November 15, 1994

?

The Speaker

The hon. minister of agriculture.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Grain Transportation
Permalink
LIB

Ralph Goodale

Liberal

Hon. Ralph E. Goodale (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I dealt with that subject at some length in a speech I delivered last week at the annual convention of the United Grain Growers in Calgary. In order to save time, I will be happy to send the hon. member a copy of my speech.

I will tell him what is happening at the present time. As the Minister of Transport and I committed some months ago, we are presently engaged in a final round of discussions with farmers and farm organizations about future reform measures affecting the WGTA. Indeed, later today I will have the opportunity to discuss that subject with the prairie ministers of agriculture. Over the course of the next couple of months the Minister of Transport and I will be canvassing all of the major farm organizations in the country.

Our objective is to finalize the government's position with respect to the WGTA so that we might present recommendations to our cabinet colleagues early in the new year.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Grain Transportation
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LIB

Paddy Torsney

Liberal

Ms. Paddy Torsney (Burlington, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in the close to 100 town hall meetings held by MPs across the country in the last few weeks, students have been very involved participants. They are interested, prepared to debate and know the status quo is not an option. Many of them have said to me that they need better school-to-work transition, better access to training in the workplace and fairer student loan repayment schemes.

I ask the Minister of Human Resources Development what concrete initiatives he is taking that can point to a post-secondary education system that will really respond to today's student needs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Education
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LIB

Lloyd Axworthy

Liberal

Hon. Lloyd Axworthy (Minister of Human Resources Development and Minister of Western Economic Diversification, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her question.

One thing I would like to point out to the hon. member and all members is that just today at a meeting of the 15 sector councils that are business-labour partnerships, I signed two new agreements in horticulture and tourism which will provide new school-to-work internships for over 1,000 students, one for people in rural communities and the other will concentrate on training for aboriginal tourism interns.

What is important about this is that the total cost of the project is $18 million. The federal contribution is only $5 million which shows that because of the partnerships we are able to have a two to one arrangement. It shows that the basic thesis that we can do more for less and provide better training and educational opportunities to our young people is already coming true.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Education
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BQ

Pierrette Venne

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Pierrette Venne (Saint-Hubert, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, last week end, the Minister of Justice declared that he intended to present a bill to tighten gun control in Canada.

Does the Minister of Justice undertake to simplify the regulations on the storage, display and transportation of firearms and to make them coherent so that ordinary people can finally understand and comply with them?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Gun Control
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the proposals will deal with those issues. We will make every effort to simplify. I well understand that the challenge we face is to make Canadians understand and comply with safe storage requirements.

A very important inquest is going on in Quebec right now in which a coroner is examining, I think, a dozen deaths to find out the connection between the safe storage of firearms and suicide, among other things.

I am aware of that need. We will make every effort in the proposals to make those requirements better understood and more readily enforced.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Gun Control
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REF

Deborah Grey

Reform

Miss Deborah Grey (Beaver River, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health did not explain earlier why she is following a discriminatory practice regarding facility fees. Why is she threatening Alberta clinics while exactly the same practices are being carried out in other provinces?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Care
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LIB

Diane Marleau

Liberal

Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to clarify my words. Let me remind the House that at the last meeting of federal-provincial ministers in Halifax nine provinces agreed to put forward legislation to address the problems faced by clinics. The exception was Alberta. We are awaiting a response from Alberta. I have said it before and I will say it again that this government has been patient but it is rapidly losing patience.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Care
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?

The Speaker

My colleagues, pursuant to an order made on November 14 we will now revert to presenting reports from committees.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Care
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LIB

Jean-Robert Gauthier

Liberal

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier (Ottawa-Vanier, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the report of the Special Joint Committee on Reviewing Canadian Foreign Policy.

In accordance with the order of reference, our report addresses the changes occurring in the world today and their impact on Canada. We all can see that Marshall McLuhan's global village is becoming more and more of a reality for Canadians. That reality has an impact on their security, their jobs and their well-being. The whole world is affected. Therefore, Canada's foreign policy is a domestic policy and our domestic policy is a foreign policy.

Some people would say these changes cause upheaval in interests and fundamental values and that Canadians today are then faced with significant challenges. Our report contains conclusions and recommendations on the principles and priorities that should guide our foreign policy.

In fact, our report suggests a new agenda for what is left of this decade and for the beginning of the 21st century.

