade agreement stands as the largest single danger that has ever been considered to the environment of North America.

Overwhelmingly Liberals and Conservatives are opposed to full cost accounting and in fact I must say many New Democrats are as well, principally as a result of misinformation within society generally.

Let us look at the integrated vertical ownership and structure of the media in this country which is in the hands of people like Conrad Black. Noam Chomsky has been mentioning this for years in his books, such as Manufacturing Consent. If we allow the private sector with certain vested interests to take raw resources and to use the environment simply as a waste disposal area and to sacrifice labour and if those same integrated economic interests control radio, television, newspapers and magazines, one does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the likelihood of having an educated population able

Private Members' Business

to fight for their own rights and able to protect the environment is close to zero.

I regret to say that in the 14 years I have been here I have seen a continual and dismal decline in the coverage of environmental issues in this country by what is described as the mainstream media.

That includes the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation where since it was taken over by the Progressive Conservative Party as a mini Senate the control of the media is obvious to anyone who wants to look. It is not the issues and how they cover them, it is the issues that are chosen to be covered which is where the CBC management, the Tory management, managed to manipulate Canadians into thinking that everything is nice and warm and okay when it comes to the environment.

Regrettably it is only when there are disasters and catastrophes that we get a response from this House. There has to be a Nestucca spill or an Exxon Valdez or a tire fire before governments leap to action and enforcement agencies start to lay the plethora of charges they have at their fingertips.

Our environment continues to decline because those who believe that the institutional approach we are taking is working are those who believe that the solution to pollution is dilution which is the ultimate ironic lie. Those who believe that resources are solely for exploitation and not for protection and conservation are of a similar mindset. They are the same people who believe that the externalization of waste is of no cost or concern. Their eyes are only drawn to the balance sheet and the balance sheet of the world is already demonstrating as we know.

Just today while we give these speeches to close the House for this 34th Parliament, 40,000 children on this planet will die of preventable disease. Yet there is so little being done in this country to deal with that or many of the other crises that the planet faces. Naturally the environment will decline into the foreseeable future while Canadians are offered the existing political system in its unbalanced form as their only option based on go-for-it policies, election after election.

We heard a moment ago from a member from Alberta who said how great it is that the New Democrats have been wiped out in Alberta and Mr. Klein is now the

June 16, 1993

Private Members' Business

premier of Alberta. I was bom in Alberta and regret to see what has happened there. One need only look at the rate of increase in the debt and the rate of exploitation of resources in that province to know that those who voted Tory again and elected a majority Tory government are opting for more of the same policies. There will be more of the gouging, destruction, abuse and over-exploitation of the Alberta environment for the now generation, never thinking of the future generations and that incredible environment that is being destroyed and pulped up for foreign benefit, foreign profit and to increase the debt of those who are now being bom in Alberta.

Let us think for example of another area where litigation would help if my motion was put into law. In 1987 the Prime Minister of this country and President Reagan of the United States signed into law a binding accord in terms of the Great Lakes that there would be zero tolerance and zero discharge of toxins into the Great Lakes. Here we are six years later and on every single day in every single year the amount of toxins going in has continued. The level of enforcement has been zero. That is the only zero that has come in this equation. The Love Canal is still there, the toxins are still pouring in from the U.S. side of the Niagara escarpment and the toxins have continued to pour through the St. Clair and other Canadian systems into the Great Lakes.

If we start to give some kinds of tools and powers back to the Canadian public and the people of this world to hold institutions accountable on a daily basis, we can go back to what we require which is full cost accounting. We need to know the real cost, not just of taking water out of a river. When Alcan takes all but 14 per cent of the water out of the Nechako, we need to know not just what the effect of taking that water out will be in running it down the Kemano River. We also need to know the full cost impact. What is the impact down the Fraser system? What is the impact on the Fraser River estuary, the Gulf of Georgia, the microclimates on the way down the Fraser? If we lower Hell's Gate by three feet by giving Alcan the power it wants to sell and export, what are the impacts on cattlemen who live along the plateau along the Fraser who want to pump water to feed their stock?

What are all the impacts on other future potential developments? Without full cost accounting those on the inside track are the only beneficiaries. Future generations and entire ecosystems are the losers.

