September 30, 1997

LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers have already voted democratically on two occasions and decided to remain in Canada.

When will the Bloc Quebecois respect the voice of democracy, even in response to an unclear question? What we want is a debate about a clear question, not a winning question, but a question that is truthful. When Quebeckers know that, by voting for sovereignty, they will be leaving Canada, they change their minds.

All we are asking is that the question be clear, and we will take steps to see that it is.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
Permalink
BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know whether the Prime Minister has just told us he intends to bypass the National Assembly, when there has been a unanimous and clear resolution by the National Assembly that the Quebec people should be able to decide on its own future itself? And this resolution was supported not just by sovereignists, but also by the federalists in Quebec's Liberal Party, including the member for Bourassa, who is in the House today.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
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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, yesterday, when asked by a journalist: “Would France bypass the Canadian government and recognize Quebec as being independent?”, the premier replied: “That is a detail”. This detail is the key to the whole question.

And to this question, the French Prime Minister, yesterday and this morning, replied: “France is not indifferent, but does not wish to interfere. If Quebec is allowed freedom of expression, then Canada must also have the freedom to make up its mind. These questions must be asked in Quebec, and more broadly in Canada”. He even added: “A simple majority is not a principle, but democracy is”.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is trying to play down the significance of the statements made by the President and the Prime Minister of France, who very clearly indicated they would respect whatever decision Quebecers made.

My question is for the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Are we to understand that he would expect France to sit back and act as if nothing had happened should the federal government arbitrarily reject the result of a democratic vote held in Quebec?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
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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, the root of the problem is that a provincial government does not have the authority to proclaim itself the government of a sovereign state. That has never been done. States have always recognized that the government of the existing state had its say in the matter.

If I had more time, but I know you would interrupt me, I would give you a whole list of statements made by the French government in other circumstances involving other parts of the world. Here is one, for example, about Chechnya, which says: “This is an internal affair that concerns the Russian Federation, of which Chechnya is an integral part under international law”. Regarding the Comoros: “France strongly believes in respecting the territorial integrity of any and all African states”.

And the list goes on.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
Permalink
BQ

Michel Gauthier

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Gauthier (Roberval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, are we to understand from what the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has said that, as far as he is concerned, Ottawa is home to the international standard of democracy and, therefore, every country in the world should consider that democracy in Ottawa is better than democracy in Quebec?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
Permalink
LIB

Stéphane Dion

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, this is getting annoying. One cannot have a special set of rules for Canada that do not apply to other countries.

Canada is an independent state, recognized as such by the United Nations, and it has the same rights as other countries. I can quote, for instance, the Helsinki declaration, which states that “Participating states shall respect the principle of the equality in law of peoples and their right to self-determination, by acting at any given time in accordance with the goals and objectives of the Charter of the United Nations”.

This means that the right to secede exists only in a colonial context. Secession is not a right within a democracy.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   National Unity
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

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

Tuition fees for students have skyrocketed and are now higher in Canada than in the U.S.A. The average debt load for graduating students is predicted to be $25,000. Students are graduating into poverty. The government's new fund will not help 90 percent of the students who need financial assistance.

When will the government sit down with students and others to find real solutions to lead us to an accessible post-secondary educational system?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Post-Secondary Education
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LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the member's question is very important. We as a government are very concerned with the situation of student tuition fees and debt.

We are working with the provinces, students and lenders. There were some measures in the finance minister's budget last year which provided for improvement to RRSPs and savings that parents could do for their children. In the Speech from the Throne we have again committed the government to continuing to reduce the barriers to post-secondary education.

We are doing it with the provinces and with the lenders as well as we can.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Post-Secondary Education
Permalink
NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the government clearly does not understand the depth of the problem. What is needed is a real solution to ensure that tuition fees no longer exclude students without deep pockets.

Will the government commit to working with the provinces to make accessibility a new national standard for higher education?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Post-Secondary Education
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is not up to me to determine the tuition fees in the provinces. The government of Canada is already meeting about 60 percent to 65 percent of the cost of students in the universities and colleges through the transfer payments in this country. We are already going a long way to do what we can.