The new agenda we propose reflects the deep rooted values that Canadians want to see expressed in their foreign policy and the need to make strategic choices. In fact selectivity and criteria for selection are features of the report.

The agenda includes: reform of the major international institutions of global governance, such as the United Nations and the international financial institutions to make them more effective, more transparent, more representative and more accountable; expanding our concept of security to include non-military factors and a greater specialization of the armed forces to better support peacekeeping operations; and promoting a rules based multilateral trade system and a Team Canada approach to trade development and foreign policy in general.

The agenda also includes: a greater emphasis on the promotion of Canadian culture and learning as a fundamental dimension of foreign policy; a strategy for managing the complex relationship with the United States of America, including better use of the multinational mechanisms; and a reformed foreign aid program designed to target assistance more effectively to meet human development priorities.

Finally the agenda includes: strengthening foreign policy linkages with sustainable development and human rights; and continuing the democratization of Canadian foreign policy through dialogue and education.

I would like to thank the 500 witnesses who presented evidence to the committee during the last seven months and all those who sent briefs and proposals. We received approximately 560 briefs. I would also like to thank the members of the team: the clerks and their personnel, the research assistants and all those who co-operated with us and gave us such a tremendous support.

On my own behalf, I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues of this House and of the Senate who worked hard to produce what I consider to be an excellent report.

The committee members were all struck at the commitment of Canadians towards the very simple principle that we should build a better world. This report testifies of the fact that when working together and in unity, Canadians can make a very unique contribution.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109, Mr. Speaker, the committee asks the government to present a comprehensive response to this report.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, B.Q.)

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to associate myself with the tabling of the report of the Special Joint Committee on Reviewing Canada's Foreign Policy, especially the tabling of the dissenting report by the Bloc Quebecois members on the committee.

Throughout the proceedings, committee members honestly tried to offer an innovative vision of what Canada's new foreign policy could be. For that, I want to thank and congratulate them wholeheartedly.

I would also like to join my colleague for Ottawa-Vanier, the joint chairman of the committee, in thanking all those who contributed in one way or another to the preparation of the report, especially all the Canadians and Quebecers who made the effort to appear before the committee or send in a brief.

However, in spite of everybody's good will, the majority report is based on an interpretation of the international situation we cannot accept. The Bloc Quebecois's dissenting report highlights the aberrations and the shortcomings of the majority report, offering alternatives which, we believe, are closer to what a foreign policy that would be both progressive and realistic should be.

We especially fault the government for not taking into account such fundamental issues as nationalism, the emergence of new states and the recent arrival on the international scene of many new actors.

We also deplore the lack of clear guidelines regarding foreign aid, the interference in Quebec's areas of jurisdiction, especially education and culture, and their impact on the international level.

Finally, we find the lack of a chapter dealing specifically with human rights inexplicable. Moreover, we cannot endorse the unjustified mistrust of the majority report for our main partner, the United States.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I bring this report to your attention, hoping that the government will find it highly instructive.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees Of The House
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REF

Bob Mills

Reform

Mr. Bob Mills (Red Deer, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a question of privilege.

I am rising with regard to the premature release of the report of the Special Joint Committee Reviewing Canada's Foreign Policy. It is my understanding that this report which has just been tabled has been in the hands of the media for almost one week. It has been the subject of extensive coverage and some articles even contain comments from members of the standing committee itself. Since this article was published in the French

language press on November 10 I have been contacted by several members of the media asking for my comments as well.

Citation 877(1) of Beauchesne's sixth edition states:

No act done at any committee should be divulged before it has been reported to the House.

It goes on to say:

"-the evidence taken by any select committee of this House and the documents presented to such committee and which have not been reported to the House, ought not to be published by any member of such committee or by any other person". The publication of proceedings of committees conducted with closed doors or of reports of committees before they are available to members will, however, constitute a breach of privilege.

Mr. Speaker, as a new member of this House I did not feel it would be appropriate for me to respond to the media's request for fear of being found guilty of contempt of this House. Citation 877(2) states:

In Canada, when a question of privilege was raised concerning the publication of a committee report before it was presented to the House, the Speaker ruled that the matter could not be resolved as in the British practice because the motion appeared to attack the press for publishing the confidential document but did not attack members of the House for their attitude in respect of their own confidential documents, and in missing this point, it missed something most important with respect to the privileges of the House.

Where I would like to draw the attention of the House is to the words "did not attack members of the House for their attitude in respect of their own confidential documents".