The public must be given the right to sue government institutions that fail to protect the environment. Political decisions must carry time, space and reality-measured price tags and at the moment they do not carry any of those.

As I leave this institution I can comment as someone who has worked hard in committee and on the floor of the House. I can say that the institution itself is out of step and direction with sustainable development. Maurice Strong, the chair of the world summit on environment in Rio was on the radio earlier today and confirmed my observation that we continue to hurtle institutionally toward extinction as though we did not know it.

This institution is not operating on full cost accounting and when I speak of the institution I do not speak solely of the institution of Parliament. I speak of all parts of the federal government, the provincial governments and the territorial governments responsible for the public interest. These institutions are not operating on full cost accounting nor is any legislature at the moment on earth, but there is no excuse for continuing on the road to an uninhabitable earth.

I am deeply grateful to my father Blair for educating me about real life and teaching me to understand that real politics is the politics of sharing and caring for all that is about us: people as well as birds, wildlife, clean water and clear mountain air. They have passed the torch to me and although I have made many friends here and both won and lost many major battles, I regret to report to them, my family, my constituents and all Canadians that we are losing the ecological gifts we inherited from time immemorial.

Our environment is a living universal memory and wilderness is our window back to the universe. We diminish ourselves when we diminish the natural world. As the list of endangered species of plants and animals grows in Canada and across the planet we must ask how we can stop this.

June 16, 1993

Parks and conservation are merely holdout pockets. It is a new way of politics and thinking that we need. We know the causes of our problems and we know some of the effects but what about simple things such as global warming? It is the butt of jokes on most late night talk shows on television in the winter time, whether it is someone from Chicago saying: "I wish that global warming was here" or someone in the Canadian north saying "I wish we had more global warming this winter".

I sat for several years on a committee in this House and spent almost $1 million of public money looking into the issue of global warming. Our committee composed of Conservatives, Liberals and New Democrats came to a unanimous conclusion that global warming poses a greater threat to the people of Canada and the people of the world than anything other than all out nuclear war.

What has this 34th Parliament of Canada under our eighteenth Prime Minister done? We had a promise that greenhouse gases would be stabilized at 1990 levels by the year 2000. That promise was made two years ago and the studies are now in. Some of them are hidden by Energy, Mines and Resources but some have trickled their way into the public. It is now expected that we will be 13 per cent above 1990 levels by the year 2000.

This is a government response. This is an institutional response without a peep from most members of Parliament. It is a threat that is second only to all out nuclear war and we are doing nothing. The Pacific Ocean where I live has already started to rise and no one seems to care about it.

I leave one germinal idea, one seminal idea as one of the last speakers in this Parliament to speak on a motion. I hope the next Parliament takes the environment far more seriously than this one did and actually does something about the big issues such as global warming, ozone depletion and massive deforestation that are now starting to affect not only my province but other areas of the country. I hesitate to sound too negative or unhappy but I must reflect about how this institution could change for my constituents and Canadians in these last moments I have.

Private Members' Business

My first suggestion was to give Canadians the tools and the opportunity to sue government institutions that fail to protect the environment because they are the regulators. Too many times in my life as a politician I have seen the Department of Fisheries and Oceans fail to prosecute themselves, fail to enforce and uphold regulations and statutes passed by this place.

Certainly we can continue to have the benches here and continue to elect people from constituencies, but if we fail to become more organic and more in touch with what is going on in the world around us there will not be a world.

People like David Suzuki and others who say this is the turn around decade are not fools. The scientists we all listened to in Rio are not fools. It is the unanimous opinion of the most senior scientists on this planet that we must turn around this decade and make a change to full cost accounting and sustainable development.

In closing I thank the pages and the staff of the House. I thank you, Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary library, the security staff and all those who have worked in this place in the years that I have been here, and in particular the Table who I have harassed many times over the years on matters sometimes trifling and sometimes not. It has been an honour to have worked here.

I wish those who are re-elected here and those who still serve the very best. They deserve luck.

Topic:   PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Subtopic:   THE ENVIRONMENT
Sub-subtopic:   RIGHT TO SUE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS FOR VIOLATIONS
Permalink

June 16, 1993