As far as the debt is concerned, we are working with the provinces and the lenders to find solutions that will be adequate as soon as possible to assist the students because we are very concerned about the debt situation right now.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Post-Secondary Education
Permalink
PC

Charlie Power

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the throne speech set out the government's agenda for this session of Parliament. In it the government claims to be committed to “developing the brains and skills of our people to ensure that no Canadian is left behind as the country moves forward. Education and training are key to this new economy and job opportunities”.

My question is for the minister of human resources. How are Newfoundlanders expected to participate in this new economy when his department in Newfoundland is completely devoid of any funds for the rest of this fiscal year? Will the minister find the additional funds required to make sure that Newfoundlanders have equal and fair access to training and that they will not be left behind?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Newfoundland
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LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our government is very committed to all Canadians' having a fair opportunity.

I do not accept the claim that Newfoundland will be left behind by this government which has been standing very well for all regions of the country. We are investing a lot more money in transitional job funds in Newfoundland than anything that was done before. We are doing a lot more in Newfoundland through the transfer payments as well. We are the ones who are fighting very hard to maintain an equilibrium in this country in favour of Newfoundland and the other maritime provinces.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Newfoundland
Permalink
PC

Charlie Power

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Charlie Power (St. John's West, PC)

Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer is simply not good enough.

In Newfoundland we have the highest level of unemployment and therefore the highest requirement for training. If the minister cannot find additional funds in his department, which he refused to answer, will he then access the $12.8 billion in workers funds in the EI surplus account? Does the minister not find it embarrassing to have to tell so many citizens who have so much need that they cannot access training programs simply because of a shortage of money while he is sitting on $12.8 billion of their money.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Newfoundland
Permalink
LIB

Pierre Pettigrew

Liberal

Hon. Pierre S. Pettigrew (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I know very well that the Tories cannot understand that the EI account can have a surplus. It is something they never had and can not understand.

We managed the situation in this country quite differently and we are fiscally responsible and we corrected the mess their administration had made. From the EI fund we are putting quite a lot of money into transitional job funding which is quite high in the regions where the levels of unemployment are higher. We invest more money in our youth programs as well.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Newfoundland
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REF

Monte Solberg

Reform

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, when Alberta moved into a surplus position the first thing it did was survey the public in Alberta to find out what it wanted to do. The people said pay down the debt. But not this government. It will consult people about what to put on the $2 coin but not on how to spend the 75 billion $2 coins that taxpayers have to send in every year.

If Alberta is not afraid of going to the people to find out what they want to do with the surplus, why is this government afraid to do that?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Consultation
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I remind the hon. member that if he is a part of the finance committee then he will be going across the country consulting with the people on that very question.

Even more to the point, the government went to the people, who spoke in the last election.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Consultation
Permalink
REF

Monte Solberg

Reform

Mr. Monte Solberg (Medicine Hat, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Alberta consulted the people, got their message and then went to the people in an election and got a bigger mandate. This government actually had its mandate diminished. I think the minister could find a stronger point to hang his argument on.

One line in the throne speech on debt reduction and tax relief and 20 pages on spending increases and no consultation. Why will the minister not admit that the real reason he will not consult is that he is not sure he will get the answer he wants?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Consultation
Permalink
LIB

Paul Martin

Liberal

Hon. Paul Martin (Minister of Finance, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the fact is we did consult during the election campaign. We actually think that an election campaign is when Canadians should be consulted.

The second thing is that there will be be extensive consultations by the finance committee and I hope the hon. member is part of it. The prime minister and the government have set out the rules of thumb on how it thinks the surplus should be dealt with.

What is important is that as a result of this government, for the first time in over 25 years there is going to be a surplus.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Public Consultation
Permalink
BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transport.

The Quebec Provincial Police was supposed to take over security at Mirabel airport tomorrow, October 1. However, we learned this morning that its services are no longer required at Mirabel and that the RCMP will remain in charge of security at that airport.

What is behind this political decision by the minister—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Mirabel Airport
Permalink

September 30, 1997