Leaking of information seems to have become a way of life of this Parliament. This was evident in the case of the finance committee study on the GST tabled last June. At that time the hon. member for Willowdale rose in the House on a question of privilege and I refer to your ruling of June 1, 1994 on page 4702 of Hansard recommending that the finance committee investigate the matter itself.

I have spoken with the chairman of the committee, the hon. member for Ottawa-Vanier and I assure you I will be raising this issue at our next meeting.

The point I want to raise today is one of personal privilege. My privileges as a member of Parliament were breached in the sense that the media and other committee members had in their possession a copy of the report. They were making public statements in the media and referring directly to the content of the report. In fact, I had not even seen the minority report submitted by the official opposition until it was tabled today.

As a member of Parliament I recognize my obligations to keep reports confidential until they are tabled in the House. Unfortunately some MPs chose not to honour this convention and spoke to the press.

Through my silence and respect for the rules I am afraid I may have left a false impression that our party supports the government when we have in fact tabled a dissenting opinion. I believe we have come to a point where this House needs to establish clear and binding guidelines for MPs with respect to the release of confidential information. In the event that the rules are broken members must know that punitive measures will be taken.

I would argue that this is a clear breach of my personal privileges and shows a clear contempt of Parliament. Therefore I ask that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Should you rule that there is a prima facie case I would be prepared to move the appropriate motion.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raises a valid point at least in respect of his opening remarks when he stated that the practice of this House has been that committee reports are confidential until they are tabled in the House. I believe he was also correct when he indicated it was a contempt of the House for any person to release the contents of such a report prior to its tabling in the House. Indeed that has been dealt with as a contempt of the House on past occasions.

I may say that if the hon. member could determine the malefactor in this case that person could be brought before the House and the contempt purged in the appropriate way. That would be entirely appropriate. It could be done either here or in the committee and the committee could bring in a report and the matter dealt with. Having said that, I assume he does not know who the malefactor is and given that we are in a position where I do not know that we can deal with that particular contempt of the House in this case, or indeed in some others that have occurred in the course of this Parliament.

However, the second point that his own personal privileges have been violated is another matter. I recognize that in refraining from making comments until the report was made public this afternoon he may have somehow found that his privileges have been affected. It is a matter that could be studied.

I would be happy to have the matter referred to the procedure and House affairs committee that I have the honour to chair for review. We may have something useful to say on it after hearing what he has to say, I do not know. Whether it is a fact of substantial interference with his ability to carry on his work as a member of Parliament I am not sure.

I invite Your Honour to consider the point that he has raised. If Your Honour finds a prima facie case, I can say that the committee will be happy to undertake the appropriate study should it come our way.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
Permalink
?

The Speaker

My colleagues, I treat all questions of privilege as being very serious in nature. I will indeed review all of the information put before me. With the permission of this House and after due consideration if it is necessary I will come back to the House with my decision.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Privilege
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REF

Jan Brown

Reform

Mrs. Jan Brown (Calgary Southeast, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, last night I spoke during the Adjournment Proceedings. In accordance with Standing Order 37(3) on October 28, I informed the Speaker of my dissatisfaction with the answer I received from the Minister of Canadian Heritage about my question on his letter of intervention to the CRTC.

Yesterday prior to 5 p.m. and in accordance with Standing Orders 38(3) and (4) the Deputy Speaker informed the House that my question would be raised during the late show; reference Hansard page 7753.

During the late show the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue stated, and I quote from Hansard at page 7767:

-I am not prepared to respond to the question of October 28th. I am prepared to respond to the question of October 24th.

Standing Order 38(5) is clear. Ministers or parliamentary secretaries are to respond to the matters raised by members. Not only did the parliamentary secretary not respond to the matter I raised; she admitted she was not prepared to respond and she apologized for not doing so.

The matter raised in my question relates to a serious matter which was before the House for two weeks. I wished to clarify for the House during the late show issues relating to the incompetence of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the minister's letter of intervention to the CRTC. However I have been denied the due process of the Adjournment Proceedings.

I am informed that there is no precedent in this regard. Further, I have not found one instance where the government ever refused to answer a question raised in the Adjournment Proceedings. I remind the Speaker that the Adjournment Proceedings have been a parliamentary procedure for 30 years.

