September 19, 1996

LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. Baker

As the hon. member pointed out, this is party of extreme political positions. And so we wonder who the losers are. The losers are the people of Canada.

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An hon. member

Give us an example of what is extreme.

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LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. Baker

The hon. member has asked for an example. We can give examples. Imagine a political party with that much power for accountability being opposed to our health care system. Imagine a political party that includes in its position that it wants the public to have roads built by private enterprise and then we would need toll gates. How else? Imagine the Alaska highway. Imagine if there were tolls on the TransCanada highway. This is the party with these very extreme positions on certain things.

An hon. member from the Reform just mentioned unemployment insurance. They had this great plan. Let us talk about the extreme position of being opposed to reducing the premiums for employees and employers, to use the unemployment insurance fund to pay off the deficit, to make sure that everything becomes zero, and then they will reduce the premiums. That is in their policy booklet, page 24 of the budget they presented.

What we have is the Government of Canada being held accountable to the people of Canada by two political parties that are not representative of the wishes of the Canadian people and therefore cannot really hold the government accountable for their actions. The government holds true to the principles of democracy in the House by giving members of Parliament on the government side a free vote even on matters that are introduced by the Government of Canada.

It is clear the reason the system is not working is the fault of the opposition parties and they only have themselves to blame. They should go back to the drawing board as far as question period is concerned and perhaps come up with some better suggestions rather than hold up all of these excellent committees with these excellent MPs just waiting to do their job as presented by our whip earlier on today.

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REF

Jack Ramsay

Reform

Mr. Jack Ramsay (Crowfoot, Ref.)

Madam Speaker, I am always interested to hear the member from Newfoundland speak.

He spoke of extremism. We have seen extremism in this country for the last 25 years. We have seen the extremism in the fiscal monetary policy that has created a $600 billion debt in this country. We have the extremism result in a $50 billion interest payment each year on that debt. We have seen the extremism of the MP pension plan which is not a pension plan at all but a winning lottery ticket.

We have seen the extremism of section 745 that allows first degree murderers like Clifford Olson to apply for early parole after serving just 15 years and take everyone of those 11 families whose children have been murdered through the horror, pain and the anguish again and again.

We see the extremism of politicians who support those kind of rights and protection for the murderers in this country while ignoring completely the duty and responsibility to protect the innocent victims of the children of those families.

Yes, this country has had to be subjected to extremism, extremism that I have talked about, which we could speak about for hours in this House; extremism of the Young Offenders Act that is considered to be a joke by many of the young offenders them-

selves; a justice system that cannot protect the lives and the property of our citizens. Yes, we have extremism in this country and it is the result of people like my colleague who just addressed us.

We can talk of something the hon. member did not address with a democracy as expressed within our committees. I sat on the justice committee and I saw one of the finest chairman who knew the rules, who was an experienced capable man and who was fair to both the government side as well as the opposition. I saw that hon. member fired from his position simply because he chose to represent what he thought was in the best interests of his people on a government bill.

The hon. member has not addressed that. Perhaps he could address that in the time he has left. What does he think about the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce being treated in that horrible manner by a so-called democratic process and a government that is supposedly sworn to uphold the democratic principles of this country? Let us hear the hon. member respond to what happened to this hon. member over here.

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LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. Baker

Madam Speaker, the hon. member has claimed we are a government of extremes. He started his point by talking about the debt and the deficit, of economic extremes, as he called it.

I have to admit this country today is in an extreme position because we are at an extreme, are we not? Which one of the G-7 countries leads the world in economic development? Which country is at the economic extreme? Is it Italy? Is it France? Is it Germany? Is it the U.K.? Is it Japan? Is it the U.S.? What country is at the economic extreme? We agree with the hon. member. The country at the economic extreme is the country of Canada, which leads everybody else.

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REF

Jim Silye

Reform

Mr. Jim Silye (Calgary Centre, Ref.)

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the hon. member, speaking of extremes, which political party's extreme ideas did the government adopt? Which party ran a campaign on cuts and deficit elimination and that cuts lead to jobs, better opportunities and make this country better? Which party ran on jobs, jobs, jobs? Which party has stolen the other party's ideas? We want nothing to do with its ideas and we are glad it is stealing ours, our extreme views, our extreme positions and our extremely valuable contribution we have made to this country.

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LIB

George Baker

Liberal

Mr. Baker

Madam Speaker, the Liberal Party of Canada would never be that extreme. The Liberal Party of Canada, since the fall of 1993, has been the most progressive economically of all of the industrialized nations of the world, and is projected to be that way next year, without adopting the Reform principles of cutting health care, making people pay for their roads and doing away with social programs.

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BQ

Réal Ménard

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Réal Ménard (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, BQ)

Madam Speaker, I can see as you do that the government majority is pleased to hear what I have to say, and I will not be afraid to speak my mind.

The fundamental reality we are faced with here is that we have a democratically elected opposition composed of 53 members who agreed to comply with democratic rules with regard to party fundraising, rules that were rejected by both the Reform Party and the government majority in this House.

We are being told today that our work as parliamentarians, particularly our work in committee, is useless. That is what the Reform members are saying. They are saying that our work as parliamentarians is useless because they are not the official opposition.

That is sheer hypocrisy. You will recall that less than two weeks after we came to this House, the leader of the Reform Party invited us to a luncheon where he told us that his party would have a new image, that we would see a new way of doing politics, that his party would be democratic, that it would enrich debate.

Despite the fact that we have a system where the people have their say, where they can choose their representatives democratically, some members have the gall to tell us today that this system is worthless with regard to committees, because they are not the official opposition. It certainly takes some nerve to rise in this House today and make that kind of comment.

How should we evaluate the work of the opposition? We have a democratic opposition.

