September 26, 1997

REF

Grant Hill

Reform

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Michelle Brill Edwards uncovered dangerous safety violations at Canada's health watchdog, the health protection branch.

I have proof here that senior department bureaucrats have unethically opened her personal, confidential files in an attempt to smear her just hours after her public disclosure.

Does the health minister condone these attempts to smear her reputation?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Protection Branch
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the news reports this morning about a file being asked for by an official at Health Canada. I have asked officials to look into it and when the facts are known I will respond in detail.

The hon. member should acknowledge in his question, and I know he is aware of the fact, that for me and for this government the role of the health protection branch is extremely important. It protects the safety and the health of Canadians.

It is for that very reason that this week I took three important steps to ensure its continuing strength: first, a moratorium on future cuts; second, the appointment of an arm's length science advisory board; third—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Protection Branch
Permalink
?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Macleod.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Protection Branch
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REF

Grant Hill

Reform

Mr. Grant Hill (Macleod, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that this minister himself is responsible for the cuts that he is now undoing.

Dr. Brill-Edwards is an expert. She says the health protection branch is unsafe. She worked there. Her colleagues agree. Now health bureaucrats are trying to ruin her reputation and smother the truth. Why is the health minister afraid of this scientist?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Protection Branch
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LIB

Allan Rock

Liberal

Hon. Allan Rock (Minister of Health, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, one thing I have tried to make a habit is to get the facts before I jump to conclusions.

I caution the hon. member to get the facts before he characterizes conduct in that irresponsible way. The reality is I have asked officials to inquire into the news reports this morning. Let us get the facts first.

The third step I took was to prepare a consultation document to involve all Canadians, not just one or two in this discussion of the future of the health protection branch.

I do not have to be told by former employees or by anybody else what the role of the health protection branch is. I am firmly committed to making sure it does its job in the most effective way.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Health Protection Branch
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Prime Minister.

In his speech in reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister urged Quebecers to put their trust in the Calgary declaration, the ramifications of which became even murkier yesterday with the replies the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs gave to our questions.

My question is a very simple one: Given its constitutional history, what makes the Prime Minister think that Quebecers can trust the Liberal government?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Quebecers are visibly losing faith in the Bloc Quebecois. This is clear from the recent election.

The very great majority of Quebecers want to remain in Canada. This is clear not just from the polls, but from speaking to average citizens. And the more they could be convinced that they do not have to choose between Quebec and Canada, that these two formidable entities can join forces and make them stronger and will be more indispensable to them than ever in the next millennium, the more they will turn away from the Bloc Quebecois in mistrust.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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BQ

Stéphane Bergeron

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphane Bergeron (Verchères, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, for the minister's information, the Bloc Quebecois still holds the majority of seats in Quebec.

That having been said, when we hear that being as unique as Pacific salmon is the same thing as distinct society, we might well wonder.

How can the Prime Minister hope for Quebecers' trust, when his government's only strategy since the last referendum has been to threaten Quebec with its clever Plan B?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, far from making any threats, the government is calling for calm and democratic debate of very serious matters: How does secession square with democracy? There is no model for it anywhere.

Let me illustrate. The leader of the Bloc Quebecois and the Premier of Quebec gave the example of the recent referendum in Wales, noting that 50% plus one was enough. I must give you the following information, which is important to the debate. The Tories asked the British Prime Minister not to apply the results to a simple decentralization because—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
Permalink
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The Speaker

Pardon me for interrupting the minister, but the member for Lac-Saint-Jean has the floor.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
Permalink
BQ

Stéphan Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the future federal minister of education, whoever he may be.

In his response to the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister kept for himself the announcement of new meddling in areas of provincial jurisdiction. The Prime Minister announced the government's intention to set up a fund to distribute bursaries directly to students.

How can the minister play saviour and announce such a fund worth $1 billion without blushing, when his cuts to education, which will amount to $10 billion, have put students in debt like never before?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I will use my example of Wales another time.

The announcement for students is excellent news. You know, the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Medical Research Council of Canada offered, for the last year available, bursaries worth $175 million to 13,359 students. Many of us benefited from them, including perhaps the hon. member. The member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville did. If even more students can benefit, it will be a good thing for students in Quebec and Canada.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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BQ

Stéphan Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Stéphan Tremblay (Lac-Saint-Jean, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing the federal government try to dole out federal money in order to buy students.

I would ask the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs if he intends to give the money for this new program to the Quebec government, as has been done with the loans and bursaries program for the past 30 years?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

Hon. Stéphane Dion (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to hear that the member understands our federation is flexible and accommodates various mechanisms. The ones actually used with this program will have to be discussed with our partners.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Speech From The Throne
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NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the prime minister.

The Canadian government has been busily negotiating a multilateral agreement on investment with profound implications for Canadians.

My office has been deluged with calls from people who want to know what this will mean. They want to have their say, not after the ink is dry on the agreement but before the government enters into any such deal.

Will the prime minister make a firm commitment today to hold full public hearings across the country prior to any such investment deal being signed?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multilateral Agreement On Investment
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LIB

Julian Reed

Liberal

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. leader of the NDP for the question. This is my first opportunity to reply.

Canada has learned the lesson over the last 10 years that doing business without agreements and without a level playing field can be a very turbulent thing indeed. Hence, the attempt is being made to create the MAI.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multilateral Agreement On Investment
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NDP

Alexa McDonough

New Democratic Party

Ms. Alexa McDonough (Halifax, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I directed my question to the prime minister and I am hoping we are going to get an answer.

The head of the World Trade Organization has said of the MAI process: “We are writing the constitution for a new global economy”. Surely an agreement of this importance deserves the same standard of public disclosure, input and consultation that Canadians have demanded with respect to their own Constitution.

It is clear that the government intended to sign, seal and deliver the MAI before the last election, even without consultation.

Will the prime minister assure us today that Canadians will have their say?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multilateral Agreement On Investment
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LIB

Julian Reed

Liberal

Mr. Julian Reed (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, having spent 10 years in opposition in the province of Ontario I understand full well the temptation to speculate on what will be contained in something.

I should point out to the House that at this stage the negotiators are still negotiating what they are going to negotiate.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Multilateral Agreement On Investment
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PC

Bill Casey

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Bill Casey (Cumberland—Colchester, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I have a very Liberal question for the Minister of Transport.

Under the terms of the strategic highway improvement program between the federal Liberal government and the provincial Liberal Government of Nova Scotia, all contracts are to be tendered. I quote directly from the agreement: “All contracts will awarded to the tenderer submitting the lowest evaluated bid”.

Why were two contracts worth over a $100 million given to two companies, both untendered? Even worse, both companies have at the top of the list of officers the past president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Infrastructure
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LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David M Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like first to congratulate the hon. member's appointment as critic for the Conservative Party and I welcome him back to the House.

He did raise this with me privately and it is a matter which I undertook to discuss with my officials.

This is a federal-provincial funding agreement. Highways are the responsibility of the provinces. To date we have not seen anything from the federal point of view that causes undue alarm. I have given him my assurance that we will re-examine the matter and I will discuss it with my provincial counterpart in Nova Scotia.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Infrastructure
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September 26, 1997