This is an unacceptable precedent for the government to have set. In order to redress this procedural breach I request a written response from the government to the issue I raised last night and ask that the response be given in the House during tonight's Adjournment Proceedings.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

Mr. Peter Milliken (Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member suggested in her comments that she was having trouble establishing the incompetence of the Department of Canadian Heritage and for very good reason. That is because it is headed by a very competent minister and is very well administered. I will leave that part of her remarks aside and deal with the substance of the procedural point that I know she wanted to deal with in her remarks. She got sidetracked by these kinds of partisan comments about the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The fact is that the parliamentary secretary who was here last night to answer was not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage who was unable to be present last evening. She found herself in a position of having been given a set of notes in anticipation of a question on the subject that was not hers to deal with and that she had to give on the spur of the moment. As it turned out it was the wrong set of notes for the wrong question. A mixup had occurred for reasons beyond her control.

Accordingly she felt it inappropriate for her to attempt to come up with an answer to the hon. member's four-minute address on the issue. I may say the suggestion the hon. member has made, that the answer be given tonight on the late show in a special two-minute addition to the late show or a two-minute feature for the parliamentary secretary to give the answer, is one that is quite satisfactory as far as the government is concerned.

I am pleased, if the House agrees it be done, that the two-minute address be given tonight. I realize the hon. member would not have her four-minute speech before it but she gave it last night. We will have the four minutes last night and the two minutes tonight and I think everybody will be happy and in fact pleased to agree.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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?

The Speaker

It seems we have found a solution to our little dilemma. I hope that is acceptable to the hon. member and all other members of the House, and it will be so ordered.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
Permalink

The House resumed consideration of the motion.


LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Mr. Don Boudria (Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to have the opportunity this afternoon to speak briefly on the motion before the House.

I must admit that I was a little surprised and even amazed to see the motion that the Bloc Quebecois has proposed to us. On the one hand, the Bloc Quebecois often complains; its members claim to be concerned about the deficit and the debt and often say that we must cut unnecessary spending, we must cut what they call waste, a big term which is still undefined and for which we have never had a valid explanation.

I wonder if the Bloc Quebecois's definition of waste includes exceptional expenditures, which the government cannot make as a government. We still have to find out the answer.

[English]

Members of the Bloc inform us that they condemn the policy of the government in regard to railroad. I go on record as profoundly disagreeing with that proposition. As a matter of fact I congratulate the minister for having, and I will use the parliamentary term, the intestinal fortitude to address some very important issues in the area of transport, be it rail, maritime or air transport.

I never could understand, and the minister put it very eloquently in a speech that other members and I heard recently, when he said there were airports in Canada that were receiving two million passengers a year and getting zero dollars of subsidy and there were airports in Canada receiving $2 million a year in subsidies and getting zero passengers. There has to be something wrong with that system and the minister has the courage to address those important issues.

The same applies to rail transport. In my region, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, we have a rail line joining Ottawa and Montreal, the Alexandria subdivision. Trains use that track to reach these two big cities. But what happened? In 1986, CN threatened to close the subdivision. It was uncertain whether trains could run between Ottawa and Montreal, and of course it meant the end of passenger transportation between the two cities since VIA Rail uses the CN track.

Today, there is an agreement between CN and CP to maintain the subdivision jointly, and CN and CP trains use the track. This increases traffic on it, increases profitability and ensures the long-term survival of the line in question.

When the news that CN wanted to close the subdivision was leaked in 1986, you know what happened. Alexandria Moulding, a company in our riding that employed about 200 people, ended its expansion plans. Why? Because there was no long-term security. Today the minister is on top of these issues.

In my opinion the minister should continue in areas such as permitting local groups to start up short line railway operations. That process needs to be sped up. For instance, if CN, CP or both in the case of the Alexandria subdivision because it is to be jointly operated, need to shut down part of their operation and if there is a group of local businesses, municipalities or whatever that can keep that short line operation going, we should welcome it with open arms and not spend years and money arguing before various boards and organizations. We need to assure that whoever operates a short line railroad does so with all the safety standards involved and so on. That is guaranteed.

The process has to be accelerated to make these kinds of things happen. The minister is interested in it; he needs to be praised. On the other hand, some provincial governments, particularly those of the pink persuasion, our socialist friends particularly in Ontario, have established what are known as successor rights in the area of railways.

What have successor rights done? By the way the same thing has happened in Saskatchewan, and guess what kind of government it has. Yes, some more of those pink dinosaurs as well. The pink dinosaurs at the provincial level have established those successor rights laws in three provinces. The effect is such that some of the short line railway operations cannot get going because of successor rights.