And we are here because we received a mandate. What is that mandate? It was given to us during a democratic electoral campaign held according to public rules. The people of Quebec chose 53, 54 members from the Bloc Quebecois. That is a fact.

What is so painful for the Reform Party members? I hope that one of them will have the courage to stand up and say it instead of their usual hypocritical speech. What counts in democracy is not what you have on your head, but what you have in it and how much

brain power you have that determines whether you should aspire to form the official opposition.

What does the Reform opposition have to say? What do the Reformists say about public finances? And on the foreign affairs policy? And what about human rights? What do they have to say about the big debates of the moment? And about the recognition of the rights of Quebec? They have nothing to say and this is why not only will they not form the official opposition after the next elections, but we will see to it that they are completely wiped out.

I challenge you, Madam Speaker, and any of the Reformers-who are a throwback to bygone days-to give us an example of any occasion where we have been remiss, either with respect to content, policy or ethics, or in connection with attendance in the House, or our use of any of the prerogatives of the official opposition. I challenge them to give us one example.

We know very well that we have done our work properly. We have done it like those who know that, when the official opposition rises in the House, it speaks on behalf of the Quebec people, who made a democratic choice, and who will do so again in order to reach an ideal that we have never concealed, which is to see that, when it so decides, Quebec will be able to attain sovereignty.

But did that mean that, when we had the opportunity, we were not able to honestly and respectfully represent a broad range of Canadians? Yes, we were able to do so. We were able to do so when we spoke about Bosnia. We were able to do so when we spoke about renewing institutions internationally, particulary with respect to the United Nations. We agree that, in specific cases, the Quebec nation may have interests in common with the rest of Canada, but we have never compromised our principles.

Did the Reform Party fight against family trusts? Did you hear them on this issue? Did the Liberals get up and fight when apparently two billion dollars had more or less legally left the country, left Canada? Did they stand up and fight? No.

What bothers both these parties is that we take a unique position. We have something different to say, something specific.

I know both the Reform Party and the government majority wish we could blend in with the rest of Canada. But that will not happen, because we know what Quebecers will do, because they are capable of democratically choosing what is in their own interests. And being guided by their own interests means electing spokespersons exclusively dedicated to promoting the interests of Quebec.

In the same breath, I hasten to say that each and everyone of us has friends in English Canada, and we believe that the best way to conduct our political business in the next century is in the form of a partnership.

That is what we believe, and we are not naive about the eventuality, the plausibility and the eminently desirable policy of maintaining a Canadian common market. We are not naive in this respect.

I am concerned to say the least that the Reform Party has nothing to say about these issues. To rise in the House with all the naivety and indignation of a convent school girl of 17 and say they are unhappy because in committee they are not the official opposition is an affront to democracy.

Democracy is about being able to elect the people who represent us. Do Reform Party members seriously believe that with this kind of holier than thou attitude, devoid of any common sense, they will win the popular vote? Is that what they believe? I hope not.

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REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Strahl

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I know we have to wrap up the debate momentarily as per the motion we passed earlier this morning. Is there going to be an opportunity for questions and answers following this?

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

That is not a point of order.

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BQ

Réal Ménard

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ménard

Madam Speaker, I would like to carry on with my speech.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

The hon. member for Fraser Valley East.

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REF

Chuck Strahl

Reform

Mr. Strahl

A point of order, Madam Speaker. I know the normal method of debating here in the House is a statement period, a period of debate-

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

Please sit down. It was agreed that discussions on this motion would end at ten to two. I will give the hon. member an additional minute to complete his 10-minute speech.

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REF
BQ

Réal Ménard

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ménard

Madam Speaker, here you can see this inability to take a position on issues and the use of tricks to avoid the real debates. This is why these people, at least I hope for the sake of Canadians and Quebecers, will never be the government nor the official opposition.

Here we are, acting in a responsible way, talking about the real problems and ensuring that the voice of Quebec is and continues to be heard. We are all, without exception, very enthusiastic about the future.

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The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Ringuette-Maltais)

It being 1:55 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings.

Pursuant to order made earlier today, the motion is deemed to have been put to a vote and agreed to on division.

(Motion agreed to.)

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LIB

Warren Allmand

Liberal

Hon. Warren Allmand (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I have three petitions from several hundred Canadians from different provinces which state that abolishing the opportunity for prisoners serving life sentences of 15 years or more who apply for a judicial review of their parole eligibility will likely only serve to increase both the human and economic costs of the criminal justice system and increase public fear and misconceptions about crime among the Canadian public.

The petitioners therefore call on Parliament to oppose the repeal of section 745 of the Criminal Code or the restriction of prisoners access to just and fair procedures as well as to launch a concerted public education campaign to promote the need for more responsible and humane criminal justice approaches to enhance the safety of all Canadians.

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REF

Dick Harris

Reform

Mr. Dick Harris (Prince George-Bulkley Valley, Ref.)

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition containing over 500 names from the riding of Simcoe North.

The petitioners state that there are profound inadequacies in the sentencing practices concerning individuals convicted of impaired driving charges and that Canada must embrace a philosophy of zero tolerance to people who drink and drive.

The petitioners pray and request that Parliament proceed immediately with amendments to the Criminal Code to ensure that the sentence given to anyone convicted of impaired driving causing death carries a minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum of 14 years as outlined in the private member's bill C-201, sponsored by the hon. member for Prince George-Bulkley Valley.

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LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I wish to present two petitions. The first is on taxation of the family.

The petitioners from Kirkland Lake, Ontario would like to draw to the attention of the House that managing the family home and caring for preschool children is an honourable profession which has not been recognized for its value to our society.

The petitioners therefore pray and call on Parliament to pursue initiatives to eliminate tax discrimination against families that choose to provide care in the home to preschool children, the chronically ill, the aged or the disabled.

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September 19, 1996