October 3, 1996

LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the majority of work that was done in Somalia by our forces was exceptionally good. However, a serious problem has been identified and it is being dealt with by the commission.

This government feels it would be inappropriate to issue such a medal at this time. Those people who will be deserving of a medal will get their medal in due course. However, I think we owe it to the commission and to a sense of fair play and justice to allow the commission to do its work before we proceed on any other matter.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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REF

Jim Hart

Reform

Mr. Jim Hart (Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the government's failure to issue a Somalia medal shows its complete disregard for morale in the Canadian Armed Forces

The Prime Minister is rewarding his bad apples, General Boyle and the defence minister, when they do not deserve it. Through his lack of leadership, the Prime Minister has caused morale in the forces to suffer.

When will the government shift its obsessive and misguided support for the defence minister and General Boyle to recognize armed forces personnel who served in Somalia on Canada's behalf?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David M. Collenette (Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think the Prime Minister and I have dealt with most of these points in recent days.

The hon. member is often talking about the morale in the armed forces. There is no question that when people see television or newspaper reports of the inflammatory rhetoric that comes from the opposition day in and day out, that obviously affects morale.

This is a difficult time for the armed forces. It is time for everyone to pull together and allow justice to take its course. I remind the hon. member, although he should know, a former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, that morale does not come only from leadership. Morale comes from a sense of worth, a sense of mission and a sense of duty to the country.

I have every confidence in the men and women of the armed forces, despite the problems we are facing, that they feel they are getting that sense of worth, that they have a sense of mission and that they are serving with distinction despite all these problems.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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BQ

Jean-Paul Marchand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the report on official languages in the public service, tabled this morning by the President of the Treasury Board, once again confirms that the federal government applies a double standard in its official languages policy.

My question is directed to the President of the Treasury Board. In Quebec, 54 per cent of the positions in the federal public service are bilingual, to serve an anglophone minority that represents 10 per cent of the population. Why are francophones in Ontario and New Brunswick not entitled to the same quality of service in their language?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Official Languages
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LIB

Marcel Massé

Liberal

Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think the opposition member missed the main point of the report. The main point is that the position of official languages in Canada is improving steadily, and the report indicates that progress is continuing in nearly all areas, including service to the public, language of work and equitable representation of francophones and anglophones in the Public Service.

In Quebec, the proportion of anglophones and allophones is nearly 20 per cent, and consequently we have a proportionate number of bilingual public servants which reflects the needs of the province.

In the other provinces, the percentages are much lower, and consequently the number of bilingual public servants is lower but adequate to existing needs.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Official Languages
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BQ

Jean-Paul Marchand

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Paul Marchand (Québec-Est, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the government will not give francophones in the rest of Canada the same services as anglophones in Quebec. How can the President of the Treasury Board be a party to such discrimination, being a francophone himself?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Official Languages
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LIB

Marcel Massé

Liberal

Hon. Marcel Massé (President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is not true there is discrimination against francophones. About 63,000 positions in the Public Service have been designated bilingual. The

total percentage of francophone public servants in the Public Service is 27 per cent, while the proportion of francophones in the general population is 24.9 per cent. So there is no discrimination as far as numbers are concerned.

I would also like to point out that if there is a problem, it is due to the fact that in Quebec, the proportion of anglophone public servants is only 5 per cent, while anglophones represent 13 per cent of the population. We will make every effort to correct this imbalance as we have done in the case of francophone communities outside Quebec.

[English]

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Official Languages
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REF

Jim Abbott

Reform

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, how quickly the heritage minister forgets her GST promises.

Over the last six months the Minister of Canadian Heritage has announced spending of $20 million on Liberal propaganda, $23 million on flags, $16 million on Radio Canada, and $100 million on a TV production fund. Not one penny of the money appears in the minister's detailed budget but it does add up to a grand total of $159 million.

How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage defend $140 million GST on books while spending $159 million in unbudgeted, borrowed money?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I happy that the member has raised the issue of spending for flags. Over past months I have received a number of requests from across the country for flags. In particular, I received from the constituency office of Jim Gouk-

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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?

The Speaker

I ask hon. members not to refer to other members by their name.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps

Mr. Speaker, I have received faxes from the office of the member for Red Deer looking for flags-

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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?

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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?

The Speaker

Earlier in the question period I asked that members not use props. Of course, we are going to be referring to material which is written. I would ask you not to use the paper to wave it around or to use it as a prop. I would appreciate you doing that. I will return to the hon. Deputy Prime Minister for a brief response.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps

Mr. Speaker, there are further faxes from the member for Port Moody, British Columbia and further faxes from the member for Capilano-Howe Sound.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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?

Some hon. members

More, more.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Ms. Copps

Faxes, Mr. Speaker, from a number of members of the Reform Party who obviously believe that the flag program is a popular and useful program.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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REF

Jim Abbott

Reform

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay East, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, I do not quite understand the minister's point.

Is she saying that Reform members should not be acting on behalf of their constituents when they come into their offices? She is simply trying to deflect the fact that when she was told that her Liberal propaganda office was going to cost $20 million, she said: "Oh, that's only a cup of coffee for every Canadian". That is a typical Liberal answer.

How can the minister justify this spending, wrapping herself in the flag and doing all of these things while at the same time leaving the tax, the GST, on books?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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LIB

Sheila Copps

Liberal

Hon. Sheila Copps (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the leader of the third party obviously has a very strong affiliation with the flag program as well because in his constituency over 1,000 people have called the government concerning this most popular program ever.

Over the last seven months the government has received over three million calls. Those same individuals in the Reform Party who stand day after day in the House of Commons complaining about the flag program have no shame in demanding that they receive flags for their constituents. Unfortunately for the Reform Party they cannot have it both ways.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Canadian Heritage
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BQ

Pierre Brien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Pierre Brien (Témiscamingue, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of National Defence.

The embezzlement scandal at Valcartier continues to cause a stir. The lead witness in the inquiry into this matter contends that Public Works and Government Services Canada simply ignored schemes to bypass the tendering process. Clearly, the military police investigation was not very thorough. While this has been a widespread practice for at least 15 years, only 4 charges have been laid.

Given the very serious nature of the allegations and since this form of corruption is apparently commonplace in several other bases across the country, will the minister launch an independent inquiry into this other scandal?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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LIB

Diane Marleau

Liberal

Hon. Diane Marleau (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, regarding the allegations the hon. member referred to, of course it is understood that, if certain things are not as they should be, the authorities are prepared to investigate as required.

As far as the news report he mentioned is concerned, I have asked my officials to fill me in on what happened. I am told that a contract that could be extended for more than one year was awarded. During the first year of the contract, additional work was requested and performed. Later, the department asked for an explanation for this work and an explanation was provided. The work had to be paid for since it had been done; there was no choice.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Defence
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October 3, 1996