Here is what happens. In one case in Saskatchewan a small piece of rail line was handed over to a local group. That small piece of rail line did not need a whole variety of employees. I believe it had 18 employees who at that point were in 14 different unions. Does that make sense? It does not make sense to me.

Let us use the example of an even smaller short line operation that would only require a handful of people. Because of the different union contracts a short line operation could not start up. It would have to hire staff it did not need. In other words, the person operating the breaker would have to be different from the person on the train because there are different unions and that sort of thing. Therefore people would be standing there doing nothing while the other one does his or her operation. Does that protect jobs? No, not at all. Instead of having a short line we end up having no service at all and no service at all does not give jobs to anybody.

Perhaps the people in charge of socialist regimes at the provincial level should remember that. If they do not they will not be in business very long anyway, particularly not in the province of Ontario. Their future is doomed about the same as that of the government replaced a little over a year ago by the excellent government we now have in power.

The members opposite are saying that the government should start putting in place a high-speed train system in Canada right away. In the past, these same members condemned the government for making expenditures we could not afford. I have a little problem with their proposals, with the logic used by the people opposite.

First, there is a study under way to determine if a high-speed train would be viable. The people opposite ignore the findings in these studies, but they want a high-speed train system right away and blame the government for not having done so already. Wait a minute. Keep this idea in mind for one minute, Mr. Speaker.

We can only conclude that the members opposite want to build a high-speed train, even if it were not viable. Otherwise, why would they not wait for the results of the viability study? But no. They want to build it, whether or not it is viable, so that when we find out that it is not viable, they can rise in the House to blame the government for building a system that is not viable and wasting money. That is the logic used by the people opposite. If I am not mistaken, the railway expert, the hon. member for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, has just told us that it is viable. We can conclude that he is referring to a study dating back to God knows when. He could perhaps share it with us so that the House would be better informed on this.

There are a number of other issues to be addressed. One of them is property taxes as they affect railroads. Property taxes in Canada generally cost something like 14 per cent of the expenditures of railway companies. That has been said by the Peat Marwick Stevenson and Kellogg group of consultants. In the United States approximately 8 per cent of municipal taxation is applied to railways. That is a big difference for railway viability. It increases the cost of operating railroads in Canada and makes them less competitive.

Those are the kinds of things I know the minister is looking at. He needs to do that kind of work to make rail lines in Canada competitive.

In the long run if we do not ensure that our railways are viable, that they operate properly, the alternative will be no railway at all. We cannot continue with a system that inflicts debt after debt, loss after loss on the railway companies and expect they will be around for a long time. That is not going to happen.

We have to make them viable. We have to make them work properly and competitively so they can be around, provide transportation for Canadians, provide transportation for our goods which we export and import into Canada and provide jobs for those Canadians working in that very worthwhile industry, the railway and transportation industry.

That is why I cannot agree with the motion proposed by our colleagues across the way. I condemn it and I wish the members across would have offered something constructive to help save our railway industry in Canada.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Osvaldo Nunez

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Osvaldo Nunez (Bourassa, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, of course, I do not agree at all with the government whip, especially with his anti-union speech.

The high-speed train is viable. It will link the two most densely populated provinces, the two largest cities, Montreal and Toronto. Rail transportation is going through a serious crisis. I agree with the motion of the Bloc Quebecois which condemns the government's policies concerning the railway system and the gradual abandonment of the services provided by three companies, CN, CP and VIA, especially since these abandonments are occurring mostly in Quebec.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost and now employers want to reopen collective agreements to reconsider job security, fringe benefits and wages and to ask for some more concessions. They are acting in complicity with the government and especially with the Department of Transport and the companies, the employers. In Quebec, the rail transportation unions affiliated with the FTQ have joined forces and are doing a remarkable job.

I just received copy of a brief on the current situation in the railway industry prepared by local 4334 of the CAW, the Canadian Auto Workers. Quebec is hard hit, because services are being transferred to Western Canada. Is this the kind of Canadian federalism you want to force on us? Yes, Quebec is the province most affected by this crisis in the railway industry. Services are being transferred, mostly towards Winnipeg.

Would you agree to a moratorium in order to reconsider the situation in the railway industry, to set up a consultation committee made up of representatives of the governments, the unions and the companies to examine whatever remedial measures can be taken and to act before the railway system in Canada deteriorates further?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Permalink

November 15, 1994